Now that we are into the month of August, we have noticed a number of changes with the wildlife and flora in the Willmore area.
In the first week, we found two Little Brown Bats nesting under the shutters of the cookhouse. They were not happy when Laura welcomed them to daylight earlier than expected and they decided to climb up into the beams for the rest of the day. Upon darkness, while walking from the cookhouse to the loft, Becky has seen bats swooping down to eat the flies her torch (aka “flashlight” in Canadian English) attracts.
Susan was lucky enough a couple of days later to be standing on the loft porch when 15 – 20 bats flew out from the roof into the night sky!
The following evening, Susan set up her camera equipment to try and capture (on film) the large group that had decided to roost there; however, only a few remained. This resulted in a lucky picture of one bat as it decided to take a look around before flying off to start eating mosquitoes.
WE LOVE BATS THAT EAT MOSQUITOES!
The flood waters have now receded enough to drive into Rock Lake on the Rock Lake Road, as we have had a few days without torrential rains. However, it is still difficult to enter Rock Lake as the road conditions are poor and we are due more storms in the coming days! The decrease in human activity around the lake this summer has allowed the wildlife to take full advantage of the undisturbed environment.
While hiking back from the Berland Ridge, Becky and Susan saw a moose, through binoculars, bathing in the lake. Laura also saw a young bull moose while driving up the 3-km trail to the cabins one evening. There have been many more deer sightings, both on Rock Lake Road and around the cabins.
A group of two mothers and their three young have been feeding (the young also playing) around the loft/horse-holding area while there are no horses. While driving to and from Hinton on our weekly supply run, Becky and Susan have also seen black bears searching for berries and elk with their young, noticing the elk fur seems to have darkened since earlier in the summer.
During another hike up the Berland Ridge, Laura and Becky saw three golden eagle fledglings circling above the meadow calling to one another. They had light brown under bellies and were probably partaking in one of their first flights – we are no closer to finding the nest though! The bald eagle’s nest can still be seen from the viewpoint, but there has not been much activity. Only mum and dad have been spotted in the area on previous hikes so it is possible the fledglings have already left. In the past couple of weeks, we have seen and heard a bird of prey calling around the cabins. Unfortunatelty, it has not been close enough for us to be able to confirm the species, but we think it may be a Northern Harrier. Susan also saw an owl while driving from Rock Lake at the beginning of the month which we have narrowed down to be either a Great Horned owl, or the Great Grey owl. We hope to see it again on future visits so we can specify exactly.
Many different types of mushroom of all colours, shapes and sizes have been seen on various trails, including the puff ball, fried egg and a poisonous species that looks like a poppy. Some mushrooms that had been seen on the same hike in a previous week were now mush, showing how the flora is everchanging in the Willmore. When the sun has been shining, butterflies have been fluttering around the flowers amongst the bees and crickets, and we have been lucky to capture images of the Tortoise Shell, a Fritillary, a Blue and a Checkered White.
We wonder what September will bring! Happy Trails!