Eagles on the Nooksack

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Mon, Jan 11, 2016, 11:18 pm  //  John Servais

This guy was in a tree about 30 feet from the road. Perched there for maybe 20 minutes looking around.

We went up the Nooksack River a week ago to the Welcome bridge over the North Fork to look for eagles.  We found plenty - maybe 20 or more.  We hung out for an hour or so enjoying the crisp fresh air, the quiet wild river ambience and watched the eagles doing pretty much the same.  A half hour drive from Bellingham.  Great spur of the moment outing.  

No spectacular art gallery photos - as most days up there are overcast with a dull light.  And the eagles tend to be a couple hundred yards away, so it is not like a petting zoo. The eagles are where the dying and dead chum salmon have just spawned.  They are watching and waiting for salmon carcasses.  And they do it from December to February.  So, now is the best time to see them - early to mid January.  

Previous years we've been down to Rockport on the Skagit River - and there are more eagles down there.  Bigger river and more salmon. The local folks put on a bit of an event each weekend to help visitors get the most from the eagle watching.  And Rockport in January is known thoughout the Pacific Northwest for its eagle watching.  The Jan 6 issue of the  Cascadia Weekly has a very good article with viewing information down in Rockport.

For the Nooksack, it is a shorter drive - and a more relaxed scene.  To get there, take the Mount Baker Highway to Welcome - at about mile post 16 - and turn right on the Mosquito Lake road.  About a half mile is the Welcome bridge over the river.  Good road side parking is available.  No amenities - just rippling river, quiet forests and every now and then a screaming eagle.  A place we who live here can treasure as a no frills hangout for dozens of beautiful bald eagles.  

Typical of how you see most of the eagles - in trees about a hundred yards across the river.

Eagle hanging out by a log.

It is a casual and friendly scene along the highway and bridge. Yes, that is an eagle in the tree in the top left.

Remember to look up as they fly silently.

The North Fork of the Nooksack River from the Welcome Bridge. Gray on gray - but a special place.

Walter Haugen  //  Tue, Jan 12, 2016, 5:41 pm

Hah! We regularly have eagles sitting in our cottonwood tree or perched on the barn. I like to watch them get harassed by the smaller birds when they encroach on others’ territory. It is like a matador/bull dance. The small birds fly so close the bigger eagles cannot turn fast enough to get at them. I prefer the red-tailed hawks and the merlins myself.


Eagles on the Nooksack

They are less famous than the eagles on the Skagit but closer to Bellingham, fewer people and still lots of eagles. A great January afternoon outing.

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Mon, Jan 11, 2016, 11:18 pm
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