We knew that traveling to Homer in time for their shorebird festival would mean that we were too early for the land bird migration, but we weren’t prepared for how this early date would affect the services available to us along the way.
The weather when we started out was certainly spring-like but most of Canada is still closed for the winter! Every Provincial Park is closed. Nearly all of the private RV parks and campgrounds are closed. Many of the businesses and gas stations are closed, especially in the small tourist towns.
It also seems that the animals are taking a cue from the humans. We still see a few new things each day on most days but the numbers and variety of animals, especially the mammals, has been far below our expectations. In nearly 1200 miles of driving in Canada we have seen a grand total of three elk, three moose, and one bear! That includes over 300 miles on roads that are supposed to be prime wildlife hotspots, such as the Cassiar Highway.
There have been some outstanding exceptions. The most notable was Renee’s lifer Red-breasted Sapsucker. We had been looking for this bird since California and we were getting close to the edge of its usual range when Michael spotted a woodpecker with a white slash on its side flying over the van. Even at 60 miles per hour he knew it had to be the bird. A near-panic stop and a U-turn later and we were rewarded with an excellent view of a pair of sapsuckers in some aspens on the edge of the road. The lighting was poor and the photo does not do the bird justice.
The scenery along the way through British Columbia has been spectacular, almost making us forget that we are not seeing many animals. Mountains dominate the skyline in every direction and rivers, streams, and lakes are everywhere. In the higher elevations, and as we go farther north, snowscapes are the rule. No wonder the locals still think it’s winter!