Regal Eagle at the Deli

Sometimes when I drive by this tree at the side of the estuary, it is loaded with bald eagles, decorating it like so many Christmas tree ornaments.

Today there was only one eagle — an immature one at that. The rest were busy foraging below the tree  and up the river mouth at the Regal Eagle Deli. The last putrefied chum salmon lie like wet paper towels on the banks, exposed by the dropping tide.

Perhaps this one had eaten his fill and couldn’t stomach one more mouthful of rotten fish.

“Oh rats!” he says. “Another bird watcher.”

“I’ll give her my Exorcist pose – body facing one way, head looking the other. That’ll confuse her so she won’t know which is front or back.”



“Now, where was I? Oh yeah … urp … trying to digest that disgusting fermenting fish.”

Regal eagle looks for food, 

Fish again? Not in the mood.

Chilly air, he shivers high

In the tree so he can spy

Rotten fish washed up below.

Better eat in case of snow.

Leaner times around the bend,

Need to eat or life could end.

Though he’d like fish still alive

Choosy eagles don’t survive.

Marlie has Arrived

Adventure, drama, love, lust. You’ll find all this in my latest novel, Marlie, set in the Queen Charlotte Islands, or Haida Gwaii, as they are now called.

Unlucky in love, Marlie flees a bad relationship. She accepts a teaching job in the remote Queen Charlotte Islands. The beauty of the islands and the rugged challenge of northern living enthrall her. A good-looking artist has his eye on her. The perfect gentleman. Or is he? And what about that handsome fisherman? Is he just a bit too real for her with his hunting and fishing? Just as Marlie hopes that her life has made a turn for the better, disaster strikes. She is shocked to see her life spiraling downwards yet again. How could she have made such an error in judgement—an error that sets more bad luck in motion?

Not willing to lose control, Marlie takes a deep breath and sets out to get her life back on track. But can she do it alone?

Set in the remote islands of coastal British Columbia, Marlie is a heartfelt romance of love and loss and love again.

Experience the fears and joys of northern island living and delight in a second chance at true love.

You can put Marlie on your Kindle by clicking this link:

Paperback version is now available on amazon as well.

For those with e-readers other than Kindle you may find the version you need at smashwords.com

Book cover:

Painting by Jan Brown

Design by Anita B. Carroll

Cold Sunshine

The Captain and I had to make a trip up island the other day. It would be a long day so we took a picnic lunch and stopped by the roadside on the way home. Where we parked, several picnic benches were available but there was a chance our rear ends could freeze to the bench, so we stayed in the car where it was cozy. We had a fantastic view, sunshine, and the warmth of the car while we had our sandwiches and V-8 juice.

This was the view looking north towards Campbell River, on Vancouver Island. You can see the south end of town on the left, and in the distance you can see the snow-covered Coast Range which is on the BC mainland.

dscn7798

Looking straight ahead from the comfort of our car, this was the view we had while we ate our lunch. These mountains are also part of the Coast Range, on the BC mainland.

dscn7794

The waters were calm and the sun was shining, but it was hard to find a warm spot. Who knew that sunshine could be so cold?

Royston Wrecks

The little song sparrow provides music on this quiet morning. “Come along, Anneli. This is the way to the path beside the beach.”

008a

The trees are blooming. I don’t know what kind they are, but they’re always the earliest ones. They grow wild everywhere.

013

I step down from the beachside path to walk towards the water. Several little stone men are already on the beach. Some very patient person has been here. Have you ever tried to build one of these stone guys? It’s not as easy as it looks. I’m told they’re only cairns, but my imagination took off for a second there.

035

Across the bay from where I live on Vancouver Island, is the tiny community of Royston. In trying to find out more about the history of the wrecks that are piled up to function as a breakwater for logging, I came across a very interesting article about it in the Vancouver Sun. Here is the link: http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/westcoastnews/story.html?id=3c998dce-5853-4a6c-ab97-d3d20fb8255a

I couldn’t find the author’s name, but at the end I saw that it had an email address and a copyright: lpynn@vancouversun.com  © (c) CanWest MediaWorks Publications Inc.

According to the article, at least 14 vessels have been purposely sunk here “as breakwaters for log-booming operations exposed to the southeast winds blowing down the Strait of Georgia.”

024

The log booms are no longer active, but at certain times of the year, fish like to come into the shallows here to tease fly fishermen. The wrecks are still doing their job of protecting the shore from the worst weather, and probably they are providing places for fish and other sea life to hide.

The misty haze hangs over the Gulf Islands between the mainland and Vancouver Island – very typical of this region.

032

Looking from the beach on the Royston side you can see the Town of Comox on the farther shore. Beyond that, you see the snow-capped mountains of the Coast Range on the mainland of British Columbia. These are not to be confused with the Rockies which are on the eastern border of British Columbia.

040

“That’s it for today’s tour, Anneli,” says the song sparrow. “We don’t want to bore people. Gotta fly!”

011a

Vancouver Island

In the lobby of Camp Homewood this map of Vancouver Island hung high on the wall. I reached up as far as I could to take the picture but the angle is still not quite right and some of the writing is a bit blurry because of that. The copyright of the map is Quiet West Publishing and Marketing Inc. and I believe the date on it is 1992.   I’ve copied out the poem written in the space under the title of the map –  “Vancouver Island: Legendary Map.”

Where Indian secrets for centuries span;

And whales make music unknown to man,

Ships shudder and shatter beneath ominous skies,

Strong winds make lyrics of mournful cries

‘Til Nature’s ballads bring storms to rest;

And with tranquil calm this place is blest.

Now my tragic hero sings a melody to me

His sweet spirit lingers

In the heavens above the sea.

by Valerie Hayes

If you click on the map you can enlarge it and see more detail.

Just under the stern of the ship at the top right of the map, is Quadra Island.

021On the left of Vancouver Island (on its west coast) you can see images of many ships half sunk  near the shore. It is a rocky coastline and the wind can come up suddenly. In the days of sail, a ship would need space to maneuver in order to keep off shore in a blow. It’s no surprise that many of them ended up on the rocks.

Notice the killer whales milling around, ready for hors d’oevres.

The main island highway runs the length of the east coast of the island, from Victoria on the southern tip to Port Hardy near the northern end of the island.

One thing you will not find on Vancouver Island is the city of Vancouver. It is on the mainland of British Columbia. If you are surprised by this, you are not alone. Many people mistakenly believe that Vancouver is on Vancouver Island. Still others think that the provincial capital of British Columbia is Vancouver. Wrong again. The capital is Victoria and it is on the island.

042

Victoria’s Parliament Buildings first held official sessions in these buildings in 1898.

Good Things, Small Packages

If good things come in small packages, the chickadee could be easily be the mascot for this saying. These birds seem to be everywhere, chirping and singing happily, “Chicka-dee-dee-dee.” They’re tiny. Three or four of them would easily fit into the palm of your hand. And they are almost tame enough to come and sit there. In the bird sanctuary they do just that, in hopes of getting a birdseed handout.

035a

My late father-in-law, Harris,  used to love hearing the chickadees. He imitated their call the way he remembered it from his younger days on the east coast (where they probably had a different variety of chickadees) – “Chicka-dee-dee-dee, chicka-paw-paw-paw.”

Here he is at the bird sanctuary where we left him near the truck while we went looking for birds, meaning to call him over when we found some. But the birds came to him while we went looking. Seems he was a bird magnet with a magic touch of his own. The chickadee had no qualms about landing on his palm to eat a bit of seed, and Harris does look thrilled.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great Blue Heron

Wouldn’t it be nice if all birds could be friends? But that’s not how it is in nature. Crows rob the nests of songbirds, cowbirds lay eggs in the nests of other birds and then fly off, knowing the surrogate mother will bring up the cowbird baby that will crowd out the original nestlings. Owls and hawks will kill other smaller birds. “World bird peace” is pretty much hopeless.

Two of the larger birds, great blue herons and bald eagles, live side by side on the west coast of British Columbia. You rarely see bald eagles killing a heron, but it does happen. Turkey vultures, crows, ravens, black bears, and raccoons are all nest robbers that will clean out a heron’s nest. Eagles will do the same but they also predate on great blue herons in every stage of the heron’s life. The eagle has great grasping talons and a beak made for tearing flesh, so what chance does a heron have?

DSC_2033ed

Photo, courtesy of Ken Thorne.

Many years ago, I saw how herons escape from eagles. While living on the Queen Charlotte Islands, I was standing in my backyard one day when I heard the croaking call of a heron in a tall tree nearby. An eagle flew in and the heron lifted off. I thought the heron would fly away as the eagle went after him, but instead, the heron reached up with both of his wide-spread wings and pumped air downwards. He flew higher and higher in a tight circle going almost straight up.

018a

The eagle also pumped his wings and pursued the heron, circling higher and higher after him. The heron went so high that he was a mere speck in the sky. Many meters below him, the eagle soared in circles but was no longer gaining in altitude. I think he had gone as high as he was able. The two birds circled at their respective heights for several minutes, and at last the eagle gave up and flew away. The heron came down after a while, to go about his business for another day.

009a

The great blue heron is the ultimate stalker. He is patient beyond belief, and will stand absolutely still for so long that you might wonder if he is alive. Then he moves one leg up out of the water and hesitates. After a moment he puts the leg down, just a little closer to the fish or frog he is stalking. His folded up neck reminds me of a boxer holding his fist close to his chest, ready to fling out his arm to throw a punch at the right second. The heron’s sharp grabbing beak is his weapon for securing his dinner. His patience usually pays off and he scores a snack for his dinner.

I saw this fellow today at the shore below my house. I also took the picture of the eagle soaring over the trees beside my house today.  I sure hope these two can keep out of each other’s way and both settle for a meal of fish instead.