Today I was able to paddle out with a lovely family new to the Northwest. Luckily for us we had gorgeous weather and could see clear to the Olympic, Cascade and Vancouver Island mountain ranges. The wildlife was visible as well, with a number of harbor seal sightings, various shorebirds seen and heard and even three harbor porpoise. I thoroughly enjoyed showing off a bit of the splendor of the islands, and the Pacific Northwest!
For me the highlight was spotting so many bald eagles, including one that was hunting. As we paddled along the cliffs of Henry Island, we saw an eagle take off from its perch, fly out over the water and swoop down. Three times it dove with talons outstretched, climbed back up, kited (back beating its wings to maintain position) and dove again. This is extremely taxing on the eagle, as they are not built for agile flying and kiting, but broad soaring. Despite all that effort, however, it did not catch anything.
Later I spoke with Brian about the eagle's behavior and he informed me that what the eagle had been hunting for was likely a diving bird. Eagles will watch a bird dive down and be poised to snatch it as soon as it comes up for air. That's why the eagle will kite and dive again-- knowing the bird must come up and cannot swim too much further, as opposed to a fish which will dive and not near the surface again.
All in all, a really interesting sight.