Monday, December 15, 2008

In the Land of the Frozen West

In the 20's today with just a bit of snow around. I start by paddling a hundred yards through ice that is about 1/2 inch thick. I use my extra beater paddle to pole my way through. Once I get out to where there is any wind at all, the water is open. All of the birds are out in the main part of the bay where the water is open. There is a wind out of the north today and while it is brisk, it is also sunny. I paddle under an eagle perched on the west side of the bay. There is a kingfisher in a tree to my right. When I get up against more ice in the NW corner, I pause and see the eagle as it swoops down on a flock of ducks. I drift with the wind towards the action, but the ducks have gotten away. The eagle then gets up and flies low to the north shore, and begins hunting again. The cattails prevent me from seeing the prey, so I slowly paddle along the edge of an island and wedge my canoe between two logs where I can watch. The eagle sits on the shore and it seems that its prey has gotten away again. Just then it hops up a foot or so and drops with its full weight, then it flies off with something in its talons over to the "lunch counter". I go over to get a closer look, which takes me about 10 minutes. The mate is over there but there is no sharing of the kill - that will happen later when they have young. The catch is being eaten very quickly, so I drift downwind to see if whether it is fur or feathers on the water. It is feathers and lunch is probably coot. In the photo - The largest of the beaver lodges in the bay, this one is about 20 ft in diameter and 6 ft tall. Just to the left is the island that I call the workbench. The beavers seem to drag food to the workbench, they leave the stripped branches scattered about. My channel through the ice is much easier to navigate on the return trip.

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