wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Herring Provides for All

The seiners wait in the harbour for the signal that the herring are fat enough, with a high enough roe count, to allow the roe herring fishery to proceed.

Rafts of sea lions are waiting too. They will take advantage of the herring being “rounded up” in the purse seines of the big boats. Many herring “escape,” right into the waiting jaws of these huge mammals.

Some of them like the fishy smell coming from small power boats and are trying to investigate up close.

Seagulls wheel around the seiners trying to grab any herring that swims too close to the surface.

This immature eagle is about to find out that the beach will be full of bounty as roe and herring and bycatch float ashore. These foods provide much-needed calories for the eagles especially at their nesting time, which happens very soon after the herring fishery. Healthy eagles will have healthy chicks.

And let’s not forget that as much as we scoff at seagulls and their shrieking habits, they are the janitors of the beaches, cleaning up every bit of mess.

Once the carnage has been cleaned up, the animals have to scrounge what food they can until next year’s feast.


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Bald Eagles

I saw an eagle land in a tree below my house, so I went out onto the deck to take its picture.

Then I zoomed in on it and got a close up of it, but had no place to steady the camera and just took my chances.

In a second closeup, I saw that he had his beak open and I could see its tongue, but I see that the photo is quite small on the blog, so if you want to see the eagle’s tongue, you’ll have to click on the photo to make it bigger. Even so, it will be hard to see.

These birds are much bigger than they look. If you had one sitting beside you with its wings spread out, tip to tip those wings could span 8 feet. The bird might weigh about 14 lbs., the size of a small turkey. 

Anyone walking a small dog or worse yet, letting it run around in their backyard in eagle territory, had better watch out for it. They make a nice snack. Although eagles are not water birds, they will do what they have to do to procure food. I have seen an eagle with a loon in its beak, dragging it across the surface of the water as the eagle swims with one wing paddling like a lifeguard saving a drowning person, until it got to shore where it cold devour the bird. I have seen it do the same after swooping down to pick up a coho salmon just below the surface of the water. They are incredibly strong birds.

At this time of year, the herring come close to shore to spawn. This means a bounty of food for the eagles. You can see these birds showing up in the tall trees near the beaches in greater numbers to await the arrival of the herring. 

Eagles are not totally scavengers, but they are like a cleanup crew of a different kind. They are opportunists and will eat what is already dead, but they pick off sick or injured animals, whether they be land- or sea-birds, small mammals, or fish.  A crippled duck won’t suffer long with eagles around.

This is why you will often see eagles high up in a tree. They observe a large area, watching for stragglers in a flock of birds, or any weakness in animals small enough for them to pick up.

 

This raccoon may have been sick, injured, or dead, and became an eagle’s meal.

“Hmm…. There must be a little morsel left.”

 

“He’s messed up my nice white head feathers, but it’s worth it. What’s a bit of blood when you can fill your boots like this?”

“Just a few tidbits left. I hope I can still fly up into that tree with my stomach so full.”

 

Once when I was playing with Ruby, our late springer spaniel (then a small puppy), in the backyard, two eagles had been sitting unnoticed by me, in a nearby fir tree. They swooped down low across the yard, heading for tiny Ruby. I ran for Ruby and spread out my arms to provide an “umbrella” over her, and the eagles lifted up like two jets making an aborted landing. If I hadn’t been out there with her, she would have been eagle food that day.

 

So take care if you live in eagle country and have small dogs or cats. 

 


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Loner or Groupie?

People are all different. If you think about it though, they fall into two main categories: loners, and groupies.

Are you a loner? Do you like your own company better than that of others? Are you independent, happy to spend time alone,  thinking and musing, or doing solitary activities? Do you like the quietness of nature? Do you easily amuse yourself with thoughts and puzzles, hiking, fishing, or walking alone?

A lot of well adjusted people are solitary types and love to be that way.

But some hate spending time alone. I’ve heard them say, “It’s too quiet. I’m lonely. I’m bored. I’m afraid to be alone, especially at night.”

Nothing makes them happier than when company is coming.

 

And then there are those who HAVE to be with a lot of “friends” or even just in a crowd. They say it makes them feel good when they’re surrounded by people. Life is one big party, and when the band goes home for the night, the groupies still want to continue being together, seeking each other’s approval in almost everything they think or do. “Wait for me! I just have to check how many ‘Likes’ I have on my blog.”

Photo: Courtesy of Paul Knettig.

Whichever category we lean towards, loners or groupies, maybe we’re just like the rest of the animals on this planet.

 


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Tree Talk

Did you know that trees talk to each other? Just look at these two firs on the far right. They definitely have their heads together, whispering secrets to each other.

“Are you there, Conan? The fog is so thick, I can hardly see my limbs in front of my face.”

“Of course I’m here, Firginia. It’s not like I’ll be going anywhere anytime soon. My feet are firmly planted on the ground.You might say I’ve put down roots here.”

“Well, it’s not like you’d get a better view  if you went anywhere else.”

“Oh, heavens, no. I knew a fellow tree, not sure fir how long, fir years anyway, he was leaning towards another  location. But it ended up all his plans went up in smoke. Some guy with a chainsaw promised him a nice cozy woodshed to live in, but the odds were stacked against him. He met some of our old friends there in the woodshed, but it wasn’t enough to save him. I’m sure from up here, I saw the other  blockheads in the shed. That girl Ashley, made a real ash of herself. Should have stayed on her mountain.  And there was some burly fellow just lying there. He thought he’d be turned into a tabletop but it ended up the tables were turned on him. He got fired, just like the rest of them.”

“That’s sounds like what happened to our friend Cy. He said, ‘Naw, they won’t burn me. They don’t like cypress. Too pitchy.’ But they piled him into the woodshed too, along with his cousin, Cedric. If only he hadn’t drawn attention to him, he might have survived. But Cy kept saying, ‘Ce-dar he is, over dar….Ce-dar, right dar,’ and he kept waving his flat, feathery fingers to point out the cedar. And just when Cedric was kindling a relationship. Now he’s just kindling.”

“I wood think about a move but I’m quite happy here, with all my cones,” Conan said. “I have a fantastic view from up here. Eagle’s eye view, Baldy told me so yesterday when he landed on one of my arms. Little pest was bouncing up and down,  though, trying to break my arm.”

“I know!” said Firginia. “He’s done that to me too. I think it’s the nesting instinct. They try to break off arms fir building their nests. I don’t mind if they break off the deadwood, but not my good arms, fir heaven’s sake.”

“I pre-fir the owls. Fowler just drifts in silently and I don’t even know he’s sitting on my arms until he calls his wife.”

“Yeah, I know. She’s always sitting on my arms, watching fir him to notice her, but he really doesn’t give a hoot.”

“Oh but he does.  Every 15 seconds, he’s hooting and ‘owling fir her. Drives me crazy some nights.”

“Well, why don’t you leave then, if you don’t like it?”

“I told you, I’ve put down roots here. Fir heaven’s sake, weren’t you listening?”

“Yes, yes. All right if you’re not going anywhere, the least you can do is hold my limbs when I reach out for you. There’s another storm coming and we have to hold on to each other, or we’ll end up in the woodshed together.”

“That woodn’t be too bad,” said Conan, twitching his fir cones. “I hear some interesting things go on behind the woodshed. Yew don’t know what yew’re missing. A hot time!”

“I said, IN the woodshed, not BEHIND it. And then you’d soon be in the wheelbarrow and heading for a hot time in the woodstove,” said Firginia.

“Well, c’est la vie. At least I’d be doing a good thing warming up the house for Anneli. I hear she’s always cold.”

“Now don’t pick on Anneli. She’s been very busy with publishing her new book, Marlie. I hear it’s a good one. Our cousins on the Queen Charlotte Islands are in it.”

“What I really like about Anneli’s books, she doesn’t insist on cutting down trees for her books. You can get the Kindle version,” Conan added.

“Oh HOT stuff! Kindle, get it? Kindle a fire under her words? I hear they’re that good!”

“But what if I don’t need to Kindle anything?”

“Then you go to smashwords.com.”

“Smashwoods?”

“Not smashWOODS! SmashWORDS. It’s smashwords.com Honestly, sometimes I think you have a wooden head.”

“Well … I do.” (Sigh!)

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Herring Time

When the herring roe fishery happens each spring on the BC Coast, the seine boats and herring skiffs congregate close to shore because that is where the herring can be intercepted as they rush the beach to spawn. At night when the boats have their anchor lights on, it looks like a floating city just offshore.

Sea lions and seagulls and eagles patrol the area in hope of some tasty bites.

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Photo courtesy of P. Knettig

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It’s a bluebird day. Hard to believe it was rough and windy just a couple of days ago. Still it was fishable and the herring filled the seine nets. Then disaster struck as an extra heavy net caused a boat to list  and not recover. The fishing community lost a fellow fisherman. His brother is quoted on CTV News:

“They had a really big set. The boat was listing and Mel went down into the engine room to turn the pumps on, and while he was down there the boat rolled over.”

It brings home to all of us once again, how dangerous fishing is. While the fleet mourns the loss of one of their own, the fishery goes on, as it must. The pretty night lights, and the bluebird daytime sky and sea belie the sombre mood and the heavy hearts of the fishing fleet.