Dearest Birdiest of Readers! The problem with developing this bird-fixation is that one inadvertently ends up buying–and NOT REGRETTING–t-shirts of this ilk:


I kid you not. This tshirt was purchased at the magnificent Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Ladner, BC (about a 45-minute drive from Vancouver) on our travels in early July. I had originally picked out a tame shirt with a minuscule warbler in the left-corner, but my dear husband assured me that when acquiring items for my avian garderobe, I should just go whole-hog. And so I did. Puffins on an acid-wash background. Shirts like this shouldn’t exist, but it’s also kind of marvellous that they do, and kind of extraordinary that I now walk around clad in breeding puffins.

Tshirts aside, the Reifel Bird Sanctuary regaled us with stellar looks at Great Blue Herons, juvenile Wood Ducks, Sandhill Cranes and even a Canada Goose who imprinted himself on us and refused to let us out of his sight. We named him Jack and thankfully he decided not to hop into our car on the way home.

After a quick trip to Vancouver, we boarded Yukon-bound plane and landed in paradise –aka Whitehorse– two hours later. Suffice it to say that we’re now scheming of ways to “divide our time” between Toronto and Whitehorse. The mountains, pristine lakes, glorious poplars, extraordinary German rye bread, and expansive wild landscape took our breath away. And the coffee. The land of the midnight sun produces some of the finest coffee we’ve ever tasted. (We flew home with a mere 7 pounds of coffee beans in our luggage; we’re now down to three and wishing that we had In more birdy news, I saw my first Mountain Bluebird in the Yukon Wildlife Preserve and screamed in awe at the bird’s electric blue plumage.

Photo from here. The

Photo from here. The Mountain Bluebird was completely and absolutely this bluest of blues.

The day before the Mountain Bluebird sighting, we found ourselves in the town of Haines Junction (population 800) amidst the smallest, quaintest Canada Day Parade I’ve ever seen.

All highways in Haines Junction were closed for the parade. Note the Mounties and the Rangers marching in front. Our b&b owners suggested we get there in advance. "You blink and it's over," they said.

All highways in Haines Junction were closed for the parade. Note the Mounties and the Rangers marching in front. Our b&b owners suggested we get there in advance. “You blink and it’s over,” they said. They were not wrong.

Shortly after the parade we hiked around Lake Kathleen in Kluane National Park, and the lake officially wins for best, most stunning, cleanest, clearest, world’s most magnificent body of water. I also ID’d about 20 Yellow-rumped warblers in the vicinity. I’m also slightly mortified to admit that every time we encountered another human on the trail, I accosted them to find out whether they had run into a bear that day. Not my proudest moments, but I seriously feared for my survival (no hiding that I’m a city girl, alas!). Everybody graciously humored my frantic inquiries and assured me that I was not about to be eaten by a bear. Nerve wracking, but worth it!

Kathleen Lake, Kluane National Park. The photo doesn't even begin to do the place justice. No bears were seen.

Kathleen Lake, Kluane National Park. The photo doesn’t even begin to do the place justice. Not pictured above: the author of Birds and Words is shaking frantically, terrified of a confrontation with a bear. While the author busied herself freaking out about said bear, the voracious mosquitos of the Yukon descended upon said author and feasted mightily. Author and husband later invested in state-of-the-art bug spray and a peculiar & overpriced mosquito fan which turned out to be a ridiculous gimmick for tourists.

And…things have been rather ho-hum since returning from the Wild North. But a good kind of summery ho-hum. The shore birds are starting to grace Southern Ontario with their presence, the banding station recently reopened and I held a Cedar Waxwing in my hand and resumed scribing in earnest. And such is life: ho-hum punctuated by sublime greatness. I suppose I wouldn’t want it any other way.


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