Friday, May 01, 2009

Walking in PT

My first summer here, one morning I woke at dawn. I drove to North Beach, sat on a driftwood log and watched otters cruising back and forth, breakfasting. Then one by one they swam to shore, toddled out onto the beach and began grooming in the dawn light. That was eight years ago. Now I have a dog and walk every day, which allows for some interesting sights. Last week while walking on the Larry Scott Trail with Shadow, heading back to the parking lot from the Mill section of trail, I saw a couple walking toward us. Suddenly the guy lurched and hit his companion in the shoulder, then pointed towards the water's edge. Following their gaze I saw an eagle rising off the water near the shore. I'd never been that close to an eagle. It's fanned white tail feathers, up close, were breathtaking, but that was just the beginning of the show. The eagle stayed low over the water and circled back, flying in my direction along the shore's edge. Then I saw his target, a large otter standing on a rock, eating a fish. The eagle came down on the otter and had both sets of talons on its back but either couldn't get a grip or couldn't lift the heavy critter because he quickly flew onward. The otter slid into the water, shaking off the grasp of those claws, but came back up, a bit closer to shore, stood on another rock and finished his fish. This was the closest and best view I've had of an otter, as well - thanks to the daily walk! By the way, otters around here are river otters, not sea otters.

Eagles are common in this area and are always hunting. A couple of years ago I was heading to the post office on a Saturday morning before driving out of town to see my son. At an intersection a couple of blocks from the main post office, I saw a pick up truck at a stop sign but with no one in it. That seemed odd but as I put my eyes back on the road I saw a man and woman standing in the street about a block downhill, looking up towards my approaching vehicle. Following their eyes, I looked to my right and saw an eagle, standing by the side of Harrison Street, not five feet from my car. It was tearing apart a crow. Friends told me later that crows taunt eagles terribly, but I gotta's obviously not much of a match.