Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Up Close with Nature

Tim and I took a couple of days away on Solitude, our boat. We chugged down the Strait of Georgia to Cabbage and Tumbo Islands, two small pieces of land jutting out of the sea. Many rocky islets, essentially reefs, stretch along the shoreline of larger islands making navigation something to pay attention to. Fat seals lounge on many of these islets, basking in sun or rain, impervious to the weather. 

Everything seems to taste better out in the fresh air. It's like having a perpetual picnic. Unfortunately, on this trip I left the eggs and milk in the fridge at home. One of my friends attributed it to "exhausted teacher brain." Could be. Anyway, I did remember the avocados so we ended up with avocado toast that was very tasty, along with bacon. So glad I didn't forget the bacon! The message on the tea tin is a good reminder to make the most of any situation.

There is a good hiking trail on the larger island, beginning with a forest path, then winding along the shore on a berm between a marsh and the beach. The grasses swayed and rustled in the breeze and Canada Geese looked very at home there. 

We stopped to watch this Swallowtail Butterfly flit from thistle to thistle. 

High in a tree on smaller Cabbage Island a Bald Eagle surveyed the landscape. We heard a lot of noise and when we looked further down the tree, we noticed a nest with two eaglets feeding.

They look ready to fledge as they were not small. One climbed onto the edge of the nest and we wondered if he was about to take off. Instead, he quickly hopped back into safety.

Benjamin Franklin writes, speaking of the United States, "For my own part, I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen the representative of our country. He is a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly." After what we saw on our trip, I have to agree with him. Majestic though the birds are, they are ruthless predators.    

On our first morning out, while preparing breakfast (without eggs and milk!), I heard a ruckus outside. On the shore a murder of crows wheeled and screamed while a Bald Eagle killed a Great Blue Heron. We sat on the boat, transfixed by what we were seeing. With his talons gripping the heron, the eagle used his beak to tear great wads of feathers that flew into the air and landed on the water, creating a trail of grey blue evidence along the shore. The heron fought, but had no chance.
After a few moments the eagle tried to carry off the heron, but it was still too big, so he tore at the flesh until it was a size he could handle, presumably carrying it to a nest with young ones. The above photo is not the greatest quality, as it was taken from a rocking boat with the telephoto zoomed out. 
Later, while we observed the two young eagles in the nest above, we saw another eagle carrying another heron, this one smaller and fully feather, its legs and neck swinging limply as the eagle flew. About 10 minutes later we saw the eagle fly over us with the bloodied carcass, now featherless. We assumed he had gone to the beach to prepare the bird for his young. 
The next morning, I saw three eagles chasing a heron. The heron wheeled and turned in desperation, flying and swooping close to the water among the boats at anchor, desperate to escape. I'm happy to say that the heron survived and the eagles left for other prey.
I enjoy watching Bald Eagles; I'm fascinated by Great Blue Herons. But one is food for the other. It was a sobering experience. Nature is often cruel.

On a happier note, the starfish have returned after being decimated by a wasting disease several years ago. They are mostly purple here, with a few pink ones for variety. 

Sunset over the water. When we are on the boat we are completely absent from life at home, not just physically, but mentally, as well. We become completely absorbed in the moments and the awe of creation. It's truly a getaway, even for just a few days. 

We celebrated Canada Day on the 1st with a barbecue with family. We didn't even stay up for the fireworks! Happy Independence Day to my American readers. 


Vee said...

Wow. Brutal.

I am reminded that good old Ben would have preferred the turkey as the national bird. Seems ludicrous all these years later. Guess I’d prefer to stick with the eagle.

If I had forgotten the milk, I’d be in big trouble. It is the only thing that tastes good to me these days.

mamasmercantile said...

Brutal indeed but necessary for the cycle of life. Nature at its finest, what a wonderful trip away.

Elizabethd said...

A lovely relaxing trip.
Nature can be so cruel , as we have found with Sparrow hawks grabbing small birds in the garden.
What beautiful scenery, it must be very peaceful on board a boat..

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

Nature is amazing. Your live in such a beautiful place.

Changes in the wind said...

What a special time together...thanks for sharing with us.

Happy@Home said...

Wow, that would be tough to watch. Wonderful news on the starfish front, however. Your getaway sounds like the ideal way to relax and refresh after a busy school year.

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

We have also witnessed an eagle killing a heron near Montague Harbour. Not a pleasant sight but they are feeding themselves and their young.
When we go boating I have a list because I don’t want to forget anything! There are not always stores where we go boating. Tired teacher brain for you and simply senior brain for me!
Enjoy your holidays.

riitta k said...

Stunning glimpses of the nature over there! I first thought the seals were rocks in this wonderful blue scenery :) Animals kill only to survive, the case is different with us humans.

Jean | said...

Lorrie, "exhausted teacher brain" reminded me that I've always wondered, but have never asked, whether you have shared your blog with your students.

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Happy Canada Day!
Thoughtful post
Nature documentaries that show the reality of life in the wild, I mute or change the channel while the hunting segment is going on. Methinks Ben Franklin might think differently about the bald eagle if he was alive today.

Marilyn Miller said...

Up close and personal with nature. Seals and eagles, what amazing sights to behold! I would love your breakfast too. Love avocado toast anytime.

Lowcarb team member said...

Wonderful photographs, the avocado looks delicious.
Although not nice to see animals do need to kill in order to survive, it is the cycle of life.

Belated good wishes for Canada Day.

All the best Jan

kitty@ Kitty's Kozy Kitchen said...

I so love reading about your trips with you and Tim. Your breakfast looks so colorful and perfectly satisfying without the eggs. I’d want the milk for my tea, but could certainly do without. Hearing about the ruthlessness of the bald eagle, I think I agree with Ben Franklin, Lorrie. Happy belated Canada Day, and enjoy your break!

Margie said...

Love the purple starfish and the butterfly shot!

I didn't watch the fireworks, but I could hear them.

Mary said...

Lorrie dear, what a great trip you had, seeing such beauty but then what is often sad to us where Nature is concerned. We know it is survival of the fittest but it's still always so hard to watch. Your own breakfast looked good despite forgetting a few items - I'm sure ending the school year did bring a lot of craziness - and time on Solitude was a welcome respite for you both.

Thanks for the 4th greeting. We're celebrating Bob today as he turns 79! Wow! all those years flew by so fast! Take care and have a lovely summer.
~ Hugs, Mary

Coastal Ripples said...

What a fascinating post. Beautiful shots of the Swallowtail and my that must have been something to watch the Bald Eagle in action. Hopefully your trip away is getting your holiday off to a relaxing start. B x

kathy b said...

Those are beautiful shots of the Eagles.

ellen b. said...

Wow! That's an amazing shot of the eagle and the heron. Who knew? Lots of great nature shots.

Post card from the road 3

  Today we crossed the Arctic Circle. I’m sitting at a gas station in Fort McPherson in the Northwest Territory. It’s a beautiful, warm suns...