Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Voyage to the Pingualuit Crater

Have a look at the red line on the map above and imagine a fabulous canoe trip stretching across the wilderness of northern Quebec, Canada. While playing on Google Earth the other day I came across a series of photographs and realized that a group of adventurers must have made this trip in the past few years. Their goals were twofold, at the very least. First they appear to have wanted to cross the Ungava Peninsula as the area is called, and second, they wanted to do it on their own power. Lastly, they wanted to visit the large impact crater known as Pingualuit Crater. The photos reveal they succeeded! As it turns out, once leaving the Payne River, their starting point on the east coast, their route followed the Vachon River nearly to the Pingualuit area. After their visit, they found the Puvirnituq River and followed its wandering route to the village on the west coast of the same name.

I invite you to open Google Earth, check to see that 'photos' is enabled and then follow their path beginning in the east and then from photo to photo to see what a marvelous trip it must have been. My red line is an approximation of the route taken, but once you've begun following the photos up the Vachon River, you'll easily find the remaining photos which lead you the rest of the way. Follow their route, look at all the photos! You won't be disappointed!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Between Birds And A Hard Place

The ckayaker staff is back at work after a healthy holiday break. While there isn't a lot to report on the kayaking front given the almost total lack of open water at this time of year, there are some things of interest nonetheless. Here's an example...

In the photo above you'll notice a couple of Evening Grosbeaks. Not so many years ago, these birds were a common winter sight along roadsides and at household feeders around where I live. They would appear in flocks of twenty or more, males and females together and provide a dash of colour on the winter snow. Then a few years ago, they all but disappeared. Some years none were seen. Other years you might see two or three flit by and disappear almost as quickly as they had come.

This winter they're back. Not in the numbers of years gone by, but today, for example, there were perhaps a dozen or so in the trees around the feeder. They came and went all morning as they have done several times in late December and early January. Does it mean they've given up their wandering and returned for good?

Sadly, no. We've just got lucky. Over all their numbers are far fewer today than in the past. I've heard a variety of suggestions about why this is so, but I don't think the definitive answer is in. Whatever the reason, it doesn't paint a healthy picture. The environment is changing and squeezing these lovely birds into a hard place where their existence is threatened. I wish it wasn't so.