Bald Eagle Viewing Sites at Harrison Mills
Monday, October 20 2014 @ 02:45 AM EDT
Contributed by: davidh
Please honor the feeding & resting eagles by keeping off the Chehalis Flats Bald Eagle Preserve. Harrison Mills, BC, and more specifically the alluvial fan of the Chehalis River as it runs into the Harrison River, is the home of the largest wintering population of bald eagles in the world. Annually from November thru December and sometimes into February, 1,000 to 10,000 eagles can be seen on the flats and along that section of the Harrison River valley. Harrison Mills is the world capital of wintering eagles and is only a 50 mile drive from Metro Vancouver, the Bald Eagle Nesting Capitol of the World.
The Season of the Eagles & Salmon consists of 3 Major Festivals at Harrison Mills:
1st: The Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival Nov. 15 - 16, 2014
2nd: The Harrison Salmon Festival: Nov. 22 – 23, 2014
3rd: The Harrison Mills International Nature Photographic Contest: Nov 29, 2014
The Season of the Eagles & Salmon (schedule of events: http://fraservalleybaldeaglefestival.ca/ ) annually bring this incredible eagle and salmon gathering to the public through a three week long celebration at Harrison Mills. In addition to the festival displays of live birds, educational displays and an introduction to many local conservation organizations, each weekend festival features something different.
ACTUAL VIEWING OPTIONS: First a CAUTION -- The Chehalis Flats Eagle & Salmon Preserve.
The public has free access to the Harrison/Chehalis River edge where the eagles feed and loaf on the flats or nearby trees – as outlined below. However, one large concern has emerged. The central flats is declared the “Chehalis Flats Eagle & Salmon Preserve” between October and February and no human activity is allowed out on the Flats. This includes no walking, kayaking etc. These eagles have flown many hundreds or thousands of miles to get to this feeding and resting place and it is terribly destructive and disruptive to be constantly driving them off their food, socializing or resting places on the gravel bars.
The eagles readily adapt to people walking under the trees along the shoreline viewing or photographing the eagles or having sports, fishing or tour boats traveling the deeper waters of the Harrison River Channel. Please respect the eagles' need for peace and quiet on the Chehalis Flats. In winter this very small area contains the world’s largest gathering of bald eagles. They need our respect.
EAGLE VIEWING SITES:
The Festival puts out in printed form and on our constantly updated web site the schedule of the events. All the best and most accessible viewing sites are located in Harrison Mills, along the Chehalis/Harrison River shorelines. On the west side of the River go north up the Morris Valley Road from Highway 7 (turn north at the Sasquatch Inn!) to the three key sites below, or go east across the Harrison River Bridge and go south 1 kilometer to Kilby and Fraser River Safari Boat Tour sites. If you wish a preview of what fish are spawning or how many eagles are out on the flats go to the locally sponsored live streaming cams showing in season the spawning salmon, the feasting and resting eagles or the nesting bald eagles. www.hancockwildlife.org. The famous birders website Kathy’s Korner gives a full accounting of what bird life is present. The eagle viewing sites are as follows.
Tapadera Estates: This is a private gated community that is only open to the public on the first "official display" weekend of the Festival – always the 3rd weekend of November. They put on a great greeting to festival goers with telescopes in tented viewing areas, a warm fire, hot dogs and coffee and are the site of lectures in their beautiful recreation hall. There is parking and nature guides. Note: Tapadera is only open to the public on the 3rd weekend of November 15 -16, 2014
Eagle Point Community Park, a Fraser Valley Regional District Park, is located on Morris Valley Road between Tapadera and Pretty Estates. This is the only Park facilities along the Chehalis Flats and offers the best view of the eagles. Access is from the central parking lots between the Eagle Point Estates and the River’s Edge Estates – between Pretty Estates Resort and Tapadera. Park rangers are on hand during the festival weekend. Spawning salmon can be seen right at the viewing site with sometimes more than 2,000 eagles sitting with 100 or more trumpeter swans on the flats right in front. There are a few seats, an elevated viewing platform and some local guides are available even after the festival weekends when even more eagles and swans can be present. This site is open year round.
The Pretty Estate Bald Eagle Observatory: (Pretty Estates Resort) has developed a public pathway and observation area at the river's edge to give incredible viewing of the southern Chehalis Flats, the spawning salmon and feasting eagles. Their Bald Eagle Observation Deck is perhaps the finest eagle viewing site in the world. Even the river that runs through the Golf Course contains spawning fish, both Chum and Coho. The Estates also have a wonderful restaurant and cafe (and a fast-food cart on Festival days!) that lets you eat and watch eagles or get out of the rain. This is also the home of Hancock Wildlife Foundation's Harrison Mills bald eagle nest that has two live streaming HD cams that can be watched from home. The background of this nest is the Chehalis Flats. This observation site is open all year – as well as the key viewing site for the entire Season of the Eagles & Salmon.
Kilby Historic Site: is a public beachfront park just south off Highway 7 east of the Harrison River Bridge. Here is both a warm fun loving family diner serving homemade food and also a historic Museum giving a glimpse into our Gold Rush Days -- when the Harrison River, via Douglas, BC, was a prime route to the Caribou gold fields. The beach area trees are sometimes lined with eagles and two other bald eagles nests are visible along their road. During the festival season this site also hosts displays and lecturers. This site is opening on more weekends each year as our festival and the boat tours awaken more people to our magnificent eagles.
Fraser River Safari Tours departure site: Fraser River Safari Tours is located in Mission and they regularly run tours up the scenic Fraser River and most fall weekends board parties of eagle watchers at the Kilby Railway Bridge for the 4 mile tour up the Harrison to see the eagles. While the boat stays to the deeper water channels of the Harrison River the adjacent trees are often adorned with hundreds of eagles. The tour's covered and heated boat with huge sliding windows greatly appeal to photographers and naturalists. For most people this is the easiest way to view eagles and my largest count of 7,362 eagles was made from this tour boat along 3 kilometers of the Harrison River at the Chehalis Flats. The Fraser River Safari operates most of the year but the wintering eagles are largely viewed October through January.
• Note: Some other viewing sites are available but poor roadside parking suggests we should not point these out. However adequate parking along parts of Highway 7 from Deroche thru Dewdney, along the Nicomen Slough, often have fine eagle, swan and other waterfowl gatherings. Be careful of traffic.
• Note: If you have suggestions as to what our Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival might incorporate please contact: Jo Anne firstname.lastname@example.org