On Sunday, January 8 a number of North Vancouver School District staff once again participated in the annual Brackendale Eagle count. This is an annual volunteer event, held on the first Sunday of each new year and this year was the 26th anniversary. On deck this year representing NVSD & the North Vancouver Outdoor School were Colleen Elderton (24th year), Victor Elderton (22nd year), Kate Keogh (10th year), and Dawn Green (1st year).
Over the past 26 years the numbers of Bald Eagles Haliaeetus leucocephalus counted on this single day have ranged from several hundred to a record 3769 in 1994. Over the decades until recently Bald Eagles counted, adult and immature juveniles, was averaging between 1500 – 2000 birds, this changed about 5 years ago when numbers dropped to an average of less than 1000 birds per eagle count. On Jan. 8th, 655 birds were counted, which was up by 68 birds from last year, but still less than the historical average.
What are the reasons for this drop and why might it have become the new norm? These are questions that students, teachers, staff and guest researchers at the North Vancouver Outdoor School in the center of the Brackendale Bald Eagle reserve investigate every day at this time of year.
Conditions for counting from the count day one year to the next can vary but, it’s the trends in help enlighten and inform us, these observations tell us something is happening. We know that the environment all life depends on is complex and is influenced by many factors. Robert Bateman, a friend of to NVOS and AfK, put it this way in a mid-90s promotional video for Outdoor School:
Nature is complex but it may be more complex than we can even understand
Investigating this complexity experientially is at the core of environmental learning and demands that this form of education be wholistic, investigating multiple factors.
to be continued ….