Bald eagle

Bald eagle festival fast approaching

The annual regional event starts this weekend throughout the region

The annual Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival starts this weekend with a plethora of raptor-viewing opportunities and free activities.

Visitors can witness the world’s largest gathering of bald eagles. The raptors are drawn to the area by the millions of spawning salmon that travel up the Fraser River to tributaries, such as the Harrison River. The estuary is also home to a plethora of wildlife, such as trumpeter swans, ducks, seals, bears, coyotes, deer and the white sturgeon.

Although the festival began in 1995 and was one of the largest eagle gatherings at the time, the number of eagles concentrated in the area has grown further since early 2010.

“The Harrison region is part of the winter homeland for over 10,000 bald eagles — the world’s largest concentration of eagles ever witnessed as they forage, fight and feast on the record salmon runs in the Harrison River,” says David Hancock, Hancock Wildlife Foundation bald eagle biologist.

Hancock will be giving two talks on Sunday: at 9:30 a.m. on the Fraser River Safari tour, and at Tapadera Estates at 1 p.m.

Your starting point can be the Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce Visitor Centre on Lougheed Highway, which will be open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and can guide you to whichever sites interest you.

Starting Nov. 17, the public is invited to visit different venues in Harrison Mills and surrounding areas, including Tapadera Estates, Eagle Point Community Park and Pretty Estates Resort.

For a fee, Fraser River Safari will take you out on the river in its covered, heated jet boat for a tour. Times are 9:30 and 11:30 a.m., plus 1 and 2:30 p.m.

An Exhibitor’s Fair is scheduled for both Saturday at Sunday at Leq’a:mel Community Centre. This is a one-stop spot to learn, shop, eat and play, all under one roof. Don’t miss the educational, environmental, and nature displays, the work of local artists and crafts people, and a variety of green businesses and products.

The Sts’ailes Healing Centre, located at 16300 Morris Valley Rd in Harrison Mills, will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday only, and features bannock, artist demonstrations, Sasquatch Dancers, a salmon lunch and an educational walk and talk.

To continue the festivities, Tourism Harrison will host the Harrison Bald Eagle Weekend, Nov. 24-25. Highlights of the weekend include a photography workshop by expert photographer Graham Osborne, and a talk by Hancock. Boat tours down the Harrison River will also be available to book.

Additional activities events are scheduled in the region throughout December.

For a full list of event, including locations and details, visit fraservalleybaldeaglefestival.ca.

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