2022-06-17 Friday At McIntyre Marsh

Paraphrasing Canada’s own Robbie Robertson,

“I pulled into Whitehorse, was feeling ‘bout half-past dead,

I just need to find a place, where I can lay my head.”

Boreal Chickadee - Poecile hudsonicus
I followed up my afternoon visit to McIntyre Marsh, northwest of Whitehorse, with a second visit the next morning. At last, I was able to meet another Boreal Chickadee, a bird I only met once before on the Dempster Highway.
Bald Eagle - Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Every valley and canyon in this region seemed to have a family of Bald Eagles.

It was a hard push getting to Whitehorse, and it took a toll on my endurance. I arrived on June 9th, and didn’t leave until the morning of the 19th. I did very little photography for the first week. Between catching up with my earlier blogs, recuperating from the road, and the rainy weather that set in, I wasn’t able to muster any enthusiasm for chasing the birds I love. But when the 15th rolled around, I was itching to get back into the groove, and I mustered four straight days of photo safaris right through the 18th.

When I finished at Lake Lebarge on Thursday, I drove down to McIntyre Marsh for a visit under sunny skies. My visit here a week earlier was cloudy and threatening rain, and not conducive to bird photography. What a difference there was this afternoon. I met juncos, warblers, sparrows, and flycatchers. Most fun for me were the chickadees, especially the Boreal Chickadees I’ve been wishing for.

Friday morning I drove back out to McIntyre Marsh from my roadside camp only three miles away. The Wilson’s Warbler that I got bad pictures of Thursday afternoon, continued its elusive ways and avoided giving me good looks. I was pleased to get a few more shots of the Boreal Chickadee in better light than I had late yesterday. Before I met these McIntyre Marsh birds, the only Boreal Chickadee I’d met was a single bird I found while I stopped in the Ogilvie Valley on the Dempster Highway in 2005. And while the picture I got all those years ago was a good one, I captured only one image before the bird lifted off and disappeared from view.

As I was wrapping up my time in the marsh, a husband-wife team was starting down the trail looking for birds. When we met on the trail, we stopped to chat, and our conversation lasted at least 45 minutes. I learned they were from southwest British Columbia north of Vancouver, but had significant experiences traveling in Africa and South America, as well as across Canada. When I told them of my plans to retrace my steps back to Slave Lake, and then journey down through Saskatchewan, they suggested I stop Grasslands National Park and spend time with birds and other animals there. I can only hope I get there before all the birds head south.

When I mentioned to my new friends that I wanted to meet Rusty Blackbirds, They told me of a place in Whitehorse where they’d seen them in the past. Following their suggestion, I wandered into the industrial area at the west end of town and found a trail leading into the woods lining the south shore of the Yukon River as it flowed west out of town. I walked about a kilometer and found an open area that put me at river level. It was a lovely walk which I enjoyed immensely. However, I never saw or heard a single bird there.

Still wishing for better pictures of Arctic Terns, I drove back to the Riverdale neighborhood, that sits across a bridge leading to the opposite side of the Yukon River than the rest of Whitehorse. Spoiler Alert! I finally captured Arctic Tern images I don’t feel the need to apologize for. But that will be the story for my next episode.

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