Hancock and Sasse Count: Nov 8, 2013

Festivals and Fun

Indeed the eagles are arriving. - This morning at light Christian Sasse took a composite image of the Chehalis Flats and I just finished counting the birds present.

Nov 8, 2013: Composite Image of eagles sitting on the Chehalis Flats. I did not try counting eagles in the trees!

Adults: 343
Juveniles: 638 + 1 = 639

TOTAL: 981 + 1 sitting on our Chehalis Live Cam Tower. I didn't initially see him as he was above my count area on the first run through.

((NOTE: Here is the url to Christian's composite image. If you wish to look in more detail please allow the 20+ images to expand. I have to copy the image to my desktop before I can enlarge. Note that our Chehalis Tower is surrounded by eagles and one juvenile sits on the top. Probably that bird is full!

See http://www.gigapan.com/gigapans/144329

This number of course does not include all the others sitting in the trees along either shoreline, soaring above the local hills or the hundred plus in Harrison Bay on the south side of the Harrison Bridge. So with 981 eagles countable on the central Chehalis bar we could easily have 1,200 to 1,500 already at Harrison Mills.

This indicates over 50 are arriving daily so for the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival weekend, Nov. 16 -17, we could easily have 2,000 in the count area. And most of these will be viewable from either the Eagle Point Observatory or the ,new Pretty Estates Observatory.

This is actually more eagles than I predicted since the southeast area of Alaska and the Northern BC rivers have had good salmon runs this fall and as of yet we have not had a week of very cold freezing weather to lock the salmon carcasses under the ice. This left me predicting that the big numbers of eagles, the 5 to 10,000, might not arrive until mid to late December. Perhaps many aren't waiting for the freeze up up north. They are coming south early. Of course you can't blame them. They have heard of our Festival and are coming for our salmon barbeque!

Of course the "non-comparable" element with my previous counts is that my previous counts, done using the binoculars and telescope, could not so accurately see eagle heads appearing above the gravel bars or several eagles closely packed together. I probably got most of the eagles sitting on the sand bars but not as many as are so readily countable on Christian's high resolution pictures. And when it comes to counting eagles up in the trees, where they blend in with the branches and generally when they are over a kilometer away, I only see the adults' white heads, I suspect I have under-counted earlier by sometimes 50%. In fact in a recent photo I show in my new talks, it is easy and likely to count 10 eagles in the photo. On blowing up these high resolution images you can then count 8 adults and 12 juveniles.

Perhaps the day I counted 7,362 eagles in that one section of the Chehalis Flats on Dec. 18, 2010 there were over 12 to 15,000 eagles present! So here is my challenge; come join us at Harrison Mills -- the Bald Eagle Capital of the World and make your own counts.


David Hancock

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