2022-06-27 Return To Charlie Lake

Swainson's Thrush - Catharus ustulatus
At Charlie Lake, the haunting, flute-like songs of Swainson’s Thrushes echoed through the woods. I fell in love with the Boreal Forest in Beatton Provincial Park during my north-bound journey a month earlier.

Early Monday morning I drove north to Beatton Provincial Park on Charlie Lake from Fort Saint John for what would be my third visit. My first experience there was in 2005, while I headed to Alaska. My second tour was June-3, while headed to Whitehorse nearly a month ago, on this current trip. I split my time between working on my blog backlog, and hiking the trails in the park to find birds. While it rained, I worked on my blogs. When the sun came out, I chased birds.

The birds were active at the park, especially the Ovenbirds. However, they were masters of frustration. They sang their boisterous songs from hidden perches and never provided me with an opportunity to capture an image. Happily, not all the bird species I met here were as shy as the Ovenbirds. Swainson’s Thrushes shared their songs freely and occasionally their images. Perhaps my most enjoyable meeting for the day was with Western Tanagers. I’m rather familiar with this species on my southern California turf, where they both pass through in migration, but also breed in our inland mountains.

These dense, moist Boreal Forests play host not only to a wide variety of birds, but less enjoyably to mosquitos. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I use a chemical defense called Picaridin against these miniature vampires. Its effectiveness doesn’t come at the cost of a foul distillery smell, and it won’t dissolve plastics. The trick, it seems, is to apply sufficient quantities in those hard to reach places. But I found a solution! Before I don my long-sleeve shirt, I lay it out and thoroughly spray a dose over the entire garment before putting it on. Then I treat my face, head, and hands, put on the shirt, spray my pants and shoes, and I’m good to go for a few hours. The literature claims 12 hours of protection, but in my experience, the effect begins diminishing after three or four hours, but that’s enough for my needs.

I finished my time with the birds at Charlie Lake and returned to nearby Fort Saint John for the night. I prepared for the relatively short road ahead and a return visit to Turner Landing and then to Dawson Creek, where the Alaska highway begins.

As I pen this edition of my adventure, I’m having breakfast at Dawson Creek’s airport in a small cafe called Don’s Diner, where the chef makes the best Veggie Omelet I’ve had in Canada. I have some exploring to do in the surrounding area before I leave and head to Slave Lake in northeastern Alberta.

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