2022-06-09 Getting to Whitehorse

Horned Grebe - Podiceps auritus
Horned Grebes caught my attention on my last day of driving to Whitehorse. I made one memorable stop during the meandering drive through the Yukon from Teslin to Whitehorse. Just south of Jakes Corner on Tagish Road was a shallow pond with an interesting array of birds.
Lesser Yellowlegs - Tringa flavipes
While my attention was on Horned Grebes, Lesser Yellowlegs showed up on my last day of driving to Whitehorse. This image might be one of the best ‘lucky shots’ I’ve ever captured. 
Wilson's Snipe - Gallinago delicata
While I was enjoying the company of Grebes and Yellowlegs, a Wilson’s Snipe joined the party. 

My journey to Whitehorse was another long drive, and I took two days to cover the distance. I left Tuesday and didn’t pull into Whitehorse until Thursday. I slept Wednesday on the outskirts of Teslin, then I drove the last 111 miles to Whitehorse. I made one stop that I found especially exciting on a side road only five miles from Jakes Corner toward Carcross.

I drove all the way to Taglish, 16 miles away, and crossed the bridge over the river there. I found no opportunities at the river, but I passed several interesting locations on my way down the road. Doubling back, I visited a marshy shallow lake, where Horned Grebes caught my eye. I carried my gear as near the water’s edge as I dared into the bog, and while I was working on the grebes, I heard Lesser Yellowlegs singing from the tops of nearby trees. Eventually, the Yellowlegs came down to complain to me about my nearness to their nesting area. A Wilson’s Snipe joined the chorus, as did Red-Winged Blackbirds. As I was preparing to exit the arena, a Say’s Phoebe entered the area, and I captured a few shots of this bird that is no stranger to my neighborhood in Southern California.

Good fortune smiled on me as I was photographing one of the Lesser Yellowlegs perched on a fence post. Another bird flew in on an attack sortie, and I captured the action in perfect focus. Both birds were airborne with claws facing each other and their beaks open. It may be one of my all-time favorite images I’ve ever captured!

When I finished spending time with the birds at the marsh, I resumed my northward journey. I arrived in the town of Whitehorse with plenty of time to scout it out. It was not the same place I remembered so fondly from my 2005 visit. As with so many places that left a warm impression from ancient visits, over-development has ruined this place. Where I remembered a grassy park next to the Yukon River at the south end of town, was now a monument to the giant steam paddle-wheelers that carried freight from Whitehorse to Dawson City, and a large paved parking lot. The river’s beach on the opposite shore, where I watched Arctic Terns feed chicks was now crowded to the limits of the minimum setback by a commercial complex. The river walk just below the dam, where I enjoyed meeting Herring and Mew Gulls was inaccessible because of construction. The road from the Alaska Highway, into the south part of town was closed because of construction. Given all the building in progress, and the increased population, the burden of heavy traffic in town made getting around a challenge.

I’d read online that because of abuses by travelers, Walmart no longer allowed overnight stays in their parking lot. When I surveyed the S.S. Klondyke exhibit parking area, I found no signage disallowing overnight stays, so I found a place to settle for the night, and worked on the blog backlog I’d been accumulating.

When morning came, I set a course for another location on the northern outskirts of town called MacIntyre Marsh. During my 2005 visit, this was a place that provided memorable bird meetings. When I reached the location, I could hardly recognize it from the work done by bulldozers and earth-movers. Fortunately, the habitat seemed intact. My morning visit was dampened by heavy cloud-cover. The variety of birds seemed rather limited, and the threat of rain dampened my ambitions for picture-taking.

Instead of struggling to capture more bird images, I settled on a plan to spend my second night in the area at a roadside in a spot that I passed on my way to the marsh, and I’d seen a family of Bald Eagles. I did not take any more pictures in Whitehorse until I cleared out the images and stories from my north-bound drive getting here. I spent my third night at a rest area north of town, and at last, caught up with my backlog of yarn-weaving.

Click map markers to reveal further information