The worlds largest gathering of Bald Eagles happens in the Fraser valley at the Chehalis Flats where the Chehalis River joins the Harrison River. The eagle count for 2012 was about 10,000 birds. 
 For more information here is the link

 The eagles migrate from northern areas when it starts to freeze, the spawned out salmon they feed on are frozen into the ice, and they can't access their main food source. Migration takes a lot of energy and they need to rest and feed when they arrive. They migrate by using thermals to gain altitude and then soar using the winds. Flapping uses so much energy that they would never survive if they had to flap for long distances.

The large gravel beds, formed over 100's of thousands of years at the mouth of the Chehalis River are ideal for spawning salmon, and feeding eagles. The gravel bars are only accessible by boat or hiking, and there is little industrialization or significant agriculture that can disturb the environment. This is also an ideal area for other migrating waterfowl, mallards, swans, snow geese, and Canada geese use the flats.

Taking photos can be a challenge and expensive telephoto lenses are needed to get good close up shots, unless you are in the right place at the right time. Trying to approach the eagles is impossible, because they can see anything on the flats, and they will fly if you get close. Walking the flats can also disturb spawning salmon, and crossing small tributaries can disturb the salmon eggs that have been spawned. The Chehalis flats is slated to become an officially no access area for the time of the year when eagles and salmon are present. It only makes common sense to protect this pristine habitat, so please respect this area and stay off the flats.

There are many eagle nests in the Fraser valley and eagles will be returning to claim  last years nests. in preparation for raising young in March. David Hancock who is an eagle researcher does a talk each year for eaglefest and it is worth attending if you are in the area, to find out the latest research on these wonderful birds.

 See the  link for David Hancocks organization to view eagle cams at nests.

Here is the  map for the layout of Northwest Trek

Northwest Trek  Roadtrip

Heading south Down I-5 in a massive traffic jam stretching from North Seattle to Olympia was not what I had in mind when we decided on a road trip to take a couple of days break from home in Chilliwack, BC. It was Friday afternoon of the Memorial day weekend and it appears everybody got off early, who knew rush hour started at 2:00 pm.

We decided to take a road trip, from our home in Chilliwack, with Northwest Trek in Washington State as the main destination.  We had visited this wildlife park some years ago, and with my new enthusiasm for photography, it was a chance to see what interesting images we could capture. We planned a three day trip so we could visit some favorite restaurants and stores in Washington.

We spent a relaxing night in the Best Western at Tumwater, Washington, much appreciated after the massive traffic jam. They had great rates and very clean rooms with a free breakfast to get the day off to a great start.

It was overcast as we enjoyed a peaceful drive on the back roads through small towns with historic buildings and arrived at the park for a leisurely day.

Northwest Trek is a 725 acre wildlife  park, their mission statement is they are “ dedicated to conservation, education, and recreation by displaying, interpreting, and researching native northwest wildlife and their habitats” Northwest Trek is located near Eatonville, in Washington state, about 30 miles east of I-5 from Olympia. To get exact directions and more information visit their website at‎.

The park can be a full day experience with viewing the animals and participating in other activities. It is great for kids, with hands on displays, and has a Zip line/challenge that has a zip line through the trees. It is accessible for all skill and experience levels for ages 6 and up.

There are paved trails from which you can view animals such as bears, cougars, and wolves, from overlooks that provide vantage points so you can watch the interactions between animals. The keepers show off the smaller animals and birds; talk about their habitats and habits at trailside encounters.

The free roaming area covers 435 acres and a naturalist guided tram tour gets you close up and personal with Moose, Bison, Elk, Mountain Sheep, Big Horn sheep, and deer.   When you enter the park you get a reserved time for the tram tour. Then you have time for walking the trails, checking out the restaurant, gift shop and other displays.

There many special events held throughout the year for groups such as educators and photographers. There are special times of the year to watch seasonal activities of the animals. They have family camps which have special activities that families would enjoy in addition to viewing the animals. Check the Northwest Trek website for special event schedules.


This is fun trip for all ages, with easy trails, rental strollers, and facilities for people with disabilities.

Enjoy our attached slide show of the images we shot. I am looking forward to  taking one of the special trips for photographers in the new year to shoot some more images at this special park.