Friday, November 19, 2010

Animal Party

It is a calm day, calm for this time of the year and even more so when one thinks of the windy days that have preceded. I start in the salt water of Elliot Bay, planning on circling the Magnolia peninsula, which includes passing through the locks and portaging from Fishermens' Terminal back to the bay. Paddling under the bluff, I pass the last surviving beach homes and the pilings that mark the locations of long lost ones that were bulldozed by winter rains that calve off hillside in avalanches of mud and trees.

There are buffleheads out here today, and quite a few at that. I expected to find goldeneyes, but see none, yet.

A seal floats high in the water, its back exposed as well as its head. Unusual to see this, an extra moment is needed to recognize what I see.
I pass 4 mile rock, a 15 ft tall boulder that is now only 5 ft out of the water....high tide. And, I spot a flock of harlequin ducks. I have never seen a flock of them, only isolated pairs. The female is a good looking duck, for a female duck, but the male is tremendously beautiful. Now, there are several seals about, popping up to watch me, diving when I pick up my camera. As I cover the next 1/2 mile, it is more often than not that I find a seal watching me.

I pass the protected lands of the park, pass the light house and turn the point that it sits on, and head towards Salmon Bay. Ahead, something sits on a rock that is just barely awash and 50 yards from shore. I beach the canoe and walk the shore so as not to disturb it. It is, in fact, a baby seal that has been left on the rock while the mother feeds. This is a common behavior, and one needs to walk carefully on the beaches here because the young seals are often stashed rather carelessly. Nearing Salmon Bay, I turn and head back the way I came, hoping that the animal party will continue. I spot a great many more harlequin ducks - I've never seen so many. Nearing 4 mile rock, the seals pick up my trail. I am being followed...and for the next half mile, more often than not, when I turn my head to look over my shoulder, there is a seal, sometimes 30 ft away, sometimes 10 ft.


Cathy M. Woo said...

Wonderful! Vicarious thrill to be out on the water today!

Elizabeth Winder Noyes said...

What is this, Scott! Sounds like an 'animal whisperer' kind of day. Wonderful, and in our neighborhood!

Kathleen Faulkner said...

Nice post, Scott!