Sunday, April 12, 2009

Eagles and Dolphins

I think many people probably have a favorite animal. One of my grandmothers loved butterflies; I had an aunt who loved owls, and another who's into koalas. My son's mother likes hummingbirds and dragonflies.

I like eagles and dolphins. Eagles are majestic and noble, dolphins beautiful. So when I heard that one of the shore excursions on our cruise provided the opportunity to see both, in the wild, I signed us up for it pronto.

I was not disappointed.

From the small town of Avalon, on Catalina Island, we took a zodiac tour. In addition to seeing cormorants and herons and harbor seals, we got to see both of my favorite animals.

I knew something was up when our "captain" cut the engine in front of a sheer cliff. I looked up and saw the signature white dots, the heads of bald eagles. Not one, but two nesting eagles. The still camera couldn't zoom enough, and while the video camera could, the rocking of the boat made footage difficult. You could see them with the naked eye, but they were even more amazing when viewed through the binoculars the captain and guide passed out. Here's what I was able to capture:

Then we headed a mile or more offshore in search of dolphins. Before long we were surrounded by about a hundred of them--seriously, no exaggeration, probably a hundred. Many came near the zodiac and seemed to enjoy swimming in its wake. This is probably as close as I'll ever get to dolphins in their own habitat, and it was worth everything I paid.


Fritz J. said...

A couple of stories about eagles. When I was young my parents spent one year in a logging camp in Southeast Alaska. The camp was located on Fish Bay which you can google to find a map. Anyhow, eagles eat a lot of fish and as luck would have it, one evening we were outside and happened to see an eagle make an attempt to catch a fish. His problem was that the fish was much bigger than he realized, being a King salmon(called Chinook down here)and he couldn't lift
it. Now the bay was pretty shallow where this took place and for probably a hundred yards or more the salmon drug the eagle along with the eagle flapping its level best. Of course once an eagle grabs something, he has to take the strain off his talons in order to release what he grabbed. Well anyhow, finally the eagle allowed the salmon drag him into the water but it was so he could release the salmon. Where they ended up the water was shallow enough for the eagle to make it to shore and he finally hopped up on a stump and sat there drying his feathers. The eagle spent that evening, all of the next day, and most of the day after that getting his feathers dry enough to fly and everyone in camp felt sorry for him so no one shot him for the bounty that was paid on eagles at that time.

The second story didn't have that happy an ending for the eagle. The following spring a pair of Canada geese nested and one spring day Dad took me to see the goslings. We hiked up a hill to a place overlooking a pond and sure enough, there was mother goose with seven little gosling swimming around. We were only about forty of fifty yards from them and were watching when the goose gave a squawk, to goslings dove into the reeds and about that time an eagle came into view in the middle of his dive to get gosling dinner. It was a bad move on the eagles part because about the time he got close to the water, the gander burst out of the reeds and gave battle. It wasn't much of a fight because the gander got the eagle into the water and drowned it. I would love to have a movie of that incident because once the eagle was dead, the goose and goslings came out of the reeds and swam all around the gander in a line as if they were applauding him or congratulating him. In return he straightened up in the water and flapped his wings as though he was taking a bow. That took place in 1949 and I can still close my eyes and see it as plain as though it happened yesterday.

Anyhow, glad you got to see some eagles and dolphins and enjoyed your trip.

Donalbain said...

Penguins are the best birds!

Darren said...

California is not the natural habitat for penguins. After returning from the cruise we went to the San Diego Zoo, which, as I recall from my childhood, had penguins. We couldn't find any there. Maybe we looked in the wrong places, or maybe they're not there anymore.

gbradley said...

Sea world has penguins though.
Thanks for the Dolphin video.

Spurwing Plover said...

I live here in NORTHEN CALIFORNAI and our biggist buisness is still agriculter and we have had BALD EAGLES living in our area for years and they havnt been harmed by anyone the only real big bunch of pests are the enviromentalist and their stupid demands