A pair of fishermen on a small lake in the Shuswap region came face-to-face with a mighty bird of prey when it landed on their boat.
Kelowna resident Derril McKenzie and his brother-in-law Dean Wirachowsky had fished Gardom Lake, located southeast of Salmon Arm, before, but their fishing trip on Friday, Aug. 31 will stand out forever.
A few hours after launching, an immature bald eagle swooped in and perched on the boat.
“That was one of the most amazing days we’ve had. We’re still talking about it,” McKenzie said.
McKenzie said he heard the flutter of feathers and thought a crow or raven had swooped low over the boat when the eagle unfurled its massive wings and came to rest on the bow. The pair hadn’t caught any fish yet so McKenzie said he is unsure what drew the eagle to them.
The pair were so excited by the arrival of the eagle that McKenzie said he lost all track of time but estimates the bird perched on the boat for approximately 10 minutes.
McKenzie said the winged predator was eyeing his toes protruding from sandals so he put shoes on as a precaution.
“All of a sudden all those Natural Geographic shows with footage of them them tearing apart rabbits came to mind,” he said.
Eventually McKenzie sped up the boat, hoping the bird would take flight. It did, but only enough to come to rest on his shoulders. He said the eagle perched gently, tearing holes in his T-shirt with its large talons but not digging into his flesh. The bird drew a small amount of blood when it pecked McKenzie on the arm.
Wirachowsky eventually shooed the bird away with one of the boat’s oars, causing it to fly a short distance before landing in the water. McKenzie said it swam the few metres between the boat and the shore where it perched on a low-hanging limb, allowing its feathers to dry before soaring up into the trees.
McKenzie described the experience as absolutely stunning and said he would certainly return to Gardom Lake, this time keeping his eyes skyward in case the eagle returns.