Searching for Eagles on the Skagit River

Sometimes the best laid plans don’t go quite as planned, and the best thing to do is just go with the flow and see where the roads might take you. That was the case yesterday, when I took my Mom and loaded up the photography gear in the car for a trip north of Seattle to see how many eagles we could find along the banks of the Skagit River.  We started off at the Howard Miller Steelhead County Park in Rockport, Washington, where we picked up a map of the viewing area.  There were so many people there that I just went and grabbed a map and my mom stayed in the car (she’s recovering from having her ankle replaced back in October).

From there, we drove a couple of miles up the road to another viewing area and as luck would have it – not a single eagle in sight so it was back on the road for a bit more to another viewing sight.  We decided to stop and see if there were any eagles hanging out at the Marblemount Fish Hatchery and while there were a few eagles hanging out in some of the taller trees, the highlight of the stop was seeing a pair of ducks that were really pretty.  (I didn’t know until I got home and looked in a birding book that they were Barrow’s Goldeneyes (Bucephala islandica)

Barrow's Goldeneye

A male Barrow’s Goldeneye at the Marblemount Fish Hatchery.

A female Barrow's Goldeneye at the Marblemount Fish Hatchery.

A female Barrow’s Goldeneye at the Marblemount Fish Hatchery.

After watching these two dive below the water for several minutes, it was time to figure out a new game plan on where we could watch the eagles up close.  My mom suggested we try looking on the Nooksack River so after a quick look at the map to figure out some backroads to take to get further north, and a stop at Dairy Queen for mini blizzards, off we went and when we arrived at the Welcome Bridge River Access, we found success!  There were probably 30 or more eagles in the area feeding on the salmon carcasses on the banks of the river.  It was amazing to watch them soaring overhead before landing on the rocks right below us to gorge themselves on fish.

Soaring above the North Fork of the Nooksack River.

Soaring above the North Fork of the Nooksack River.

A Bald Eagle feeding on fish along the banks of the North Fork of the Nooksack River.

A Bald Eagle feeding on fish along the banks of the North Fork of the Nooksack River.

We stood on the bridge over the river until the light had faded and the temperature had started to drop, but before we packed everything up to head for home, we caught sight of one of the eagles take off into the fading light, carrying out his version of take out by taking a fish carcass with him.

This gives a new meaning to take out...

This gives a new meaning to take out…

Until the next adventure….

 

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