Hangin’ with Eagles in Cascadia

One of the wonders of the internet is the proliferation of webcams in the unlikeliest of places. Among my favourites are some outdoors ones. Below is a short selection here in Cascadia.

But first, an aside about Cascadia. This is the idea that the most natural political grouping for the Pacific Northwest is one that combines British Columbia with Washington and Oregon. Their common interests, climate, and resources, from shared inland waters and ocean frontage to watersheds, forest fire risks, air quality, and exploding volcanoes, make their association, shall we say, inevitable.

At the Republic of Cascadia website (http://zapatopi.net/cascadia/) is a slightly tongue-in-cheek presentation of the concept. I especially like the stamps from the Cascadia Postal Authority (geoduck, anyone?)

The Cascadia Postal Authority notes: Profits from stamp sales go to support the Republic of Cascadia's struggles against its oppressors in Ottawa and Washington DC. Currently we can not offer to sell these stamps by mail due to conflicts with occupying postal authorities.

Other departments of the Republic of Cascadia include the Bureau of Sasquatch Affairs (Serving the Needs of Cascadian Sasquatch), the Cascadian Space Program, and the Cascadian Department of Transportation which has some nifty bumper stickers.

The location of the capital city of Cascadia is one that means a lot to me. From the available map, it seems to be located in the Bulkley Valley in central northern British Columbia. It looks like it could be right near Quick, where I grew up. Truly, “tucked safely away from centers of urban decadence.”

For a more serious overview of the whole notion see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cascadia. Its modern roots I think can be traced to two novels by Ernest Callenbach, Ecotopia (1975) and Ecotopia Emerging (1981) about the secession of the area from the United States. (In Callenbach’s vision, BC was not included.) But the idea really goes back to the time of Thomas Jefferson who envisioned an independent northwestern nation called the Republic of the Pacific.

After that digression, back to the webcams…. One site that has received literally millions of hits and coverage in publications around the world is the Eagle Eye Cam on Vancouver Island near BC’s capital Victoria (http://www.infotecbusinesssystems.com/wildlife and for background http://forum.hancockhouse.com/).

You can watch two eaglets as they go about their affairs, fed from time to time by mom and pop. (Originally, this camera was set up on a mama eagle trying to hatch two eggs on one of BC’s Gulf Islands. Unfortunately, to great sadness worldwide, the eggs failed to hatch, but the site had become so popular that a decision was made to find another similar site.) Be aware, though, that sometimes the site is so busy the video feed won’t show. If that happens, try again later and eventually you will get through.

Tune in the birds. Turn up the sound. Lean back in your chair. Take a deep breath or two and relax. Watch the birds doing nothing in particular. It becomes, for me anyway, rather mesmerizing. The sounds of other birds in the background, the rustle of leaves. One can imaginatively join the eagles in the bareness of perception they enjoy. It’s like haiku without the words.

Of course, if this was a rabbit cam, there might be way more anxiety in the air due to, for instance, the possibility of death from above by eagles, but even in that case, I’m sure they have moments of serenity. So I believe.

The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has several great wildlife cams (http://wdfw.wa.gov/wildwatch/index.html/), ranging from osprey hawks to bats to burrowing owls to salmon. I especially like the heron cam (http://wdfw.wa.gov/wildwatch/heroncam/index.html). The stillness of the gawky, lovely creatures.

For an even more laid back experience, go to the west coast of Vancouver Island and vicariously take a walk on the beach(http://www.westcoastaquatic.ca/webcam.htm). For a sample of the scenery we enjoy in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, take a gander at http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/1102/webcams.html.

In May, 1980, Mt. St. Helens in Washington State blew its top off. Over 200 square miles of forest fell over or was buried by ash from this volcano. The ash sifted down as far away as southwestern British Columbia. Fifty-seven people were killed and 250 homes destroyed. For a detailed exploration of what happened at Mt. St. Helens see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_St._Helens.

And after years of quietude, recently the mountain is starting to rumble again. As of May 31, for instance, the mountain is closed to climbing due to volcanic activity.

You can keep an eye on things there with the Mt. St. Helens Volcano Cam (http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/volcanocams/msh/). On a clear day you can see right up into where a new lava dome is slowly developing in the old crater. (On a rainy day, all you will see is a gray blur.)

Watch carefully!

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2 Comments on “Hangin’ with Eagles in Cascadia”

  1. bloglily Says:

    Oh my! What a lot of wonderful, wonderful things you’ve given us! Having lived from age 10 to age 18 in a less than lovely slice of the northwest (Parkland, a suburb of Tacoma), I think every link here offers redemption for those eight years of mud flats and mobile homes.

  2. fencer Says:

    Thanks a lot… don’t know Tacoma very well, but spent time in Seattle, Bellingham, Snohomish and Sedro Woolly as a very young kid.


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