Conditions were wet but good for counting for the 33rd Annual Brackendale Winter Bald Eagle Count today, January 6. The Count is the first event in the annual Eagle Festival, hosted by the Brackendale Art Gallery.
73 volunteers counted 1157 eagles by covering 20 separate areas by foot, snowshoe, ski and raft, from the Elaho to downtown Squamish, and from Paradise Valley to the Stawamus River. We had hail and rainbows!
While the count was lower than the 33-year average of 1425 eagles and well below 1994’s record count of 3769, we are very pleased with the result. It is an improvement from the 962 eagles counted last year and the lowest-ever count of 411 in 2016, despite a very poor Chum salmon return and high water levels throughout November and December.
The highest area total was turned in by a team of Tristan Rayner, Judith Holm, and Jim Gracie who counted 295 eagles in the Upper Squamish. They reported being able to drive up to km 21, further than in recent years.
The Squamish Environment Society thanks all the volunteers, the Squamish Rafting Company, and the Brackendale Art Gallery for their continuing support. We also thank the many people who offered to help but we could not include because our spaces were filled.
Next weekend will mark the end of the 2018 – 2019 season for EagleWatch. Our volunteer interpreters will be at the EagleWatch shelter at Eagle Run dike from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday (January 12 and 13) to welcome visitors and share information about the eagles and the ecosystem of the Squamish Valley.
Photo: Counters picking up their packages this morning at BAG, courtesy of Judith Holm.