FledgeFest 2014 Report

Wildlife News

Hancock here: FledgeFest 2014 & Hancock Open House: What a wonderful day for Mary and me, great weather, totally wonderful guests and so much exciting reaffirmation and good talk. The day started with a small caravan of 5 cars on a tour to various Lower Fraser Valley Bald Eagle nests. Most of the participants were out-of-towners who were up for FledgeFest and we got to visit a few nests. Mary suggests I left on the tour to get out of the final food prep!

Many of the nestlings were already fledged. The lone surviving chick from Nest #169 in Delta was feeding on the nest. The previous day we got sad news. While electrocution is still the largest killer of eagles, roadside kill by vehicles is a close second. Now we have to sadly add trains to the category of "killers". The juvenile at #169, on its 2nd or 3rd day of flying landed on the railway tracks and then flew off but in the wrong direction. It was run down by the approaching engine. OWL collected up the badly damaged bird but the vet decided the broken bones and huge open wounds were too much and the bird was sadly put down. My records will read: HWF Nest #169: 2 young fledged, 1 fledgling died 2-3 days after fledging when run over by a train engine - July 12, 2014

At the open house, there was a wonderful mix of people "into eagles" on their own initiative or forced into it by knowing me! Last year's sandhill cranes, the demoiselle cranes and this year's baby sandhills wandered freely "tasting or testing" many of the guests. I guess the biggest two hits were the incredible selections of fine food brought by the guests and helpers and the incredible array of fine images that kept appearing from our keen photo-followers. Glen Browning again brought his "so life-like" mounted bald eagle so people could really get close for "close-ups" shots!! Ildiko brought a collection of bird parts from the museum at UBC, including a set of large wings, to allow people to really see these incredible instruments. Jo-Anne and Rob Chadwick, who many know as the owners of the Fraser River Safari Tours and Jo as the president of the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival, got to meet a number of the Hancock House authors, quite appropriate since she and Rob are taking over Hancock House Publishers.

Christian Sasse not only had a lot of prints on display but set up his cameras to live broadcast people's discussions and the gathering. Christian has put in an incredible time and effort with Ken and Ben to get an understanding and control of our proposed live broadcasting portable system. He has been working through various options at the White Rock nest but was successfully able to stream from here. Quite wonderful Christian. It makes us appreciative of the early efforts of Richard who set our path before he passed away. I just got to speak with Christian as JudyB, really Judy Barrows our HWF website and forum administrator from Maine, called in live so we were blessed with her presence on the screen. She passed along her regrets at not being present, quite understandable considering the distance. While talking with JudyB I received a cell call, I thought in response to our live streaming broadcast, but it was Dorte and Thor from Brackendale. They were lost when their GPS led them 4 blocks away. So wonderful to see our Champion of Bald Eagle Festivals again at the house.

Another wonderful addition to our group this year were the team of Directors from Chung Ai, the Chinese Art Photographic Society. They will be coordinating an annual International Harrison Mills Nature Photography Competition in cooperation with our Season of the Eagle & Salmon. This will bring another international focus on the incredible concentrations of salmon and eagles at Harrison Mills.

Another bonus. Glen and Bridget Browning learned that we had yet to find a designer for the HWF 2015 calendar, and they offered up Bridget's dad to do the design. This technique works every time. If you fail to show up you become the winner of unknown chores!!! He said he would love to do it. He is a retired art designer of considerable fame so we are really in luck.

Mary and I wish to particularly thank not just the guests for all their contributions of food and the $1404 of cash that ended up in the donations/sales box, that Darlene made and Karen and Sharon supervised, to deposit photo print, books, buttons and calendar sales as well as cash contributions. Karen oversaw the entire guest list with Sharon to produce the fine name tags. There is no doubt I forgot who the hell I was several times and checked my tag. Thank you all.

The final thanks are to Mary who had to put up with the whole intrusion, the considerable work but all this, Mary so thankfully pointed out, would not have brought the event off if it had not been for the keen volunteers and Hancock Wildlife Foundation Directors who organized and executed the days events. I never saw Susan, Mark or Rosana without some plates being shuttled around and incredibly my namesake in the kitchen, the dishwasher named "David", was constantly being fed by Zohar and Sharon. The cleanup Mary so dreads was completed before we crashed into bed as the last guest left. Mary is offering any of them rooms to move in if they wish to continue with such help!!!! – and cooking I wish to add!!

Well again, thank you all so much. It was exciting to meet you all again and some for the first time. With this gathering we are about to say goodbye to this season's adult eagles and their offspring as they depart for the north. A few have probably already left. This coming August and September is our "quiet time" when we get to go into each nest, clean cams, replace those that failed during the season and perhaps, if funds are available, put in one or two new cams. Then starts the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival Season. Through November and December we will be having the return through our Valley of all or most of the California, Oregon, Washington and many of the Alaska and Yukon eagles here as their homeland is frozen, as well as our local and northern BC birds. We probably have 35,000 eagles pass through at that time and hopefully another 7,000 to 10,000 stop over at Harrison Mills for our festival.

Love to you all and good thoughts for keeping our Province sustainable .

David Hancock

To view pictures from FledgeFest 2014 and the eagle caravan click here:


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