I must make a correction from the previous post, the IPad chose to correct the spelling I put in. It is the Chilcat Pass we come across to Alaska not Chilcotin.
After the clear sky of the previous Aurora night, we wake up to a blue sky and full visibility of the surrounding mountains. There are two deep inlets one starting up with a lake and draining river called the Chicoot, the other is where the eagles fish a huge delta of the Chilcat river. We are lucky in that the summer tourists and cruise boats that flood the place are gone. The influx for the Eagle festival has not arrived so we really have the view spots to ourselves.
The bald eagle is a magnificent, regal bird. They mate for life and usually raise two young. The eagle undergoes a dramatic change in plumage as they mature. The young juveniles are pretty dark brown all over, in their second year to fifth year they gradually increase a spotty plumage and finally at maturity at about 5 years they have the classic white ( bald head).
We set out early and have to clean the car of frost on all the windows, but we are happy to pay this price for how sunny and clear it is.
As we get closer to th Eagle reserve we pass a meadow with two separate Moose Mums and their young. I feel the day is already worth having gotten up.
They give us a good checking over but recognize our cameras for what they are and continue their munch. There are hundreds of eagles lining the river and we settle into a nice bend in the river to observe the goings on. We periodically have eagles land in trees above us, but they strategically manage to miss the camera gear with their poop.
There is a particularly good supply of salmon in this bend of the river and we notice that the teenage juveniles are quite pushy with their hunting often displacing an adult already feeding.
There seems a hierarchy at this point in the fishing and eating and certainly the various sea gull species are patient at waiting their turn.
On this image you can see the changing plumage from young, to juvenile to adult eagle. It is not uncommon that a number of them will be feeding side by side and they all seem to tolerate the patiently waiting seagulls.
André is practicing the in flight captures with pretty good success.
In the meantime I try and complement with some video footage on the very coordinated talon work and the efficient beak that is so well equipped at tearing into the salmon flesh.
We feel the day has been really interesting, observing how nature ensures the right timing of a very valuable food resource arriving for the eagles and the other bird life. On the other river an earlier run of salmon is literally covering the sides of the river and this is where in July, August and September the bears come and feed. Surprisingly there are virtually no eagles, no bears at this point on this river . The majority of the feeding here is now by sea gulls. The river here is much more narrow and has different vegetation on its sides which must contribute to why there are no eagles here even though we are literally a few kilometers away.