June 30, 2015 Homer, Alaska

Kachemak Bay Sunrise
Kachemak Bay Sunrise

Another Gloomy Week on the Homer Spit

Although there are brief periods of sun and bits of blue sky now and then, for the most part the skies are constantly gray and gloomy. I understand that this type of weather pattern is quite usual for this area, so what can one do but wait it out. Though the sun seldom appears, it also doesn’t actually rain all that much, no downpours whatsoever, just periods of light rain and drizzle.

I usually maintain a very solitary existence on my travels, but this past week plus I have had the distinct pleasure of being camped next to a delightful retired couple from South Dakota. I have enjoyed more small talk with them than I usually have in the course of several months on the road, and have gotten quite a kick out of watching and hearing about their fishing exploits here in Homer as they have fished for salmon and halibut. A lot of the salmon fishing was done directly in front of our motorhomes, while the halibut fishing was done on a charter where the Mrs. managed to haul in a sixty-two pounder. Had fun teasing him as she also landed the largest King Salmon at the Fishing Hole, down the beach from our campsites, seemed to outfish the man of the house at every opportunity. But today they broke camp and have moved on, and their replacement has definitely not lived up to them as far as great neighbors go, outside, ten feet away slamming doors at midnight and running one of the noisiest generators I have ever heard for hours on end. Oh well, you win some and you lose some.

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

You will have to forgive my constant barrage of bald eagle shots but they are about the only interesting subjects i have here on the Homer Spit.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle
Coming of Age
Coming of Age

A few interesting facts about bald eagles can be found here, including the fact that they mature at four to five years old, which would make this guy more than likely than not, about four years old.

Immature Bald Eagle
Immature Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

I was walking around the marina and just happened to catch this juvenile as he lifted off. I haven’t really tried doing any flight shots of these guys here because of the constant mist and drizzle, but if it ever clears up, I may just set up my tripod and long lens right outside my door and try to get some images of the eagles as they fly by all day , and night, long.

Hills Above Homer
Hills Above Homer

Searching for Fireweed

The green fields such as in the image above will be turning pink sometime in the weeks ahead as the fireweed finally comes into bloom. I have been driving all the hillside roads above Homer and north all the way to Anchor Point hoping to find some fireweed patches blooming, but I’m beginning to feel it just isn’t going to happen while I am here. The flower stalks have been starting to form here and there, but I have only seen a couple individual plants here and there in full bloom. If you are going to be in this area in July, and are interested in knowing which roads will provide the best shots of these fields, just click on my Travel Maps to see my notes on these back roads.

Lupines and Roses
Lupines and Roses
Blue Flag Iris
Blue Flag Iris
Cottongrass Trail
Cottongrass Trail

While searching the countryside for fireweed I do continue to run into other wildflowers though.

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

And also yet more bald eagles, this one perched on some fence rails left in the middle of a meadow that probably once was some kind of farm plot.

Bald Eagle Staredown
Bald Eagle Staredown

I believe this is his ” would you mind just leaving ” stare, obviously a little annoyed at my presence. This was taken from the window of my car with my 600mm lens, so I was not close enough to actually disturb him as he was on the lookout for any movement of prey in the field he was surveying.

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August 7, 2014 South Beach Campground, Washington

Beach bunny
Beach bunny

Still Just Goofing Off at the Beach

Just doing this post to let people know I am still alive, but have adapted only too well to my new life as a beach bum. While the weather inland has been a constant stream of 90 degree days with bright blue skies, here along the beach we have alternating days of temps in the low 60’s when enveloped in day long fog, or temps in the mid 70’s when the fog burns off. When the foggy days get to you, all you have to do is drive inland a couple of miles and you are always under bright blue skies. When I was planning this summer trip to Washington, I was under the impression that i would have to be prepared to handle long days of dreary, rainy weather, but it has been anything but! In the 90 days or so that I have been in western Washington, there have been only two days when it rained at all, and then it was only a brief shower or two.

Beach bunny
Beach bunny

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

I spend most days reading or doing light work on the motorhome, a little cleaning here and there, maybe wax a small portion when I feel real ambitious ( so, of course, I haven’t really gotten much of this monster waxed ). I also have started on another method of staving off my alzhiemers, attempting to learn programming, become a coder. Both Stanford and MIT offer a lot of their regular computer sciences courses online, for free, for anyone to partake, and, since they are free, I am partaking …  slowly. With a little online searching, I have been able, so far at least, to find the accompanying course textbooks also, and have downloaded them as free PDF’s and then transferred them to my Kindle for ease of reading ( that way I don’t have to have my computer on, running down my RV batteries when I want to study ).

I haven’t done much of any photography for the past few weeks since I rarely leave the beach. The rather cute little bunny is a regular visitor to my campsite, along with many of his peers. This particular one will let me get within a few feet of him before he hops into the berry bushes just 6 feet from my door. When the dogs hop down the steps, the rabbit freezes, sometimes only 5 feet from them, and most of the time they never know he is even there. I don’t know if he is a native cottontail or an introduced eastern cottontail, but I have noticed that every one of the dozen or so rabbits I see here every day have the same small white blaze on their forehead.

Bald eagle on the beach
Bald eagle on the beach
Eagle on the beach
Walking the beach
eagle flying away
And off he goes

About the only other time I got the camera out was last night when I saw this eagle circling over the beach right outside my window. I grabbed the camera and headed to the top of the my site’s path to the beach, just as he landed on some driftwood near the bottom of the path. I slowly crept down toward the beach, keeping myself concealed by the bushes along the path, and as I did so, the eagle hopped down from his perch and, rather than flying away, started rapidly striding toward me. When he was just 30 feet away or so, some idiot also saw him and came running down the beach toward him so he could get a shot with his phone. That of course scared the bird away, just when I thought I was going to get some neat shots. Never did find what it was that had him so interested in this section of beach, maybe a rabbit had wandered out on the edge of the sand?

 

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June 2, 2014 Belfair State Park, Washington

Bald eagle approaching perch
Bald eagle approaching perch

 

My Last Day With the Eagles

This morning I drove up to Big Beef Creek for my final session with the eagles. On the way I stopped in Silverdale at the Bank of America branch to deposit the check from closing out my Citizens checking account, thus cutting my final tie to the state of New Hampshire, home for more than 30 years.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Great blue heron landing
Great blue heron landing
Great blue heron landing
Dropping in

As usual, the great blue herons were the first to arrive on scene.

Bald eagle in tree
The lookout

Then the bald eagles, first one,

7 eagles in a tree
Favorite lookout tree

then many. At one point today, I counted 14 eagles perched in this one tree over the beach.

Bald eagle coming in for a landing
Coming in for a landing
Bald eagle on the oystertbed
Bald eagle on the oystertbed

A bald eagle coming in for, and then sticking a landing in the oyster beds.

Juvenile bald eagle
Juvenile bald eagle
2 bald eagles
Stealing from junior

This juvenile eagle was heading for the trees to enjoy his seaweed wrapped lunch until one of the adults attempts a midair heist.

Low flying bald eagle
Low flying bald eagle

A low flying eagle, for a very large bird their in air dexterity is pretty amazing to witness.

Bald eagle in dive
Dive
Bald eagle in dive
Dive

They hit some pretty amazing speeds when they see something and suddenly dive towards a fish, a heron, or another eagle.

Bald eagle with fish
Checking the cargo hold

This guy is doing his midair check of how visible his catch will be to other eagles before he makes the run to the trees to eat.

Redhead
Sorry, the red hair distracted me

Sorry, I don’t know why this is in an entry on eagles, but the red hair distracted me, kind of got the camera’s attention. Back to the eagles now.

Bald eagles
Bald eagles

At times these guys are all hanging around on the oyster beds, often shoulder to shoulder,

Eagle dispute
Food dispute
Bald eagle dispute
Bald eagle dispute
Eagle squabble
Eagle squabble

and then something to eat comes along and it suddenly just isn’t quite so buddy, buddy.

 

Bald eagles in flight
Bald eagles in flight

Wonderful weather continues on, but the harsh noon day light coinciding with the low tides once again made photography difficult.

2 eagles in flight
Chasing a free meal

I ended up spending about 3 hours on the beach, then said my good byes to my new found friends and headed back to Belfair State Park. All in all, an amazing time at this great spot, probably the best place in the lower 48 for bald eagles. I really hate to leave, and the friendly folks I have met here are a large part of the reason why. Thanks everybody!

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June 1, 2014 Belfair State Park, Washington

Bald eagle getting close
Bald eagle getting close

Yet Another Five Star Day

While planning this trip to Washington, I prepared myself mentally to being forced to spend many days cooped up in the motorhome waiting out the rainy weather this region is known for. Funny thing is, it just hasn’t happened. Today is yet another blue sky 70 degree day. What have I done to deserve this?

Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagle in flight

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Juvenile bald eagle harassing great blue herons
Juvenile bald eagle
Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagle in flight
Bald eagle in flight

See, I’m not kidding, blue sky everywhere you look, probably one of the nicest stretches of weather I have ever experienced, anywhere.

Great blue heron liftoff
Great blue heron
Great blue heron liftoff
Great blue heron

A couple of shots of the great blue herons as they arrived on schedule

Bald eagle and heron
Another futile protest

and yet another protesting heron surrenders his catch.

Bald eagle attack mode
Bald eagle attack mode

After a while observing these guys, you can tell by the way they leave their perch and by the look in their eyes, if they have locked onto someone catching a fish, or if they are just taking off on a scouting run. This guy has spotted someone with a fish!

Bald eagle attack glide
Bald eagle attack glide
Bald eagle attack glide
Bald eagle attack glide

The two shots above show an eagle gliding down to the water about to pluck an unknowing fish from the bay. I would love to have that great shot just as he is plucking the fish from the water, but the one imperfect aspect of the great weather is that the wind is always from the north and the eagles always turn into the wind as they snag their prey, or as they land on the oyster beds. And since I face north taking these shots from the beach, while I can get some nice pre-catch glide shots, when they actually grab the fish, I am always only getting yet another ” bird butt ” shot. I need a southerly breeze, but the only time the wind turns around and comes from that direction is when it is bringing in bad weather.

Attack coming from above
Attack coming from above
Eagle defending his catch
Defending his catch

After almost two weeks of shooting eagles, I still don’t have any great battle shots, like the one above, only a higher quality shot. There really haven’t been that many opportunities to get this type of shot, the only good scrapes I have witnessed have occurred at too great a distance, and there really haven’t even been all that many of them. With only one more day to go, I just might be running out of time.

A gathering of eagles
A gathering of eagles

This last shot is a composite of several photos taken today to show how concentrated this gathering of eagles at Big Beef Creek is getting. The number of shots was dictated by the very narrow depth of field of the 600mm lens that I had to use since these guys were a long way off. I focused each shot on a different eagle, or group of eagles, to get them all somewhat in focus in the combined final image.

Yesterday I could count over 50 eagles within eye site of my position, today, probably ” only ” 40. The locals tell me the month of June is always better than the two weeks I have been here, and with the eagle count rising rapidly the last two days, I would have to say they are probably right.

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Well, you probably noticed the new Amazon ads on the right. I am doing this to hopefully generate a small revenue stream from this blog to cover some of my blogging costs ( hopefully ). If you click through to Amazon from one of the ads on the right, Amazon pays me a small commission on whatever you may be interested in purchasing, it in NO WAY adds to what you will pay for the item, it simply helps this traveler stay on the road a little longer, and share his adventures with you.

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