Magnificent Wildlife this Spring

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The spring of 2014 here at Sonora has been characterized by unusually large flocks of bald eagles (80+ in the photo) feeding on fish churned up by the rapids. Everywhere I look there are countless schools of tiny baby salmon (smolts). The fishermen tell me that the salmon fishing has been the best in their recent memory.

Bald eagles chase fish in Desolation Sound

A bald eagle soaring over Desolation Sound

Granted, it is by no means uncommon to read claims about 'great fishing.' But when I say 'best ever' I mean that the number of Chinook salmon caught to this point in the season is dramatically higher than in any season in the last decade.  No question.

What this means for the wildlife population in general I don't know but I can tell you this – the emerald green ocean and forests here are absolutely teeming with life this spring! 

Dolphins in Desolation Sound
This morning we had a lovely humpback whale feeding off our dock – it swam back and forth in the tide – and visits like this have become almost common place this spring.  In the first two months of the season the Yaculta rapids in front of Sonora have been traveled by nearly all local marine mammal species including transient (aka mammal eating) orca, pacific white sided dolphins, dall's and harbour porpoise, humpbacks, a gray whale, an elephant seal and many steller sea lions, not to mention the ever present harbour seals that haul out on the rocks in front of the resort. 

Orca in Desolation Sound

On the shores and estuaries our neighbours, the black and grizzly bears, have been hard at work grazing on spring foods like lyngby's sedge, and luscious sea food like crunchy, salty mussels and barnacles.  I've also seen several mother bears with second year cubs.  Soon, I'm afraid, the bears may disappear into the forests to feed on the sweet, tangy, calorie rich berries they prefer.  

Black Bears fishing along Sonora Island's shores

The berry crop (and this is just as important to your average bear as wine grapes are to a sommelier) looks abundant, and some of the salmon berries are ripening already, although the huckleberries and thimble berries look like they will take some time to ripen.  

Happily for the bears the hunting season is now over and it is safe for them to come out of hiding once again. I'm looking forward to catching a few more glimpses of their fuzzy magnificence before they leave for the mountain berry meadows.