Fraser River Flooded with Bald Eagles!

Festivals and Fun


The Harrison -- Chehalis River complex has done it again.  The Fraser River Bald Eagle Festival on the weekend revealed another record year for Bald Eagles.  2630 eagles were counted along 3 kilometers of the Harrison River on Sunday  -- a new record for this early in the season.

Photos by Christian Sasse

 


What is even better is that the Fisheries Department reports record numbers of spawning sockeye salmon.  Over 600,000 fish are presently spawning in this section of the Harrison River and their carcasses will be available for the wintering eagles.  Last year, when the entire coasts of Alaska and British Columbia suffered a catastrophic loss of spawning chum salmon, a record 7362 eagles appeared in late November and early December on the Harrison River to feast on a small run of coho and chums.  The feasting lasted less than a month -- because the carcasses ran out.  This year the Harrison has set the table with a record number of salmon and again most of the upper coast rivers have small salmon runs. 

For the rest of November and December we should be having record numbers of both salmon and feasting eagles.  Wildlife eagle biologist David Hancock, of the Hancock Wildlife Foundation, who monitors these eagles has stated that this congregation of raptors is the largest such gathering of any bird of prey anywhere in the world. 

Those persons gathering at the weekend Fraser River Bald Eagle Festival witnessed this incredible feasting.  Hopefully for the next 4 to 8 weeks the bountiful table will be set for more people to see these incredible eagles.   Viewing is best from along Harrison Bay from Highway 7 or from the Eagle Point Observatory at the Eagle Point Community Park two miles up the Morris Valley Road. (Turn north off Hwy # 7 at the Sasquatch Inn.  It is the next right turn past the Sandpiper Golf Course).

Even better viewing is from the Harrison River but only periodic boat tours are available from Fraser River Safari tours http://www.fraserriversafari.com/.   David Hancock will be on the river for at least one day of each upcoming weekend.  This season Hancock says it is likely we will break the 2010 mid-December peak count of 7365 eagles in this 3 kilometer spectacle.  Hancock believes about 200 to 300 additional northern eagles are arriving each day.  "Most winters we get about 2000 eagles wintering here but with the decimation of northern salmon runs we might exceed over 10,000 eagles this winter in this small area -- a biological wonder."  This is a marvelous sight to behold but the disappearance of many northern runs of salmon bode long-term disaster for both groups -- salmon and eagles -- and many a bear will be going into hibernation hungry and thin.  A bonus for bird watchers are the thousands of waterfowl, including about 300 huge trumpeter swans, that feed in the same waters.

Fraser River Bald Eagle Festival update:
Nov. 21, 2011

Note:  for further biological comments contact:   David Hancock  604  761-1025 or  Fraser River Safari at: 1-866-348-6877

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