The January 3, 2021 Eagle Count was like no other, organized within COVID_19 safety guidelines to help keep our volunteers safe.
56 volunteers with previous experience were assigned to cover the 20 areas to be counted, from the Elaho to downtown Squamish, and from Paradise Valley to the Stawamus River. Two rafts provided by Squamish Rafting covered the Ashlu to Pilchuk and Pilchuk to Fisherman’s Park zones. The recent heavy rains have brought up the river levels: this had a positive side, making transit safer and also faster for the crews.
Brackendale Art Gallery, the traditional headquarters, was home base again this year, with only a few people present. Most volunteers downloaded their count packages and submitted them online. Others had packages passed to them through the door and returned their counts at a table set up under a canopy outside.
Most of the volunteers had one word for the conditions: DISMAL. 4˚C, overcast, calm breeze, river level high, light to steady rain, trees partially obscured. Despite the weather, the final count was 848. This total was lower than the 34-year average of 1390 eagles and well below 1994’s record count of 3769, but it was higher than the 2020 count of 747 and we are pleased with the result.
Low cloud and rain make counting juveniles particularly difficult, so we know we likely missed many of them. Also, the total for the dump area is down by almost 100 this year. We know that the eagles have been seen down low and deep in the forest along the trails in that area, possibly trying to shelter from the weather and impossible to count.
No herds of elk were reported this year, but we did have some other wildlife, including a moose along the Elaho, two mountain goats along the Upper Squamish, several Great Blue Herons, a River Otter, a Barred Owl, and a Pacific Harbour Seal.
Katelyn West and Christopher Di Corrado, the Eagle Count organizing team, have asked us to extend big thanks to:
- the volunteers who braved the dismal conditions,
- Squamish Mayor Karen Elliott who volunteered again this year,
- Squamish Rafting Company owner Hazzard Roney and the hearty souls who rowed the river, enabling teams to count two key areas from the water,
- Thor and Dorte Froslev who made Brackendale Art Gallery available once again, and
- Glenne Campbell for her work organizing the rafters.
Photo above by Carl Halvorson: Thor Froslev with the official count board.