Friday, June 24, 2011

Birds of Prey, Fish Hatchery & Totems - Day 6 in Ketchikan - Tues, June 21

Another rainy day in Ketchikan. That is not surprising however. It rains almost everyday here, at least a part of the day.  Most days I get up to heavy overcast skies, the clouds hanging low over the mountains, and everything is wet. Today it was really raining. I decided to stay in for awhile hoping it would let up sooner or later.  But by late morning I decided it was time to act like I lived here and just don my raincoat and go outside. 

These "ducks in a row" are crossing the street down near the library. They are likely off one of the cruise ships. Most local people wear raincoats not these capes. I almost bought one of those as they are much cheaper, but since I knew I might be wearing it a lot, I chose a waterproof jacket and I am glad of it.  I wear it everyday, or at least carry it in my backpack when I go out.

I was planning to explore the shops along Creek Street. So I crossed the Creek Street bridge and took this picture upriver of Ketchikan Creek. 

This picture is facing the other direction, down the creek. It shows the shops I had planned to visit.

However, I got walking along the creek upriver and ended up going along the trails instead.

Everything is so green and lush. Of course, it does get plenty of rain --- this IS a rainforest after all!

I can't wait to see this creek loaded with salmon.

Getting higher along the trail. It does just keep going UP. The picture before this one was taken from that platform where you can see the blue viewer. There are viewers and telescopes located in many places around Ketchikan. But I see things much better through the lens of my camera, especially with the great zoom.

 Should I take the trail?  Or the stairs pictured next?

I chose the trail.

 This is higher up the trail looking across Ketchikan Creek. The platform is where I took pictures of the fish ladder a couple days ago.

This is quite a bit further up Ketchikan Creek.  It is running along side the road.  Up ahead is where we watched the flickers.

 The baby birds are still there, though I don't expect them to be much longer. Mama bird came and fed him. I took a video of it. I will have this one and several others to show you when I get home.

 I saw a sign for the fish hatchery and turned up the road to check it out.

Ketchikan Creek is partially diverted to go through the hatchery. Salmon are caught, their eggs taken, hatched, and raised here.  Then they are released back into the creek. The creek water is constantly run through all the tanks (over 2 million gals. per day) so the salmon will recognize their home stream and return here when they are ready to spawn.

The water leaving the hatchery runs under the grating and back into the creek.

The hatchery also has an eagle center where they care for birds that have been injured and/or for some other reason are unable to be released.

The creek has been partially diverted and this will flow through the hatchery.

Here it is entering the hatchery.

These are the two resident eagles. Both have been there for several years due to injuries that would not heal well enough to allow them to be released.  On the left is C'ack (pronounced like chaw) and Aurora is on the right.  Both are female. C'ack is the dominate one. She will lay a couple eggs each year. They allow her to sit on them for a couple weeks and then take them away.

These are some of the tanks. They told us there are about 5,000 tiny salmon in each tank. Water from the creek is flowing through the tanks to acquaint the fish with the smell of the creek.

The tubes hold eggs and show the developmental stages into tiny salmon.

Birds of Prey demonstration:

I had asked about the Birds of Prey demonstration. The girl at the ticket window called and asked if they would do it for one.  Mike (pictured here) said he would be happy to.  So I had a private showing. The demonstration usually lasts about 20 minutes. Mike and I talked for about 45 minutes. Mike is the pastor of a Baptist church north of town and he invited us out. He has had a love of birds of prey, especially hawks, since he was 11.  He also loves to draw. So, is someone who has the same loves as you...God, hawks, and art. 

He explained about the feathers.  This is an owl's flight feather. Notice the edges. This soft edge is what allows the owl to flight silently. He also reminded me that it is illegal to have a bird feather in your possession, even if you just find it. There are huge fines for this, especially for endangered birds or birds like owls and eagles.

We looked at the talons of the owl. They are very sharp and the grip is very strong.

 The owl is named Moony. I think this is a perfect name for an owl. Isn't he beautiful. 

The peregrine falcon is named Pefa ( Pe for peregrine and falcon). They pronounce it with a long e and the a like a short u.

Pefa's talons are much smaller but just as useful. A falcon flies at 270 mph when it is in a dive after prey (usually a bird). The falcon will ball up its talons and actually strike the bird, knocking it out or even killing it. Then it goes after the stunned bird and catches it in its talons.

Pefa was born in captivity and it was intended that she would be released when she was mature enough. However, she refused to eat and had to be hand fed. She continued to be finicky about eating (Douglas can you relate to this?) and since they had to continue to hand feed her she imprinted with her handlers. They don't know if she thinks people are falcons or if she thinks she is actually a people.

Next I went to the Totem Heritage Center. Here they have preserved some very old and deteriorating totem poles.

These are very tall. There were five of these old poles. They had description cards telling about each one.

They had other displays such as these ceremonial masks...

....and these baskets. These baskets are made from grasses found here in Alaska.

Below is a picture of the raven found at the top of this pictured totem pole.

Raven is very important in the stories and legends. Raven plays a big part in the creation. He is responsible, according to one legend, for light as he freed the sun from the king who was keeping it in a box.

Note: Totem poles are not worshiped. They tell history, keep records and are memorials.

So what do you think this totem pole section is?

Did you guess that it was a bear?  I thought it looked more like a crocodile or alligator.

I figured the boys would like this totem with the tongue sticking out.

 See the eagle soaring over the pines? There are so many eagles to see but you have to look up sometimes.  They soar all over the town and love to sit in the high trees or down by the water.

This bus is free to ride. It just does a 20 minute loop around the down town area. It was painted by a local artist.

There are so many beautiful flowers in bloom around the area. 

I stopped at the IGA. Cortney, I thought you might enjoy seeing a price here in AK. I picked up soda crackers, an onion, ketchup & mustard so I could make a meatloaf for dinner. 

Prices of everything are a bit higher, some more than others. Things bought downtown are sometimes much higher.  I noticed that a Snicker bar was $1.50 (the size I would get normally in Wisconsin for 50 cents). At the Alaska Wild Stunt Show the other day they wanted $2.00 for one.  Gas is $4.05 right now.  Most of the meals we buy when we eat out are not much different than we would see at home. 

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