Page 27 - 48º North - The Sailing Magazine - December 2017
P. 27

The Artist’s View – Secrets of the Salish Sea Sketches and story by Larry Eifert
With winter come flocks of Black Brant to the Salish Sea. While it’s not a big deal for us, this is a major event for these interesting birds. This time of year, I see flocks pretty much anywhere eel grass grows, probably right out in front of your marina along sheltered shorelines. These are not Canada geese, but a separate species, and are relatively small compared to those bigger birds. Brant begin their lives in the extreme northern parts of North America, the farthest north of any goose. Nesting on arctic islands, very short summers mean they need to migrate south earlier than most birds, and maybe that’s one reason they’re much smaller than Canada geese. There’s no time to hang out and fatten up.
On their migration south, all brant fly to one place halfway out on the Aleutian peninsula: Izembek Lagoon. They stage here, resting for the next leg of a their journey. As winter is fast coming down on them, they fly 1,800 miles straight across the Gulf of Alaska to the Salish Sea where some winter while others meander south all the way to Baja. To me, this is a good example of why we have a federal government, a Fish and Wildlife Service and wildlife refuges. One small lagoon, ALL the Brant. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. Protection of resources like the Izembek Lagoon can create the thin line between an entire species potentially perishing and thriving. Look for Brant this month – imagine the trip they just took, and you’ll appreciate these travelers.
Larry Eifert paints and writes about the Pacific Northwest from Port Townsend. His large-scale murals can be seen in many national parks and wildlife refuges across America, and at December 2017

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