The # 1 Question the Society receives is:
When is the best time to see the eagles? The short answer is WHENEVER you can get out there. The long answer is, the eagle migration pattern is not a perfect science, and is dependent on many factors so the “best” time can vary.
What factors affect the migration?
The current state of salmon returns and weather up North: If there is an abundance of salmon in the northern rivers and the weather is comfortable for the eagles they most likely will stay longer than years when the freeze hits in early November.
The current state of salmon in the Region: The journey around the lower parts of B.C. (with a good updraft) is not that difficult for an eagle, so the availability of salmon at Squamish or Boundary Bay can also affect the # of eagles arriving on the Harrison River and the timing of that arrival.
The current state of salmon in the Harrison River System: If the eagles have arrived in the area and the salmon are plentiful they tend to stick around until that changes.
The weather and water levels in the Harrison River: A heavy downpour can bring the Harrison River up quickly and cause the carcasses to wash downstream and the eagles will follow. They may very well return once the river levels drop and the delicious salmon carcasses are once again accessible. A sudden freeze could also send the eagles away – making feeding impossible.
AS the season progresses we will post what we see out on the river here so please check back often for the updates.
Nov 3 , 2015 – the current report is that there are around 300-500 eagles in the area. The water is a bit high and the flats are currently under water thanks to the torrential rains received. Our next trip out on the river is tomorrow so we shall report after that.
Nov 4, 2015– It was a great show today. The clouds were low (so the eagles were on the gravel bars and in the trees) , the rain held off and of course there were eagles galore. I tried to count areas as we moved through the estuary and scanned the flats on the far shore. I estimated that there are closer to 700 eagles right now. It was a great day with the City of White Rock.
Nov 15, 2015– Things are getting exciting out on the Harrison. The water was higher than the week before due to the heavy local rains HOWEVER biologist David Hancock did a quick count and estimated there were over 1500 eagles in the area!
Nov 18, 2015 – Post wind storm. Wow! A powerful storm blew through the area knocking out power and a lot of trees. The eagles didn’t care at all. There were even more than on the 15th! We lost a couple of nests but if that is going to happen now is the time, rather than in the late winter/early spring when the eggs/eaglets are occupying them.
Nov 21-22, 2015 – The official 7 point count that does not include eagles soaring or any eagles on the east side of Harrison River was:
Saturday 941 and Sunday 1438. From the boat we estimate there are over 2000 eagles in the area. The water is dropping and the carcasses are being exposed so the views from the land and water side should getting better and better each day. Our next trips and reports will be after Nov 26.
Nov 27, 2015 – The water was low, the day was a bit windy and the eagles were soaring! It was hard to get a count in as there were many eagles up in the thermals and many along the treeline. I estimated there were 600 -800 eagles still in the area. The gravel bars are starting to show again- perhaps there will be salmon carcasses hiding under the water line.
Nov 28, 2015 – What a difference a day can make. First we traveled up river through shallow- SHALLOW water and then we found ice. Two of our least favourite things. But when we ventured up into the Chehalis/Harrison Estuary we were greeted by eagles, a lot of eagles. Today the winds were calm despite blue skies. David Hancock was on board and counted over 1500 eagles on the flats so there were most likely a 2500+ eagles along the 2km stretch of the river today.
Dec 12, 2015 – Today was great – weather was good, lots of water and lots of eagles . The numbers have started to decline in the area though. I suspect we peaked around the end of December when David Hancock did a rough estimate of 3000 eagles. Today was somewhere between 1000 and 1500 birds. The Chehalis Hatchery underwater cameras were almost devoid of fish activity so this may be end of the 2015 eagle gathering season. It was short but fun!!