Archive for July 9, 2008

Washington State: eagles

July 9, 2008

Spanish explorers once made it up the west coast all the way to Canada. And left their mark. The Strait of Juan de Fuca, for example, is the name of the hundred-mile-long body of salt water that separates the state of Washington from British Columbia. It looks to be ten or twelve miles wide; you can see the Canadian shoreline from Washington.

The shoreline on the Washington side is mostly remote and fairly wild. Driving along Route 112 I think I see an eagle on the beach. I stop and back up carefully on the narrow shoulder. We get out and creep carefully around tall grass and there, not fifty paces away, stand not one, but two magnificent bald eagles. They immediately depart upon spotting us. After all the evidence of really bad logging practices I’ve seen driving through this state, seeing two eagles makes my day.

Back in the car I spot two more – in a tree, and two more – on a rock protruding from the surf – and two more… I stop counting after six pairs. They are more common than red-tailed hawks back east here sitting in trees along the New York Thruway; a little less common than gulls circling a landfill. We saw probably four eagles for every mile of coastline for about twenty miles along one particular stretch near Port Angeles and they were almost all in pairs.

I didn’t take pictures. To do so would be to reduce this spiritually uplifting experience, this knowledge that such a high member of the food chain is thriving here, to a mere photograph.