Much our success in finding a good species tally was due to the incredibly generous help of resident Yukon birders Cameron Eckert and Yukka Juttanen and others. They helped us put together a route for a big day that we conducted on May 27th in the southern Yukon. Full details on the day will be published in the Yukon Warbler and in the 2012 ABA Big Day report. A summary appears below.
Our day began around 2 am in downtown Whitehorse and ended at around 10 pm near Watson Lake. We tallied a record breaking 134 species, setting a new all time ABA big day record. The main areas we visited were Rat Lake, Lake LaBarge, both Whitehorse sewage lagoons, Albert Creek and Watson Lake airport. We had great weather and good luck for most of the day, excepting for a lull in the afternoon when a number of stake outs failed to appear.
|Juvenile Gray Jay - we had this species in several areas|
At dawn we were on the road up Mt. McIntyre, hoping to get high enough to see either WILLOW or ROCK PTARMIGAN. Unfortunately just before the tree line the road was impassable due to heavy snow cover. Paul's sharp eyes managed to pick out two different ROCK PTARMIGAN by scoping the rocks along the upper slopes above. Surprisingly we couldn't find WILLOW but below is a photo of one of 38 WILLOW PTARMIGAN we had seen the day before on the BC border near Haines Junction.
One of the best surprises of the big day was a SPRUCE GROUSE that popped up right at the side of the road on the way up Mt. McIntyre. This is a species that is really hard to stake out, and always a wild card on any big day.
Our day ended on the road north of Watson Lake. Below is a photo taken at 10 pm at night at the end of our big day! We didnt find any new birds here but it was a wonderful way to end our day.