Did you know that in late October, thousands of bald eagles make their down into British Columbia to feed at salmon-rich rivers for the winter? hey arrive in the scenic Fraser Valley to mate and raise their young, before continuing back to northern BC and the Yukon. It is the largest bald eagle migration in North America, and an unparalleled opportunity to capture eagles feeding, constructing nests, and tending to their chicks.
While eagles are always the focus of the workshops I lead here they are far from the only highlight. Over the years we have seen and photographed the following common species at our locations: Red–Tailed Hawk, Grebe, Goldeneye, Wood Duck, Sandhill Crane, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Pintails, Short–Eared Owl, Bufflehead, Merganser, Snow Goose, Trumpeter Swan, Mute Swan, Rough–Legged Hawk, Dunlin, Anna’s Hummingbird and Great–Horned Owl. Rarer sightings include: Pacific Loon, Red–Throated Loon, Belted Kingfisher, Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Virginia Rail, Common Snipe, Barn Owl, Barred Owl, Saw–Whet Owl, Canvasback, and Egret.
We would start each day at 7am with breakfast in the hotel and head searching for, and photographing different the different species. Our days would conclude at 4pm, head back to the hotel and grab some dinner at different restaurants in the area.
We did have one day of hard rain on this trip. Instead of driving around in the rain struggling to take photos, it was a good opportunity to get a meeting room and do some editing as a group. We talked about lightroom editing techniques and everyone showed some examples of the photos they had taken this week. We also discussed various storage options for photographers that travel and camera gear.
While I normally lead this trip in October or November, this time I decided to go back in January. The only reason for the change was that I was in Mongolia in October, Paris in early November and Antarctica in early December. Having lived in this area for a number of years, I knew the eagles are still around in January. Unfortunately the weather patterns in November and December had pushed out the eagles from their normal areas. High waters effected their hunting areas on the rivers where they normally were. They had simply vanished from the lower mainland.
Luckily i had experience hunting eagles with my lens in this area. I knew a few other areas that are always holding the eagles no matter what the weather is. It was just unfortunate where there is usually thousands of eagles, there were only dozens. But my other area paid off in regards to being able to photograph Bald Eagles. The one area we ended up going to had 300-400 Bald Eagles that were constantly in flight and hanging out in some of the trees in a farm area.
The other species we focus on during this workshop were exactly in the areas they always are. We were treated to Short Eared Owls and Rough-Legged Hawks flying in marsh areas along the ocean. We even had a few bald eagles show up in that area as well.
Goldeneye, Wood Duck, Sandhill Crane, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Pintails, Bufflehead, Merganser, and Anna’s Hummingbird were spotted very easily. So was the murmuration of Dunlin. Always a joy to witness as the flock moves in unison over the bay.
This is a great workshop if you are a passionate bird photographer. A large variety of species, and easy species to access… as long as you know where to go.
I am headed back in November of 2021. I am only taking five (5) people with me. One spot remains at the time I am writing this post. You can check out that workshop here. https://muenchworkshops.com/workshops/vancouver-bald-eagle-migration-photo-workshop
I hope to see you In British Columbia