Saturday, July 25, 2015

Bear,Bear, Not Quite Everywhere!

We... Love... Bear..., can you tell? Sleek and glossy black bear. Shaggy-coated brown bear. Big old fat bear, energetic young bear, round and fluffy bear cubs, even the rowdy young adults – we can’t get enough of these intriguing creatures. Bear watching was off to a slow start this season. After weeks, no it seemed more like months, of wondering where most of the grizzlies might be hiding, we finally found plenty of brown bear along Chatham Strait. The fish runs were weeks late this year, so the bear had little incentive to hang around the stream mouths. Every year I carry on about the Baranof Island bears, and this year is no different. Here are just a few of this month's favorite grizzlies.   

Now I'm ready for more bear, please.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

More from Early July

"Thar she blows!" We spotted two humpback whales near Pt. Thatcher at the intersection of Peril Strait and Chatham Strait. This pair puffed, surfaced and dove repeatedly while chasing feed close to shore in relatively shallow water, 40 to 120 feet deep. 

So many of my photos show only tails, flukes, puffs in the air or rings on the water’s surface marking “where the whale used to be”. The collection of whales tail photos is growing quite large. No matter, it’s a thrill anytime I can watch these amazing creatures in the wild.

The recent stretch of hot weather made berry picking an easy task near the Warm Springs dock. Plump, multicolored salmon berries were so ripe they fell into my container as soon as I bumped them. The blueberries and huckleberries were already past their prime and the bushes near the boardwalk had been well picked over. Agile friends scrambled up and down the hillside gathering berries to share. Thanks y’all.

Can you top this for dramatic background, Seahawks fans? The waterfall at Baranof Warm Springs makes an impressive backdrop for Laci’s Twelfth Man Flag. 

Laci flew out of Warm Springs on a wet, warm 60ish day, overcast with scenic swirls of ground fog and low clouds, to head back to 90-100 degree stifling heat in Seattle. I’ll take the recent cool, gray days in SE Alaska, thank you very much. That’s easy to say since we have enjoyed so many weeks of sunshine and dry weather this year!

Mini cruise boats often schedule stops in Warm Springs so their guests can frequent the mineral pools next to the top of the waterfall or hike to the lake. Most of these charter boats anchor in the bay and use large inflatables or skiffs to ferry clients to and from the dock. One such vessel took a different approach, very different.

Hmmmmm, no comment but my giggles might hint at my thoughts.

Eagles in Ell Cove

A flight of feisty bald eagles couldn’t resist a discarded halibut carcass, draped across a flat rock above the high tide line. 

Their aerial antics provided the evening’s entertainment and an opportunity for a lengthy photo shoot. Half a dozen birds swooped down onto the rocks in nearly-vertical power dives, bumping and knocking each other about as they vied for ownership of the carcass, or at least a piece of the halibut flesh. These eagles looked more like shoreside brawlers than noble representatives of our national symbol. One crafty bird dragged the fish frame farther up the sloped shore, disappearing under the shelter of overhanging cedar branches. His effort made it more difficult for other eagles to poach a piece, but it didn’t stop their energetic attempts. 

Foolishly the eagle-in-possession gripped what remained of the halibut and lifted off to fly across the cove. That was not a good decision. After liftoff he barely cleared the water, struggling to drag a length of fish along like an anchor on a chain. Oops! He dropped the carcass… it sank… end of story. 

Fish Story and Fish in the Boat

Notes from early July – posted weeks later at the Petersburg Public Library. Town visits are popular for fresh produce and wi-fi access (plus I enjoy our visits with local residents and other boaters at the docks).

Guest Laci joined us in Sitka as we set out for Kalinin Bay. Ron & Laci fished The Shark Hole with Jerry (m/v Jericho) hoping to land some big king salmon. One big fish ran out the line on Laci’s pole, escaping with all of the gear trailing behind.  No salmon caught that day, but what a great fish-that-got-away story. Later in the week Laci did land a 25-pound halibut, 3 nice coho to freeze and take home, plus a smaller halibut for Tanya to prepare one of her fabulous fish fry dinners.

We didn't see any grizzly bear in Kalinin this week, not even one peekaboo sighting. Where were all of the grizzlies?! None in the estuary, none along the shoreline, none checking out the skiffs and kayaks on shore near the trailhead. No bear anywhere. Several Sitka black-tailed deer and an occasional sea otter accounted for all of our wildlife viewing. Who forgot to invite the brown bear, or the spawning pink salmon that lure them to the river mouth?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Baranof Warm Springs

For an Almost Wordless Wednesday: a fish tote boat at Baranof Warm Springs.