…That’s what I said as I looked across the sea walk toward Sitka National Historical Park. Good Lord! I have never seen that many bald eagles in one place save at Haines, Alaska in the late fall. That’s when they have their convention. (Because of warm springs feeding into a river there is a late salmon run and the eagles head to Haines to bulk up for the winter.)
I walked out to Merrill Rock (named after Sitka’s foremost photographer who documented Sitka during the first three decades of the 20th century. (You can see some of his work here.
From the rock I could count more than 50 eagles congregated around the tidepool. My camera went crazy and I was thankful that I would not have to pay to develop 10 rolls of film and wait two weeks for the Kodachrome to be processed somewhere off island.
As some point several of the eagles flew off, started circling and settled at a tide pool about a quarter mile up the Totem Trail. I followed. By then they had a small audience. I called Suzi.
You can tell the immature eagles because they don’t have the white head and tail, but rather look like the brown speckled bird.
They are gathering in Sitka Sound for the great March Biomass Festival. Every spring the herring come to pawn. The eagles, sea lions, humpback whales, harbor seals, gulls, ravens and fishermen all come in to join the hunt. Orca often come to feed on the sealions and harbor seals and perhaps to have a try at the whales. Add to that the other sea life, salmon, otters and the like, and it becomes one of those annual wonders of life in Alaska. And for Sitkans, the sign of spring.
I have not seen too many whales myself this spring, but a fisherman friend says he’s seen about 20 gathering off Viskari Rocks further out into the sound. I hope they come in closer because this year the annual “food web” cruises are not happening because of the pandemic.
But today was one of those wonderous days where you just stand, open mouthed, watch the aerial ballet and know that you are exactly where you need to be.