The moose is the largest member of the deer family and its range extends across Canada, Alaska, Scandinavia and Russia. According to a variety of sources including this article from our local paper, the term moose is thought to have come from the word moosu, which is from an Algonquian language meaning ‘strips off’. During the harsh winter months, moose survive on twigs and shrubs such as balsam fir, poplar, red osier dogwood, birch, willow and maples. When food becomes scarce, moose will strip bark and twigs from trees. http://www.orilliapacket.com/2013/02/22/moose-giant-twig-eaters-in-our-midst
It seems as the majestic or mighty moose has been part of my life in one way or another over the past few decades. When I was In my 20’s living and working in Northern Ontario, seeing a moose was a fairly common occurrence anytime of the year. In the fall of 1977, I was working in Lake Superior Provincial Park and staying in the staff house. A truck driver came to the staff house door at dusk telling us that he had shot a moose (hunting season was on in the park) and he didn’t have time to completely field dress and recover the moose. The proposal was that if we helped get it out of the bush we could keep a quarter since he did not want to waste the meat.
Driving in the darkness required a keen eye and even during the day wasn’t a guarantee that you would be able to avoid a collision with one. In fact, in the summer of 1981 I had the misfortune of hitting one with my work vehicle. I survived without any ill-effects and the moose appeared to be completely nonplussed and continued on its way with a Chevrolet bowtie on its rear quarters. The Chevy didn’t fare as well.
Of course since I started my hobby of photography, the moose somehow had acquired the ability to detect when I was around with my camera and pull a disappearing act. As regular readers know, I spend a fair amount of time in Algonquin Park and one would think seeing a moose would have been fairly routine for me but that was not the case. So when I got an email from one of my photographic heroes asking if I would like to join her and her friend on a moose(!) photo tour/workshop, I quickly juggled my calendar so I could go. The last piece of the equation was to find a 4th photographer and our group was complete with Eleanor, Joyce, Scott and myself.
It’s funny how life works out sometimes. I discovered Eleanor Kee-Wellman’s work not long after I started taking wildlife photography seriously and remain a great admirer of her style and technique. I first met Eleanor when she was leading a Loon photography workshop on Lake Rosseau in the spring of 2009 and since then we have completed wildlife surveys and had photography sessions together. Coincidentally on that very same workshop I also met Scott Martin for the first time and we have become great friends sharing ideas on life and photography. Scott has already started to blog about this trip on his website and it will be interesting to see how similar our images will be. We did borrow each others camera gear to mutual benefit.
Back to the moose. We joined our tour guide, Michael Bertelsen at 5:00am at the Opeongo Lake dock and loaded our gear into his customized boat with its 4 swivel seats. Michael is the owner of Algonquin Park Photography Tours which features a number of workshops in Algonquin Park and other parts of the world. Michael has the skills, knowledge and personality to make this one of my best outings ever. After an 18 mile run up to the top end of the lake we carefully navigated into the quiet bays and marshes where the moose were to be found.
My drought with the moose was officially over, big time! Over the course of the next 2 days under Michael’s expertise we saw and photographed close to 20 different moose including bulls, cows and calves. Spring is a good time to observe moose in the wild since they have a tendency to feed on lily pads to restore the sodium in their bodies that has been depleted over the course of the winter. The only drawbacks of images taken in the spring is that the moose are shedding their winter coats and the bulls are only starting to grow their antlers back. I took over 5000 moose images some of which I am finally able to show you on this post. I have been deleting and culling the majority of the images because eventually they all start looking the same with the goal of keeping the ones that have photographic merit and tell a story. All images taken with a variety of camera bodies including Canon 7D, Canon 1DMKIV, Scott’s 5DMKIII and lenses Canon 70-200 and Canon 600 combined with TC’s 1.4 and 2.0. I have created 4 slideshows which you can watch automatically or manually pause and forward when you move your pointer over the image and you may also note the number of images in each slide show which appears in the lower right corner. Larger images are in my Fauna Portfolio
Cow and Calf
We saw 3 different cows with their calves. Of course like all babies, the calves are impossibly cute.
The male or bull moose is a very large and imposing mammal. It drops its antlers after mating season to conserve energy and they begin to grow back in the spring and will be fully developed in 3-5 months.You still think the flies were bad this spring?
This year seems to be the worst for biting insects. We were inundated by hordes of mosquitoes and blackflies, even on the lakes as we were taking pictures. Scott and I camped in my tent-trailer close by in an Algonquin campground in order to get to the Opeongo dock by 5 am but we couldn’t even enjoy the outside. When I think about how bad the flies were for us, I look at these images of the moose which are being ravaged all day, every day. Sometimes they escape the flies by going for a swim but another parasite lurks in the water. If you look closely at the moose’s legs in the 3rd image you will see a number of leeches hanging there.
The moose and its environment
There is nothing quite like being with friends quietly observing the moose in its natural environment.
Thanks for stopping by and your comments are appreciated!