We took a drive today out toward Elk Island Park and surrounding countryside to see any new bird arrivals. We found Canada geese by the thousands scattered in farmers fields searching through newly exposed stubble hoping to find some wheat left over from last fall. Their honking and gabbling (is that a word?) was deafening as if it was my fault that pickings are sparse. Plenty of ducks scrounged along side the geese to little avail. The snow is still fairly deep in most places and there is also a very firm crust on top to keep them at bay. That crust is firm enough to keep the geese from their meal but not firm enough to support a pussy willow hunter. My boots were full of snow but the wife was happy to get her wild bouquet.
Wild Boar Hiding
A little further down the road, I spotted a couple wild pigs. They were enclosed in a pretty stout fence surrounding a thick willow patch. I managed to refill my boots trying to get a picture of the wild boar who was lounging in a willow thicket, hoping that I couldn't see him.
Bison Bull Grazing in Deep Snow
In the park itself we came upon a lone bull bison shovelling for his feed with that massive skull. When his head no longer worked so well the front hooves were put to use. He looked to be in pretty good shape after the long winter, but this is where they have lived and thrived for thousands of years. I was talking to a park employee the other day who told me that the park just sent several bison to Siberia to try to repopulate that region. There were at one time the Steppe Buffalo which were hunted to extinction. This is the second load of bison to be sent over.
A snow squall swirled through the park as we motored along. A lone bison followed the trail of many, delayed by a tree on which it paused to scratch its back.
These bison are large animals, the big bulls weighing close to 2000 lbs. They are surprisingly agile and quick on their feet. We should give them a reasonable right-of-way or they can do some damage to you or your vehicle.
Snow Squall Bison
Bird life in the park is very sparse at this time of year. A lone raven is all I spotted today.