Warden’s report -Visit to ER #76 – Fraser River Islands, Nov.9 2003
Visit to ER #76 – Fraser River Islands, November 9, 2003
A report by Ecological reserve Wardens Bev and Bill Ramey
This was a short visit, since we ran out of time (daylight), but gave us a good sense of the surrounding shores, sloughs, gravel bars and islands, this being our first trip to the islands as ER Wardens. We took the long approach to the ER islands, by paddling our kayaks down Sumas River from Barrowtown Pump Station, and down the Vedder past the proposed McGillivray Wildlife Management Area (now Bert Brink WMA). Then across the Fraser and across to extensive sand bars where there were at least 10 eagles sitting on the gravel bars or on logs on the gravel bars, apparently having eaten amply from the many salmon carcasses. At this point (directly across from the bay on the Fraser River at the proposed McGillivray WMA), a gun shot occurred from over there and about 2000+ ducks arose from the water and circled in all different directions, crossing each other in small groups, and continued circling for some time. Their distant quacking indicated mallards.
We carried on upriver in back channels (on the north side of the Fraser) and made our way upriver in the slough behind Yaalstrick Islands (water level so low that we had to walk one section). Several small flocks of ducks in these back waters, including pintails, bufflehead, possibly teal. From near the upper end of Yaalstrick island, we next paddled our kayaks across to the gravel bar near the Ecological Reserve, and then onto the ER. There were numerous eagles here as well, at least six sitting in the large cottonwoods at the upper end of the larger island, plus about four more standing nearby on gravel bars. The ground and shrubs around the large cottonwoods at the upstream end of the island were heavily splattered with white droppings from the eagles over an area of about 50 metres. A pair of salmon looked like they were spawning in the shallow gravel, and there were several salmon carcasses littered about. There also looked like many salmon redds above the water level, possibly following the higher water levels of Oct 16/17, 2003, and then the low water (due to prolonged dry spell through the rest of Oct and Nov).
There was a set of bear tracks in the soft sand.
As the day was getting on, we were unable to spend much time on the islands, and continued back downstream, not having reached the second treed island.
The major observation is that the largest congregations of eagles on this reach of the Fraser were in the two locations with the large stands of cottonwoods (ER #76 and the proposed McGillivray WMA). Other shorelines were developed immediately up to the dykes with agriculture fields houses, barns, or log sorts, or in the case of Yaalstrick Islands, only a single row of large trees remained along the shore and the interior was young cottonwood plantation. In these areas only an occasional eagle was visible.