In all my years in BC, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve witnessed an eagle swoop down and catch a fish out of the water in the majestic manner that only eagles can do.
Today, in a ten minute period, I witnessed a spectacle that I, ( and I hope my children) will remember for the rest of my life.
The Serpentine Fen trails here in Surrey are a fantastic place to combine a run with nature. Winding along the Serpentine River to the sea, wildlife abounds and it is not uncommon to see seals, eagles, herons and many species of other songbirds and ducks along the way.
As we entered the trails today, a large juvenile eagle and a rather enormous mature specimen sat not more than a stones throw in some branches overhead, prompting my four year old to grab my hand for safety. however, it wasn’t until nearly the end of our walk that we rounded a bend along the river to see 7 bald eagles, juveniles and mature, swooping and scooping in what could be described as nothing other than a feeding frenzy.
The millions of spawning little fish ( smelt, perhaps?) that had swum up the river, were all concentrated in bend in the river where it shallows, providing a natural buffet for the hungry birds.
Parking the running stroller, my son and sat on the bank and watched as the massive raptors soared, spotted and then swooped down in a rush to snatch a wriggling fish from the water.
Rather than stop and land to eat, the eagles would simply reach down in flight and swallow the little fish whole, then climb again to ready for another try. At one point , all 7 birds were in flight in a an aerobatic display, that another family had the chance to view from the bank opposite us.
I sat with my son as the eagles took their fill, and appetites sated for the time being, retreated to posts in the water to groom and rest.
He was awestruck, and I explained to him the significance of what we had just seen, so close to home and in a suburban area, and why we need to protect areas like this.
No more spawning grounds = no more fish.
No more fish = no more eagles.
He might be only 4 years old, but he could see the importance of preservation and conservation.
As we dusted off our behinds and walked the distance back to the car, we saw 8 more eagles in the trees along the river, and amazement was in the face of person we passed along the way.
Let me tell you, the Snowbirds would have had a hard time topping this day.