Beauty, Endurance, Prey

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Aki and I are the only ones this wetland today not looking for safety. The birds, transients or locals, must use location, numbers or speed to avoid their predators. Only the Lesser Scaups sleep in peace on a river made wide by a flooding tide.

L1200806A low marine layer blocks any views of the glacier or mountains and persistent rain discourages any skyward views. If not forced downward I would have missed this solitary tern resting just off shore on vertical shaft of driftwood, not seen its curving black cap over white head and grey body.  Until last year terns bred on a sand bar near the glacier before leading their young on one of their South American migration. Then ravens raided their nests and the sudden bursting of a glacier dam flooded them out. No chicks made the trip south last fall.

L1200797Beyond the tern, sea lions splash and make noises that I can almost duplicate by forming the word “are” where my mouth and throat connect. Behind us 100 Canada Geese, driven off the protection of their offshore sand bar fly deeper into the meadow to reform and designate members to watch for danger. Leaving the tern we walk through a ghost forest of weathered spruce and hemlock corpses, all carried from their place of growth by storm tides then striped of branches and bark on their journey to this riverside meadow.

The trail ends at the dead forest’s far edge where flooding waters discomfort a clutch of shorebirds until they burst up to form a cloud that expands and contracts as they fly a serpentine pattern over water then around Aki and I. I love the way they flash their brown backs then white bellies in unison, injecting the intensity of mountain snow in sunlight on this subtle gray day.

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