88 intrepid volunteer eagle counters headed out in the pelting rain at 8:00 am on Sunday, January 5 for the 34th Brackendale Winter Eagle Count. Headquarters for the count is always the Brackendale Art Gallery, and the count is the first event in the annual Eagle Festival, hosted by the Brackendale Art Gallery.
This year the volunteers covered 21 areas by foot, raft, and kayak, from the Elaho to downtown Squamish, and from Paradise Valley to the Stawamus River. The final tally was first reported as 723, but we were happy to discover an error that brought the total up to 747. While the count was lower than the 34-year average of 1406 eagles and well below 1994’s record count of 3769, we are pleased with the result. With the almost non-existent Chum run this fall, and all the high water levels we have experienced throughout November and December, we realize that a much lower count could have been possible.
Several herds of elk were spotted, including one herd with 23 individuals. The Pilchuk to Judd raft passed a log jam with a bear in it. The bear huffed and puffed as the raft approached. The rafters couldn’t see it, but they could hear it. As much as they wanted to go to take a closer look, they realized that could possibly have an unfavourable outcome for them :-).
Christopher Di Corrado, the Eagle Count Organizer, has asked us to extend big thanks to:
- all the volunteers, both new and long-time counters, who braved the heavy rain,
- elected officials who volunteered, including Squamish Mayor Karen Elliott, Squamish Councillor Armand Hurford, and Member of Parliament Patrick Weiler,
- Squamish Rafting Company owner Hazzard Roney and the hearty souls who rowed the river, enabling teams to count three key areas from the water,
- Thor and Dorte Froslev and the Brackendale Art Gallery staff who once again hosted the count, and
- Glenne Campbell for her work organizing the rafters.
Photo above of the Ashlu to Judd raft crew was taken by Glenne Campbell.