Friday, October 11, 2013
Fishing at Deception Pass
It was quite a morning at West Beach in Deception Pass State Park. There was lots of wildlife plus dozens of naval aircraft flying into N.A.S. Whidbey Island nearby. Look for Ault Field on the map in the link.
I want to start with the Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus Leucocephalus). There were at least half a dozen and they were fishing in the shallow waters near the tide line. It was quite a spectacle with all the soaring and swooping. When they made a catch, they would head straight for the trees in the Dune Forest behind the sand dunes. Look under the foot of the fellow in the first photo to see his nice catch.
This was the first bird I spotted with a catch. The fish is not so easy to see in this photo, but it's there. When shooting wildlife, it is necessary to take the lighting and the camera angles that you get.
When they dove, they would disappear behind the foredune, then rise up again with a fish in their talons. I have seen this before, but it's always exciting.
This is the same bird enjoying his breakfast. These eagles are much farther away than they look in the photos. Thanks to a telephoto lens and some cropping, we can get closer looks.
If I had not seen these birds flying to the trees, I doubt I would have spotted them. When they get into the dappled shade of the forest, they become almost invisible. This could be a clue to the reason they are colored as they are. Eagles will squabble with each other over fish. Disappearing in the trees may be a good way to be left alone with one's catch.
Besides the eagles, the skies this morning were also filled with naval aircraft, dozens of them. They were circling over the park preparing to land at the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station three miles to the south. This is a P-3C Orion identified by the "stinger" on the tail. One of these would pass overhead every three or four minutes.
It is possible this was a small group of planes doing touch-and-go exercises. This is how they rehearse carrier landings. Instead of several planes, I may have been seeing the same planes circling again and again. This touch-and-go maneuver is the same technique used by the eagles to catch fish. See the clever tie-in?
There is a new interpretive sign at West Beach to help visitors identify the aircraft they might see here. We consider these part of the wildlife. Besides the Orions, I saw a few EA-18G Growlers (#2) and one P8 Poseidon (#5) which is the Navy's version of the Boeing 737. In the case of the Growler, let me tell you, the name does not come close to describing the noise these aircraft make.
Coming up, Heermann's Gulls, Northwestern Crows, Fraggle Rock and the Mayor of West Beach again.
Labels: Hawks and Eagles