Fundraising Dinner Thanks & Report

Sunday, November 30 2014 @ 05:42 PM EST

Contributed by: davidh


Hancock here:
I awoke Saturday morning to snow on the ground and bitterly cold - - ugh!  Christian Sasse was about to arrive 5:30 AM  for the drive to Harrison Mills so I could undertake an eagle count before our momentous day:  the Pretty Estates & Chung Ai Fundraising Dinner & Auction to benefit the Sasquatch Crossing Bald Eagle Cafe.
Fifteen minutes down the road the snow was no longer there, the sky was clear - wonders of wonders.  By the time we got to Harrison Bay where I start the eagle count the wind was beginning to churn up white caps.  As the light dawned no eagles were seen at the waters edge, none were sitting in the surrounding trees.  But about 55 eagles were soaring, doing acrobatics on the surrounding mountain tops.  The eagles were at their best -- just not wanting to cope with waves pounding the shores.  In fact, due to the rising waters the past week, there were almost no shores -- the waves were pounding into the grass and brush above the normal high water mark.  Salmon carcasses were just not available. The eagles had to find another feeding location or wait until the water dropped and exposed carcasses.

By the time we got to counting eagles at the Bald Eagle Observatory a gale was pounding and no eagles were sitting in the local trees and there was no foreshore or gravel bars on which fish were hung up or on which eagles could sit and feast. The past week of another warm spell brought the river up about 8 feet higher than usual.  We need the fall rains to be locked frozen on the hillsides as snow and ice.  Perhaps a couple of hundred eagles soared above the adjacent hills enjoying the wind-driven updrafts.

A dozen eagles were spotted dropping into the brush-enshrouded deeper channels cutting across the Chehalis Flats, but we could not see them on the ground.  This was not a day for counting eagles.  If was a day to call Jo-Anne, of the Fraser River Safari Tours, to say: "Don't come up the river.  There are 4 foot waves along the Harrison River!"  She responded with "Rob can't even access the boat ramp, too much ice on the Fraser and on the boat ramp!". Our 11:00AM tour was off -- damn!  Last Saturday we had counted nearly 1,700 eagles out on the flats.  Today no flats!  We had expected the eagle count to rise to about 5,000, maybe even 10,000 as a few years ago.
So no bald eagle boat tour or count.  Still this was the day of our 1st Annual Pretty Estates -- Chung Ai Fundraising Dinner and Auction.  A little cold sunny weather was already being attended by eagles flicking past the buildings, swooping over the ponds and doing wonderful aerobatics as they hit the updrafts striking the tree breaks.  Eagle flight displays were in -- boating out!  Now to prepare for the dinner-auction:
First, Christian and Fred Leung were sharing a lecture on "Eagle Photography" and the "Latest in Digital Innovation" and the crowd packed the River's Edge Restaurant.  Then came the preparation of the Auction, something that unexpectedly defaulted to me.
By 4 PM we had a full house, including my wife Mary, Susan Muraja and Rosana Inacio Sasse.  The three of them are HWF directors.  They were vying for cocktails, discussing the "cold day" but unusually warm fall, viewing the emerging yet wondrous selection of "silent auction" items.  Then arrived an incredible display of items submitted by many members of the Sts'ailes.  The Christmas offerings were increasing.  Then Chung Ai brought in their large framed prints, donated by the Chung Ai members.  Highlights of the bidding went to several images included in our new HWF 2015 calendar by Danny Chan and Christian Sasse.
(Emerging in the car on the way home was Christian's offer to contribute to a HWF Fundraiser of offering images to be mounted on our web site.  This will be available in the New Year or sooner!  Totally wonderful.  Thanks Christian and Rosana.)


The dinner was a great success. The evening was sold out: It was literally "every seat filled", all 40 of them. The Sasquatch Crossing Bald Eagle Cafe project will be getting $3000 to start the campaign.  Quite wonderful. 
The donations were superb not just as contributions from community supporters but Paula almost doubled the other donations from the Sts'ailes.  I could not leave this without adding the Chung Ai had mounted 17 wonderful photographer-donated images that brought in considerable revenue.  Incredible support.  I thank you all.
I put in a few words on behalf the FVBEF and the HWF.-- as you might expect!!!  I kind of became a co-MC with Randy of the new Pretty Estates admin committee.  Everything went without a hitch.  We even co-worked the live part of the auction.  The food was exceptional.  I even ate 3 helpings of salmon -- the Harrison Select brand supported by our Harrison Salmon Stronghold.  If someone took a photo of the poached salmon please send it to me.  They were incredible works of art.  I thought of it too late!  If I didn't suspect how good it was I could not have "repeatedly" broken into these art forms!  I did take one photo -- of Christian's first selection of a "desert plate", his first.plate!
Betty Anne was a gracious host.  I got to personally thank her and present her with a framed print Danny Chan had donated (January in our Calendar!), one upon which she had commented when seen earlier.  It was Betty Anne who funded our HWF Harrison Mills Bald Eagle Nest cams and who built the world's most elegant Bald Eagle Observatory.  She of course also donates the Pretty Estates that is the home of most activities for our "Season of the Eagles & Salmon" events.  Thank you, Betty Anne, from all the eagles and their followers - us!
The evening was PERFECT -- in fact a totally wonderful experience that hopefully will set the standard for an "Annual Fundraiser".
I thank all of you for your support this past year, so many of the locals joining our various Tours, and supporting the FVBEF and this latest Fundraising effort on behalf of the Sasquatch Crossing Bald Eagle Cafe -- an idea that originated with the HWF to offer consistent educational opportunities about the incredible ecosystems of Harrison Mills - Chehalis Flats.


P.S.  The HWF 2015 calendar is a great hit.  If you haven't ordered it do so soon or they will all be gone.

Hancock Wildlife Foundation