This past weekend Angie and I went up to Algonquin park for a couple nights. Its a bit of a tradition for my birthday, which lands right in the middle of September. It's a great time of year to visit even if the fall colors haven't really started up yet; as there are less people in the park, the weather is cooler too.
I will leave the tellings of our lodgings up to Angie as I am certain she is going to blog about it. Let's just say we upped things a bit as we made it our overdue honeymoon and in the coming years we are going to incorporate our birthdays and anniversary into this outing.
It was a bit of a rough go as the week prior Angie got sick and then like they say "in sickness and in health" she passed it on to me. So I started feeling mine Wednesday and by Thursday I was pretty much down and out. So this trip actually almost did not happen. But after a couple days of rest at home, forcing myself to ignore the calls of the wild in the 'hood, 'cept our backyard visitors, I was mostly a pretty good sick patient doing what the doctor said... rest.
But come Saturday morning, we pulled ourselves together and made the 3 hour journey to the park. It was a peaceful ride up, no pressure to get there, little traffic, enjoyed hot coffee, good tunes, nice conversation, etc.
Over the course of our stay at the park, we had 26 positively ID'd species of birds and we know there were many more we couldn't name off with the brief sightings, fall plumage and sometimes only going by song. Not bad considering we only did Beaver Pond trail and a short bit of the back end of Mizzy Lake... reasons being partially our energy levels and more so because we really wanted to take in where we stayed at.
The bird of the weekend was the Red-breasted Nuthatch. They were everywhere! White-throated Sparrows were aplenty in some spots, while we couldn't see them, we definitely made out their Autumn sub-song, which is like their Spring call only broken up. Warblers were mainly Yellow-rumps (that we could make out) and one Black & White Warbler. Water fowl brought us Common Mergansers, Black Ducks, Wood Ducks and a few Loons right by our accommodations. Hearing them call from morning to evening out there was awesome!
We were highly entertained by a small number of overly tame Chipmunks on the grounds around where we stayed. They ran over you to get the peanuts, or climbed on you for them. I had one go up my arm to my shoulder, back down and then park himself on my 500mm lens for a moment before looking elsewhere around me for the bag of peanuts. One little bugger even got up in the wheel well of the GMC! Reincarnation as one of these guys on this property would be a pretty sweet and easy lifestyle.
Red Squirrels were an easy find throughout the park as always. But for other mammals after that like Red Fox, Pine Marten, Beaver, Deer, Wolves and Moose... not so easy. Minus the Deer, all the others we have yet to see anywhere in Algonquin, even with all the Beaver lodges, we've still not seen one.
The past few years Angie and I have sought out Moose, both Spring and Fall. The closest sighting I had was the arse of one running through the bushes off Hwy 60. So, after dinner one night she suggested we take a ride out at dusk and see if we can spot a Moose in our travels. I wasn't feeling that great but catered the idea and getting some air after our meal might do me some good.
We drove east on 60, keeping eyes open on both sides, through the bogs and wetlands for them. Before long we were at Opeongo Road and decided to trek it for a while before heading back, it was soon to be dusk. I figure we did half the road, just crossed the second bridge as I am told it's called. We sat for a few moments and scanned the area. Nothing. I just did a u-turn and as I am about to pull back onto the road, I said with a sigh, "I guess the Moose is my nemesis in the park" or something like that. I hit the gas, straighten the truck out on the road and my eyes fix on something across the bridge. A Moose! And not just a Moose but a Bull Moose or as I said "a mother *bleeping* Bull Moose cuz when you are this big, you need some emphasis. And besides, it was our first real Moose sighting in the park ever, and we got the grand daddy of them!
I backed the truck up a bit and pulled off the road some. Camera in hand, I get out in the road, and have a good look at this beautiful beast. I take a couple photos, not thinking about the dim light and my settings, so the shots were brutal. Ever see that MADD commercial about drunk driving and 6 glasses later, you can barely see the road... kinda like that... just a big fuzzy Moosh is what I'd be slurring. Haha! Anyways, yes, what a sight. He stood out in the road, looking in our direction. I should add there is the bridge between us and some road on either side too. I guesstimate 300 ft max separated us. I was in awe and so was Angie for about 3 seconds. Then fear, panic and just down right "he scared the shit out of me!" as she put it set in.
I don't see Angie get like that very often. She's usually pretty cool about stuff. But we've heard so many horror stories about rutting season with the Moose and how aggressive they can be. She had that right across her brain and she couldn't get past that. Of course I want to take pictures but I have a terrified wife right behind me. I did my best to reason with her while I tried for a few more shots, adjusting my settings, praying the Moose wasn't going to leave the road... or come at us. I explained about our distance from it, how the need to be quiet and still is best, how their eye sight isn't the greatest and he probably doesn't even really see us. But she wouldn't listen and the more she ranted about her fear, the more the fear grew within her. And at that point, I've hit frustration, losing my focus on the animal, and it's now on Angie. And at that point, the Moose decided it was time to leave the road and head for the wetlands. We could hear him push himself through the brush, branches cracking, leaves rustling and we lost sight of him momentarily. He did emerge on the other side of the bushes that run along the road and was now deep in the wetlands. We got back in the truck and slowly drove across the bridge for a better look plus this was the way back out anyways. But the bushes were high and we lost sight of the beast. I was disappointed and trying my best to comfort Angie. Of course we bickered back and forth the next 1/2 km or so and then it was over. I understand her fear, she understood my frustration and my reasoning on how we were okay was probably true. She's promised not to have a freak out if we ever run into one again. And we've been laughing about this misadventure ever since. And some of our friends have had a chuckle out of it too.
Here's the big beautiful beast...
Here he is disappearing into the wetlands...
We had a great weekend away and I look forward to our next trip up there sometime in the winter, probably after new years.
Please enjoy a few other photos from our weekend away...
He's almost falling over trying to stuff them peanuts.
Peaceful times with the wildlife.
An Eastern Pheobe on the grounds (saw one in same spot last year... same bird?)
My fave "bug" shot of the weekend.
A view at dusk from our place of stay.
Night time view.
Morning view with a Common Loon out on the water.
A "painted" Painted Turtle for study.
Meadow was so excited when we got home, she needed a nap soon after in the warm afternoon sun. All the backyard critters were pretty happy too. 28 Pigeons greeted me, double that in Sparrows. Life in the city, eh.