Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bald Eagle Country – 2 – Nicomen Island

Continuing on with our discovery of ‘Bald Eagle Country’, I’m going to touch on one of the areas popular for ‘Eagle Viewing’.  The area we actually live in is sort of ‘in the middle of nowhere’ so we have a good distance to travel to get to just about anywhere.  For example, if we want to buy groceries, the nearest location with any decent stores is the town of Mission which is about 35 km (that would be about 20 miles) from here.  My husband actually works in Mission, so he makes the trip 5 days a week.  Part of the route is across Nicomen Island.

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It doesn’t really look very ‘island like’.  The outside edge of the island is bordered by the mighty Fraser River and the rest of the island is surrounded by a slough.  This slough is great habitat for wintering birds, including Bald Eagles….in fact I think that is one flying in the above photo.

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Here is another shot of the slough – this one taken from the mainland, looking across to Nicomen.  The mountain in the distance is actually between the cities of Chilliwack and Abbotsford on the other side of the Fraser River.

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Nicomen Island is farm land.  Primarily Dairy farms…

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although there are an ever increasing number of Blueberry Farms on the island as well.

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One of our favourite drives is to take the dirt road down past the above Blueberry Field.  This slough (I have no idea what it’s name is or even if it has one), borders the other side of the road and we’ve seen some interesting things in here from time to time.

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This particular day (last Sunday – Nov. 1st) there wasn’t anything too exciting…..just a few ducks and this Great Blue Heron

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Here is a closer look at the heron.  Great Blue Heron are a common sight for us, but I understand that isn’t the case in a lot of places so I should be more appreciative of them!

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and here is a look at the Fraser River.  This picture was taken from the most eastern end of Nicomen Island as most of the island is protected by dykes that are on private land.  The city of Chilliwack would be sort of dead ahead in the middle of this picture

OK so you are saying where are all the Eagles….so now I’ll take you back to the Chehalis Estuary

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Yesterday morning when I took Shantz for her morning walk there were about a dozen Eagles feeding on dead salmon, right in close to our path….these are 3 of them…

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There were also a number of them perched in various trees around.  This grouping has one adult and a couple of young ones….there was another adult perched above them.

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Here are 4 more, feeding on a salmon.  Interestingly enough, despite the fact that yesterday was a beautiful sunny day, the water levels increased over night so that this morning the bits of gravel and even the mud along the shoreline, are now all under water again so no Eagles feeding there this morning!  But what was there this morning were….

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Trumpeter Swans…another of our winter visitors and my personal favourite.  You can see there are gulls and Eagles out there behind them on what gravel is still exposed.

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There hadn’t been any eagles in the eagle trees in the morning, but when we went for our after lunch walk, there were quite a few.  This guy was one….

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and this one another….both very co-operative as we walked beneath them.

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I’m not sure if you’ll be able to make it out in this picture, but it had been pretty breezy all day which meant there were lots of ducks sheltering….there were some off that little green point and many many more along the edge of the sand bars…

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I hadn’t noticed them when I first arrived at the above spot, because they were huddled right in against the bank….but here they are, another family of Trumpeter Swans…..this family actually had 3 young ones although there are only 2 in this picture.  The young ones are gray, during the course of the winter they will gradually change to become sort of half gray/half white by the time they leave us in March, and will be completely white as they arrive back north on their breeding grounds.

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here is the whole family…..

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