Our Wild Day… Shovelers and geese and a skunk, oh my!

Our Wild Day… Shovelers and geese and a skunk, oh my!

Recently, the record for consecutive days at or below zero degrees Celsius was broken in Edmonton (167 days and counting). #waitingforspring It has been a long winter and there’s snow in the forecast… so we decided the best way to enjoy the day was to get out with our cameras.  We haven’t gone out in a few weeks; last time was to find Snowy Owls (we were successful).

We headed east of Edmonton to the Miquelon Lake Provincial Park area.  This is a favorite area of ours.  Over the last few years, we have seen moose, deer, hawks, geese, garter snakes, jack rabbits, coyotes, voles, great horned owls, pelicans and more in the Provincial Park and surrounding area. 

Today, as we drove along Highways 21 and 623, we saw many Canada Geese standing or sitting on frozen ponds or walking in snow-covered fields.  We feel bad that there isn't any open water yet for them.

Canada Geese looking for open water

Canada Geese on a beaver lodge

Our first mammal-sighting was a shy moose.  It quickly crossed the road a few hundred feet in front of us.  We drove up to where it went into the trees and peered through the branches.   And there was the moose peering back at us from a very safe distance.Moose 

Can you spot the moose in this photo?   I promise that there is a moose... look at the center of the photo.

 

A few more kilometers along the Range Road that borders the Provincial Park, we saw our first robin of Spring 2018.  It was hopping on the snow, probably thinking ‘I migrated for this??’  According to Journey North, robins move to find sources of food.  You can report and track Robin (and other migratory birds) sightings on their website.

American Robin

Not long after we saw three white-tailed deer at the edge of a forest.  They stood as still as statues, staring back at us.  A few steps into the woods and they would disappear. 

White-tail deer

We continued along Township Road 500 towards another favorite area, Beaverhill Lake.  Just south of Beaverhill Lake, along highway 626, we spotted Northern Shovelers dabbling in some open water, a shallow slough in a field, their distinctive beaks dipping into the water.  The breeding drakes (males) have iridescent dark green heads while the females are a drab mottled brown.  They do look a bit like mallards until you see those amazing beaks!  To view a video we took today, click here.

Our next stop was at a row of bushes… in one was a porcupine 😊.  Porcupine Did you know that an adult porcupine has approximately 30,000 quills covering all of its body except its belly, face and feet?  They are herbivores, eating twigs, roots, stems and berries in the summer.  In the winter, they eat conifer needles and tree bark.  This sweet one was munching on willow bark. 

 

Wonder if porcupines and moose ever end up nose-to-nose, going for the same food? 

Porcupine

And the last mammal of the day was a skunk.  It was foraging along a ditch  seemingly oblivious to our presence.  It was getting closer and then looked up… it jumped a bit when it saw us.  Then it continued foraging. Skunks have excellent senses of smell and hearing but poor vision.Skunk 

Even though there's still snow on the ground and in the forecast, it's starting to feel like Spring...

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