Sorry Bambi’s Mom…
Driving back from a fun day of tide-pool action at Salt Creek County Park, I wasn’t expecting to see anything to exciting along the road. It had been a decent enough day along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but the lack of wildlife, specifically eagles and shore birds had left a sour taste in my mouth. Typically, I see eagles, ducks, geese and even seals while at Salt Creek, but today yielded only mussels as far as the eye could see, lining tide pools fills with starfish, hermit crabs and sea anemones.
I know, poor me.
I admit it; I am spoiled living here on the Olympic Peninsula.
Salt Creek was awesome, but we decided to head toward Hurricane Ridge and catch the sunset from 5,000 feet. Watching the sun plunge behind Mount Olympus is one of my favorite things about spending the day in Port Angeles. As the car started the first turns away from the county park, we started seeing bald eagles sitting in trees right along the road.
Not one. Not two, but 7 or 8, spread out every 30 to 40 feet.
As awesome as it was, seeing bald eagles at the tops of towering fir trees doesn’t make good photography, so we kept going. Well, we were going to keep going until I happened to glance to my left and see an immature bald eagle sitting directly next to the road.
For those unfamiliar with the area, Camp Hayden Road is a small road that flanks Salt Creek, heading north to Crescent Beach and the Salt Creek County Park. Traffic is minimal, but steady, with cars zooming by at 50 miles an hour (though the posted speed is slower) every few minutes.
Despite cars flying by, an immature bald eagle sat perfectly still next to the road.
Being who I am, I immediately turned down the closest driveway, positioning my car no more than 50 feet from this majestic bird. It was then that we noticed the Bald Eagle was sitting on a dead deer.
Immature Bald Eagles aren’t as popular as Mature Bald Eagles, as their heads and tails have yet to turn white. In fact, they more closely resemble Golden Eagles. Don’t be fooled by the coloring though, the images I am sharing today are of bald eagles.
The Eagle ate on the fresh carcass for a few minutes in silence. I snapped a few pictures, but generally just watched and listened to the majestic bird rip apart a deer.
The silence was soon broken, as another eagle screeched in the air above us, scaring the immature eagle to a tree across the road.
After a few minutes of eagles talking loudly all around, our hero decided to see how brave it was and started to work its way back to the deer carcass. First, landing down in the ditch, then slowly walking across the road, the eagle reached the deer without raising a peep from the other eagles in the area. As it started eating, everything seemed calm and normal.
As we continued to watch this morbid scene unfold before us, equally disgusted and intrigued, yet another mature eagle swooped to a nearby tree. At this point, we were hoping to watch a mature eagle eat, as the pictures would have been more popular.
The eagles stared at each other, but nothing happened. The immature bald eagle continued to eat as the scruffy white headed eagles watched from above.
I continued to take pictures, loading up an entire SD card. Little did I know at the time, you could actually see blood dripping off of the eagles beak. As I kept snapping, a car decided to not speed by like the 40 others that had passed us. Instead of passing us, the car puled up behind us, scaring the eagle away into the nearby trees.
Feeling blessed to have this experience, we decided to leave the eagles alone. It was an incredible experience that shows the circle of life. While it was somewhat gross to watch and listen to a deer get ripped apart by an eagle, it was an experience unique to just a few places in the world.
The Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park are full of wonder and amazing sights around every corner. You should really experience the region every week. With hiking trails, roadside attractions and views that are impossible to describe or photograph, the Olympic National Park is waiting for you.
Come visit. Come Hike
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These are the lower quality images. If you must steal them, just try to give me credit. Don’t be a Knucklehead Mcspazitron.