February 7, 2010, 8:30 am
Today a group of 43 of us went to the Barron River Canyon for some mid-winter exploration. Over half were non-members of OFNC, who heard Jeff being interviewed on CBC’s In Town and Out on Saturday.
We met at Lincoln Fields Plaza and car pooled, meeting up at the Irving Gas Bar on Paul Martin Drive in Pembroke. Margaret Ann, Barbara and I (followed by Peggy, Jane & Marc) made a slight detour on Snake River Line to look for the Northern Hawk Owl, but did not spot it.
After hot chocolate, we proceeded in convoy to Achray Road, where we came upon an unexpected treat, a pair of Red Crossbills on the road, just before the Sand Lake Gate.
Most of us had to purchase day passes at the gate (first seniors rate for me!). We reconvened briefly at the Squirrel Rapids Bridge, and then proceeded to the Barron Canyon Trail, where we parked along the road.
We donned our snowshoes and split into two groups. Jeff took half the group clockwise around the trail, while we went counter-clockwise with the second group, led by Carolyn.
We stopped often to study tracks in the snow. Carolyn instructed us in the characteristics to look for and was able to discover tracks of Red Squirrel, Pine Martin, Ermine, Snowshoe Hare, Red Fox, Deer Mouse, Fisher and Moose. It was a chilly exercise, as we did not move around much.
Finally we joined the other half of the group at the canyon rim and enjoyed the magnificent view while munching on our lunch and sipping our hot soup. Carolyn tried howling to the wolves (she is a wolf expert), but there was no response.
After lunch we returned to the cars and drove a short way to the McManus Lake Road. We explored the black spruce swamp beside the road on snowshoes. There was ample sign of Black-backed Woodpeckers, but even with Jeff’s calling, we only saw a Hairy Woodpecker and a couple of singleton Chickadees. The only other birds seen were Common Ravens. Returning to the cars, Jeff pointed out some wolf tracks. With some daylight still left, Jeff led those interested back via Snake River Line to look for the Northern Hawk Owl. We did find it, rather far off, and a bonus Snowy Owl on the other side of the road. As I was the only one who had brought a scope, I suddenly became very popular!