I set off yesterday for Algonquin Provincial Park for yet another attempt to add some winter birds to my library. The local birds here in Orillia have been largely absent with just a few of the regulars showing up and the snow levels are so high that the squirrels have easy access to my ‘squirrel proof’ feeders with just a simple jump. If we get any more snow they will soon be able to just step onto the platforms!
I have driven along Highway 60, the main arterial road of Algonquin, dozens of times over the past few years. I had noticed that many of the branches and twigs of the Algonquin trees were encased in hoar frost making everything look like it was set in a fairy tale and I was already thinking that the frost would be a good photo opportunity given the right composition. As you probably are aware, as one becomes familiar with routes, you become acutely aware of any changes or out of place objects that require a second look. This happened yesterday as I passed Cache Lake which is on the south side of the highway. I thought I saw the silhouette of a moose out of the corner of my eye so I turned around and to my amazement there were 4 moose standing on the old railway bed munching on the lower branches and twigs that were covered in hoar frost. The only downside of this rare opportunity was that the sun was right behind the moose which was not the best lighting scenario since I wouldn’t get all the detail of the moose that I was able to get last June as illustrated in a previous post. Nonetheless, I enjoyed watching and photographing the 4 moose for the next 30 minutes as they foraged away and then wandered down to the frozen wetland in between the highway and the railway bed. One of the moose stayed by itself happily feeding on a small shrub while the other 3 seemed happy to frolic on the ice. It appeared to me that 2 males were testing each other pawing at the snow and making false rushes or minor head butts while the cow made some vocalizations. In the end, the two males ending up eating more shrubbery side by side before heading off into the forest presumably to join the others. One other issue that looked great in real-time but may not be illustrated so well through the photographs was the falling hoar frost that was releasing from all the trees creating a snowy effect. I took quite a few images and had time to try a number of different exposure settings. Despite the poor lighting conditions, I was able to enhance the images in post-processing which I hope will give you an idea of the moose activity.
In the end, yet another successful trip and thanks for stopping by! I am always interested in your comments so feel free to leave one or two here or on my Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/ArniWorksPhotography