There is something about spring that makes me feel so alive. I think it does for many people, especially those of us that just went through what felt like the longest winter EVER.
The last couple of weeks have been filled with exploring provincial and national parks just east of Edmonton, Alberta. If you haven’t yet been to Elk Island Park or the Cooking Lake – Blackfoot Provincial Provincial Recreation Area, I highly recommend exploring the area. Both parks are about 30 minutes east of Sherwood Park via Highway 16. Although that is the quickest route to get to either park, there are a number of secondary highways that will get you there as well.
Elk Island is most famous for it’s herds of bison – the Plains Bison and Wood Bison. Highway 16 separates the north and south sides of the park with the Plains Bison to the north and Wood Bison to the south.
You are pretty much guaranteed to see bison when visiting the park, although I have been skunked once or twice when they have decided to have a bit of privacy and stay clear of any roads or trails. We hoped to spot a few calves this trip but no such luck.
A little further up the parkway is Astotin Lake. This beautiful lake is a bird watcher’s paradise.
If you have ever seen the Red-Necked Grebe mating dance, you’ll know what I mean. And of course, when you have a mating pair, you’ll usually see the jealous boyfriend lurking nearby.
The cacophony of birdcalls and frogs is almost deafening at times – beautiful music to my ears.
The Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area borders Elk Island Park and is filled with multi-use trails that are frequented by visitors in all our glorious seasons (yes, even winter). On this adventure we were on the hunt to spot a moose and perhaps get really lucky and find a female with her calf.
Arriving at the Waskahegan staging area, just off Highway 16 and Range Road 210, we started what would be an all-day 15 km adventure stroll through the woods and around the multitude of ponds in the park.
The paths are wide and grassy and make for an easy walk. With the grass beneath your feet, the leaves rustling in the wind and the blue sky above, it was a perfect setting. Now to find that moose!
Ok, I’ll leave out the suspense. We did not find any moose. With the gusty wind and the possibility that they may be in late term pregnancy or already have birthed, moose tend to stay well hidden. Oh well, better luck next time, as there are many more adventures ahead.
So what did we find? Dragonflies with wings of gold, purple violets adding color to the grassy carpet, bumblebees working their magic with the early flowers, a muskrat fixing up his abode, a garter snake who kindly stopped to pose for our cameras (cool!) and a mosquito nursery (eeeww).
We did see a number of waterfowl, both divers and dabblers, but for the most part, they heard us coming as we mostly saw them startle and then fly a bit further back from the water’s edge.
On this trip, I finally got to see the somewhat cartoonish looking Ruddy Duck and it’s trademark blue bill.
Every trip out into nature is an adventure. They are opportunities to let go of the daily grind and just relax, be one with nature, and of course follow everything around through the lens of my camera.
Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.
~ Albert Einstein