Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Yukon Trip 2009 - Day 15 Part 3 - Arctic Circle

This picture should have gone in the previous entry, but for some reason I couldn't get it to up load then.

This was one of a pair of 'Short-eared Owls' that were hunting on the tundra, just before we reached the Arctic Circle rest area. It was, at this point, still a fairly cool, over cast day with occasional light showers.

The Snow-shoe Hares that had been keeping us company for the past few days have now been replaced by these guys - 'Arctic Ground Squirrels'

I got a kick out of their extremely erect posture!

These White Anemones of some sort were spotted along the way.......

as was this pretty little thing....neither of which I can find in my now 'infamous' Yukon flower book.

another spot has this interesting wildflower.......

Obviously a member of some sort of pea family....maybe a Loco weed of some sort, the flowers started out bright pink and turned to blue as they aged.

a close up of the flowers.

We're getting closer to the Richardson Mountains here.

This interesting pink 'Coltsfoot' was growing beside the road in this location, a moister spot as there was a small creek running beside the road.

We stopped here to give Shantz a chance to play in some snow (actually ice)...if you enlarge the picture you can just make out a very tiny Ernie and Shantz somewhere in the middle.....I was busy looking to see what sorts of things I could find growing but it was obvious that the area hadn't been snow free for very long.

another view of the area...the country is so vast that pictures just don't do it justice.

Still heading towards northwards......

Just before we reached George's Gap, which is where we will cross the Richardson Mountains, a Whimbrel walked across the road in front of us. By the time we got stopped, it had walked off onto the tundra. I have some better Whimbrel pictures later on, but this is the guy we saw at this spot....if you enlarge the picture you will find the bird towards the bottom left hand corner.....

then, as if spotting a Whimbrel wasn't enough, while I'd been peering at it through my binoculars, I realized that what I had thought was a light colored 'rock' had moved....sure enough, it wasn't a 'rock' but a 'Rock Ptarmigan'! Apologies again for the picture! the bird is more or less in the middle....this is the only time we saw a Rock Ptarmigan and the best picture I have of it. Looking back, I don't know why we didn't stop and stay put here so we could investigate further, but Ernie was having an 'Inuvik' or bust day.....so we continued on...
see part 4

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