Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Yukon Trip 2009 - Day 18 Part 3 - N.W.T. border

About 11 am on June 9th we once more reached the border between the N.W.T. and Yukon......
On the trip north we took photos of the N.W.T. sign, on the return, we do the Yukon sign

Stopped at the large rest area to take some final looks and toast it with a cup of coffee....while Ernie made the coffee I noticed some little birds hoping around, right in the rest area and on the tundra.....

American Pipits! We do get American Pipits down our way in the winter but this is their breeding area.

Another view of one of the American Pipits - we haven't had many bird pictures lately and this is a 'birding blog' after all so we'll make up for that right now!

An American Pipit with some Coltsfoot (that is the flower)...this was right on the bank of the rest area.

and a final 'Pipet' picture. On the other side of the road, where another side road went up to a micro wave tower, I spotted a Savannah Sparrow sitting on the top of a sign....so crossed the road to get a picture.....the sparrow flew down into the grass at the base of the sign, so I had my camera aimed at the grass, waiting for it to reappear......

but what appeared was this.....(there really had been a Savannah Sparrow - I have no idea where it went!) and I'm not exactly sure what this bird is....my first thought was 'Chestnut-collared Longspur - but they're only found in the southern prairies! So then I thought 'Smith's Longspur' and that is what I actually wrote in my journal....but looking at it now with my trusty 'Sibleys' on my lap - I'd say it is a female Lapland Longspur and if that is the case - I'd sure have liked to have seen a male!! (another reason to return)

That dark breast band is one of the indicators that says 'Lapland Longspur' - and aren't all those colors too perfect...you couldn't paint a better picture!

another view....talk about camouflage!

and just one more!

This picture is taken about a half kilometer from the border, we are now back in the Yukon...this is looking south west and this is Wright's Pass. The plaque commemorates a highway engineer named Al Wright, who was responsible for the routing of the Dempster Highway.

now heading in a south easterly direction that dark mound on the tundra is a 'Pingo'

a closer view of a 'Pingo' - Pingo's are a unique feature of Canada's far north. They are formed when a lake drains, leaving a core of water that freezes...the surrounding permafrost, as the lake drains, spreads inward toward the core, pushing the core and the surrounding earth, upwards. There are, apparently, about 1,450 Pingos in the Arctic, the largest one is near Tuktoyaktuk and is over a 1,000 years old and still growing. When a Pingo stops growing, vegetation takes root and eventually they just become another mound on the horizon.

heading back towards the Arctic Circle.....

While still 'North of 60' we saw a road leading off from the highway, going back to a clearing with a small hill on two sides of it. It looked like a good spot to spend the night. There all all sorts of places along the Dempster where you can just pull off and stay provided you are self contained and self sufficient....this is a view of the tundra in the area, looking back towards the way we had come.

the side road itself was lined with small trees, some of which looked like Alders...I spotted this Redpoll eating seeds in the gravel of the roadway. My first thought was that it was a Hoary Redpoll, but I am now thinking maybe a female Common Redpoll.....

Ernie walked the road later and got this picture....there is no doubt to the ID here...this is a male Common Redpoll. The problem was that these trees were alive with birds and both varieties of Redpoll can be found here.

walking on the tundra itself, the Labrador Tea, which is found everywhere in the north country, was in full flower. There are some of those 'Cloud berries' here as well.

a closer view of the flowers of Labrador Tea

a type of Saxifrage, very similar to any growing in our rock gardens back home.

We had just got set up and were enjoying the view when Ernie said "Why is there a truck stopped on the highway?" so got our binoculars and took a look. A Grizzly Bear! that is why!

While we watched, these two motorcycles arrived on the scene. The bear was still on the other side of the road when they stopped but came up onto the highway, took a step or two in the direction of the lead bike, then thought better of it and ran over to our side of the highway. We watched him from a distance and he meandered into the trees that were growing in a gully just across the tundra from us. Ernie decided it was time to get the bear bangers handy and I scratched the plans I had of wandering up the hillside behind us, since the bear seemed to be headed in that general direction!

after supper Ernie took Shantz and they did walk up around the nearest hill which was opposite to where the bear had last been seen. He found this wonderful Anemone there....we never saw one like it anywhere else...

and this Ptarmigan that doesn't match any pictures I can find...given coloration and time of year. My first thought was White-tailed Ptarmigan but I am now pretty much convinced it is a Rock Ptarmigan.
Ernie and Shantz came running back from this little expedition as though the Grizzly was after them....no not a Grizzly....MOSQUITOES! clouds of them! They both dove into the camper and that is where we stayed for the night, playing scrabble and watching a silly Cliff Swallow (no idea where it came from) trying to fight with it's reflection in our mirrored windows and later, a Short-eared Owl hunting out on the Tundra....tried for a picture but just too dark at the time, thanks to shade from the hill sides.

No comments:

Post a Comment