Bounty for Birders

Miss the Festival of Swans, but don’t want to miss the birds?

There are dozens of exciting trips you can take this spring, summer and fall with the Yukon Bird Club.

These include the fun 24-hour Yukon Birdathon, the amazing Sheep and Crane Festival in Faro, and the well-worth-it Weekend on the Wing at Tombstone Territorial Park (offered by Yukon Environment and Friends of theDempster.)

In total, there are 29 events in nine communities.

The season started in late April with returning leader Boris Dobrowolsky, to see bluebirds and shrikes on the North Alaska Highway, and new events to California Beach in Tagish with Shyloh Van Delft, and to the Yukon Wildlife Preserve with Chris Wilkinson.

Each trip lasts on average from one to five hours, and is aimed at the beginner level.

Local experts, including some biologists, will help you explore the prettiest places (and richest bird habitat) in your neighbourhood.

You’re invited to look and listen for local and migratory birds that visit or nest here—and to keep an eye and ear out for those “rarities” that don’t normally show up in this area.

Field guides and binoculars are available, and often other birders help with identifying bird songs and tricky markings. (“Is that a boreal, a mountain or a black-capped chickadee?”).

One of my favourite trips is a ridge hike to find dusky grouse on Nares Mountain.

On May 11, Carcross resident Dan Kemble will lead this evening trek up to an old hunting blind for refreshments and jaw-dropping views. An hour or so later, at dusk, the group will head up to a higher ridge to see the grouse’s noisy courtship displays.

Sometimes the group is large, and sometimes it is small. But whatever the size, you’ll be sure to learn something, meet someone, and get a new perspective on the world of birds in your community.

A bonus is seeing other wildlife and insects that live in the bird world too, such as beavers and butterflies.

About half the trips are in Whitehorse. Hillcrest resident Mary Whitley is back to introduce the birds of Paddy’s Pond on June 4.

There are other walks set for Judas Creek, at Marsh Lake, along the Yukon River, at Mary Lake and the rich wetlands of McIntyre Creek. At the Takhini ponds near Yukon College, Katie Aitken can show you where a duck nests in a tree.

And the whole family can come out for the famous wetlands walk behind Boston Pizza (ask Jim Hawkings which seagull is the biggest mooch) on May 3.

The popular all-day event around the Tagish Loop will be lead by Clive Osborne, on Sunday May 6.

New trip leader Andre Langlois will help you find butterflies on Grey Mountain on June 16, weather permitting.Syd Cannings will lead a bug and bird trip to Hidden Lakes two weeks later, on June 30.

Ione Christensen is leading the spring trip to Fish Lake and fall trips to Hidden Lakes and Schwatka Lake, to see the fall migration.

Two other fall trips, held in a blaze of yellow, will take place around the shores of Lake Laberge and to see migration at Swan Lake, down the Long Lake Road. (This is a favourite of YBC’s award-winning birder, HelmutGrünberg – get well Helmut!).

Held mainly in the evening, each trip starts at a central meeting place, such as the SS Klondike or the Whitehorse Fish Ladder.

If you’re heading out of town, there will be trips offered in Old Crow (the first one in this village), Watson Lake, Haines Junction and Mayo. In the Klondike, Sebastian Jones will be debut a bird walk at the Yukon River on May 23.

Don’t’ have a car? It doesn’t matter. Car-pooling from the advertised meeting place is encouraged. (I used to bike to the SS Klondike to catch the out-of-town trips.)

Some things to remember: All trips are free and open to beginners and non-members, including visitors. Dress for the weather. Bring binoculars if you have them, but there are some loaners available from the trip leader. (And you will be asked to sign a waiver.)

Finally, if you join any of the trips, you will likely have the pleasure of meeting the bird club’s new field trip coordinator, Tracy Allard.

I don’t plan to stop birding though, and will be leading the trip along the Millennium Trail on May 17.

Have fun with birds this year!

For more information on the field trips, contact Tracy at 334-2882 or [email protected] for more info.

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