Tern Ballet 2 by Ken Quong.

Tern Ballet 2, photo by Ken Quong, prize for "Most Money Raised for Conservation" in the 2007 Yukon Birdathon.


For 24 hours from May 25th-26th, we joined other Yukoners in the 21st annual Yukon Birdathon — it is the inspiration for our Bird Day Challenge. Here are some intital results:

Helmut Grünberg canoed, walked and cycled to Swan Lake and Jackfish Bay and identified 81 species (including a Great Gray Owl on a nest).

Malkolm traveled about 77 km by bike and boot and found 77 species. His highlight was an Eared Grebe — the 5th one ever seen in the Yukon. No mistaking the identification since it was swimming with 2 Horned Grebes.

The Yukon Birdathon is an annual fundraiser for the Yukon Bird Club and the Yukon Conservation Society. This year we highlighted the “Environmental Birdathon.” Here are some fun ways that participants were encouraged to cut down on their use of fossil fuels:

  • Carpool with friends.
  • Take the bus.
  • Stay close to home – see the birds of your neighborhood!
  • Walk, run, cycle, paddle…

Prizes! & More Prizes for Fossil-fuel-reduced Birding! Here are the winners:

Most money raised for conservation: Prize: bird photograph by photographer Ken Quong (winner of best fauna photograph in the Canadian Geographic photo contest). Photo shown in above right corner. Winner: Helmut Grünberg.

Most kilometers traveled without fossil fuels: Prize: bicycle tune-up at Philippe's Bicycle Repair (508 Wood Street, Whitehorse) Value $45. Winners: Jim & Adrian Hawkings.

Best use of car-pooling (Gas mileage multiplied by # of Birders): $25 gift certificate from the Chocolate Claim + Yukon Conservation Society posters. Winners: Sarah Davidson & Jeanette Van Esbroeck. Honorable mention to Jeanette McCrie, Heather Thompson & Patti Nash (they each win a copy of Ernie's Earth or a YCS poster).

Two birders in a Toyota Prius narrowly win over a three birders in a Toyota Corolla. Prius: 2 birders X 55 miles per gallon = 110 birder-miles per gallon. Corolla: 3 birders X 32.5 miles per gallon = 97.5 b-mpg.

Best short written description of "your coolest birding experience": Prize: a "thrair" of hand-knitted socks in Yukon Chickadee colors by Ken Madsen. Winner: Jozien Keyzer & her description of an encounter with an American Robin: At 8:00 AM (too late for any real birder) a robin woke me up — not with her beautiful song, but as I stepped out on the porch she sat there. I could even touch her. She seemed unharmed and after I sat with her in my PJ’s for a while she said tuc tuc tuc and left.

Youngest Birder: Prize: Malkolm the Birder Boy DVD. Winner: Rory Eckert

Oldest Birder: Prize: Yukon Conservation Society T-shirt. Winner: Heather Thompson.

Most Birds Seen: Prize: Swan photograph by talented Yukon photographer Peter Mather. Photo shown to the left. Winner: Malkolm Boothroyd (Helmut saw more species, but he received the prize for most money raised!)

Best short written description of a bird seen that could be migrating to the Arctic Refuge: Prize: Vase by Larry Duguay (Ptarmigan Pottery) see upper left. Winner: Paul Davis.

Four weeks after the Yukon Birdathon, our Bird Year journey begins. Here is our schedule for Yukon and BC.

Cycling with Bugs… June 22nd to June 26th, 2007
Watson Lake, Yukon to Dease Lake, BC (234 km, 147 miles)
We’ll cycle from the Alaska Highway to the Stewart-Cassiar Highway, then turn south. Hopefully we’ll be able to see birds in the boreal forest through the clouds of mosquitoes. After four days of cycling, Wendy and Ken get to rest while Malkolm writes his final exams at the Dease Lake School.

Working out the bugs… June 27th to July 6th
Dease Lake, BC to New Hazelton, BC (555 km, 347 miles)
We’re hoping for dry weather for this section of the highway. We’re not sure how many miles of dirt road there are, but it could be a long haul pushing bicycles through a gluey, muddy morass. A Great Gray or Hawk Owl on a spruce would ease the pain. I wonder how many bears we’ll see before we make it to New Hazelton?

Four a.m. starts… July 7th to July 13th
New Hazelton, BC to Prince George, BC (439 km, 274 miles)
We drove along this section of the Yellowhead Highway last summer – Wendy is worried about some of the highway corners – blind, with skinny shoulders. Maybe if we cycle at 4 am we’ll beat the traffic (it should be light then in early July). Last summer we heard the beautiful songs of White-throated Sparrows, something we never hear at home in Whitehorse.

Not floating down the river (too bad)… July 14th to July 22nd
Prince George, BC to Lillooet, BC (508 km, 318 miles)
We have paddled many rivers (Ken is the author of Paddling in the Yukon) but we knew very little about the mighty/muddy Fraser. We had hoped to float down the Fraser from Prince George to Lillooet, but we just heard that there are difficult rapids above Lillooet — so our cycling backsides won't get a rest! Watch out for us on Highway 97.

Over forested mountains to salt water… July 23rd to July 27th  
Lillooet, BC to West Vancouver, BC (293 km, 183 miles)
We’ll climb out of the Fraser Valley and sweat over the mountains on Highway 99 to West Vancouver. We get to spend a day with our old friend Rachel Shephard (she’s not actually that old) in Brackendale of Bald Eagle fame. Then two whole days with Wendy’s family in West Vancouver. Hopefully we won’t wear out our welcome by staying that long.

Two other Yukon/BC cycling-based projects coming up:

Ramesh Ferris is using a hand and arm powered cycle to travel across the continent. He is engaged on a couragous project to raise money in an effort to eradicate polio around the world.

Wheels for Change: People from Southern BC plan to collectively cycle the equivalent of the distance around the Earth to draw attention to climate change.

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