I found out that the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival was on Nov 21 – 22 this year. I didn’t happen to make it out to see what it was all about that weekend. But then I thought to myself, do the eagles know what weekend it is? Could I not go out another weekend and most likely see them?
The weather was beautiful. A little too cold for my liking, but I pulled on the long johns and some extra socks, grabbed the dog and headed out.
I google searched a map of the general area and where the public viewing spots were. They were not the simplest locations to find due to a lack of signage. But my concern of a sunny Sunday bringing out loads of people proved to be unnecessary. Perhaps most already came out for the actual festival?
The salmon make their journey home to spend the end of their days. I couldn’t look anywhere without seeing a fish carcass. I made sure to keep the beast on his leash to avoid a rotten fish smelling dog, should he decide to have a roll in one.
The ones that still had a bit of life left in them were milling about, making splashes. Some actually coming to their end before my eyes.
The Chehalis Flats host the largest gathering of bald eagles in the world. They arrive from Alaska, Yukon and Northern BC to feast on the spawned out salmon carcasses. It’s a little dismal to watch these fish thrash about in the water, knowing that any moment could be their last. But it is all part of the circle of life, and their death creates life for others.
I wanted to have a look at the other observing location. There were plenty of fish at this spot but not a ton of birds.
Finding the second viewing location was no easier then the first. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention…
With respect to the habitat and the animals it’s important to disturb as little as possible. This means staying where you know you are not causing harm. With that in mind, I did not get to be as close as I would’ve liked and my camera (as much as I love it!) proved to be lacking when I tried to get some photos.
There was a telescope set up by Hancock Wildlife Research Center so I was able to get a close look at a couple of bald eagles devouring a salmon. A little swig of fireball helped to take the chill off and keep me enjoying the amazing scenery.
These birds are so impressive and utterly beautiful to watch. And the story of the amazing salmon is bittersweet. The weather was cooperative and I was grateful I took the time to get out and have this experience. Hopefully next year I will have upped my game in the camera equipment department and can really get some shots of these impressive animals.
More information can be found about the festival, the area, the birds and the fish at the fraser valley bald eagle festival website.