Today (Nov. 2) I went out to the Harrison River to assist in an interview with the Old Growth Forest Alliance (broadcast by Global TV) to talk about the importance of a small patch of old growth Douglas Fir and Western Cedar to wildlife in general and specifically to our eagles. Thanks to Ken Wu of the OGFA for championing our bald eagle night roost trees. The Echo Lake old growth forest is also the night roost, probably the largest eagle night roost known, and is located beside the Chehalis - Harrison Flats -- where our underwater cam views the salmon and the two cams of the Harrison Mills eagle nest and the two Tower cams (about to come on live) all view the feasting eagles. Hundreds, to perhaps more than a thousand eagles, use this cirque and the adjacent hillsides old growth forest for their night roost during these fall and winter nights.
Today I counted 736 eagles on the flats in less than a 500 meter stretch of the sandbars -- right where our Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival will hold its major events on November 17-18, 2012. There were probably well over 2000 eagles already in the immediate area. The record of 7362 eagles in a 3 kilometer area along the Harrison in December, 2010 was a world record. This year we have more eagles this early in November so we may break that earlier record. This kind of record always comes with mixed feelings. So wonderful to see so many eagles in a small area.
The downside is why? Of course the reason is largely that most of the northern BC and Alaskan coastal areas have fewer spawning salmon so the eagles are forced south early. We humans have decimated the natural river runs of salmon over so much of the coastal habitat. Fortunately the Chehalis system is bustling with spawning chum and coho salmon and many of the earlier spawning spring and sockeye carcasses are already available. What a sight. While we were out at the Eagle Point Community Park (Harrison Mills, BC) to talk about the night roost and to check why the two Tower cams were not yet streaming live on the web as planned, it was unexpected to see so many eagles already gathered on the flats. We don't usually get 2000 or more eagles until December.
If you are planning on a visit to the Eagle Point Observation Deck (Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival viewing site) or go on the Fraser River Safari Tours then now through the year end is the time. On many of the weekends I will accompany Jo-Anne and Rob Chadwick of the FRS Tours as a guide to talk about this incredible gathering of eagles. We have never had this many eagles so early in the year so this is likely another record year.
Our two new cams at the Harrison Mills Nest are both PTZ (pan/tile/zoom) cams and before the eagles spend much time at the nest we will be focusing the cams on the Chehalis Flats in the background. Karen said this AM that before we headed out to the PR meetings today she set one of the cams pointing at the Chehalis Flats so it is possible that several hundred eagles were visible all day to the viewers. We are hoping to arrange a boat to go out to the Chehalis Tower this weekend to find out why the cams on the tower quit. In the meantime please enjoy viewing the Harrison Mills Nest Cams to see the eagles sitting on the flats or in the surrounding trees. It is quite awesome!
Thanks, Global TV, for covering this important issue of saving some of the last minute vestiges of the old growth forest.