Last weekend I paddled into North Tea Lake in Algonquin Park for a few days and spent some time exploring this beautiful lake. I wanted to get in there and ‘scout’ out the location for the Morning Tea with Moose trips (3 min. video mov) that I will be facilitating this summer. The weather was amazing and the wind kept the blackflies to a minimum. Leaving Northern Edge Algonquin on Friday afternoon I paddled across ‘Round lake’ to the mouth of the Amable du Fond river under clear blue skies and a N,NE wind. It is such a inspirational time of year as new life takes to the forest. The maple leaves were quickly unfolding and many species of plants were in flower. As I paddled I kept an inventory of the birds, plants, trees and animals that I came across, hoping to begin to know this area on a more personal and intimate level. The Sweet Gale lining the river to Algonquin Park was blooming in its inconspicuous, yet intricate way and many Brook trout were swimming for cover under the deeply cut banks. There was lots of signs of moose browse along the rivers edge, feeding on cedar foliage most likely over last winter. As I paddled, I passed 3 separate beaver lodges as well as a winter food cache of willow and other shrubby branches that had been submerged to preserve ‘freshness’ . At one point I got a quick glimpse of one as it dove under the water. Over head a Broadwing Hawk was circling and calling and the canopy birds alarmed as this predator hunted. After a couple short portages into Algonquin Park, I was into North Tea lake and began to paddle into a fairly strong wind that made progress a little slow. As I moved from west to east across the lake I took in the sites of the Cedars and Hemlocks lining the edges of the lake and the rounded hills covered in Sugar Maples and other hardwood species. There were few people around over this weekend and the solitude and serenity of this large interior lake made my heart sing. It was nice to experience this place as it came to life on these spring days and everywhere you looked there were signs of new life unfolding. Many birds were busy courting and building nests including white-Throated sparrows, Robins, Ravens, Loons and Black-capped Chickadees to name a few that I saw. I found a large Raven nest made of sticks in a big old Yellow Birch tree as the proud parents kept a watchful eye on thier brood. I also got to watch a white-throated sparrow as it built it’s nest under some fallen goldenrod plants in a raspberry patch, in a small depression in the ground. This feamle bird had made most of the nest using spagnum moss and then was lining it with fine dried grasses. I love to watch the birds as they prepare for laying eggs and raising thier young. It can be so very rewarding to watch this process from start to finish. This small sparrow serenaded me for 2 days at sunrise and sunset as I camped on the point of one of the many small islands on North Tea Lake. The many voices of the Loons were heard in the morning and evening as they ‘talked’ back and forth to each other. This sound always makes me feel so peaceful and connected to the land. It seems to ‘trigger’ something deep within my being that I find very grounding. There were few bugs at this ‘breezy’ site and I very much enjoyed this location as it afforded good views of both the rising and setting sun. I spent Saturday exploring the narrows that divide the lake into it’s eastern and western parts. I managed to find a few sites that should afford some good moose viewing come summer. All three spots were located in marshy coves with lots of cedars, balsam fir and red maples along the edge of the water. There were thick moose trails just inside the hardwoods and there were also lots of signs of winter browse on the 3 species listed above. There were even a couple fine examples of moose antler rubs on some 4-6 inch diametre cedar trees. I’m looking forward to returning to these sites in the coming months. Some of the other tracks I found included otter, raccoon, deer, red squirrel, chipmunk, small rodent and beavers. It felt really good to be in Algonquin Park, out on the water this weekend and exploring and learning from the many plants, trees and animals that I encountered. I have many things listed that I observed over the course of a few days, I would love to write about them all. But more importantly I just wanted to give you a sense of some of the things that I experienced. There were still some red trilliums left in the hardwood forest and fewer trout lily flowers that had passed there prime now that the leaves are unfolding on the maples and covering thier sunlight. Other wildflowers included spring beauties, canada mayflowers, bellworts, solomons seal, coltsfoot, clintonia, dutchmans breeches and many others. Life has returned to the forest and things are beginning anew as the plants and animals begin thier journey of reproduction for another season. The ruffed grouse drumming filled the air most of the weekend as the males try to attract females to thier impressive wingbeats. Many nests are being filled with egss right now as I write this and I only hope that I can continue to observe and revel in the beauty of this process. So much happens in nature and it can happen quickly as well. There’s a short opportunity to experience these different stages of life before it’s on to the next one. The circle of the seasons and the circle of life is ever changing. I feel very thankful to be alive and to continue to have these experiences in nature. This weekend in Algonquin Park on North Tea lake was another chance to experience and participate in this journey. I thank all of the entities that shared thier many lessons with me and look forward to the time when we meet again.
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