March 2013
The ever changing seasons of Algonquin make the park a very interesting and special place to visit. Our four day trip, starting March 7, 2013, was no exception as it was very different from our previous stay that was only 6 weeks ago.

The weather was beautiful as the cloudless daytime temperatures topped 10 degrees Celsius. The nights were warm, wind free and clear allowing for some magnificent starry skies and wonderful evenings around the campfire.

Our first day, we weren't in the park for more than a few minutes before we came across a couple of parked cars at the side of the highway; a clear sign of a possible wildlife sighting. As expected, a Great Grey Owl was sitting on a short dead tree just on the other side of a thicket of bushes. There were two photographers at the bottom of the hill who had created a clear path to a better vantage point. I am glad they went first, as the snow was nearly crotch deep in most sections and I was still wearing my driving shoes.

After spending some time with the Owl and talking with friends who arrived as well, we proceeded west. We took a quick drive down Opeongo Road and we were happy to find the gate open allowing us to follow the road all the way to the lake. Unfortunately, the gate was closed later that day and remained that way for the rest of our visit. Our next stop was the Spruce Bog Trail where the Boreal Chickadees were regularly seen at the suet feeder.

It was soon time to check into our yurt at Mew Lake Campground. The problem with staying in a yurt this late in the winter is that they are well used. The yurt itself was clean, but the campsite outside was not. The snow on the site was every colour but white.

The wildlife activity on the site was heavy at times. This included chickadees, nuthatches, Blue & Gray Jays, two female Pine Grosbeaks and a crazy amount of Red Squirrels. A Pine Marten would visit occasionally, but with a filthy campsite as a backdrop, the pictures were not very pleasing.

Each morning we were awakened by our natural alarm clock: the cawing of the recently returned crows. It was a wonderful ensemble and a sign of the promise of spring to come. Another nice sound was the howling of a nearby wolf pack. One evening in particular, they howled constantly for over 25 minutes. They were even vocal well into the daylight of the morning.

Our travels around the park led to a few more Great Grey Owl sightings. The VC had male and female Pine Grosbeaks as well as flocks of Redpolls. Although the birders were saying there were both Hoary and Common, my birding expertise isn't sharp enough to tell the difference. A fox appeared at the VC parking lot, posing for some photographers. However, his patience ran out as we arrived and he turned away and left. Kathy only got one quick shot of him before he tore off into the distance.

Only the well used trails were hikeable without snowshoes (which we forgot to bring). We tried to venture into other areas but the snow was too deep for travel. We did hike into Kearney Campground. It was an enjoyable walk, but was very hard going in the wet and crusty topped knee deep snow. Lots of animal tracks, but no sightings.

With the melting snow and high contrast light, the bright sunny days made landscape photography very challenging. Thankfully, digital images can be easily thrown into the garbage bin (icon) with very little cost compared to back in the film days.

All in all, it was a fantastic time. We met up with quite a few of our friends both planned and by chance. It was nice to see so many of them again. Algonquin always brings people together who share the same passion of the great appreciation for nature.

Pine Grosbeak  Photo by Tony deGroot



Leucistic Black-capped Chickadee  Photo by Kathy deGroot


Red Fox   Photo by Kathy deGroot


Great Grey Owl  Photo by Kathy deGroot