Friday 9 December 2016

A Rare Sighting

Dec 7 2016 Nicomen Slough 
BC Canada

Nicomen Slough Nikon P900

Birding in the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley can be so good at times it draws in birders from far and wide. The autumn of 2016 has been particularly kind with a myriad of rare species too long to list. The Lucy's warbler in Kelowna was perhaps one of the best, the field sparrow in Victoria another. The slated-backed gull was a lifer for many and that is just to name a few. Add to the list a majestic golden eagle and you just know that for birders Christmas had arrived early. This week I braved -10c windshield to photograph a golden eagle that has been feeding on dead and dying salmon on one of the sloughs that drain into the Fraser River above Mission.

A rare sight inter Lower Mainland. A golden eagle hunts along Nicomen Slough, a windswept waterway that drains into the Fraser River.

The sandbanks of the slough are at times littered with dead salmon providing plenty of valuable nutrients for the eagles gulls, crows and ducks that winter there.

A golden eagle and bald eagle fight over a salmon.
A golden eagle forces a bald eagle off a chum salmon. Unlike Atlantic salmon, all five species of pacific salmon die after returning to the river they were spawned in.

Once all competitors are seen off the golden floats in for a feast.

The golden is an opportunist as well as a fearsome hunter.

This is the third Golden Eagle I have seen. The first an adult on Sumas Prairie and in 2014/5 a first year bird in Delta.
I can honestly tell you that before I began birding, the very idea of seeing one of these magnificent birds was just a pipe dream. I thought I might have to visit Scotland or the Pyrenees to see one. Little did I know they could be found so close to home.

All images unless stated are taken with a Nikon D500 and Nikon 500mm F4

"It's really never too late to start birding"

John Gordon
Langley Cloverdale
BC Canada


  1. Yes it sure was magical to see this Golden Eagle in action! Wonderful series of this magnificent bird John.

  2. We are so lucky to have so many superb birds visit our area. The winter birding is so good.