Brackendale Art Gallery, our traditional headquarters, was home base again this year.
50 volunteers were assigned to cover 16 areas to be counted, from the Upper Squamish to downtown Squamish, and from Paradise Valley to the Stawamus River. Some areas could not be fully counted this year as we did not have the use of watercraft. However, with heroic efforts, a significant part of the areas usually counted by raft were covered.
Conditions were relatively good for counting adults, but juveniles were not easy to see in the trees. The average temperature was 3C° and skies were overcast with some rain and fog. There was some snow in the trees further north and there was deep snow off the roadways from Pilchuk north. The Elaho was not plowed: there was lots of snow and many icy sections.
The final count was 916 and yes, we are pleased! This total was higher than last year’s count of 799, lower than the 36-year average of 1362 eagles and well below 1994’s record count of 3769. Dry conditions early in the fall meant that the salmon were delayed in their return to spawn. Once the salmon did return, the eagles began showing up in good numbers, and we had the highest peak hourly count we’ve had since 2012. Recent weather has included several of the atmospheric rivers we normally get earlier in the fall. As we guessed, the eagles moved up river to take advantage of the good numbers of spawning Coho members have reported there in the shallow channels.
On January 4, John Buchanan compiled this video in the upper Squamish showing live salmon, eagles and other birds. He commented: “I’ve never seen so many live spawners this time of year.”
Katelyn West and Carl Halvorson, the Eagle Count organizers, have asked us to extend big thanks to:
- our intrepid volunteers,
- Dorte Froslev who made Brackendale Art Gallery available once again,
- Andrew Hughes for participating in the count as well as covering it for the Squamish Chief,
- Glenne Campbell and Alison Wald for their time spent searching for watercraft coverage, and
- No Limits Motorsports for offering use of a snowmobile and trailer (which weren’t needed this year).
Photo above courtesy of Tiffany Brunke: “Kyle and I were counting eagles alongside Cheekye Ranch.”