Friday, 2 February 2018

Elk Island National Park Tour

Moose, Elk, and Bison Together
     As we entered EINP on highway 16 east of Edmonton we spotted a rare sight; moose, elk, and bison grazing together in the same open field. Naturally, I have to stop to get a photo of them. This is the first morning after a major snowfall in this area. About eight or ten inches fell within a couple days and the sun is shining its brilliant relief over the land. All creatures welcome the warmth even though the temperature is still about -15c. Life goes on and the critters have to eat. Each of these herbivores chose a different diet of the available plants growing in this field.
     On the "Bison Route" fresh snow has already been broken by adventurous travellers so we follow the tracks carefully. The brilliance of the sun and fresh snow clean the countryside up very nicely. Gone is the scuffed and dirty looking snow. It is a beautiful day to be a wanderer.
Bison Loop Trail
     I have always enjoyed the sky after a storm.

     A little further down the road, we came across one of many snow-covered lakes that dot the landscape of the park. Each of these ponds are full of life, whether frozen over or not. This one is home to a beaver family and quite possibly muskrats as well as hibernating frogs and uncountable water bugs, freshwater invertebrates and fish that have adapted to live in low oxygen water such as sticklebacks.
What hidden life drama occurs under this calm shining cloak of fresh snow and ice.
     A visit to Elk Island National Park would not be complete without an encounter with bison. They are very large animals, the bulls weighing up to a ton. The north side of Highway 16 has plains bison while the south side has woodland bison. Excess, disease free bison are shipped worldwide to assist in repopulating former landscapes that was onced grazed by them.
Plains Bison Bachelor Party

     I enjoy a tour of this park often as it is close by and easily accessed. We can walk one of many trails or drive the north half.

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