Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Spring Trip 2010 – Day 17 – Elk Island National Park

In real time, I’m about to head out for a short 4 day trip to our ‘home away from home’ ~ Tunkwa Lake, but thought I’d try to get another posting done before we leave….I told you posting this trip was going to be a slow process!…..

Now, since we found ourselves at Elk Island, we decided we might as well stay for the weekend….

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Waking up to weather like this only helped with the decision!  This was the view that greeted us that morning, May 8th, just a few feet from where we were parked.  We decided to ‘stay put’ for the day and just take the various walks in the immediate area….

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This path leads from the boat launch parking walk where we were camped…along the lake front, past the beach and day use area (in the middle of the picture) and on to a floating boardwalk….

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 This is one of the viewing points along the trail.  You’ll note that cloud did move in, but it never amounted to much and by afternoon the skies were clear once more.  The name of this lake is ‘Astotin’ Lake.

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Water levels in the lake were actually very low….this is just past the beach area….you can see there were lots of birds in the area….

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Lot’s of these Horned Grebe….

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Lesser Yellowlegs along the shoreline…

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Here a Solitary Sandpiper with a pair of Blue wing Teal ducks.

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the path ends at the board walk….here Ernie and Shantz are out on a section that projects right out into the lake…

DSLR Spring Trip 174 There were American White Pelicans feeding in the little bay beside the board walk….

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Here is a closer look at one of those Pelican…

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While I was taking the Pelican pictures, I looked down and there was a Beaver coming right at me!

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He then veered to the side, but it was obvious he wanted to go under the portion of the floating walk that I was standing on.

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There were also large numbers of these Red-neck Grebe….we’ll come back to them in a bit….this guy is just barely into his breeding colours.

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A number of Song Sparrows in the reeds as well….

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Walking back, I heard a familiar and unmistakable sound….the calls of Sandhill Cranes!  Looking up we spotted this flock of them flying over head…

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and here another one…..another species of birds that must have been held up a bit by the weather…

DSLR Spring Trip 197 Circling around and walking back past some picnic shelters….we first heard, and then saw…these Northern Phoebe ~ it is easy to tell how they got their name as their call is ‘Phee –bee’.  We have seen them before in the N.W.T. and Northern Alberta….they are always found hanging about man made structures where they build their nests…..

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Which is exactly what these ones were doing.  There is the nest.

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back at our end…there were now Pelicans in this bay as well…

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never get tired of looking at (or taking pictures of…) these guys!

In the afternoon I went out wandering again, going back over some of the areas we’d done in the morning….

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There were quite a few pairs of Common Goldeneye on the lake, and the males didn’t tolerate another one getting too close to ‘his’ female.

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A few Ring bill Gull – you can see the black ‘ring’ on the bill…

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Back at the floating boardwalk, the Red neck Grebes were busy doing nest construction….here with a mouthful of nesting material…

DSLR Spring Trip 215 Add it to the nest….

DSLR Spring Trip 219 and go back for more.Spring Trip 2010 889

Some tapping sounds led me to this Yellow bellied Sapsucker that was busy working on a nesting hole…

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and a Black capped Chickadee doing the same..

Spring Trip 2010 887 Here is just a peaceful picture of the lake….you can see the deciduous trees are just barely leafing out..

Spring Trip 2010 894 and I’ll toss in a few more Pelicans…

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including this one coming in for a landing….

After supper we did yet another walk, this one the 3 1/2 km ‘Lakeview’ walk at the northern end of the lake…

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It goes by this marsh area where there really wasn’t much activity…

Spring Trip 2010 917 here is a view of the lake….

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and another, this taken from the area of a viewing platform situated at the furthest point of the trail

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part of the trail back wound through this Aspen forest….

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here is another viewing platform, this time at the marsh… where we happened to meet another couple, armed with binoculars, cameras AND a Siberian Husky!  Theirs was a gray, blue eyed male.

Spring Trip 2010 927 You’ll note, up to now I haven’t mentioned a flower ~ that is, because until this point I hadn’t seen a flower ~ this Coltsfoot, growing beside the marsh in the above picture…was the first flower seen.

So ended a long but delightful day….and it ended in spectacular fashion as I’ll share these sunset shots with you.

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Nice – note the Pelicans…

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Spectacular!  This one is now my desktop!

Bird List:  White Throated Sparrow – 1; American White Pelican – 11; Red neck Grebe – 12; Common Loon – 1; Northern Phoebe – 6; Horned Grebe – 7; Canada Geese – 12; Common Goldeneye – 6; Mallard – 16; Lesser Yellowlegs Sandpiper – 1; Blue Jay – 1; American Crow – 14; Robin – 2; Blue Wing Teal – 4; Ring bill Gull – 4; Solitary Sandpiper – 2; American Coot – 8; Sandhill Crane – 60; Song Sparrows – 3; Red wing Blackbird – 10; Bufflehead – 2; Yellow bellied Sapsucker – 3; Yellow rump Warbler – 6; Great Blue Heron – 3; Black Cap Chickadee – 3; Killdeer – 1; Merlin – 1; Barrows’ Goldeneye – 2; Hairy Woodpecker – 1; Ruffed Grouse – 1; Double crested Cormorant – 5; Tree swallow – 1.

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