Hancock here - the Surrey Reserve a wondrous moment
the shot in B & W of the two adults on the Surrey Reserve nest is so wonderful - I vacillate between ecstasy and crying - maybe they are the same. Thank you so much. I realize that the image is B & W because you captured this image as this pair of eagles inspected their possible new nest in the dawn’s early light before people could disturb their privacy. I sure hope they think our effort was worth it.
The Back Story:
I have been speaking for eagles for a long time. I have had the incredible support of many like-minded conservation people in the different levels of government say "Yes, Hancock, we will give the eagles this break!" - and another eagle nest gets spared momentarily. But nowhere have the eagle supporters been so pushed - had to make decisions that pushed their department policies so far, and again and again - than for this incredibly resistant 'pair' of south Surrey bald eagles.
So I guess my momentary happiness is that we have given this pair of eagles at least a moment in their life cycle, a moment when they returned from migration to find their nest and all the surrounding trees totally obliterated - trees felled and land cleared to sand - but nearby in their territory an option of nesting, a new artificial framework that they thought enough about to both, at this given moment you captured, land on and inspect this possible new home. Judy, that you captured that moment is one of the most incredible images of my life. Thank you. And to all the people, from developers to City and Provincial officials who when that extra route had to be trodden, went the extra hours and 'steps of concern' to give these eagles this moment. Is it enough? Will this potential home be secure enough? We hope so.
The Details of the Surrey Reserve Bald Eagle Nest.
For 60 - well 40 years, I have been trying to be a voice for eagles, for environment. I certainly started to watch this Surrey pair in the 1990’s or earlier. The first proposal I gave to preserve this nest was almost a decade ago. It was so flatly rejected that my comfort was that at least no development momentarily continued to disrupt them. The developers shelved their plans - momentarily. Then new developers came with more aspirations. I offered another similar proposal, another offer to speak for the eagles against a tide of overwhelming development. Again, it seemed no more than a societal blip before the eagles were trodden under. All I was asking for the eagles were a few trees remain in a neighborhood of condos. But maybe this is part of "enough is enough." This time it was rewarding to seeing the developers, the City and the Province say, yes, we will accept these few trees as a unique Bald Eagle Reserve. Wow - and I don't want to underplay it - this was - is - the first Bald Eagle Reserve in a City in the Province of British Columbia. A small reserve, a big concept.
Then a month later we found out nature dealt a cruel blow - 8 days after the Reserve was established the wind blew the nest out of the tree. This was discovered when the eagle’s new nest was seen in a new tree outside of the Reserve but on property already approved for clearing and development. Could we preserve a Reserve with no eagle nest and save another annoying eagle nest nearby where the land was slated for clearing? We started again.
Now starting again is not simple. The developers had nearly a hundred units sequenced for clearing, road and utility installation, building etc. and a hundred construction permits all scheduled to be acted upon. After and during all the developer rescheduling, the City and Provincial authorities had a whole lot of new Permits to consider and try and accommodate. On the side sat a few voices 'speaking for eagles.' I personally never heard a single bad word spoken. From the developers, Dawson & Sawyer, I only got encouragement of "How can we keep the eagles?" We will even pay to have two CAMs installed to tell the world of these urban eagle lives. Wow. To tell this briefly, we kept the eagles, protected and successfully nesting in the new nest for two years, this enabled the original development to be finished on the north side of the Bald Eagle Reserve. Then, when the buildings were finished and being occupied we constructed the artificial nest frame, shown being inspected by the adults above, and the nest that had housed the pair for two-years and the surrounding trees were removed as soon as the eagles left on migration.
Then the big question. First, would the pair of adults survive the migration and return? Then, how would they react to losing their nest and surrounding trees? Would they simply leave or might they explore our little remaining woodlot, the Surrey Bald Eagle Reserve
? Well about a week ago one of the adults was seen in the area sitting in a tree nearby our artificial nest, actually scolding a red-tail hawk that was also exploring the tree with the artificial nest. That was a good start. But so far only one of the pair had returned. We had installed two CAMS, one in the tree with our artificial nest and the other in the adjacent tree. For unknown technical reasons we had not been able to get them live and viewable. Yesterday this happened. This morning at the crack of dawn our key lady - what else do I call you Judy - was checking the cams directly and there were both adults inspecting the nest. Quite incredible. I am sure they have spent 10+ days sitting in nearby trees watching the ‘reserve,' viewing the nest and its surroundings to make sure it was safe. Then today was the day. Incredible. Will they make this home? Or was this an inspection and rejection? Time will tell. They sat and looked satisfied - that of course is my optimism, not the eagles, speaking. I know we have provided many other satisfactory bald eagle nest foundations, so we hope we have again satisfied their needs. The next few weeks will tell. By Christmas we will know if they think the territory is secure enough.
As a note, today October 23 at 1025, I saw what I thought was the pair sitting at tidewater on their beach only 200 feet from the two adults who owned the adjacent territory. I suspect it was a 'territory testing event.' I only saw the other pair return to their nest. I had a schedule to pick up a dead calf for baiting other eagles for our BETA Project, and I left.
I understand our CAMs will be live and on our Web within two days.
Thanks, Myles and Trevor for building the nest and installing the cams, to Ken for getting the cams on the air and Judy for managing our whole site - and especially for capturing this moment for me. But particularly my thanks to Dawson & Sawyer who saw the value in preserving this small element of our Super Natural British Columbia, to the City of Surrey and our Provincial Wildlife Officials who worked towards the correct end. Let’s hope our combined efforts are fully successful.
Hancock Wildlife Foundation
October 23, 2018