Another absolutely outstanding day!!! We started with a 7 km hike along a tributary of the Atnarko river, past scree slopes and along a river channel that alternated between rapids, sloughs and idyllic ponds. The clouds burned off part way and the unseasonable Oct heat built during the hike. The scree slopes are home to Pika’s – a very cool little animal which is a close relative to the rabbit. They were sleeping in today so I didn’t get any photos. Have included one here taken from a public database that gives you an idea of what they look like.
You can feel the land preparing for winter. Although the heat still builds in the afternoons, mornings are cold and the air has that particular hush of autumn before the low pressure systems move in and the first big rain storms hit. Chipmunks and squirrels going about stocking their larders chattered at us as we passed by – although some of them were quite obliging models, my sense is in squirrel speak they were being quite rude 😂
A highlight of the walk was a ruffed grouse courting circle. A male in full plumage drumming away, surrounded by four females. The females got out of dodge the minute we arrived but the male hung around for a few minutes – allowing for an excellent photo op. I think he thought we must have been some extra big hens as he continued to strut his stuff following our arrival 😂
Strutting his stuff
Mergansers and wood ducks came in to the slough as we passed by. Unfortunately the male Wood Duck was quite shy and not interested in having his photo taken.
Following another 👍🏻 lunch at the lodge, we set off for our second river drift, with another excellent guide Tamar. We had a wonderful conversation on our three hour trip down the river, about travel, philosophy and tidbits about the biology and ecology of the area. She also had met a guide of mine from my Galapagos trip – small world!
As before, no bears made an appearance until the end of the drift – my lucky hat is batting 100%. As we rounded the final corner there was Ivory again, this time accompanied by a male cub. Magic!!
I had a massage after we returned from the drift, we are looking forward to a steak dinner and then off to bed. Another big day tomorrow.