Protection Island farewell

We slept little and rose early to a gale warning. Nothing materialized near us so we did our final clean up, shut off and lock down. I had to take the truck back to the maintenance shop to drop something off and flushed several eagles from the brush. They flew overhead to wish me godspeed.


It has been two months since we had any rain. One of the mule deer came down to the marina to lap up some salt water.


The seagulls will be happy to have their island to themselves and they can dirty everything to their heart’s content.


We packed and shipped our bikes and Tim’s keyboard (his source of sanity on the island), Tim swam, then we hopped a bus and ferry to Seattle. Tim indulged me and we were tourists for the afternoon.



But he managed to get a front row seat on the monorail ride downtown on our way to the airport. We’re on our way home.

Smoke on the water

Fire in the sky. Lingering smoke from the British Columbia wildfires persists. It makes for eerie sunrises and sunsets. When mixed with morning fog, it’s hard to tell what’s what.


A sleepless night let me catch yesterday’s sunrise.


This boat ghosted across the harbor the other morning.


I met a German woman who is an extraordinary athlete. She has sea kayaked alone around Australia, South America and is now working her way around North America. Earlier this season, she paddled from Seattle to Kodiak, Alaska! Now she is working her way south. She seemed a little taken back by the combination of fog or wind, which prevails in August in the Pacific Northwest.  She plans to kayak the east coast of North America in the future, maybe our paths will cross again.

Only a handful of seagull chicks have survived around the cabin. It’s unclear what kills them because they appear undamaged. The ones that survive and are beginning to stretch their wings, keep me entertained.

The eagles seem to be doing just fine.


As are Larry and Larry. A former caretaker named all the deer Larry and their name stuck.IMG_3246

Seals have hauled up on the beaches to nurse the pups and can be heard mewing and barking while we walk the roads.

All’s well in our part of the world.






Once again the universe delivers

I’m an eternal optimist, perhaps bordering on pollyanna-ish. But in my experience if you expect good things, good things happen. Perhaps it’s just about being open. What follows is a very small example, but I assure you I have had bigger examples as well, it happens all the time.

We received some food, including a jar of apricot jam, when our research neighbor completed his work and left the island. Then I received an email,  with a recipe for Almond Puff Loaf, that needed jam(!) and sliced almonds, which I just happened to have on hand. Today I whipped up a loaf to have with coffee. It was simple, delicious and photogenic.


And now for the birds. I saw this eagle join its buddy at the water’s edge. I’m not sure what they were investigating.



We spotted these two eagles feeding on a seal when we went out in the boat the other day. A young eagle was off to the side and a third adult was waiting in the “wings”,

IMG_0418 - Edited

This group seems pretty content. Who wouldn’t be with that view?


This heron had a surprise visitor with ruffled feathers.

IMG_0479 - Edited

The house that formerly stood here may have been a little too close to the bluff. This fence now stands at the edge of a 200 foot cliff.


I liked this vanishing point.


And that loon we saw the other day is no Common Loon. It’s a Yellow-Billed Loon, identified by people other than me who know. It’s relatively rare with less than 10,000 left in the world. And one is here in our little marina. Ah, the universe.


IMG_0339 - Edited



Wacky weather

We were supposed to go ashore today to run a few errands and pick up a couple of people from Audubon who place purple martin houses on the island. I woke up at 5:30 and heard the sound of wind from the south. It was whistling and ultimately small craft warnings were announced so we stayed ashore. I got to weave with my pin loom and then we repaired the fence around an enclosure where native plants are growing. The fence keeps the black tailed deer out and we’ll use the weed wacker to prevent invasive grass seeds from landing inside it. Next we placed markers at daffodil plants that will be removed from the island after they bloom, and potentially sold as heirloom bulbs as a fundraiser, to make the way for native prairie grass.

Weather was supposed to improve midday but it didn’t so perhaps we will get to rendezvous tomorrow. The clouds and rainbows are incredible.


The new spikes on the house are working, mostly. One seagull managed to inch its feet just up to the spikes and accompany the lone gull on the chimney.


Every day we run across the remains of a mostly eaten bird. I’m not sure if the predator is the northern harrier that stays nearby or one of at least eight eagles we have seen.   They rudely leave the carcass on our wood chopping block. Tim still uses it, I don’t.


We’ll see what tomorrow’s weather brings.




Another whale of a day

Ho hum.  Tim has told me he is tired of my unending good humor.  But he’s not seeing straight.

2013-07-22 001 2013-07-22 117


The whale songs began the moment I woke up ( notice I don’t say at dawn, when they probably did) and continued all day.  It was impossible to get anything done because there would be more action somewhere around the island.

2013-08-12 001 2013-08-12 044 2013-08-12 001 2013-08-12 059


They were swimming, sleeping, playing and feeding, solo, in pairs or in groups of up to ten.  What fun.  Noise and blow spouts all around us.  The otter swam peacefully by as well and I found the fledgling eagle.  I heard him clumsily clamber up a rock when I found my own perch on the heliport.  He sat there for an hour and wasn’t disturbed by me, whale activity, other birds or salmon leaping right in front of him.  When he looked like he was about to take off, I began shooting video only to catch him dropping a load.  Sweet.  But a boat of visitors from one of the local fishing lodges stopped by and they got to see him fly off to the little rock offshore the older eagles have occupied since we have been here, and probably for all time.

2013-07-22 001 2013-07-22 045 2013-07-22 001 2013-07-22 059


Any dreams of returning to one of those rustic lodges were shattered when we saw the rates.  Oh my!

2013-07-22 001 2013-07-22 076

After our visitors left, the last of the whales swam off into the sunset.

2013-08-12 001 2013-08-12 065

2013-08-12 001 2013-08-11 004


2013-08-12 001 2013-08-11 003


Whale watching

The strangest thing about being in this lighthouse is most of the creatures around us breathe above water.  Other places fish swim and we never know they are out there.  Here they sigh all day: whales, seals, sea lions, otters, and orcas.  We can hear whales breaching and splashing 10 miles away but the audio video isn’t aligned.  First there is a big splash off in the distance and then ten seconds later we hear it.  Go figure.  Yesterday morning was windy so there was no audio but lots of  visuals.  There was a pod of whales heading north, which stalled offshore the island.  There were at least six breath bursts in a line while some whales dove.

Five Finger 2013-08-10 020


Later in the day, the wind settled down and a whale came right by the edge of the island and the water was so clear, its fins were visible underwater.

Five Finger 2013-08-10 055

I went to sit on the new bench on the south end of the island and on my way back, thought I saw a chicken in the tree.  A chicken in the tree?  Why would it be sitting right next to the eagle’s nest?  Because it wasn’t a chicken, it was a young eagle, one of two fledglings we saw for the first time.  They weren’t impressed by our presence at all.

Five Finger 2013-08-10 089 IMG_9986

Tonight, while we were eating dinner outside, a fledgling took its maiden flight accompanied by an adult bald eagle.  The adult landed on its usual offshore perch, but we never saw where the young one ended.  I’m sure I heard it whining though.

Last night I finally got to stargaze because the days are getting shorter, only 15 hours now and the sky is clear.  The sun rises at 5:15 am and sets at 8:44.  I managed to get out in the dark for one of the few times and was greeted by the big dipper low in the sky to the north.  No wonder it is the symbol on the Alaskan flag.  I also got to see the lighthouse functioning as it should.



Today brought all sorts of whale hi jinx.  They were breaching all over the place but none too close to the island.  One pair seemed to be sleeping for a while because they weren’t really moving and they rose and fell with their breaths.  Then when they woke up, the games began.

IMG_9997 Five Finger 2013-08-11 009 Five Finger 2013-08-11 033 Five Finger 2013-08-11 034 Five Finger 2013-08-11 044 Five Finger 2013-08-11 045


A good time was had by all.