Fundraising and Birding Update

Last Wednesday was one of the best days I have had in a while. When I drove to town that day I met up with some of our neighbours who wanted to introduce me to the owner of Griffiths, a company in Whitehorse that sells woodstoves and things like that. The owner was interested in sponsoring me for my Antarctic Expedition, and very generously donated his air miles on Air Canada so that I could get from the Yukon to Ontario and back for free! That part of the flight is the only part of the trip that my fundraising did not cover and I had to figure out myself… my parents had planned to help me with it. I’m so grateful to the owner; thank you so much!!! I also went to Nuway Crushing, and they sponsored an amazing $1000 towards my expedition! Two other people I met that day donated $100 each towards my expedition, taking care of another $200 of the total I have to raise. With the generous donations/sponsorships I received that day I now have only about $3700 left to raise before I am finished fundraising. I’m almost back home again if you think of it travel-wise. Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me in my Antarctic endeavour; I would not be where I am right now in terms of fundraising without you!!!

That day was also great in terms of birds – I gave Cameron a call at his office to see if I could join him for some birding later on if he was planning on doing any, and he tipped me off on a Boreal Owl that he had seen just before coming back to the office. It was in the yard of the president of the Yukon Bird Club, so I drove over to the yard and saw it instantly. The owl was sitting on a tree branch facing away from me, hardly gave me any notice at all despite the fact that I walk slowly walking towards it. I stopped at the corner of the house to watch it and take some photos – it was drifting in and out of sleep.

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Helmut (the YBC president) invited me inside to view it when I knocked on the door, leading me to his large feeder-viewing window where we could see it from a better angle. After a while the owl snapped awake and dove off the tree branch to land on the ground directly below the window. It came up to perch on the feeder with nothing in its talons.

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It watched the ground beneath it so intently, obviously listening to the quite scuttling sounds of a mouse under the snow. Sure enough, a brown house mouse came up to eat the bird seed on the ground. I couldn’t believe that the mouse could not feel the owl’s deadly gaze from directly above it, so intense was the stare.

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After careful evaluation, the owl pounced – catching the mouse and flying up to a tree right beside the window where it bit the back of the mouse’s neck and then just sat with the mouse underneath it. The whole scene happened within feet of the glass; such an amazing way to view a wild owl hunting! What a way to see a Boreal Owl…. I was so lucky to be there at the right place at the right time. Thank you Helmut, for that amazing experience, and thank you Cameron for the tip-off!

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After that Cameron and I met up to go birding around the Fish Farm on Fish Lake Road, right on the edges of town. Despite the freezing wind, we saw some pretty cool birds, nearly all of them new for me for the year. We saw a big flock of Mallards dabbling in the open water of McIntyre Marsh (not sure how many…. over 20), a Bald Eagle perched at the top of a tree, and 2 American Dippers. We saw two, but heard at least three singing. Not only were the dippers the first ones I had seen that year, but it was also the first time I had heard their song.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

American Dipper

American Dipper

I also learned that day that the first Trumpeter Swans of spring had been seen at Johnson’s Crossing, joining the ones that over wintered. A report from yesterday says there was over 100 there this morning, and the day before a flock had been seen flying through Tagish. Spring has definitely arrived, despite the period of -30C and wind we had last week. Have a happy Spring and a wonderful week! 🙂

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