Once again I drove the 35 miles back up to Big Beef Creek in Seabeck from my campsite at Belfair State Park in Belfair. For those of you getting tired of bald eagle shots, I only have three days left doing this and then I am off farther west to Potlatch State park.
As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.
Started off this morning shooting the great blue herons as they arrived on scene to fish for sculpin. About two or three hours before low tide, they usually come flying in and concentrate near the bridge, fairly close to shore, and the road.
A Short Session With the Eagles and a Visit to the Toyota Dealership
Got up early and worked on image processing, I seem to have fallen a week behind!
I drove up to Big Beef Creek for eagles, arriving around 9 AM to solid grey skies and little action. As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.
This was one of the few opportunities to get a shot of an eagle landing facing the camera. Unfortunately the prevailing wind is from the north and we stand on the beach facing north when shooting these guys. Since all birds always land into the wind, normally all I can get are eagle backsides when they land. Today, the wind was coming from the south, bringing in some dreary weather and, as the image shows, some really flat light. But at least he was facing the right way!
It must be kind of interesting every now and then for the folks that live in these homes along the beach. Can you imagine having lunch on your deck and having a bald eagle join you? This one was considerate enough to bring his own food.
After a quick bite, he is off to look for dessert.
Lastly, here is a closeup of an eagle I will name ” Filthy Phil “, always with a dirty head and tail. Almost all the other mature eagles somehow keep their white caps and tail feathers bright despite making their living on the mud flats and oyster beds, not so with this guy. Notice the sculpin carefully tucked up flat against his tail. When I first saw eagles pause in flight after catching a fish and tuck their head under their body to fiddle with the fish in their talons, I couldn’t figure out what they were doing. After observing this behavior for a week, it occurred to me that when they did this, rearranging their catch so it was held flat against the underside of their tail, they probably were attempting to hide their catch from the other eagles prying eyes as they made their way to a perch to eat. With a fish carried in their beak, or dangling from their talons, they almost always were challenged by other eagles, not so much when hidden from view.
Had to leave around 10 AM to make my appointment for the Prius’s 25,000 mile maintenance.
The Toyota dealership in Bremerton is something to see. There are 6 people in service to just sign people in and do their paperwork and you have to wait 15 minutes to get to one of them, they are that busy. After getting signed in, you go to their customer lounge that seats about 60 people, and try to find a place to sit, there were only about 5 seats available when I finished checking in. If you are hungry, or thirsty, there is a full service coffee bar and breakfast/lunch counter staffed by two and sometimes three people, with a waiting line for the entire three hours I was there. What a goldmine!
Arrived back home around 3 PM and worked on images once again.
Made the drive up to Big Beef Creek and spent a couple of hours shooting limited action in poor light, but was pleasantly surprised when I started processing the day’s images and found several keepers. Turns out there were just enough moments of sun peaking through that it was worth the trip up to Seabeck.
As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.
First off, there was Frank, the leucistic, one eyed eagle diningg on fish scraps right on the beach next to the road.
After polishing off the scraps, Frank spotted a large halibut carcass still submerged in the creek and went to work dragging it up to dry land to eat. The head of the fish alone probably weighed almost as much as the eagle and you can see him exerting everything he’s got to get it up the bank.
Then the great blue herons started to arrive, first in the creek,
then out on the quickly emerging oyster beds. These great blue herons essentially work as the eagles waitstaff, catching sculpin, and then serving them up to the eagles, who sit back in the trees waiting for a heron to catch something and instantly swoop down and scare them off their catch.
In addition to being constantly harassed by the eagles, the herons have their own little territory disputes to contend with.
Once the eagles steal the heron’s fish, other eagles then move in on their own kind to attempt to steal from the original thief.
Before the tide got too far out, I was able to get a few shots of the eagles landing in the oyster beds where they often will find sculpin trapped by the receding tide.
During the few brief moments of sun breaking through the overcast skies, I grabbed a few shots of soaring eagles and this one capturing an eagle just as he began his descent to the oyster bed.
Since I am now at 25,000 miles on the Prius, I stopped at the Bremerton Toyota dealer to make an appointment for my checkup as well as the safety recall. Also dropped the flat tow dolly tire off at Les Schwab’s in Belair for repair.
Move from Scenic Beach S. P. to Belfair S. P., Washington
Spent a little time, with no luck, shooting eagles at Big Beef Creek Saturday morning. Packed up and left Scenic Beach S.P. at noon. Concerned about the very low pressure in the driver’s side tow dolly tire, I stopped at Barbie’s and changed the tire. Drove back out to Route 6 in Silverdale via Newberry Hill Road and picked Route 3 in Gorst to take me down to 300 and into Belfair State Park.
Kind of interesting to find a leucistic great blue heron hanging around in the same area as Frank, the leucistic bald eagle, both found at Big Beef Creek.
Belfair State Park, Washington
Being Memorial Day weekend, the park is full, noisy, smoky, and with lots of internal traffic. As nice as Scenic Beach S.P. was, this place is quite a letdown, appears to be more like like a crowded private campground. At $40/night, with hookups, though the 30 amp electric is a little suspect, this place is over priced and it under delivers. There appears to be no real attraction, other than a place to camp under the trees, for a reason to visit here. Fortunately for me at least, it was spitting rain and the weather was rather poor all weekend, so the place was tolerable for the long weekend, as most people either went out in their cars, or were forced to stay in the tents or campers most of the weekend. Verizon signal was good, satellite would be unusable because of the dense tree cover in most of the park, and the only over the air TV signal was the Fox network. I would not chose to stay here again.