It wasn't quite the totals that Brackendale Eagle Count organizer Thor Froslev wanted but he'll take it.
The 27th annual count on Sunday (Jan. 6) saw a total of 804 eagles tallied up by the 54 volunteers in and around Brackendale, the most since 2010. Despite the increase, Froslev said numbers are still not as high as they should be.
“The last six years now it's been under 1,000,” he said. “I'm not encouraged by the 800 but you get what you get.”
Froslev did say he was happy to see the most juveniles (279) since 2007.
“It means there's a good and healthy population that is out there trying to survive,” he said. “But there is not many salmon around – that is always the deterrent.”
He said the real joy comes from seeing locals come together and have a good time in the great outdoors, even if the weather outside is less than ideal.
“Overall the day went well and what this day does is help bring neighbours together,” he said. “You have four or five people on a walk or on a raft and when they come back from the count we have good communication and everybody has a grin from ear to ear. The whole event is great for Brackendale and Squamish, we were just on Global TV so there's a bit of PR happening as well.”
Froslev said the event always attracts interested observers from out of town and this year was no different. North Vancouver couple Bettina and Pierre Cenerelli, along with their children Carl and Clara made the trek up Highway 99 to take in the event.
“We've been coming every year since 2011,” Bettina said, as her family was taking turns with the telescopes at Eagle Run Park. “My husband is an avid bird watcher and the kids just love coming out here and seeing the eagles. It's a really fun thing for us to do as a family.”
This year still pales in comparison to the 1994 total of 3,769 eagles observed but Froslev said the event continues to be a lot of fun for everyone involved.
“This is our 27th year and according to [biologist] David Hancock we are the grandfather of all eagle counters in the world,” he said. “No one has ever had 27 years, the closest is probably 17. We started a long time ago and used eagles as our barometers and everything about the event is working for us.”
For more details on the count, visit www.brackendaleartgallery.com/EagleCount.html.