Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Alberta trip - May 30, 2008 - Lesser Slave Lake

May 30th we hit the road early as we had another fairly lengthy drive ahead of us. Our goal this day was to reach Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park which is situated on the eastern shore of Lesser Slave Lake. Headed north on highway 32 until we reached the little town of Swan Hills, where we stopped for gas and coffee (of equal importance!) and then headed north again, now on highway 33. The above picture gives a pretty good idea of what the country looks like in that area. Gently rolling hills, if not under agriculture, then covered in boreal forest. Highway 33 runs out at highway 2, where we headed eastward to the town of Slave Lake, then north to the Provincial Park.

I can't really recall but I think it must have been a weekend because the campground was quite busy. I found this quite often....there didn't seem to be much in the way of populations around, but when you got to the parks, they would be busy....even this early in the season. We didn't have the most scenic camp site, but it would do. After getting set up, we walked down to take a look at the lake.

Even though it is 'Lesser' Slave Lake, it is still a very big lake. ('Lesser' only as opposed to 'Greater' Slave Lake that we had visited a couple of years previously) A number of trails led to the wonderful sandy beach that ran the entire east shore. This view is looking directly westward, and as you can see, it was pretty windy.

Later that evening we went back to the lake, the wind had now died, this shot was taken looking south along the beach, towards where the town of Slave Lake would be.

with this shot taken from the same spot, looking northwards. There were actually 2 sections of sandy beach. This, the closest to the water, then there was a long strip of riparian habitat with pools of water, deeper in some spots than others. There were ducks in some areas and the whole area was alive with frogs. Couldn't actually find them, they must have been tiny ones, but you could sure hear them! Then between this riparian area and the main shore was another wide sandy area.

We spotted this large flock of male Common Mergansers on the lake. Common Merganser males are known to vacate the females, leaving them to raise their young on their own, while the males hang out together for the summer. Obviously, Lesser Slave Lake is one of their 'hang outs'.
There was lots of bird life in the area.

Chipping Sparrow - found just about everywhere east of the Coast Mountains in B.C.

as are those Yellow Rump Warblers - again, this one is of the Myrtle variety as you would expect to find in this area.

I just about broke my neck trying to get pictures of a pair of Red Breasted Nuthatch, and never managed more than this! Everywhere here I could hear White Throated Sparrows, in fact all over northern Alberta I could hear White Throated Sparrows with their "Old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody" call...but White Throated Sparrows like dense bush and actually finding them and photographing them was a bit of a challenge! I'm sure I also saw Northern Water Thrush here at this park, but never managed a picture.

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