Algonquin Part II: Rainy Day at the Visitor Center

The next morning was gray and drizzly. Once again I woke up early to the songs of the Hermit Thrush and Winter Wren, and walked over to my dad’s campsite to see if anyone else was up. On the way I heard a soft, strange clucking issuing from the woods next to the road, and when I peered into the undergrowth I found a Ruffed Grouse staring back at me! She was slowly walking along, sampling different leaves, and talking quietly to herself. When she saw me she froze, ceased her clucking, and stared back at me. Then she slowly sidled through the bush, eventually melting into the forest. I was so thrilled with that encounter that I kept hoping someone would come along to share it with me, but no one did.

Later that morning, after a hot breakfast and an equally hot shower (the showers at the Canisbay Lake campground are one of the things I like about this campground) my dad, his two guests, and Doran and I went up to the Visitor’s Center to look around. We watched the show, talked with a naturalist who had some stuffed mammals on display, and spent some time on the back deck looking out into the park (a few Cedar Waxwings and Red Squirrels were around, and that was it; they do not keep the feeders stocked in the summer because of the bears).

View from the Visitor’s Center

I bought a beautiful print from the gallery, some natural history pamphlets, and a hooded sweatshirt from the bookstore. We also spent some time looking at the exhibits. The Visitor’s Center has some amazing, life-like dioramas which contain picturesque displays of some of the park’s most intriguing animals and beautiful flowers.

Golden Eagle with Ravens

Moose, wolves, bears, chipmunks, weasels, and even a salamander are some of the interesting mammals which appear in the dioramas. You have to look carefully, though; while a scene may be dedicated to some of the larger mammals, the much smaller ones are often hidden in the shadow of a log or among the fallen leaves.

Wolves

Many smaller birds can be found among the trees and shrubs, including Common Yellowthroat, Golden-crowned Kinglet, several Gray Jays, a Black-backed Woodpecker, and a couple of other tiny, colourful warblers.

The Black Bear exhibit always amazes me. I always picture these bears as towering, 10-foot tall monsters in my imagination, so it’s reassuring to know they aren’t really that big! On all fours, however, they are really quite small.

Black Bears

Since I don’t have any decent photos of a Broad-winged Hawk yet, I photographed the one in the Visitor’s Center. Note the distinctive banded tail.

Broad-winged Hawk with Snake

The moose exhibit, too, is quite fascinating. I have never seen a real live moose at Algonquin, so I photographed these to remind myself that they do exist!

Bull Moose with female

The Visitor’s Center is a great place to spend a rainy day. Once the rain ended, it was back outside to enjoy one of my favourite trails, the Spruce Bog Trail across the highway.

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