Normally the trailbreaker, today Aki trots close behind me when as we walk toward the mouth of the Mendenhall River. Maybe she remembers the sound of shotgun blasts thqat carried over the river water when we passed this way during hunting season. The more likely cause of her concern is a mature bald eagle that cocks its white head when we pass so it can examine my little dog with one of its lemon-yellow eyes.
In two hours it will be low tide. Already the channel has narrowed and much of the beach is exposed. Herring gulls feed like barnyard chickens in the exposed rockweed. A few mallard ducks burst into the air when we near then join a raft of their kind down at the river’s mouth.
Minutes later, the raft of mallards panics into the air and drops back onto river fifty feet away. The two eagles that drove then into the air fight over carrion. One lands and immediately starts ripping away at a carcass. The other one makes a series of imitating dives, coming closer and closer to the feeding eagle until it miscalculates and lands in the water. By hinging its wings before beating them, the soggy bird manages to lift off and return to its spruce tree roost. The other eagle never stopped eating.