Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bald Eagle Country – the Festival

Well this past weekend was the 15th Annual Fraser Valley Bald Eagle festival (you can check out about this festival on their website www.fraservalleybaldeaglefestival.ca .

I had hoped to have been able to get out and take pictures to introduce you to more of the Fraser Valley by now, but this month has been one of the wettest I can remember.  No conducive to picture taking.

So lets get down to the event.  Of course an event this size takes a lot of planning, with everything boiling down to the day before….tents, portapotties etc. due to arrive on site, signage to go up, barriers to be erected….and what happens here the day before?  We have an all day (10 hour) power outage and it pours with rain the whole time.


Here is a view of the estuary, taken at 9 in the morning on the Friday,….this is where we set up a tent and a representative from Celestron attends with binoculars and spotting scopes for the public to use.


It is a pretty wet dismal scene although there is lots in the way of waterfowl in the area – not so much in the way of Eagles because all the Salmon carcusses that they are feeding on are being washed out to other places, such as the sand bars in the Fraser River.


At the 2008 Festival, when water levels were high, but not this high, a lot of damage was incurred to the habitat by visitors walking all over the grassland.  This year, in order to prevent that from happening again, we erected barriers using caution tape and signage.  From experience, we know that the bigger the camera lens, the closer the photographer tries to get to the subject….which drives the subject further away, so nobody gets to see it – so this year we attempted to stop that from happening as well – which is why volunteers were out in the downpour, erecting these barriers.


a dismal job on a dismal day!


by noon the water level was even higher….the tent site is now completely wet! so the decision is made to hold off on erecting the viewing tent until we saw where the water lay in the morning.


Morning came and miracle of miracles – it wasn’t raining! 


Although there weren’t the numbers of Eagles we are used to, there were, of course some around.  Since we’re used to seeing them by the hundreds, we tend to forget that just seeing 3 or 4 is a thrill for most people.  The official count for the day, which is done by David Hancock – was 624 which is about half of our normal count. There were also lots and lots of other waterfowl, Trumpeter Swans, Canada Geese and a variety of ducks.


This is just a small section of a large flock of Canada Geese that flew by…


9 am and all was in readiness to open our gates to the viewing public.


and a steady stream started to arrive – and still the rain held off!


Our social club had the concession set up, the coffee was ready and the fire was blazing.


The souvenir and donation table was all set up.


By 11 am when O.W.L (Orphaned Wild Life) arrived we’d had a couple of showers, one brief hail storm and the sun was now coming out!


The arrival of O.W.L. is always a hit as they bring with them…..


Sonsie – the non releasable Bald Eagle.  Sonsie has been at our site every year since he was 9 months old.  Initially found as a baby by a northern fishing boat, he was so imprinted on humans that he can never be released.  The relationship between him and his handler has been a remarkable thing to witness.  Sonsie looks to his handler for protection, but is also ready to protect his handler….


Here is a closer look at ‘Sonsie’


meanwhile, a steady stream of people are enjoying viewing the life on the estuary


back up by the gazebo, O.W.L. always brings some other bird along with Sonsie – Saturday it was this Barred Owl and on Sunday they brought a Western Screech Owl.


and since this is a celebration of Bald Eagles, I’ll give you one more shot of ‘Sonsie’

The day had turned out so much better than expected, it was very gratifying to see it all come together and we all looked forward to Sunday when good weather had been forecast – unfortunately, the forecast was wrong and it was a very wet, cold, miserable day.  We’d even had a TV hooked up in our gazebo so we could watch the Eastern Final (C.F.L. Football) and the fact that our B.C. team got royally thumped – did nothing to help the mood. 



  1. Thanks for all of that Kathy.I dont know if I should be homesick or not.Great photos.Must be a new camera,LOL.

  2. no you shouldn't be homesick, the weather that day was a fluke! It's been rain, rain, and more rain! Not the new camera....the old one (Olympus) is still working...left the new one home that day.