A winter wildlife bonanza

24 Mar

Last week was a nature bonanza around here! It started with the northern lights.

A girl friend and I went for a walk about 7:30 pm one evening as we haven’t seen one another in quite some time and needed a good catch-up. We walked and walked out of the town site and up onto the main park road where there are no street lights. The sun went down and we turned back for home. At some point she said, “Are those clouds?”

We stopped walking and both stared straight up at which point the formation exploded in spikes like fireworks. Northern lights!! Bright green. They continued to dance and swirl and at another point, created a long arcing S across the night sky. They were some of the most fabulous northern lights I’ve seen.

The next day after work, five of us women went to snowshoe a trail in the park but discovered the snow had melted so much that we could simply hike it. Beautiful day and three Canada geese just returned from a winter down south were hanging out on the ice along the edge of the river that is now running swiftly. As we grabbed our abandoned snowshoes and prepared to head home, I said to one of the gals, “I’m surprised we haven’t seen any eagles yet. They should be back about now.”

Well, queue the bald eagle. Not ten minutes later, I hollered, “THERE!!!!” and we all ducked to look up through the van windows to the sky where a bald eagle was flying towards us and over our heads towards the river from where we’d just come. So exciting!

That night, I woke up at about 3:50 am – still having bizarre dreams. This time I woke up in the middle of Steve Earl singing My Old Friend the Blues as if real music was playing only to realize it had been part of the dream that woke me.

Anyway, I decided to head outside for a quick look. The northern lights are never the same twice. That night, the entire sky was pulsing and popping in all directions. There were more green splotches of light than there was dark sky. It felt like being in a 1970s disco with the volume turned off on the music.

Move ahead to the next day when I packed up my three dogs and drove out to another area of the park where I know there is open water this early in the spring. It was late in the day, about 6 pm. I left the dogs in the car at the Narrows and quietly walked out on the shoreline with binoculars.

With the naked eye I could already see possibly the biggest bald eagle I’ve ever seen. From that distance of about 100 m across the water and ice, then up another 30 ft to the top of a large pine tree, there sat an eagle. I could make out it’s yellow beak and everything. I took a look through my binos and it was incredible. I bet the bird’s chest was as broad as my Great Dane’s. Its body was facing me but its head was turned looking out over the lake. Then suddenly it turned and looked right at me, which I fully admit was unnerving. I let go of the binos with my right hand, waved and said in a nervous voice, “Hiiiiiihahahaaaaaaaaaaaa.”

It eventually got antsy and launched out of the tree. It was such a large bird that I could hear the wings moving air like it was right beside me. Later on I saw it on the lake ice stealing some dead animal tissue from a couple of ravens and flying off with its prize while the ravens squawked over the left-overs.

I also spotted movement across the Narrows along the sandy shore. An otter was playing and digging and rolling around in the snow. When it finally noticed me it dove under the ice and after a few moments I could hear it swimming back and forth under the ice in front of me along the shoreline.

On the drive back home I slowed down near Mud Creek and watched a beaver working away, sitting on top of the ice. They never look that big in the water because I only ever see their heads and tails, but gosh, on shore they’re quite a hefty critter!

Then, every elk in the park seemed to be in town the next morning and there was that full moon, equinox, solar eclipse trifecta thingy going on (that we didn’t get to see here in Canada) so overall, the whole week was just hopping with natural wonders.

I love it.

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Posted by on March 24, 2015 in PonderQs


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