Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Invading the privacy of eagles

It's rare that the eagles we see ever take notice of us. And why would they? We're beneath them (literally), earth-crawlers, slow-pokes, bound to our little trails and roadways.

So this trio surprised us.

In our program of gradually moving north on the Boundary Bay - Mud Bay dike trail, we had driven as far as we could go on Tsawwassen streets and parked at Beach Grove Park, with the intent of taking one of the many little alley-ways to the beach. (See map.) Instead, we crossed the park and followed a narrow trail into the trees, hoping to hit the shore in that direction.

In this area, most of the trees are cottonwoods, and many of the largest had been sawed off, leaving tall snags. (They tend to fall over easily when they get too big, so cutting them is wise in populated areas.) A sign explained that the dead stumps had been left for food, perches and nesting for the local birds. Near the top of one of the tallest, I saw a large eagle's nest. No eagles, though.

Our trail petered out at a bit of a creek, too deep for our shoes. We back-tracked and found a way around the wood, at the edge of the farmland. A few birds called in the bush, but otherwise we were alone. Ahead of us, we saw the dike across a plowed field; it was fenced, so we had to turn south again, back towards the street.

We had worked our way about half-way down the sea-ward side of the wood, when we heard a loud, indignant-sounding "Squawk!" I looked up, and there was a young eagle directly overhead. On more distant branches two mature eagles sat silently, ignoring us, as they do.

Of course, we both started madly snapping photos, walking slowly towards the base of the trees. When we got too close, all three rose into the air and flew away. A couple more clicks of the shutter, and they were out of range.

Here are the closest two, one adult, one "kid":

Laurie got an excellent shot of the young one, flying directly overhead. If you look closely, you can see how he was turning his head to look down at these rude intruders. Click on the photo; enlarged, you can even see the pupil of his eye.

We walked on, and the eagles returned to the roosts where we had first seen them. But when we got back to the road (through a narrow gap in the fence), I looked back again. Not a sign of them, nor of the big nest. They had chosen their spots carefully, where they could not be seen from anywhere along the street. No wonder the young one was perturbed when we "snuck around" from the fields.


  1. What a lucky find. I doubt I will ever see an eagle at close range in the wild around here, so it is especially nice to see your pictures and read your story.

  2. Anonymous1:12 pm


    Very nice. I have only been in Vancouver for two years, and the only bald eagles I have seen are in Trout Lake. But I have heard they are quite rampant up 99 toward Squamish and especially Brackendale. I have never been to Tsawassen yet, but I find your favourite walks links to be quite a resource! I shall see if I can get to some of them. I like going on nature walks with my family, and we have explored much of the lower mainland and North Shore.

    I've been to Deer Lake several times, Golden Ears last summer, Minnekhada Park once (wish I had a bike), but the rest I'll have to explore when these spring rains end!

  3. Adrian;

    I'm glad to see you are enjoying my list. I have a few more to add in a day or two.


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