Friday, December 22, 2006

Wildlife along the Winter Road

There are numerous animals to be seen along the winter road, be it wolves (above) or caribou, foxes (cross, red, or arctic), wolverine, moose as well as birds like ptarmigan and ravens and the odd whiskey jack/Canadian Jay. This wolf was about 2/3rds up Mackay Lake and was a very large male whose footprints were 6 1/2 inches long as well as wide. I stopped on a portage one time where I saw wolf tracks from a wolf that was running in front of the patrol truck. There was at least 6 feet between paw prints making the ground the wolf covered at least 24 feet each time it's 4 paws cycled! I managed to catch up to him a few kilometers later and he was probably larger than the one above and as the patrol vehicle approached he ran off into the snow on a small lake and immediately "bogged" down in the deep snow so he made for the bush as fast as he could go.
This raven was flying alongside the patrol truck and my camera caught him by aiming from my lap and guessing as to him being in the venter of the frame. The ravens would land on the hoods of the big trucks and if the driver placed a sandwich or cookie on the dash they would walk across the hood and look in through the windshield at the morsel they weren't SUPPOSED to have! The trucks were restricted to 25 or 30 km/h so it wasn't hard for the ravens to preform on the hoods while the trucks were moving.

This red fox was photographed on the south end of Mackay Lake.

This caribou was walking through fairly deep snow on a beautiful sunny day and the trees around it were coated in a very thick layer of frost that was gone a week or two later after a day or two of wind. The largest herds of caribou I saw in the 2006 season was about 130 animals and I was in the southernmost camp in 2006 (Dome Lake Camp). The first year (2005) I was in the northermost camp (LacDeGras Road Camp).

The ptarmigan changes colors from summer to winter and often one would come around a bend on a portage and see several white "lumps" on the road and instinctively think it was lumps of snow and at the last second the "lumps" would be transformed into ptarmigan and fly off leaving me to look in the mirror thinking I MUST have hit one but that was never the case. On a sunny day they would stand out so beautifully as they sat on the dark limbs of the birch trees or evergreens.

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