Saturday, January 2, 2010

N.W.T. Trip – 2005 – Wood Buffalo Nat. Park

Leaving Hay River, we turned onto Highway 5, traveled past the junction of highway 6 which goes to Fort Resolution (left for another time), towards the entrance of Wood Buffalo National Park, approximately 90 km from Hay River.  This is a huge national park…totalling 44,800 Sq. kilometres, about 1/4 of which are in the N.W.T., with the remainder in Northern Alberta.


Just after entering the park, we found a large rest area and signage regarding sinkholes, of which, there are apparently quite a few in this type of topography…


and here is the sinkhole….


back on the road…and you’ll notice it is now gravel, or actually ‘mud’ as it had been raining again…what else do you expect to see in ‘Wood Buffalo’ National Park…but ‘Wood Buffalo’ and boy did we ever see them…not sure how many times we had to slow to a crawl or even stop as they meandered all over the road.  Notice something else in this picture?  Electrical Pylons!  Yep! You would almost think we were back in civilization.


there was a good crop of young calves here as well.  When we were in Fort Smith and went to the visitors center….the attendant said that “if we were lucky” we might see a Buffalo on the road….we informed her that we had been dodging them the whole way!


and those hydro pylons….well every second or third one of them contained a Raven’s nest…..


there was even a sign about them…

Wood Buffalo National Park contains the nesting site of the world’s only migratory population of Whooping Cranes.  The public isn’t allowed any where near where this actually happens….the following signage best explains…




Hopefully, if you click on this closer shot you will be able to read it (although I’ve noticed that the click on to enlarge doesn’t work as well when you use ‘live writer’

I know I took photos of the general wetlands habitat that was at this location….but they weren’t on the two CD’s and I can’t find them in my computer….I guess if I dug back far enough I could find them…suffice it to say that it was a wetland area, typical of the same sort of habitat used by the Whooping Cranes.

As it was raining at the time, we didn’t take the turn off to the Salt Plains but headed directly to the town of Fort Smith….as it turned out, a good choice as I definitely would not recommend towing anything on the access road to the Salt Plains!


The big attraction, at least for birders, at Fort Smith are the American White Pelicans that nest, by the hundreds, on the Slave River. 

Before searching for Pelicans we headed to Queen Elizabeth Park Campground….a  campground, close to what proved to be a very nice little town and that over looked the Slave River.

2gSlave River

Here is the view of the Slave River from the campground….they are hard to see but those are the ‘Rapid’s of the Drowned’ out there…a charming name!


here is a look at the campground…


and there are Pelicans…all those white things are Pelicans…


Pelicans close by…


Pelican’s swimming upstream…


and Pelican’s feeding.  We’ve seen Pelican’s on lakes all over Alberta, we’ve seen them in Saskatchewan and Manitoba and there are even breeding colonies on lakes in the Chilcotin area of British Columbia….Fort Smith is the only location where they are known to breed on a river…and it is a very large, very turbulent river.

I might add that the whole time we were hiking through, not very well marked trails, finding the Pelicans, it continued to rain….so we’ll leave off for now as we’ll be spending another day at Fort Smith….

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