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Record Number of Bald Eagles at Chehalis.

Hancock here -- Nov. 27, 2010

Cold weather and few salmon up the North and along the central BC coast has driven record numbers of eagles South to the Chehalis - Harrison River Complex.

With the Harrison River so low in water we had to put the Fraser River Safari Jet Boat into the water at Kilby on the Harrison. The Fraser River itself was so low that for half a kilometer the deepest channel was only 1 1/2 inches of water  - not even adequate for this incredible jet craft.  The day started cool and foggy.  We could not even see the nearby pylons but we knew from the drive over the Harrison River Bridge minutes earlier that it was sunny upstream .

We cautiously went off up the deep channel  of the Harrison, passing what I suspected were 1000 plus eagle in Harrison Bay to our West. This was probably about right as the Bay was clear on the return and many trumpeter swan dotted the shoreline and easily 500 eagles were still on the flats and in the surrounding trees. Hundreds of additional eagles dotted the neighboring hills.

North of the bridge the fog disappeared and there before us was the largest concentration of bald eagles likely ever witnessed by humans in the last few centuries.  The Chehalis Flats, the alluvial  outflow from millennia of floods  carrying gravel down the Chehalis River, was totally dotted with feeding and resting eagles. Some of the prominent larger trees, favored perching sites, contained over 40 birds per tree  -- the eagles looked likes bunches of grapes ready  for the picking. 

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Bald Eagle Bonanza along the Fraser & Harrison Rivers.

The worlds largest concentration of raptors is happening early!

Yesterday we did our earliest seasonal tour and eagle survey from Mission, BC eastward up the Fraser River to Kilby at the mouth of the Harrison, and then northward up the Harrison, past Harrison Bay, under the Highway #7 bridge and around the alluvial fan of the Chehalis River as it dumps gravel and salmon carcasses into the great shallows -- the feast for 1000 plus eagles.

The day was forecast rain but not a drop of rain fell. The 11AM -departure from Mission with Rob and Jo-Anne aboard their fine Fraser River Safari Tours boat was fully booked. The eastward 35 miles up the Fraser was spectacular.  Just over half the 15 eagle nests easily seen were being defended by adults -- the unguarded sites probably had their territory holders off to the adjacent salmon rivers to socialize and feast on the easy dinners.

In total I counted 352 eagles along the Fraser. We had fine close encounters with many on the overhanging branches and a fine look at half a dozen harbour seals drying out on a logboom. This is the most bald eagles I had even seen along this section of the Fraser and I was worrying that perhaps the great spawning beds of the Chehalis had seen few spawning salmon or that a heavy rain-driven freshet had washed the carcasses off the shallow alluvial fan and down stream into the main Fraser River. Were the low numbers of returning local springs, chum and coho salmon along the Harrison tributaries going to mean little food for the wintering eagles? 

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2010 Sidney Nest Web Report on Cleaning and Replacements

2010 Sidney Nest Web Report on Cleaning and Replacements:
By David Hancock

Sept 8, 2010 Wed.
We took the 1st ferry to Vancouver Island. Myles Lamont and Karen Bills came with me and Ken Cillis took his truck and tools.
On the Ferry ride, we heard that the crane, which last evening was postponed from 9AM till 11AM was resurrected back to 9AM.
It arrived at 10AM but we had lots of ground work to catch up on. Blackberries overgrow everything each year and require some clean up - though this year Epicure has done most of the work for us -- thanks Marc and Sylvie.
Good ole Harry Johnson arrived to capture a few shots of our activities so these should be with this report.

Starting the Lift


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Alaska: for the Birds and Hancock.

Sparrows, Eagles and Hancock Going North to Alaska:



NOTE April 2, 2010    -- first White-crowned sparrow of season at my feeder as I write - they are on the way north.  I will see them in Alaska  and landing on the Discovery Princess Ship as we cross the Gulf of Alaska.


As I am catching up on the HWF emails  -- I had three meetings yesterday in Vancouver so am behind 250 emails -- I see the season's first White-crowned sparrow at my feeder.  Last year it was April 1 but maybe they were here yesterday and I wasn't.


The visits of the both the White-crowned and Golden-crowned -- which are usually arriving at the same time  -- is really a harbinger of the passerines long migration to Alaska.  That journey is now well underway but will involve lots of 'hold-overs' by many of the species as they wait out local weather conditions.  By my start on the season's lectures onboard the Discovery Princess,  May 15 from Whittier Alaska,

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Eagle/Heron/Crow/Gull Interaction

The following questions were sent to David Hancock from Chris Rickwood:

I’ve just seen a spectacular wildlife event.  It was about 2pm on Tuesday 2008-Jul-08 on White Rock’s East Beach.  I heard a bird at the edge of the water giving a loud cry which sounded like “craaak”.  The bird was a blue heron.  It was being attacked by a bald eagle.  The heron flew along the coast for a short distance and then it seemed to have found a thermal.  It started circling upwards with the eagle following.  By this time, two other birds had joined the fray.  One was a crow and the other was a gull.  Both the crow and the gull started harassing the eagle.  They buzzed it but didn’t seem to make actual contact.  (The eagle completely ignored them.)  The heron kept rising in the thermal and slowly the eagle fell behind.  Eventually the eagle gave up the chase and the crow and the gull flew away.


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