Algonquin Park in March 2018
One of the great things about Alonquin Park is that you never know what to expect. Our recent trip to the park was from March 1st to 4th, 2018. The weather couldn’t have been more different from our trip the same time last year. The last couple years it was -30°C with up to 80 cm of snow on the ground. This year was spring like temperatures with bare ground in most areas. Rivers and creeks were already starting to open up. The Park and Mew Lake campground were full of activity as people were flocking to the park to take advantage of the amazing weather.
We could tell from our fall trip that this was going to be a record breaking year for the cone seed crops. The coniferous trees were loaded with cones. The bumper crop has attracted large numbers of cone seed eating wildlife. A couple of usually rare species that were very abundant were the Red and the White-Winged Crossbills. They could be seen throughout the park and along the highways.
Huge Pine Cone Crop This Year
Red Crossbills Feasting on Cone Seeds
The Crossbills were playing a dangerous game as they were often seen on the highway picking up salt and grit. We soon learned that they don’t move off the road quickly and care must be taken when approaching flocks. When you see a flock on the road ahead, don’t count on them flying off in time to avoid a collision. Start honking at them from a distance. Unfortunately, we seen dozens of crossbills dead along the highway. The crows and ravens were along the highway for another reason as the meal opportunities were presented to them by the less cautious drivers.
Many Red Crossbills were on the Roads
The Red Squirrels were enjoying the abundance of cone seeds as well. We watched a red squirrel who kept adding to one of the largest stashes of pine cones we have ever seen. All weekend he just kept adding to the pile.
Because of the recent thaw, the lakes were giant skating rinks which attracted many visitors for a little fun on the smooth icey surface. The surface was insanely slippery which was fun for sliding and playing, but not so fun for all the people we witness slip and fall.
The paths on the trails and around were also glare ice and extremely slippery. Unfortunately, we forgot to bring our ice cleats and found the trails a bit treacherous. Going uphill was difficult and going downhill was scary. In some spots, we actually had to crawl on all fours or slide on our butts to get by some of the more challenging areas.
The Spring like temperatures made for great outdoor living and activities. Thursday and Friday were very comfortable. When we returned from hiking on Saturday, the sun was warm and inviting. We set our lawn chairs on the ice of edge of Mew Lake and took in all the natural vitamin D, enjoy cold beverages and plenty of sunshine. Saturday evening was clear and calm with perfect campfire conditions including a big starry sky overhead.
People come to the park for many different reasons in the winter. Some come to photograph the birds, wildlife and the scenic landscapes, some come for the winters adventure of snowshoeing , skiing and hiking. Others come to enjoy quality time in the park with their family and friends. We came to enjoy the tranquility of nature and to get away from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. Being out in nature really does soothe the soul and helps restore ones mental health & well-being. Nature Therapy!