In one of the parking pullouts we scanned the mountaintops and located several mountain goats. Through the scope we could tell that we were looking at what they call a nursery band – mama goats, their kids, and adolescent goats. Some moms seemed to have two little ones with them! Nearby were several two-tailed swallowtails (Papilio multicaudata), and one decided to hang out on the dandelions giving me a chance to take some nice photos of it:
Onwards and upwards, into the mountains!
Just a few miles further down the highway and a white bird caught our eye. It looked much stockier than the gulls and terns also hanging out at the mountain lakes. Sure enough, it was one of the other species that I had hoped to see for the first time on this trip: a willow ptarmigan (189, 324)! There were many of them in the area, some of them even close enough to the road for a photo-op:
By the way, Dave, you sure you don't want to count your Florida species to make this year bird race tighter down the stretch? I knew I'd see some new species like ptarmigans up this far north, but I hadn't counted on picking so many of the "maybe" species from my original projected list as well! I think 200 species could be within reach on this trip, and we'll only be halfway through the year. Your US birds might push you over that mark already though, eh?
One of our other stops before reaching Haines Junction was to hike a rock glacier trail, which lead up and onto a giant rock pile that was formed when a glacier was pushing rubble before it. Up on top of the rocks someone had built an Inukshuk. We've passed several locations where people have started collections of piles and balanced rocks, including several other Inukshuks, but this one was my favorite thus far. It has style, and a great backdrop: