Recent Archive Gallery About Home For A Day
We interrupt your regularly scheduled Ottawa nature photos...

...for this moose!

1680x1050 wallpaper

My husband and I just got back from a five-day mini-vacation in Algonquin Provincial Park. We stayed two nights in a B&B on the east side of the park, then two nights in another B&B on the west side, and spent most of our days hiking. I've been wanting to experience Algonquin for years and am thrilled that I finally did!

We encountered this cow moose up close and personal on Mizzy Lake Trail. And when I say "up close and personal", I mean I had to dial my zoom lens all the way back just to get her in the frame. She grazed to within ten feet of us and a group of German tourists, all staring wide-eyed and gasping and fumbling with our cameras. Much further away, across a bog pond, was another cow, and the immense antlers of a bull were visible behind her.

These are the only photos I have to show from the trip, though. Photo ops were rare, with pretty much all the birds we found being distant, hyperactive, or both. There were numerous migrant flocks of warblers and kinglets, distant loons, distant waterfowl, and ravens and blue jays galore. I had been hoping to see some of Algonquin's boreal specialties (species normally only found further north), but unless you count the moose, I only saw one, a female Black-Backed Woodpecker along High Falls Trail. However, it is maddeningly possible that the grouse that flushed near the edge of a spruce bog (on Bat Lake Trail) was the Spruce Grouse I had been hoping to lifelist. It was gone before we could see anything but a flurry of wings.

Rivalling the close-up cow moose for excitement level, at least for me, was my 327th lifer: American Pipit. Pipits are unusual songbirds that act like shorebirds. When a flock of some thirty of them flew back and forth high in the air over a bog pond, I initially assumed they were Cedar Waxwings, since that's what they looked and acted like. But their voices, more like those of goldfinches than waxwings, confused me. I was then stunned to see every single bird settle down into the mud at the margin of the pond, and start picking around for food like sandpipers. "They're shorebirds!" I exclaimed to my husband, before realizing that no shorebirds looked or sounded quite like this. As I watched them forage, I noticed their tails bobbing up and down, and that's when I realized they must be American Pipits. This species is considered common in Ottawa in fall migration, but it has eluded me for years.

I'm eager to go back and find more of Algonquin's boreal specialties: to see Spruce Grouse and Pine Marten, and have Gray Jays take peanuts from my hand. Perhaps a daytrip is in order this winter!

Bill Mason Sand Pit (part 2)The Next Generation


September 16th, 2013 at 2:21 pm

September 18th, 2013 at 8:43 am
I look forward to seeing more Algonquin photos!

And Yay on the 327th lifer!

September 19th, 2013 at 8:30 pm
Wow....your first trip there and you get a moose, that's awesome! I've been there about a dozen times but haven't seen one yet. Still, I've been Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee, Spruce Grouse (took me several tries, so don't feel bad) and pipits (also at Mizzy Lake Trail).

If you spend any time at AHP, listen for the pipits' calls. We heard one flying over last weekend.

September 20th, 2013 at 4:03 pm
Five moose total that trip! We theorized it was the beginning of the rut, so bulls were on the move trying to find cows, and cows were on the move avoiding over-amorous bulls :-)

Is it normal for American Pipits to show up in bogs in migration? I can't find any reference to that online. They even settled into the sphagnum at one point.

I think I'll be better equipped to recognize fly-over pipits now that I've had a close encounter with them. Previously I would have dismissed the sound as goldfinches flying over.