It's that time of year again - Jingle Bell tunes lull us into a trance while shopping for the latest and greatest toys on the market, Santa makes an appearance at the local shops, and the skis are hauled from summer storage in great anticipation. But amid all the hustle and bustle of the upcoming season, something amazing is happening again. The eagles are returning.
Riding the winds from Alaska, interior British Columbia and parts of the United States, the majestic bald eagles are coming back once again. Drawn to the area by the abundant supply of salmon carcasses in the rich spawning grounds, it is here along the banks of the Cheakamus, Cheekye, Mamquam, and Ashlu and nestled within the surrounding lush forests that the returning eagles will pass the winter months.
The annual gathering of the bald eagles has not gone unnoticed. In 1994, an annual regional survey counted a whopping 3,769 bald eagles - putting Brackendale on the map as the "World's Winter Capital for Bald Eagles". Naturally, people came. Scientists came. Birders came. Curious passers-by came. They continue to come and take in the sights offered along the rivers edge. Each winter, Brackendale plays host to an increasing number of visitors, both first-time viewers curious about the stories of the majestic birds, and those annual regulars who know the delights they are sure to encounter year after year.
In response to the influx of visitors and to help ensure the continued survival of the bald eagle, the Eagle Watch program was established in 1994 to educate visitors and minimize human disturbance. From the end of November through to mid-February, weekend visitors to the Eagle Run site across from the Easter Seal's Camp in Brackendale can learn more about the eagles from the volunteer interpreters and experience a close encounter through binoculars and viewing scopes.
So as the months march on and we become lost in the hectic events that mark the season, the eagles are once again returning to Brackendale, again participating in a cycle as ancient as the trees and rivers around us. The delicate balance that sustains the cycle remains intact for now.
Eagle Watch is looking for Volunteer Interpreters to help make this year's program a success. Orientation for volunteer interpreters will be held at the Sea to Sky Hotel on Saturday, Nov. 27 from 8:45 a.m. until noon. The orientation will recommence at 1 p.m. at the Eagle Run site for onsite training followed by a guided Eagle/Salmon Tour at 2 p.m. at the North Vancouver Outdoor School. Be sure to dress warmly and bring your own lunch. For more info please call (604) 932-3234 or email eaglewatchbc@ yahoo.ca.
Eagle Viewing Ethics:
Please respect their need to feed and perch undisturbed.
Please give them space.
Use binoculars to get a close look.
Stay on dikes and public areas.
Stay off gravel bars and private land.
Keep dogs on a leash.