What I mean with hunting bald eagle here is “hunting” with my camera. 🙂
So, I have plenty of time when I was in Seattle last December. Although the weather was cold, the sky was gloomy and foggy, but I felt good about it. Especially because I just came from Singapore which had much warmer weather. However, on the other side, my brother seemed to worry about me of getting bored by doing nothing over the holiday. So, he got me this.
“Adventure Bald Eagle Tours”
BALD EAGLE. I winked and I grinned when he showed me about the tour on his computer screen. I only ever saw the bald eagles in Jurong Bird Park. To see them in the wild must be interesting, so I agreed to him to join the tour.
The viewing season begins in late November, peaking in early January. By mid-February most of the eagles have returned home, while some will stay through the end of the month.
The tour was organised by Blue Sky Outfitter and only available from November to March which is the migration period for the eagles. I thought it’d be good for me joining a tour as a PARTICIPANT and not always as an ORGANIZER [ Find out the trips I organize ]. It’d be a good chance for me to learn from other people. I was excited! A reservation was done (thanks to my bro!) and I received an email telling what I need to prepare for the tour.
You should bring or wear:
- Thick wool socks
- Warm pants (no jeans)
- Sweater or fleece jacket
- Warm coat
- Thermal underwear
- Warm hat
- Gloves or mittens
- Rain Gear or waterproof jacket
- Waterproof shoes or boots (self-bailing rafts do let a little bit of water through the floor)
- Sunglasses with strap
- Chapstick with sunscreen
- Guide Gratuity
Blue Sky Outfitters provides:
- Water resistant dry bags on each raft (for an extra sweater, hat, etc)
- Coast Guard approved Life Jackets
Not all the required items I had with me, such as a warm hat (I don’t feel comfortable wearing hat) and thermal underwear (thermal underwear for me who staying in Singapore most of the time?). So, I just went with whatever I had. Let’s go!
Gloomy Not Always Bad
The day had come! I woke up and looked out from the window. There’s no sun. It’s a gloomy day. OH NO..Would it be raining later? That’s the first time I felt gloomy because of such weather. Bad weather! The activity started at 11 am and my brother drove me to the meeting point. We reached Skagit River at around 10.45 am and we thought we were there early. However, we had a difficulty to find the meeting point and we ended up late about 5 minutes to meet the guides and the rest of the participants.
Fortunately, there were few participants came much later than me because they’re so engrossed watching the eagles from the bridge, not too far from the meeting point. So, if we don’t feel like taking float boat but we want to view the eagles, we could actually view it from the bridge. Just don’t forget to bring your binoculars! 🙂
We boarded the van which brought us to the other end of the river. We went along the Skagit River and less than 15 minutes, we reached the riverside where they parked the float boats. We were given a life jacket and a short briefing before we started our tour.
“The weather is good today”, the guide said.
“Urm..but it’s not a sunny day”, I thought.
Probably he could read what was in my mind or maybe my face expression was just obviously confused and couldn’t agree when he’s saying so.
“ Because on a sunny day, the sunlight may be too strong and our eyes will get distracted from seeing the eagles. This weather is just perfect to view the eagles”, he continued.
Probably after he finished his words, he saw my eyes were sparkling suddenly. Oh..gloomy day not always bad!
The River And The Eagles
Our group was divided into two with 8-10 people on one float boat. Young and old, even for them with a walking stick were allowed to join! From here I knew that there’s not much movement needed during the tour. It’s safe. Just sit back and relax. After the briefing session then we lifted our own boat together to the riverside. We stepped into the boat one by one and some of us were equipped with a paddle in any case we need to support our guides to row the boat.
There were two guides with us and to break the ice, we took a turn to introduce ourselves after them. All the people who joined the tour were locals from different states, except me. I was excited, so being alone among strangers didn’t bother me at all. Then, I looked around – The river was calm, I could hear the water splashes sound off the paddle clearly.
The soothing sound of the water flowing through the river was so relaxing. There were bigger currents at a certain part of the river but everything was stable and smooth. The foggy forest, the small fish in the crystal clear water, the birds, the breeze – I realized that I really felt good staying outdoor.
The guides were sitting on the very back row – rowing the boat and chatting with us at the same time. I was sitting in front of them, the second row from behind.
“There is one up there on the top of the tree. On your right.”, said the guide.
Immediately everyone got their camera, smartphone, or whatever they had, out and ready to point on that magnificent bird. It was standing tall up there as we were passing by the tree. We had already spotted one at the beginning of our ride and we were lucky enough to spot many of them later on.
If you think strolling in the park is already too mainstream but you would still like to enjoy the outdoor activity without many adventures, then this will be a good choice. The most important, wear proper winter clothing and accessories as they advise! Without my warm hat, my brain was kinda frozen after the boat ride.