Whether sifting through sand, or scrambling over a rocky shore, it's about finding treasures in every day. 

Harbor Wildlife

There are usually a few seals hanging around Heritage Harbor in Wrangell. Lately they have been thicker than normal. My sweetheart counted seventeen one day, before I picked up the camera and they all dove. Seals don't like to have things pointed at them.

They don't haul out on the rocks, but seem to like being near the rock breakwater.

Seals in Heritage Harbor.

The two blobs on either side are seal bellies. They like to float upside down so that they can see what is going on in the water, and then tip their chin and take a breath.  If the humans are looking dangerous then the right-side-up seals will warn the upside-down seals by splashing and diving.

There is always bird life in the harbor. Sometimes lone seagulls wheel around in the sky, and sometimes big flocks of them float around on the water's surface working out the pecking order.

Seagull declaring ownership of a piling.

At issue here are the delectable seagull treats on the piling. Suddenly this piling has tastier goodies than all the other pilings in the harbor, and the loudest seagull wins. Or so it thinks.

The seagulls are cold, and have their heads tucked close to their bodies to retain heat. They paddle around the harbor, feeding on barnacles and mussels and hunkering down....until a bald eagle flies over.  Generally eagles have better things for lunch than seagulls, but winter is hungry time.

Bald eagle on the stone breakwater at the harbor.

Ravens foraging.

And then there are the ravens and crows. Even though both are in the corvid family, all black, and very smart, they do have some differences. Ravens are larger, and more likely to be seen alone or in pairs...unless someone is silly enough to leave a plastic bag in the back of a pickup truck at the harbor parking lot. It is no big deal for a raven to peck through plastic, blue tarps, or corrugated cardboard. Yes, I chased them off, and yes, they went right back as soon as I started down the ramp to the dock.

Raven in a rigging forest.

Crows are very social, and tend to be in flocks. A flock of crows is called a murder of crows, which is what you might want to do if they pick your boat to sit on that day.

A murder of crows on the rigging of a boat.

The crows often forage at low tide, pulling mussels and whelks (a type of snail) from the beach. They fly over a hard surface and drop the morsel to break the shell, then dive down quickly to get it before another crow steals it.

Both ravens and crows are interesting to watch and listen to. They have many voices and at times mimic what they hear. I have seen several ravens playing games with a stick, and occasionally I see them 'sledding' by tucking their wings and legs and sliding down a snowbank. I did not understand just how social crows were until I watched one with a deformed beak. It had difficulty feeding, and other crows brought it food that day.

There are often ducks in the harbor. This day there are a few mallards on the beach by the harbor parking lot.

Mallard drake

Mallard drake

It always amazes me that they can forage around on a mucky beach and still have perfect feathers.

Mallard females

The mallards are pretty skittish.

One of the joys of boat life for me is that I get to see wildlife every day. I just hope that the wildlife doesn't pick our boat to sit on.

To see more birds and animals: Alaskan Critters