Monday, June 30, 2008

'elfin creek'


Viburnum edule. High Bush Cranberry bushes.

What is this new plant I keep running into? Is it American Milk Vetch? I mentioned it before, finding it close to 'moose skull lake'. It is another Astragulus. Astragulus americanus, or is it a white flowered Hedysarum? It is not flowering yet, I look so much forward to that. It looks surprisingly out of place here, it looks coastal, lush, robust. Today I did find it in abundance in a place that looked very coastal, as in the rain forest in Haines Alaska.

I set out to find, where the creek that flows out of 'moose skull lake', goes underground. I started on the power line where it is underground. It's a gully in which the High Bush Cranberry grows, this is a berry bush that grows abundantly on the coast of Alaska here (Haines and Skagway).
I didn't bring a compass. And before I set out into the thick forest. I check exactly where the sun is. I have gotten lost here picking berries. I think the creek meanders more then I realize. Close to the centre of the gully the undergrowth is very thick. I first walk along it in the more open forest. By the time I cut towards it. I find the creek! I decide to back track. Indeed I find the place where it just disappears. All I can say it is a wild place; wet and green, high undergrowth and lots of logs, dead fall. I do like it. I cut back to what I think is east, planning to come out on the little road, behind my place. Ah! the sun is totally obscured by clouds. You guessed it! lost. I end up by the creek again, not knowing I am lost. Delighted; "oh, it has two channels here". I follow it for a while, till I realize it flows in the wrong direction. There are pyrolas and twinflowers blooming. And it is right around here I find the American Milk Vetch. But how do I get out of here? Either way I will find my way home. But once I've done a total 180, without realizing it. It is very hard for me to wrap my mind around which way is which. Walking in what seems to be the opposite direction, I do come out by the little road. Thank you elves!

Astragalus agrestis


smell it.
June 29 2008
Flower day! Everyday is flower day these days. I have a beautiful bouquet on the table, all picked in my garden.
My best friend Sue Herbrick came out today. She is working on a booklet with the most common wildflowers, for the children she is working with. Suits me just fine! I will look for the Astragulus agrestis. The purple milk vetch that smells so nice. I have positively identified it, but nowhere on the Internet or in the literature I can find that it has fragrance. The endlessness of information. The more you know, the more questions. I love it.
Sue and I bent over the Jacob's Ladder, she points out that some have pointed petals. They seem to all be the same species - Beautiful Jacob's ladder-. But indeed, some have slightly pointed petals , some perfectly round and some with a little notch. Another puzzling one for me is the Blacktipped Groundsel; I always thought I recognized it as a plant with a small rosette of leaves on the ground, long stems and a cluster of yellow ray flowers. The black tips being on the bracts(which hold the flower) right? Today we come upon this succulent one , everything big and abundant. Is it the same species? or?
As we walk , look and talk, Sue is taking photos and I still am on the look-out for the Astragalus. We are in the fire smart, where I saw it yesterday. Today it is nowhere to be seen. At the end, by the descent to the highway, we turn east and follow the elk and deer trail on top of the bank. It is a lovely trail, amazingly I haven't been on it for a long time. Thank you Sue, for loving trails (instead of bushwhacking).
We stop by an open grassy slope and sit on the rocks, overlooking the Mendenhall river meadows , again, but from a different angle. It is beautiful. From here we turn back.

After Sue is gone I walk along the driveway. And guess what? On the south exposed side, among other flowers it is lined with Astragalus agrestis.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Alexander alatus


Abundance

The Strawberries are ripe. The tiny little wild strawberries. Jane and I found them, on a hot spot.
Yesterday coming back on to the highway after a walk in the wind, they were a needed, delicious snack. I had not brought water or food, because I hadn't plan on going very far, but because of the wind I was a little dehydrated.

'Abundance', I call this posting, as there is always so many experiences to enjoy. Everywhere I step there's something to marvel about. As you know, I do sometimes have the urge to take the car, but then I just have to ask myself; what I desire that moment; and it is, That!
Marvelling, I could call it. And then I know again, that as by just looking up, there is something marvelous. The Peewee is quiet now and sits on its nest continiously. Marvelous, yes?

Abundance also revers to the strawberries, I know once the strawberry season starts, I could pick berries 24 hours a day, (daylight permitting) till the snow covers the ground. The sequence around here is: strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, saskatoon berries, black currents, blueberries, high bush cranberries and at the end low bush cranberries and crowberries. And all the other less abundant berries in between.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lesser Yellowlegs


I jumped on my bike towards the 911 pond, to meet my friends; the Lesser Yellowlegs. And here is finally a photo. What a graceful flyer! It flies so close to me, because again I am in their territory and I don't know if they like it. I promise to always know my place. Talking about that, I try to be very respectful in nature. today I walked by one single blooming violet. What a treat, I have never seen them around here. Can you imagine if I by accident had stepped on it!

Anyway, back to the beginning, As soon as I am on the trail, I come to the Queen of the woods. The Larkspur is blooming.It's a big column, one and a half meter high, And a queen it is, she's elegant, beautiful, deep blue in color. She knows her place too as she is not...... She is related to the garden delphinium, which is more of a 'show-of'. The open path here, (fire-smart) is full of blues and yellows. I come upon another treasure, that is newly blooming, a purple Astragalus, a Milk vetch. It smells like sweet peas! It is from the pea family and today I promise to find out who she exactly is. As I sweep down the bank towards the highway, here there is no sign of a trail, and it appears I come straight out of the woods. There are two bicyclist on the road. It is a happy meeting. They are Swiss and they are biking from Prudhoe Bay to Vancouver. Amazing! They had been tried by the weather today, and I was also dressed for rain and cold, but as it turns out by the time I come back it is warmer and definitely sunnier. I am happy for them too.

At the 911 pond the grass is so green and tall. It is rippling in the wind. There is no duck in sight as the water is rough. I also see no sign of the Swans. I hope one is peacefully sitting on the nest and not visible because of the tall grass. Because there are no birds to look at I wander a little farther to the South on the east side of the pond. I am wearing my rain boots. The terrain here is.... marsh land.I find an egg-shell. It really looks like a regular chicken egg, I wonder who is it from. Let me know if you might have a suggestion. I come to more little ponds in the green,green grass. The water here is still rough, but less so and I do see 2 Lesser Scaups and 2 Buffle heads, males and females. The male Bufflehead by it self , and in another pond the three others together. This is kind of where I saw the 2 moose last time and I don't want to venture any further, in case I run in to them. or rather mother Moose running into me. On my way back I climb a tree to see if I can see the Swans. I am almost blown out of the tree and Ha! there are my friends, one in the grass, 50 yards from me, and others start flying and screaming at me. Time to go. I still do meet a Savanna Sparrow, and some Red-winged Black-birds.

One more note, as for the color blue, beside the many blue flowers and butterflies on the trail, there are the blue dragonflies. One is a Enallagma, a Boreal or Northern Bluet! And for the color yellow. Higher up I find a bright yellow butterfly, which is a Clouded Sulpher( Colias philodice).

evening light


When I come home, evening June 27, the sun is still up. And is so till around 11 pm. As I am hardly ever up this late I take some photos from evening sun light shining on the trees. Peacefully enjoying the ever changing light. I realize Jane made the best compliment ever about my garden. As she was standing right in the middle of it, she asked; "where is your garden?"
I enjoy my wild place, till it becomes dusk. It won't really get dark at night till.... I let you know.

Beaches


This morning I worked on my blog. Let me know if you like the changes. I had the hardest time again, and didn't get it as I would have liked it. And now it is raining out.

Yesterday was a wonderful day! June 27 2008. A whole day with my friend Jane Jacobs. We did a photo shoot to update my blog. She took the picture of me on my own rock. "thanks Jane!"
In the morning I am up early as on most days. It's blue skies ,with white puffy clouds. Warm when the sun is out, cool when it is behind the clouds. Some times the wind picks up and then it's calm again. As in our conversations. We climbed up 'crocus hill' via a round about way. The aspen trees are turning grey, because of a little bug, that makes intricate patterns in the leaves, by eating it. The meadows in the view look like golf courses though, so green.

We make photos of me on top of the hill, but at the end we choose one that Jane took right behind the shop here. I do love that rock, it's the only on of its kind on the property. It is a rock that was left by a melting ice flow,on the beach, when this was Lake Champagne, maybe only 3000 years ago. (see: From trail to highway. a book by the Champagne-Aishihik Band.)

In the evening we drive out to Kusawa Lake. Looking down on the lake when you drive towards it the lake is sooo blue. A deep dark blue. It is actually the blue of the side bar on the Yukon flag. Reaching the lake we go for a walk on the, sometimes sandy, beach. When we cut through the forest, there is the fragrance of roses. They bloom everywhere now, but here very abundantly. In my own garden they bloom too, different again, few flowers but very deep pink in color.
The sun is still above the mountains, and makes for beautiful views. Kusawa lake is very very long, many days paddling, but it is rather narrow between high mountains on the east and west. We leave when the sun sets behind those giants.

flowers on sunny slope

Blooming June 24 along 'beach trail'.

Achillea millefolium ssp borealis. Yarrow
Antennaria pulcherina or neglecta. pussytoes
Arnica lonchophylla.
Chamaerhodos erecta ssp nuttallii
Erigeron compositus var. glabratus. Cutleaf Fleabane.
Most of them without the rays.
Two clusters with purple/pink rays.
Fragaria virginiana. Strawberry
Galium boreale. Northern Bedstraw
Geum aleppicum ssp strictum. Yellow Avens
Oxitropis campestris ssp. varians
Oxitropis splendens. Showy Locoweed
Penstemon gormanii. Yukon Beardtongue
Penstemon procerus. Slender Beardtongue
Potentilla rubricaulis.
Rosa acicularis. Prickly Rose (Wild Rose)
Saxifrage tricuspidata. Prickly Saxifrage
Sedum lanceolatum. Stonecrop
A Wallflower.
Two species of Groundsel.
And a Stellaria.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Roisin Ashanti




Roisin Ashanti Rosenthal. born May 26, Rotterdam, Holland. In honor of her birth, I set off today to find some wild roses.

Roisin is Irish/Celtic for Rose. And Ashanti is African for guide.
I call my garden; 'Rose garden', because of all the wild roses growing everywhere. Here they are not fully blooming yet. Just the odd one. Sitting on my lawn, enjoying the other flowers in the lush green, I say to myself; "Roisin Ashanti, guide me to the roses."


Via 'Don's decent' I get on to my 'beach trail'. It is an old bank from Ancient 'Lake Champagne'. At some point it crosses the creek and I am drawn to check out 'elfin fall'. It's a glorious sunny day today and after all that rain the creek is full and just beautiful. Sparkling water admits the green. From the falls I go straight up the bank. And soon enough I come to a side hill where the roses are blooming! Lovely, lovely. Continuing the trail, I come onto a higher bank. Roses here and there and everywhere. Not only roses. This grassy side hill with some bedrock poking through, is full of flowers. It's so gorgeous. (I'll make a list again). One purple/pink little beauty, I have never seen before. It is a ray flower, It will be part of the Asteraceae family. Where my 'beach' disappears into the forest, I can see the '911 pond' and farther to the west into the Kluane range. There is an old gravel pit below, I'll go in there as it connects by a lovely little road to the power line. On the road I rummage in an old dump site. I imagine these little dumps being left from the days building The Alaska Hwy. They're fun. Along the power line it's a long straight walk to the south/west corner of our property. On top of the ridge it was nice and windy, like a proper beach walk. But here just hot sun. Still mud in the tracks. Which means lots of insects. The good and the bad. I only call mosquitoes bad, but I even like to work on that. As it is all part of Mother nature. Beside them there is all sort of bees, dragonflies(one being a Boreal Whiteface, Leucorrhinia borealis) and many colorful butterflies. I love the bright yellow Sulphers, but also all the blues, which are not all blue. There was a real little pretty one, a typical butterfly with brown, orange, white and black.(probably a Variable Checkerspot,Euphydryas chalcedona anicia) Less flowers here, but occasionally there is a cluster of blooming rose bushes. As they are not yet abundantly blooming in my garden. I am grateful to have been inspired to find them. Thank you for 'guiding' me Roisin!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mastodon Flower

What's blooming at 'teapot pond'.

Erysimum cheiranthoides. Wallflower
Mertensia paniculata. Blue bells
Orthilia secunda. One-sided Wintergreen (almost blooming)
Senecio congestus. Mastodon Flower/Marsh Fleabane(almost blooming)
Senecio lugens. Black-tipped groundsel
and some of yesterday,s list.

Birds at 'teapot pond'

a Mallard with 4 ducklings
a Phalarope
Lesser and greater Scaups
Juncos
Lesser Yellowlegs
Solitairy Sandpipers

Solitary Sandpiper

All is very peaceful in my yard. The sun is trying to come out. I came upon a pure white Beautiful Jacob's ladder. As I hang up laundry, the Flicker fledglings are being fed and are now sticking their heads out of the nest hole. All is bliss. But for some reason I am still swatting every hair that brushes my skin.

I just came back from a most exhilarating walk, as in horrendous really. The terrain was so 'wild', the mosquitoes so thick, and the birds screaming at me. It was drizzling and I was sweating. At one point I sunk up to my knees in a wet hole, dunked the camera, and had to start laughing.

Anyway after being inside most of the day, I donned my rain gear and set of on my bike. The roads where so soft, it felt I was riding with a flat tire. Let see what 'teapot pond' is like these days. Arriving there, right away I am greeted by different flowers and will make a list again. Next greeting is from the lesser yellowlegs. I thought they where screamers. But nothing compared to, the Solitary Sandpiper! I am infringing their territory.
I leave my bike on the road and decide to walk around the west part of the pond. I have never done this. And might not ever again, although.... The ground is very unstable here. The clay shore is falling into the pond, in big sections. I should have been warned by that, the whole shoreline is very erratic. lots of water 'inland'. And lots of fallen big Spruce trees. Hundred meters along, I meet the screamers and am enticed. They lead me to a mossy swamp, full of Northern Green Orchids and a field of pure white Cotton Grass. Too late to go back now. I'm sold. I startle the ducklings in the pond. Cross an area full of 'Marsh Five Finger' . Now I have to come back to see it blooming, it will be dark red. Then I have to cross a section of red moss. I try one foot. It is still frozen underneed and rock hard. Fooled! Here is where I get my soakers and burst out laughing at my own foolishness.
Thing are getting better from here on. The outline of this, what is really a group of ponds is awesome, I walk on a little dike between two.Cross some little ditches that connect the different ponds. Many different birds inhabit this place. Make some last pictures of orchids and birds. I stop at a big field of Coltsfoot, pick some leaves for my medicine cabinet. Jump on my bike and race off to outrun the bugs. What a wild walk, fittingly so, as keeper of wild places.

Northern Water Trush


Blooms and birds at 'moose skull lake.'

flowers:
Amerorchis rotundifolia. Round-leaved orchid.
Astragalus americanus. American Milk Vetch.
Cypripedium passerinum . Northern White Lady's Slipper.
Eriophorum angustifolium. Cotton Grass.
Eriophorum russeolum. Cotton grass.
Geocaulon lividum. Northern Comandra (Timberberry).
Hedysarum alpinum. Eskimo Potato.
Ledum palustre. Labrador Tea
Pedicularis labradorica. Labrador Lousewort.
Pedicularis verticillata. Lousewort (purple).
Pedicularis verticillata? White specimen.
Platanthera dilatata. White orchid.
Platanthera hyperborea. Northern Green Orchid.
Potentilla fruticosa. Shrubby cinquefoil.
Pyrola asarifolia. Pink Pyrola.
Pyrola grandiflora. White Pyrola.
Rubus arcticus ssp acaulis. Nagoon or
Rubus arcticus ssp arcticus. Cloudberries.
Rubus arcticus ssp stellatus.
Triglochin maritimum. Arrow Grass(purple).

Birds:
Bohemian Waxwings.
Bonaparte's Gull.
Greater scaups.
Northern Water Trush.
Robins.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

amerorchis rotundifolia


Orchids

I am flowing over with love again. It's my family, my friends and I just came back from an overwhelmingly magical walk. In the weekends I don't go very far. It gives me great joy like today when all three of us are working on our projects, Don the house, Alexander biking, and I the garden.

For me, the most beautiful garden, is actually in the wild. Both days I walked to 'moose skull lake'.Today I went all around it. It is a paradise out there. Everywhere I look is exquisitly beautiful. As I look up there are birds, as I look out there are mountains, as I look down there are blooming flowers.On the very green lake there are ducks. And not to forget insects. As I run after a big dragonfly, a bird swoops by and snatches it. No kidding.

Another insect is the mosquito, I have to say as I sit at the dinner table, Alexander notices half a dozen bites on my forehead. I had forgotten my baseball cap. I do think I am kind of immune against the after effects of the bites.As I have been bitten so often. They do bother me too though, good clothing is my preventive measure. Light colored, loose fitting, tight weave. Gloves and all, little as possible skin exposed. On those areas, I sometimes use a little bit of a product containing deet.

Yesterday and today the smell of the Lupines was intoxicatingly sweet. I wonder if it has to do with the damp weather.But it reminded me to bent down for every flower. Not many do smell actually, not even the labrador tea, that is blooming profusely right now. But I did find two species of orchids that seem to have a lovely lemony smell.

The most magical spot I came upon; I was on the north side of the lake. The Scaups on the lake where moving around as I went. I retreated a little bit into the woods, so I wouldn't scare them out of the north-west corner of the lake.I hoped to get a little closer to them this way. I stepped into a little opening in the forest. The ground covered with moss but also some kind of very short thick grass.This little 'meadow'(for lack of a better word), was sprinkled with orchids and deep purple louseworts and other little treasures. If there are Fairies this is one place they live.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Willow Ptarmigans


June 20
'fire-lookout mountain'
Or Whatever Wildland Fire calls this mountain, I climbed it for the second time this year. See post 'snowflurries and summer heat'. And the picture where I stand on my head was taken there by Jane Vincent. Reaching the first peak, 'nipple mountain' I am greeted by fields of Mountain Avens (Dryas) on its flat top. Darting from flower to flower is a Swallowtail. Not mistaken, it is the Old World Swallowtail. There are only two species in the Yukon (as far as I know) And this is definitely the one I had never seen before.
Reaching the second peak(which has 2 tops), I am greeted by a Willow Ptarmigan, Its a male and he poses for me quite nicely. To reach the ridge to the north, I have to go through a valley of buck brush, willow and dwarf birch, but mainly blueberry bushes, which are blooming profusely. The bell-shaped flowers make a nice trail snack, but I really can't wait till they all turn to blueberries! A good reason to come back in the fall. With Jane last month we went straight towards the tower, but today I hike due north, to the lowest spot in the ridge, so I can walk on the ridge, I aim for a flattened Spruce tree. This is above the tree line, and some trees will grow upward, but this one grows side ways. Looking from below it looks fairly big, reaching it, it is rather small and not even on top of the ridge.

The ridge is full of Mountain Avens too, and walking on, here and there is the tiny Blackish Oxytrope (nigrescens).Its such a cutey and it even has fragrance. Then I am surprised by a beautiful big purple /pink Lousewort.(Pedicularis verticillata?). The farther I go the more abundant it gets. And one more flower that needs mentioning because of it bright yellow beauty in a gravelly landscape; The Potentilla uniflora.
The ridge is an arm coming of the bigger peak where the fire-lookout is. on this ridge there are 'erratics', big boulders that I think are left by the glacier. (see photo; 'rock') there is no higher mountain they could have rolled off. They just sit there, some floating as you see, on top of the ridge.
Following the ridge I don't dip down to go to the fire-lookout, but go north west, to look into the valley in front of a big giant of a mountain, And that's where I have my end-point picnic.


The whole day birds have been singing to me, these mountain birds hardly ever show themselves to me. The one I get to see is a Horned Lark, what a treat!From here The 'Red Fox' story is to start. I was telling you about the scares I got, well it all started, with this eerie, shrill, high pitched bird song. And after the fox I was startled one more time; thunder! It was awesome though, in the valley where I live, was this big black cloud. Lighting coming down, seemingly in front of 'nipple mountain'. I wasn't in it, but made sure, I walked in low laying areas and away from tall trees. When I got down off the mountain, Dionne asked if I had gotten wet, "no not one bit." And at home Alexander told me about the torrential down pour it had been.

Red Fox


June 20
I met a fox yesterday. A most beautifully blond Red Fox. I was on my way back down from the mountain. Well actually 'up'. I had descended a little bit on the other side of the mountain. I was tempted to go farther down, as I heard rushing water, in what could be a ravine. A channel created by the run-off of the mountain, going towards a creek, that flows into the Mendanhall River. No, I had to return even with the planned shortcut it would still take me 4 hours to get home. The short-cut meant I was going to traverse the mountain. It might be faster though to go straight up and come down again. The landscape was gorgeous, but very erratic, boulders which were hard to cross, buck brush in between.
The reward was totally awesome. First having been scared by a Willow Ptarmigan. They tend to fly out of the bushes as you almost step on them. They're a big bird! not like the little Junco, which gave away where its nest was,with 5 beautiful little eggs. Not the Ptarmigan though, no nest in sight.
As I am looking towards a snow patch above me, I suddenly am close to a creek, the snow patch being the origin of it. My second scare is when a fox suddenly dashes away. The way it runs, with its big tail behind, totally graceful. (I did get one OK picture).
Where I had my picnic, I shared a rock with some 'gophers'. It seems that there are lots of 'gophers' around here. Is that what it is after? The fox doesn't go far. As I stood motionless, so did the fox. It just sat there for the longest time watching me. I forgot who stirred first, It must have been me. The fox took off down hill and I continued up.After I identified the lovely flowers growing by the side of the creek. Anemone parviflora and Ranunculus sulphureus,a beautiful big flowered buttercup.

catloesje@hotmail.com

I appriciate any kind of response to my blog. When you want to, you can e-mail me at catloesje@hotmail.com
Thank you very much.

Summer

And so it is. It is glorious outside. "Happy Summer to you!"

I found the Western Wood Pewee's nest! Of course it was right in front of my nose. Well, I had to look up a bit. It is indeed as the bird books say; on a branch away from the tree trunk. Our Pewee here, chose to be 10 meters high. So, I can't look into the nest, but an adult bird is flying in and out of the nest all the time.

Friday, June 20, 2008

rock


in the distance you see Kusawa Lake

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Salicornia europaea

June 17
Someday I will get a better photo from the Takhini salt flats, but the one below will have to do for now.
Going to town, I drive by the salt flats. This is a rather unique place. Today I did have an hour to walk onto them. I park my car in the bottom of the dip just east of the Takhini bridge, on the Alaska Hwy. I walk towards the flats on the west side of the Little ponds. Right away I see all kind of birds in the bushes and in the water. I climb through the old fencing. This used to be used as a grazing area for horses. I go towards the salt flat slightly towards the east. One can kind of see this one from the highway. I spot a bird and take a picture, I thought it would be a Killdeer and looking at my photo's at home I see that it is, it has two black rings on his chest. For its name and looks I always think this is kind of a neat bird. On the photo you can also see what the salt flats look like. The reddish is the Salicornia europaea. In Holland along the north sea we call it 'Zeekraal'. Here I don't know a good name for it. Somebody did name it , but I am not even going there. Maybe they should just call it 'salt horn'. Which is, I think, the exact translation of the Latin name. By the way; it makes a tasty snack. (added on June 23 2008; I appologize, the English name is, Glasswort. And it is a very worthy name. I learned today that from the ashes of this plant, glass can be made and was done so in England.)

I stay on the west side of the flats. I am always drawn to go as close to the water as I can. But you might not like to that, it's rather mucky. I walk towards a certain group of Spruce on drier land slightly northward. In between those trees, that are still in the open, there is the start of an old horse trail. I follow the horse trail, through the open forest with lots of dead fall.
By a little meadow stay on the east side and continue north and you will pick up the trail again. When you loose the trail again, just look up and through the trees you see a salt lake.

I did swim here once, and it was lovely. You have to be kind of brave in a certain way. I suggest you take a couple of young kids. They are fearless when it comes to water. And there is little change of loosing them as it is shallow and calm.

When I come to the lake, On the other side in the far distant there is a dark mere with a white foal. With the backdrop of mountains its an exquisite sight. I have heard that some of the horses
that were kept here , have gone wild. These might be two of them.

For the birds, the rare plants and the horses, I have a great longing to come back soon. I might even go for a swim. But now I have to run, 'have to be in town.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Killdeer


Killdeer at Takhini saltflats.
Red Samphire.
What grows on the salty ground, is Salicornia rubra. It is called Glasswort, but here in the book 'Wildflowers across the prairies' I find that it also is called; Red Samphire. I like that!

what's blooming June 16

at Champagne meadows

Anaemone multifida. - Cut-leaf Anemmone
Antennaria neglecta? -Pussytoes
Astragalus alpines. - Alpine Milk-vetch
another Astragalus with cream colored flowers
an Erigeron. -Fleabane
an Eriophorum. - Cotton-grass
Linum perenne. - Wild Blue Flax
Oxytrope splendens. - Showy Oxytrope
Oxytropea Pedicalaris. - Lousewort
Penstemon Gormanii. - Yukon Beardtongue
Polemonium pulcherrimum. - Beautiful Jacob's ladder
Potentilla pensylvanica?
Saxifraga tricuspidata. - Prickly Saxifrage
Silene involucrata? -a Bladder Campion
Solidago multiradiata. - Northern Goldenrod

Monday, June 16, 2008

Champagne

When one gets cocky (see last posts) about ones own existence. It does help when one gets tripped, falls on ones face and sees the light. Which happened to me over the course of today. I (re)discovered a place so beautiful, that it pales everything around here. That place is called Champagne. I know the weather and everything was perfect, but once you go into that community it is so pretty. And as for wild, It's just a few houses etc. dropped in the middle of the wilderness. And whatever is done or not done by man over there is beautiful.

The reason I got 'tripped' is that I felt I was let down. Someone was to come out for a hike around here, tomorrow, but forgot about it. I do arrange myself accordingly when I make plans with someone else. It opened up possibilities for other directions. I felt it was to late to plan a big hike for today and decided to drive out to Champagne and cut a pail of rhubarb, which will make some people very happy! (the pie is in the oven).

First the drive to Champagne is very nice. Past the Mendenhall River I turn onto a stretch of Old Alaska hwy. The road is windy and lined with flowers, purples and yellows. On the left side of Champagne, there are horses in the meadow below. Turning in to the village (is it a Village?) one drives onto the fun, meticulously kept yard.I ask if I can pick Rhubarb, and that's fine. As I am talking to Francis, to make it all totally perfect,a Mountain Bluebird flies into its nestbox in the yard. This bird is to me, without doubt, the most beautiful bird of the Yukon.
The Rhubarb grows on the edge of a meadow which feels like the centre of town. It is surrounded by a glorious, south the forest, east the sandy clay ridge, west Middle Mountain and Bratnober. and north Mount Kelvin. And one can't see the real pearl of town, the Dezadeash River. The late Ed Chambers made a trail up Mount Kelvin and planted a new flag on the top. (correct me if I am wrong). I asked where the trail starts so I can hike it one day.

Some days I am like this: I didn't take a map or for that matter ,I didn't take anything but my pail. Most of all I didn't bring my bear spray, which would have abled me to go for a long walk.I decided to drive to the river and see if I could intercept the trail there and see it.Where I come out by the river, it is right under Middle mountain. Getting out, there is an owl feather beside the car, as a gift for me.
Dezadeash River is a meandering river, the water is slightly muddy. It seems ,to me quite full.It is approximately 20 feet wide. Beside it is a beautiful , very green wetland, full of horsetails, as in plant.probably being the Equisetum fluviatile. I walk on to the high bench, and see that this wetland is an ox-bow,being a bend in the river, that ceased to be part of the river. There is still water in it and there is 1 duck, but on the shore are, the now very familiar Lesser Yellowlegs. and a pair of blackbirds, without binoculars I can't see which ones. In the tree they fly away from. A dead spruce, I see a nest at 3 meters high, It's made of sticks , a least a foot in diameter. As I already have disturbed the birds. I climb the tree. Lucky or not, depends which side you're on, there is nothing in it.

I continue going up the high river banks, which have beautiful wild sage meadows, with grass too and many many little flowers. I'll make a list on a separate post.I try to follow ATV tracks, but the ones I am on change into a horse trail. I go higher up the bank,find another trail again, which goes through a miniature Aspen forest. And then the trail dips under a giant Spruce. I am taken farther and farther, with out my bear spray, which makes me feel a little uneasy. I loose trail again anyway , turn back , find another trail, they all seems to go nowhere. So when I want to follow the trail Ed made I better start at the beginning. As I am walking on the meadows, on the bank, in the sun, in the wind. I suddenly feel a rush of great Joy. This morning I was thinking ;I just like to go for a walk in the wide open, as on the Dutch beaches. (I grew up in Holland close to the North sea). Well this is what I dreamed of.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

moose skull lake


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father's day

I dedicate today's post to my dad. As he was the one who awakened in me, at a very young age,a love for Nature: taking me out to the field,having me nap right on the soil. A shared love for trees and later teaching me the names of weeds.

Sunday morning walk with Tara: We walked so fast in 15 min we were on the top of 'crocus hill'. As we come on the top , there is a flock of probably Pine Siskins, they all land in some trees, fly of again,change direction and they're gone. As we are talking so much, we don't notice everything.I want to show her the orchids, but can't find them anywhere. But almost home in the old gravel pit. I spot some peculiar tracks,"they are baby bear tracks,look." Tara burst out laughing. Her 2 year old son, was running around here last night in his socks! Fooled again.

In the afternoon I phone Bruce Bennet, a botanist, about the purple flower in the swamp. he confirms it is a Triglochin maritima. It might be minerals in the ground that cause the color. When I want to I can send him a pressed stalk. Of course I want that and I am off to 'moose skull lake' again. The bugs are bad, but I do find fields of this purple arrow-grass. I do love this swamp so much lately. There are lots of butterflies; The Canadian Tiger Swallowtail, the Northern Blue and the silvery blue. They are hard to tell apart. But I do see a blackish one, which must a female Silvery blue.And others which I have to identify another day. There's dragonflies and one is a Bluet. Guess what color it is?Besides all the flowers I already have mentioned in an older post. Today the shrubby cinquefoil is starting to bloom. Which is, I think the most well known , potentilla. And the Labrador-tea is blooming, Ledum groenlandicum.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

window-shopping

Of course the snow last week is long forgotten. And it turns out to have been a blessing. It's a windy , sunny day. Everything is greener yet and my garden is already a sea of colors. It seems everything benefited. Many birds are tending to their young. Although I see few nests. Even the Robins around haven't revealed their nest to me yet. I do know where the flickers are. After Mary showed me that her Flickers have babies. I realize mine have too. They are just not as noisy as the Hairy Woodpecker kids. Mary also told me how she seen the bird fly away with a piece of shell. Today I watched, as I was laying in the sun, the Tree Swallow, who's nest is under our eaves, just throw out something. Right under the nest there are pieces of white shell.
One notable event in Mary's neck of the woods (in town). She showed me two Rusty Blackbirds, seemingly tending to a nest. There is a story to that, but you have to ask Mary.

The butterflies didn't freeze either and today I've seen many of the previous ones.
Any day, especially in the morning, I've always liked to just walk around aimlessly and just look at things; how things grow, what's new, etc. I guess it's like window-shopping, then in Nature. The mystery bird that's been calling for a month now, is a Western Wood Pewee. He/she or more then one, just sits on a sticking out branch from a poplar, say 3 metres of the ground, in similar locations everyday,and sing their heart out; "pewee pewee pewee"

Friday, June 13, 2008

my mountain


(view from the top to the north)

Finally! Today I made it up my mountain. The one behind 'moose skull lake'. I have been climbing this mountain since we live here, which was 1996. Many stories, many friends and one special time we took Jim's dog up there, Thor. It took me 6 hours, round trip, in those days. This spring I went up there at least once a week and was able to do it in 2 hours. It shows what a difference it makes when there is trails part of the way, and knowing the easiest way up. Today I spent four and a half pleasurable hours. Summer has returned in the Yukon and I left in the sunshine at 10 o'clock. On the way towards the bottom of the mountain I made the photo of the 'crystal ball'. All the lupine leaves have a raindrop in the centre. I have to say taking pictures was hard , the mosquitoes would catch up with me. There was so much to photograph though, with this posting I might add a picture of an orchid. On the way up I found Coral Root Orchids. And only on the way back I saw my favorite one, The Round Leave Orchid. It's a perfect orchid, very very tiny, the flower being 1cm diameter. They're hard to find and easily overlooked, but I find them in bogs here close to spruce trees. As I am taking photos of the flowers, the Lesser Yellowlegs is scalding me all the time. I have some nice shots of them and finally know his name for sure. I even take a photo of a Robin ,who happens to have a thick caterpillar in his beak. It's an hour when I reach the bottom of the mountain, and there I have a rest. I would like to name my mountain, at least for myself. On the esker where I sit the pink Wild Roses are blooming! and there are the blue Yukon Beardtongues (Penstemon gormanii). They look like bluebells, and I sing "bluebells and roses". Isn't that a song by Maria in 'The sound of music'? That makes me want to name the mountain 'maria'. It's my middle name. My mountain has actually 2 peaks, so why not
'jozina maria mountain'. Maria being the lower one, the one I visit today.

Ah , time for the climb. In between the esker and 'maria' there's a little dip, as soon as I go up again there is big boulders in the forest, soon they turn to rock faces and were I love it most I am walking on big slabs of granite on a 45 degree angle. There's big Pine trees and small stands of little Aspen. And on and beside the slabs of rock there are little flowers, mainly Prickly Saxifrage and a potentillas. As I go so slow the mosquitoes keep up with me, normally I would sit on the south side of the top, but today I find a breeze on a big rock looking north. As once in while it does rain I decide to make a little fire. The rain actually makes for beautiful views. There is sun too. And everything shifts all the time, dark clouds now here, then there. Which makes you see the sheets of rain falling. The fire is in a little depression in the middle of this rock, which actually seems to be the highest point.The top is quite treed. When I go for a little walk about. It is so pretty here, I am overcome again. Most Yukon tree species all grow here together. On the ground there are cranberries and blueberries and I find droppings of animals on game trails. The saddle between the 2 peaks is right here. I look up to 'jozina' Ha! and she looks mighty, with rock slabs straight up. The main reason I don't go to that top very often is that it is to heavily treed for a perfect view, and because of the rock it is actually quite a climb to get there. By my fire, the view is to Taye lake. And that gorgeous Sifton Range. Actually I will enter one of those photos. It shows another mountain I love deeply, and I haven't been on her yet! Mary gave me a new map of the area. And I can actually see how high I am here; 3200 feet. The mountain in the photo is 5800 feet and 22 km straight north. The old map fell apart and the cat had chewed out this mountain. On the way down I take a route on the west side. The rock faces are very steep here and at places I have to traverse uphill. For a short distance I have to bush whack and then I intercept the trail again. "bluebells and roses...."

crystal ball


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Moose and calf

Listening to Tibetan incantations (Thank you Aria!). I sit here typing, wrapped up in warm sweaters and scarves. I also started a fire in the wood stove, but I still don't feel totally good. Although some beautiful emails from family did help. This morning I felt a pressure in my chest. I know what works for me, is to be out there. I felt the urge to take the car and drive to a specific place. "what's the rush", I dressed up for the weather(it's cold but dry now). And took the bicycle. As soon I was out and about, my heart opens up. I might have altruistic ideas, that I send Joy out in the world by being out here. Who am I, really. And even if I was of any significance. I wonder, at that moment, when I am overcome by all this beauty out here. It feels like my heart breaks. What does that do?

All is wet and fresh , birds are out and about. A bird (Lesser Yellowlegs?) is screaming at me flying from treetop to treetop. I find a woodpecker hole with young at eye level. There's still patches of snow in the thick forest and on the hillsides behind me. The biking is wonderful, and the heavy feeling is long gone. The sky is still cloudy and mountains obscured, but through openings I can see clouds rising up out of the meadows. When I reach my destined point, All is gorgeous, the water is a mirror. And a Trumpeter Swan is sitting on a nest. Lots of other birds, it does get tiring to name them all. I left the bike on the path and am walking now. Hoops, suddenly I sink in and one rain boot is full of water. I find dryer land and spot some bright yellow potentillas(flowers), according to my books(here) they are potentilla diveriflora. It says they almost only grow above the tree line. Well I tell you, I didn't climb that high today. It's all a mystery to me.

I find a spot to sit and watch the swan, in a little bush in front of me is a sparrow, everything tells me its a Song Sparrow. What kind of day is this? according to the Yukon bird book this is not very likely. I decide to get closer to the swan. At the moment that my boots are both threatened to fill up with water, the swan 'crawls' behind the nest, out of sight. Time to turn back. I sit for a long time, enjoying it all, Some times the clouds part and a mountain peak appears, but the 2 swans remain hidden in the grass, sometimes showing their heads. I walk back, as I am on the other side of the water, I turn. What I see then, is definitely not out of the ordinary, but totally exhilarating.

A female moose and calf. They walk right by where I was sitting before. Of course, I didn't bring my camera today, I drop to my knees, who are now wet. And watch them through my binoculars till my arms drop. They walk through the swamp grass, towards the open water. Mother is dark brown, almost black, the calf is lighter brown. Mom is very cautious, looking up and around every few steps. I don't think they are aware of me though. Suddenly they turn back towards the willows. I see mom eating them. I cautiously find a log on higher ground to sit on. Now my bum is wet too. I watch for a long time, loving it. Eventually I am so cold and by now the mosquitoes are coming out wanting me, now my blood is still warm. I decide to go home. Just before I turn into the forest, to where I left my bike. The swan is climbing on her nest, she takes a long time settling down, but as I leave she sits perfectly again. I wonder if on eggs. I bike home in no time, freezing (or last time fear) does speed me up.

Monday, June 9, 2008

lame weather

Dear, dear, I am not saying, that am not worried about this weather here. It has been snowing now for two days and it is still coming down. After being inside most of the day yesterday. This morning I no longer could stay in, and donned my raincoat and took off. Same direction, for whatever reason I am most often drawn to go north-west up hill. The lupines stand strong. It really looks beautiful, the purple, set in white and bright green. I ascent 'Don's descent' hoping to get some sort of view. Well the view is grey. A different horizon shows, little hills nearby that normally go unnoticed. There are no tracks of any kind in the snow. I suppose all the animals are bedded down. In a round about way, I come out on the path to 'Moose skull lake'. It's a narrow path through the thick spruce. As I come out by the lake. The world is magical. The lake looks sublime. All in grey, in front there's ripples and at the far end a streak of smooth surface, which only reflects more grey. The ducks are so calm , just swimming together and a little bit of diving. Today there are 18 of them, mostly Scaups and two pairs of Buffleheads. Walking along the lake I take an older trail back to the road. The bush road here is going uphill and being on the north side of a hill, the snow is thick here. There is a least an inch staying on the ground. I go to the top of the hill. The rocks are exposed, wet and black. The Saxifrages blooming around don't seem to be faced by this weather either. It will be interesting to see how everything pulls through this cold spell, which, I do trust it will end. On my way down, I am sorry to accidentally scare a Junco of its nest. The nest is under an overhanging rock, draped with Kinnickenick. I peek in and there's little ones, fluffy balls with big yellow beaks. They look totally comfy , I rush off to let the parent keep them warm again.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

White

My first priority is being out in the wild, like always no problems there. To get it onto this blog is still an interesting adventure. Today might proof to be a day full of learning and catching up.
It is bitterly cold. Early this morning wasn't so bad yet. Tara Sheridan and I went on our Sunday morning walk, she who had listened to the weather rapport, knew about possible precipitation. And indeed something came falling out of the sky it wasn't much but it was WHITE! She was right! Later sitting on the outhouse it suddenly went rick-a-dee-tick on the tin roof .It is hail. and now it is raining. Rain is good , it's very dry in the woods. People from outside the Yukon often ask; "when's the first snow?". Well maybe this year it is; June 8,2008. Because we did had summer. But hopefully it is the last of last winter. A little Bonus so to speak.

June 7.
I think, butterflies love this dry sunny weather. For a few days I have seen a Swallowtail flying around. What a fast flyer it is, I couldn't tell you which one it is. Yesterdays walk took me to Moose skull lake. The trail that takes me up there, first follows the 'Fire smart" . Which is a strip of land that is partly cleared, to halt a possible forest fire from getting into our neighborhood. The Fire smart is a purple sea , with all the lupines blooming. And the butterflies I find there are blues. Possible Northern Blue or Silvery blue.

What did I say; rain? Just to let you know,it's snow!

Back to heralds of summer, I see my first dragonfly for this year. And later by the lake I see a beautiful brown and orange Fritallaries (butterfly).Arriving by the lake, I am happy to see 16 Greater Scaups on the water, and the 2 gulls obviously have taken residence up here. To me it seems our lake attracts different kind of birds every year. I decide to walk around the lake, to see if there are any little shorebirds that I have noticed other years.
What did I say a month ago, swamps are great in early spring, what did I know. They are great now. They're more then great. I know not all of you are interested in all those names of things. But here too, I follow my own heart. I take great joy in meeting an old friend or getting to know a new one. I feel it's only respectful to call them by their name.
About 'real' friends. It was Margriet a month ago, who noticed little greens on the path, one hardly notices them now but they are blooming(in places they don't get walked on) and they are tofieldia pusillas, the neatest tiniest member of the lily family. I walk along the lake through the spongy moss, this lake too has little dikes in places. And lo and behold on one of those elevations is a gorgeous showy Lapland Rose-bay. Its bush is two/three feet around! Which is so big here, to be full of flowers. I do all love them equally though, others that are blooming are; The little bells of Bog Rosemary and the Blueberry. I cross the creek on the incoming end (east) without getting wet, there are different channels, from flowing water to wet green moss.
As I am enjoying how easy the walking is (I'd expected more...obstacles in the way of impenetrable willows and waterholes) Suddenly my eye catches something and I drop to my knees(while looking what's under my legs, so I don't crush anything.) There is this beautiful purple spike. (see photo below.)

Thick snow is falling now.

And there's lots of them! I busily make notes and photos, not having a clue. Continuing I remember this is also the area where I have seen old spikes of the Arrow grass (see photo) I like to pick this one in the spring, because it is written that its white base taste like Cilantro (the rest is poisoness). And while picking and nibbling away.(It does taste like Cilantro.) I suddenly realize that I am picking the leaves of the same purple flower. Back home all the literature I have suggest that my purple flower stalk is an Arrow grass, Trilochin maritima, only nowhere does it mention; purple. It is supposed to be white/green. Maybe....? and I love to find out.

Here and now. Snow is staying on the ground.

Triglochin maritima?


Can anyone help me identify this flower. Thank you.

Friday, June 6, 2008

37 Mile Lake 2

continuation June 2 2008

The road is very good for biking. different butterflies are out. Different animal tracks on the road. Bear tracks going in the opposite direction, which is good, because at least we are not following a bear. On several occasions we hear : "quick three beers,quick three beers." Which is the call of a flycatcher. We come to a place where the road is close to the creek. There's a pond close by. We see a few birds, but nothing confirmatory. One probable Sandpiper, it sits so still, I wouldn't have known it was a bird.

After a while we sometimes get a glimpse of a mountain , which should be close to the lake. I like the shape!, I call it a butte. The trail goes uphill for a while and then at we descent, over a few kilometers a few hundred feet, towards the lake. We do wonder if we will have a hard time ascending it on the way back. The end of the road disappears into a swamp. we leave the bikes there and find our way to the lake which is hidden from sight. We come a pond and are greeted by a beautiful Swan. It is calm and quite close to us. We watch it for a while and continue to get closer to the lake. It's beautiful with the Butte right behind it. The one Swan joins another one on the lake. We see a black bird but don't know which one. Mary wonders if it's a Rusty Blackbird. She's been asked to watch out for them , because they might be on the decline. There's no way we can tell if it is. We're listening to the little birds in the thickets. And very much enjoy our lunches. The weather is perfect too.

Soon we have to return again and start our uphill climb. This time we do follow some Bear tracks. One set of bigger ones accompanied by small ones. Erroneously we find that they don't look fresh. But the soft sand fools us. And reminds us to always be alert. Because.... as I round a corner; There is mama Bear and a cub (a yearling) in front of her. Simultaneous as I holler, the cub dashes into the woods to the right. We stop and Mother Bear comes running to us. It displays typical protective behavior. We both shout. Mary holds up her bike and I pull out my can of bear spray, and release the pin. But I don't need to use it. I make my self big.
I think we did the right thing, because the bear stops coming towards us. And after lots of shouting it retreats. Unfortunately it climbs a tree and the tree is on the left side of the road. All we can do is giving it a wide berth and go around it on the left. Lucky for us the woods here are open enough to easily get through and to see some distance.

I tell you we had no problem biking up hill. For me this is an experience that I don't seek out as I think it is potentially dangerous. I would have suggested to go back if this had happened on the way in. It is very much part of life here though and I hope that like today, I am always ready to do the right thing. And really while being out, without the protection of a car, this is only my second encounter in my many years of enjoying the wild.

The remainder of the trip was very pleasant. I made it home by six.Safe and sound. And gratefully so for another amazing day.

Royals and commoners

I was delighted to learn that my beloved Swan is quite famous.The Trumpeter Swan. According to Mike, it is the biggest Swan in the world and not distributed very widely. He was thrilled to see it, partly because he might not ever see one again. I think he will, because he will be traveling here for a while.It was an honor for me to show Mike, who's form Scotland, this Royal bird. Thanks. Since that evening, of June 4, I have learned that indeed The Trumpeter Swan only exist in North America and was almost extinct in the thirties.And what else I didn't know, is that they do congregate around Whitehorse, they apparently don't stay there to nest.Our birds here (100 km. from Whitehorse) appear to sit on a platform, but their behavior doesn't reveal if they are actually nesting.

I did also want to show Mike a nest of another American bird, possible the most common one, the Dark-eyed Junco.(the nest Alexander found) I was equally thrilled, that when we peeked in the nest, there were some black balls in it. Babies. I allow myself to peek in once a day. The parents are no where to be seen, they must know my presence long before I can spot the nest site. Yesterday the tiny birds had some feathers (beginnings of such).And today they looked like baby birds with little yellow beaks. What honor again, to be able to watch this unfold.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


37 Mile Lake 1

June 2 2008
At 9 am in the morning I was supposed to meet Mary Whitley on the highway where the bush road to the lake starts. We both know you can get there from Blue Kennels, which is on a stretch of old Alaska highway. We both know there's a shortcut. We didn't know there was two. Luckily Mary comes looking for me and 9.30 am we drive our vehicles onto the bush road. Willing to drive as far as our cars can safely handle it. The road is good and we come trough nice open spaces, which seem very dry, only some sparse grass grows, probably more if we would look closely. The road has side roads, we check the maps, to where we're going. We make it easily all the way to where it gets to wet, just before Thirty-seven Mile Creek. That's where we park and unload our bicycles, we both ride a similar 'Giant'. The creek has a little bridge (Thank you! somebody). We still get wet though, because the next puddle was deeper then we anticipated. (see photo, made by Mary). The road is on the right side of the creek, I wouldn't call it a bank. Yes, there was a bank, we climb up it and and are back in the grassy dry lands. Interspersed with Aspen forest. We see a (shore)bird. Mary is happy that I too drop my bike to the ground and grab for the binoculars. I think she knows which bird it was, but I have forgotten . Soon we are back in the forest. To our left we often see the creek valley. which stretches all the way to the Stony Creek Range. Which Jane and I hiked last year parallel to this trail. I enjoy to see it from this angle. I see a steep outcrop, which seems we should have walked by it. But I don't know it. Always another reason to go back. On a trip like this, I always find plenty more I like to investigate. And indeed as we are biking along, we come to a trail that goes east. As Mary locates it on the map, it seems to go directly to a 'grillige' ("Christian,please give me back my Dutch dictionary!!!) peak.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Rejoice


This morning, sitting on the outhouse, there were so many noises around me. I was still a little jumpy from yesterday's event (37 mile lake, I am still working on its story). One of the noises came from the woodpecker tree. As you see, a fledgling is about to come out. On the top right corner of the picture, you see a parent.
I was made aware that the fact that 'Harry's' babies are here so early, could be because I do feed the birds in my garden.
According to Ted Andrews, a writer;" a garden is Nature in miniature and controlled." I readily admit ;not wild.
In my 1 meter garden the High-bush cranberry is blooming and my favorite; the Star flower,Trientalis europa.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Wilderness on our doorstep

I have been so busy trying to get some pictures on this blog (no easy feat for me).And just now I was working in my garden. I step around the house and I disturbed some kind of get together. A Robin hurriedly flew away and a coyote with a dark spot on its tail trotted off. That did it for me I had to write a new post, I am 4 days behind.The Wilderness is so close by.

My young friend Pelly Braun taught me that again on Wednesday the 28th. He and I went to the 911 pond.I was going to bike half way around the pond to see the swan sitting on its nest .Really with binoculars we could already see that quite well. Biking to the marsh grass he asked if he could stop here to look for Bison hair. And sure enough he found a tuft of hair in the grass. After a while we went back to where we came out on the meadow. We found a nice spot to have a snack ,where I could watch all the birds with my binoculars. There is more then one Red-winged Blackbird, as these are new to me, I love them now. Now busy with their nest they make a neat sound. Pelly finds treasures right there on the spot; the grass is also full of spiders.

The next two days I am in Whitehorse. On Thursday Mary Whitley takes me out to paddy's pond,which is right on her doorstep. It's a beautiful spot. And it actually shows how wilderness moves right in if we let it. This pond apparently was a hole dug to build the subdivision some 30 years ago. We walk to a spruce forest, we walk on what was originally a fire break but now there's lovely small spruces growing.Mary recognizes the different birds by song. We come to a stop where the pond is flowing over on the path. That's perfect, the bushes are full of ...warblers. And through the willows we can see the pond. I didn't write it down but I think we saw; a Northern Shoveler pair, two male Mallards, An American Wigean I believe. But definitely we saw a beautiful Grebe.Mary knows which one.

Friday I climbed onto the clay cliffs behind a ball diamond? I had to find my son and a friend bike-jumping, in this incredible area. You can definitely see that people 'play' in this place. But there is no garbage laying around. And the wildness is very much there. As this area was shaped by the river. I walk on a bike track that is on a clay ridge, steep on both sides, There's wild Sage growing and an Oxytropis and a Mustard (Draba or Arabis?) are blooming. Close to the city and so.... awesome.

This weekend was spent close to home. With friends we went to the 'horse meadows'. And we did see the horses,They are maybe not wild , but sure look it. With their shinning coats they come running toward us.All this in a totally stunning setting. Meadows interspersed with bushes, clay cliffs, ponds, all surrounded by the white streaked mountains.

To finish of ,wilderness on our doorstep, I like to mention a little garden that I have beside the front entry.It's a square meter. And totally my favorite. Years ago I transplanted a High bush Cranberry here from....?It came with a clump of forest soil. Now it's an astonishing arrangement. (I do pull out things every year that might take over). A head ache is building up. I finish of to say that in this little wild place the Moehringia lateriflora is the first to bloom. She's maybe ordinary and small ,but delicately definitely elegant.

Taye lake 4

Full of anticipation I walk to the river, to see out over the lake. And what I am expecting is lots of water birds. Ha! Taye lake does kind of hides. Even when I take the trail on the left side towards the lake. The view somehow doesn't show me the spectacular beauty of Taye lake. I do see a swan a great distance away,
but no other birds...
Ah, As I walk towards the lake.. The largest bird to be (Yukon) flies, well, gracefully spreads out it's grand wings and flies off slowly (as in movement of the wings) to a distant tree and perches on the top. It's so big. It's an eagle! (I feel embarrassed, but I can't figure out which one).
After that grand opening show, I meet lots of birds in the wetland, the Arctic Terns like always very excited by my presence. There's the Red-winged blackbirds, many more smaller birds, that I love to get to know, but don't yet.
I find a nice spot to have lunch where I can overlook the water. It's like a mirror! Beside the lake the land is very wet, I do get wet feet, but I find these little dikes. They are very close to the lake and around 1 meter high, perfect. There are ducks in the lake, but they are too far for me to identify.
The 2 Swans are gorgeous and one hangs around fairly close to me, With it's mirror reflection in the water the sight is awesome, a truly Yukon treasure, the white streaked mountains reflected in the crystal clear blue lake and a swan to top it of.
.