Harrison River eagle counts: will we have a new record? As some of you know I saw this year’s early northern cold spell as a “good-omen” – it should drive the eagles south in big numbers – and early. So far, I guessed it right. On the Fraser River Bald Eagle Festival weekend, November 17 & 18 we had a new record of just over 3100 and 3200 on the respective days. Then last Saturday Nov. 24 we had another early record – over 7000.
While usually the peak of the southern migration is the middle of December, that date is getting close. For peak numbers on the Harrison a couple of issues have to happen together. First, we have to have a goodly number of dead spawned out salmon carcasses and second, the River water level has to be low enough to leave the carcasses exposed on the river bars. The last couple of nights of freezing weather and this projected cold for the coming week should drop the river levels as the moisture on the hillsides freezes and ‘dries up the river’! Then, we are left with finding out if there are enough dead carcasses available? Usually there are but only time will reveal the size of the buffet.
What I have been able to witness first hand this season is I had previously underestimated the rate at which eagles can arrive at or leave the Harrison or other local rivers. I had often said how they can arrive at 100 or 500 a day. Now I realize they can move from river to river at two to four times that rate. I am not sure how they communicate between themselves but they certainly can accumulate – and disperse – quickly.
Let’s hope they gather this coming weekend. Even at low levels, perhaps just a thousand or two, it is still a wondrous site but getting more than 7000 along two or three miles of the Harrison is a biological highlight for anyone. Give Liam of Fraser River Safari Tours a call for booking options: 778-347-2646. I plan to be aboard.