Eagle eye isn't needed to spot majestic birds

Bald eagles are putting on quite a show this time of year in and around the Mud Bay estuary at the bottom of Eld Inlet.

While America’s national bird frequents the Mud Bay area with regularity, the number has been simply jaw-dropping of late.

I received a phone message last week from an excited driver who said she stopped her car and counted 30 bald eagles perched in Douglas fir trees and the surrounding salt marsh and mudflats.

Not to be outdone, Eld Inlet resident Kim Merriman pulled over on McKenzie Road southwest of U.S. Highway 101 this month and counted more than 100 bald eagles congregated in and around the Mud Bay tideflats. Some trees hosted a dozen or more eagles, she said.

“It was surreal – almost like looking at decorations strategically perched at the end of every branch of a Christmas tree,” she said. “And that was the case in tree after tree.”

Top-notch South Sound birders, including Black Hills Audubon Society members Whittier Johnson, who lives near Mud Bay, and Bill Tweit, agree there’s a bump in bald eagle abundance in the Mud Bay area this year that coincides with the fall chum salmon run.

I joined Johnson on the BHAS Christmas Bird Count last Sunday. We spotted 17 bald eagles in the Mud Bay area, which is pretty consistent with what Johnson’s been seeing this late fall and early winter.

The higher numbers witnessed by Merriman are not out of the question, Tweit said.

“They definitely follow the salmon,” he said. In other words, if there had been weaker-than-normal chum runs on other Puget Sound rivers and streams, the Mud Bay area, which is fed by chum-bearing Perry and McLane creeks, might have been more inviting to bald eagles this year.

Whatever the reason, it’s been a sight for sore eyes.


Readers were quick to point out this week that my column last Sunday on the upcoming Sonics concert in Olympia contained two errors. One I blame on my suspect memory. The other is borderline inexcusable.

First, the memory lapse. Kimberly Nichols of Lacey wrote to remind me that the Red Carpet teen club in Tacoma was at 5212 South Tacoma Way, not on Pacific Avenue.

“You see, I was there every weekend in ’64-65,” she said. “You never know, we might have danced together!”

Maybe, but I doubt it. I remember having trouble dialing up the courage to ask girls to dance, especially if I didn’t know them.

Tod Monroe and Chris Maun both e-mailed me to point out a glaring error in my column: It was the Northern Irish rock band Them, featuring Van Morrison as lead singer, who get credit for bringing us the rock anthem “Gloria,” not The Kinks.

I knew better: I still have the Them record album featuring “Gloria,” which was penned by a very adolescent-looking Van Morrison. This is the kind of mistake that happens when the writer is scrambling to make deadline and the editor is too young to be familiar with mid-1960s British rock ’n’ roll bands.

“Gloria” was one of the most heavily covered rock songs of the ’60s. A version recorded by Chicago suburban rock band Shadows of Knight in December 1965 was a big hit on the radio.

“The Shadows were from my neck of the woods and used to play all the teen clubs around my suburb,” Maun recalled.

My column also had Olympia attorney Steve Bean waxing nostalgically about the early days of Pacific Northwest rock ’n’ roll and his prior life as a concert promoter and disc jockey.

“How old were you in 1959 when I brought the first live rock music for teenagers to Olympia?” Bean asked me via e-mail.

The answer: I was 11 and still a little too young to appreciate rock ’n’ roll.

“Instead of going to the (Olympia) Community Center on East Fourth to dance to records at events chaperoned by your parents, I brought Little Bill and the Bluenotes and followed it up with The Wailers to the Eagles and sold the joint out,” Bean recounted. “Of course, it didn’t hurt that I was a deejay and plugged my groups frequently.”

Finally, Mark Kaufman of Olympia Acoustic Music wrote to alert me to a volunteer-run concert series his group started a year ago in a small studio at 418 Washington St. S.E., Olympia, featuring monthly performances by folk/acoustic singers and songwriters playing in an intimate setting (seating approximately 50) for shows that start about 7:30 p.m.

“The shows are usually over in time for you to get to bed shortly after 10 p.m.,” Kaufman said, making note of my self-professed inability to stay up too late.

“If you are still up for more music after your New Year’s Eve soiree, check our website and come for a more mellow evening of folk and acoustic stuff,” he said.

If you want to learn more about past and upcoming concerts, Google “Olympia Acoustic Music.” I plan on doing the same.

John Dodge: 360-754-5444