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Ranger Tanya, posting live from milepost 100 on the upper Skagit. What a beautiful day. Eagles are out and active – feeding perching, flying.

The Hatchery is lively as well. Plenty of eagles and other bird friends, coho spawning, etc. By January the salmon run will be over so now is a good time to go.

Tomorrow’s weather forecast is great as well, so come on up, take in the views, maybe call up a boat guide service and take and eagle float. Get it while the getting is good!

Eagle watch volunteers will be out every weekend through January 21 (we are taking Christmas Eve off.)

Did our usual road and walking -based eagle count from Marblemount to Rockport yesterday and counted 74 bald eagles. Last week Skagit Guide Service counted 40, so numbers are up.

See you on the river!

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As maples and cottonwoods are turning yellow and dropping their leaves, salmon are making their way up the Skagit River to spawn. In the next month, migratory bald eagles will be working their way down from the far north for their winter vacation down here in the lower 48 states. Given enough spawned out fish carcasses to feed on, a concentration of bald eagles will be here on the upper Skagit feasting on the river bars while conserving energy for the trip back to their nesting areas next spring. Eagles will travel to rivers throughout the region looking for areas with the easiest food supply, and rotting fish is a particular favorite.

Photo by Don Knutzen

Which river will have the most fish and the greatest concentration of eagles this season? For years, the Skagit was king, with the largest fish runs and the most eagles.  For the past few years, that distinction has gone to the Nooksack. We will have to wait and see what the salmon and eagles do this year.

Eagle Watcher volunteers will be out in public parks here on the Skagit River on weekends beginning December 8th, scanning for eagles and offering the public an opportunity to view them close up through high quality spotting scopes and binoculars. If you are making a winter trip up the Skagit, stop in Rockport at the Skagit River Bald eagle Interpretive Center, located at Howard Miller Steelhead County Park and at our eagle watching base outside in the day use area. 

We are happy to give you the latest info and get your questions answered.

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Scope at kid level for viewing a red tail hawk at Howard Miller Steelhead Park

Activities abound this weekend in the upper Skagit. While the bald eagles appear to be plentiful on the Skagit and Samish Flats, upvalley in Rockport and Marblemount there are many special programs available for free!

Skagit Eagle Festival 

Peter Ali will be playing at Marblemount Community Center as part of a weekend of Native American art and storytelling

Saturday & Sunday, January 14 & 15

10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Marblemount Community Hall

60055 State Route 20, Marblemount

Native history, storytelling, music,

local native arts & crafts vendors, and fry bread tacos all day.

Native speakers and presentations 11:00 am – 2:00 pm

Native musicians and performers 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Peter Ali and other Native American performances

Free admission. Donations appreciated.

Find out more about the 2017  Eagle Festival Here

Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center

In Rockport, stop by the Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center, located inside Howard Miller Steelhead Park

Open Saturday and Sunday 10-4. Enjoy a warm fire, refreshments, a gift shop, and daily programs.

At 11:00 take a 90 minute guided walk with a US Forest Ranger. Indoor presentations are offered at 1:00.

Saturday : Dr. Steve Glenn will talk about winter birds of the Skagit.

Sunday: Taylor Schmuki from Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group presents Salmon Habitat Restoration Projects in Howard Miller Steelhead Park.

Eagle Viewing Stations

Volunteers with scopes and binoculars ready to answer your questions about eagles

Eagle viewing stations are located at Howard Miller Steelhad Park, Sutter Creek Park (milepost 100) and Marblemount Fish Hatchery. We will be there from 10-3 Saturday and Sunday.

All the above programs are free and the weather looks fine!

Boating

snoweaglefloatWith potentially dry skies and temperatures above freezing, it looks like a great weekend to hire one of the local float trip guides for a boat ride and enjoy the beauty of the river. Have you ever tried it?
Have a great weekend everyone!

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Conditions upriver for this weekend

Looks like nice weather for weekend two of the Skagit Eagle Festival. Sunny and above freezing! It’s been a while. Just be prepared. Snow and ice are still lingering, especially in Marblemount. Some side roads and parking lots are still slippery. 

Marblemount Hatchery January 12. It is going to take a while to melt this thick ice


All the eagle viewing sites are accessible for driving. Just be careful walking around. 

Sutter Creek Park at Milepost 100 on January 12

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No viewing stations open Sunday Jan 8. Due to high winds and freezing rain in the forecast, we will not be opening the volunteer-staffed eagle watching stations tomorrow. See you next weekend!

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A fine New Years weekend

Eagle watchers have a front row vista of soaring and kettling bald eagles at Sutter Creek roadside park (milepost 100) on New Years Day 2017


It was a quiet, cold and beautiful weekend in the upper Skagit Valley. The threat of snow and ice kept many folks away, but those who ventured out saw a fair amount of eagle action. 

Visitors to the Marblemount Hatchery peer at a juvenile bald eagle that landed at the top of a nearby cedar on Saturday December 31

Saturday crew at the Hatchery as snow starts to fall Saturday afternoon


Sunday morning the landscape was covered with about 6 inches of fresh snow. 

Road to the Hatchery Sunday morning


Though highway 20 was well plowed, the side roads were not yet clear and we decided not to open the fish Hatchery eagle watching station on Sunday 

Marblemount Boat Launch

Skagit River near Cascadian Farm

Though a cold front was on its way, the temperature climbed above freezing with sunny skies. When we were not being wowed by the scenery the eagles put on an occasional show. As the weather was changing, there must have been some mighty thermals, because the eagles stayed relatively active, with plenty of swirling, soaring and ketttling. 

Volunteer Angela on the Highway 530 bridge on Sunday

Awesome vantage point looking upstream from 530 bridge

 

Eagle below highway 530 bridge


Ranger Matt and two volunteers led about a dozen folks through Steelhead Park campground, past the slough and through the meadow to look toward the confluence of the Sauk and Suiattle rivers. There were many eagles on the move, flying upstream. Where are they headed? So many times I have wished we could understand eagle language as they talk to one another. 

 With cold east winds moving in, we closed up shop a little early Sunday afternoon so we could all get home safely before the roads iced up. A very happy  and successful holiday of eagle watching!

 Weather permitting, we will be back next weekend. Gonna be a cold one- make sure to bundle up. See you then!

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Snowy New Year in the Upper Skagit

Marblemount at 7:42 am, January 1, 2017


Overnight snow has made Marblemount a winter wonderland! Highway 20 is plowed, but watch for ice.

Travel to Rockport via highway 530 is not recommended. The report from Darrington is that there is much more snow and the road is in poor condition. 

Eagle watchers will be running with a smaller crew and shorter day today. 

Temperatures are expected to drop throughout the day, so stay warm and stay safe!

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