ALGONQUIN PARK IN JANUARY
Algonquin Park is a wonderful place to visit in the winter. Our trip took place in late January 2013. When we left our home in Southern Ontario, there was no snow on the ground. Making our way north, there was more and more snow as we got closer to the park. Algonquin had a good bedding of snow throughout the park. It was refreshing to see.
Being the weekend, there was quite a few people around; mostly skiers, birdwatchers and photographers. Along Opeongo Road, there were groups of people feeding the Gray Jays at just about every place a car could stop. At the opening of the Opeongo Lake, a River Otter was playing on the ice. We stopped and watched him slide on his belly and then bounced his way to a hole near the shore.
We headed to the Visitors Centre for lunch and to check out their feeders. There were Pine Grosbeaks, White-breasted Nuthatches, Redpolls, and a single shy White-winged Crossbill.
Later, on Highway 60, we came across a group of cars and, as we hoped, they were watching a Great Grey Owl on the edge of an opening on the north side of the road at Brewers Lake. It was getting late, so the light was a bit dim. The owl entertained us by making a drop to the ground in an attempt to catch a meal. He was unsuccessful and returned to his post.
Sunday, we woke up to a bitter cold morning as the thermometer dipped below minus 28 degrees Celsius. The morning included a visit to Spruce Bog Trail where we found the Boreal Chickadee among the regular suet visitors.
When we arrived at our yurt on Sunday afternoon, we were mobbed by Black-capped Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches. Even before bringing out any sign of a bird feeder, they were landing on our gear and even on top of our heads. When we finally hung up our bird feeder, they were all busy visiting the feeder and enjoying the black sunflower seeds. Also peeking around the trees were a pair of Pine Martens.
Later in the afternoon, we waded through the snow into Kearney Campground. Although there were no wildlife sightings, we certainly enjoyed the beautiful scenery.
It was a perfect evening for a campfire as it was a little cold and snowing lightly. It was quiet and windless, making it difficult to call it a night. However, soon the snow starting falling more heavily and we succumbed to the comfort of the warm yurt.
Monday morning, we woke up to a winter wonderland. It was snowing very heavily all night and there was already a good 20cm of freshly fallen snow on the ground. And there was no sign of it stopping any time soon. It was so amazing to be outside with our morning coffee and enjoying the birds gathering around our campsite.
There were very few people at Mew Lake Campground. By Monday afternoon, besides ourselves, there were a pair of campers in a yurt, the camp host & hostess in a Big Rig and our brave friend, Bev, camping in a tent. This was the emptiest we have ever seen it at Mew Lake.
When we were confident that the roads were clear enough for travel, we headed out. We stopped at Kearney to take some pictures of the winter wonderland. We moved onto the Spruce Bog Trail next and were surprised to see no wildlife at the suet that was so busy the day before. Finally, the first visitor was the Boreal Chickadee. He was followed by his Black-capped cousins, woodpeckers, jays and nuthatches. After a quick visit to the Visitor Centre, since the weather was still quite bad, we made our way back to our yurt.
Another evening enjoyed around the campfire even though snow had turned into freezing rain. We decided to pack up early the next morning and get on the road by mid morning as the forecast was calling for more freezing rain. We wish we could have stayed longer that day, because the landscape was absolutely spectacular.