Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Spring Trip 2010 – Day 19 – Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park

Monday, May 10th we got up at Elk Island National Park, to gorgeous sunny skies…..

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The weather was so nice we almost didn’t want to leave, but with the third week of our six week trip disappearing fast and having still not got to anywhere we’d planned to go…it was time to move on, so while Ernie took the camper to the dump station, I took one last walk along the lake shore…

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A perfectly calm Astotin Lake…

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There were still some Lesser Yellowlegs…

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poking about along the shore…

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the view along the shoreline….that sandy area is the beach, you can see the water level is well below what is considered ‘beach’

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There was a pair of Gadwall Ducks just off shore, that is the male in the rear, female in front…

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The beach….or more correctly, ‘beyond the beach’

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a pair of Red neck Grebes….

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and a final look back….before heading towards the north gate of the park…..and then we were on the road

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Pointed directly north…

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Just before we reached the town of Lamont, spotted this Red Fox beside the road….stopped for fuel in Lamont…

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this just shows the general flat country in this area (and I see I forgot to click ‘save’ when I cropped it – so you get hydro wires and window stickers as well)….  We now continued directly north on secondary highway #831, to the town of Boyle, where we headed northeast on #663, headed to Lac la Biche…this was a new route for us, passing through pretty, mixed agriculture country. 

At Lac la Biche we stocked up again on some groceries and propane, and then headed to Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park which is situated on an island in Lac la Biche (connected to the mainland via a causeway).  We had planned to visit this park on this trip…..but on our way home….

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So here we are, set up in the campground.  I had been extremely impressed with this park when we were here before, but this time, not so much….probably because only the central section of the campground was open and the sites weren’t nearly as nice as those in the other sections….I think power had only been installed to these sites recently (certainly to ours) and they were very ‘raw and new’ feeling…also there were only two sites that actually had a view of the lake, and we had been beaten to them….ALSO we discovered that we were still ‘water less’…..I really don’t know how you justify charging full fees when you aren’t offering full service….there was electricity…but no water…and since there hadn’t been any at Elk Island National Park either, we were still on severe water rationing.

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After getting set up we headed out for a walk….this is looking west along the park….the water being, of course, Lac la Biche

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same spot but looking eastwards…the campground is situated in those trees….

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this is looking sort of south west from a higher vantage point….

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What we did spot here was a species of Ground Squirrel I’d never seen before…..

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Grey head and tail and brown body ~ after researching them on the internet when we got home I think they must be ‘Franklin’ Ground Squirrels.  Certainly I hadn’t seen them when we were here before….

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but finding them this time made the stop worthwhile….

It was a pretty slow day in the birding department….

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In our previous visit the area around this boardwalk had been alive with birds…but I guess it was just a bit too early this time…

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I did find some Black capped Chickadees…

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and caught sight of a Lincoln Sparrow in the leaf rubble….

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back at the camper, I was doing dishes after supper and looked out to find this Ground Squirrel about to climb the stairs….

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I know you aren’t supposed to feed the wildlife…blah, blah, blah, but when they are going to help themselves you have to at least give them a crust of bread!

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after doing the dishes I went for a walk in the unopened part of the campground….spotted this Snow Shoe Hare…

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obviously used to people, he very obligingly posed for pictures….

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if you look closely at his nose….he has a number of ticks on it…I’ve noticed this with Snow shoe Hare other places as well….ticks seem to like them…we’ll be talking more about ticks in days to come!

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also, out and about that evening was this obviously nursing female Red Squirrel….she was up in this tree picking and eating the catkins….

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Down at the beach, the sun was low in the sky….

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as I headed back towards the campground….I spotted several Savannah Sparrows picking bugs out of the vegetation along the shoreline…

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There is a bit closer look at one of the Savannah Sparrows…

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This Hairy Woodpecker flew down into the bush along the shoreline….

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and we’ll take one last look at the beach before heading home for the night.

Bird List: Yellow Rump Warbler – 8; Double Crested Cormorant – 30; Common Merganser – 2; Osprey – 2; Mallard – 4; Blue Wing Teal – 2; Red Neck Grebe – 2; American Crow – 4; Black Cap Chickadee – 3; Magpie – 1; Lincoln Sparrow – 1; White Throated Sparrow – 1; Robin – 3; Ring bill Gull – 6; Scaup – 4; Song Sparrow – 3;  Swainson’s Thrush – 7; Ruffed Grouse – 1; Red breasted Nuthatch – 1; Junco (slate) – 1; American White Pelican – 1; Northern Flicker – 2; Hairy Woodpecker – 2; Downy Woodpecker – 1; Bonaparte Gull – 3; Savannah Sparrow – 14.

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