To an eagle lover like me this special location on the BC coast can easily be renamed ‘Eagle Heaven’. I don’t know if you can appreciate from this shot alone the number of eagles that were present at this location on this particular day, but I would estimate in excess of 300 along the 100 metre or so stretch of tree-line. We rounded the corner from a narrow passage known as ‘Hole in the Wall’ and Stuart Island began to materialize ahead of us. Although a well known spot for eagles in the spring, with numbers reaching their peak around the second week of June, we had not expected to see as many as we did.
Why are so many eagles at this particular spot? Well, it’s because of the exceptional North Pacific hake fishing that’s available to them at this time of year. The hake here are still quite young and fairly small and when the tide turns in this location it starts an upwelling which runs for a short period of time and the fish are forced to the surface. The pressure of the ascent causes their swim bladder to burst, kind of like a diver getting the bends I guess. Once at the surface, they die pretty quickly and this makes for easy pickings for the eagles. Having spotted them lying in the water with their exceptional eyesight, the birds dive down out of the trees at tremendous speed and grab their target, often eating their catch on the wing (below), before they even get back to their perch.