Thursday, September 30, 2010

100 Mile House to Lillooet

Moutain Bluebird
Breakfast at Horse Lake prior to setting off on the next stage of our tour was enjoyed al fresco and in glorious sunshine. Further scans of the Lake produced 8 Lesser Scaup, 4 Common Loon, 7 Western Grebe, 1 Horned Grebe and 2 Bonaparte Gull, plus more incredible views of a Bald Eagle diving for fish. The nearby Paper birch and Spruce also yielded Mountain Chickadee, Cassin’s Vireo and both Chipping and White-crowned Sparrow.

Prior to setting off down Route 97 for tonight’s stop in Lillooet we visited the 100-Mile Marsh. This marsh is actually situated along a central migration route and includes a great variety of ecosystems from arid sage and cactus benchlands of the Fraser, to sub alpine forests in the east. I think we only scratched the surface of this vast area during our visit today but managed Blue-winged, Cinnamon and Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon, Ring-necked Duck, Canvasback, Lesser Scaup, Harlequin Duck, and Muskrat on the lake, plus Northern Flicker, Savannah Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird and Purple Finch in the surrounding area. Red-tailed Hawk and Bald Eagle were also recorded.

This leg of our journey to Lillooet started from 100-Mile House southwesterly on route 97 to Clinton where, thanks to Dee’s navigation skills, we took an amazing detour across a mountain track towards Pavilion. The road itself ranged from tarmac to dirt track and at some stages we were actually rising at 14% or declining at 12%. The views were sensational, looking down on occasions to a steep drop into oblivion; we also recorded our first Mountain Bluebirds plus Sharp-shinned Hawk, Merlin, Northern Harrier, Rock Dove, Steller’s Jay, American Pipit, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow and Brown-headed Cowbird. On occasions the detour was hair-raising but well worth the risk, we also took 45kms off the journey!

We rejoined the main highway, this time Highway 99, at Pavilion and are accompanied once again by river and rail, the Fraser River and the Canadian National respectively. As I post overlooking a cloudless sky and the fast running Fraser River it’s time for a full-English breakfast and the next stage of our tour towards Whistler!