2022-05-30 Late May At Lesser Slave Lake

Magnolia Warbler - Setophaga magnolia
After arriving from a long drive at Slave Lake Alberta, I stopped at Northshore Beach on the way to my camp at Marten River Campground at Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park. Most of the birds stay high in the canopy, but a few graced me with closer looks.
American Redstart - Setophaga ruticilla
A spider in its grasp! On my way to the Boreal Center for Bird Conservation, I stopped at Northshore Beach for a second visit. I devoted more effort to capturing images two days earlier.
Red-Eyed Vireo - Vireo olivaceus
My Sunday visit to Northshore Beach produces some enjoyable meetings, including many singing Red-Eyed Vireos.

I took two days to drive from Jasper to Slave Lake, a town at the southeastern end of Lesser Slave Lake. I camped overnight in Whitecourt along the way. When I arrived at my desired destination, I booked a two-night stay north of town at the Marten River Campground at Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park for Friday and Saturday nights. I wanted to chase birds, but my body told me to take a break. So I executed a “do nothing” plan for Saturday to rest up for my next birding adventure. There should be lots to see nearby.

I spent Friday evening and all day Saturday resting and catching up with the stories about my earlier adventures coming into Canada. Sunday, there was a heavy gray sky with intermittent rain, but the Monday forecast called for mostly sunny skies. I didn’t do much photography on Sunday, but I spent a few hours with birds at a ‘day-use’ area a few miles north of Slave Lake, called the Northshore Beach.

Sunday night, I camped at the Boreal Centre for Bird Conservation (with permission) after spending a few cold and cloudy hours with the birds there in the afternoon. Monday morning, under clear and sunny skies, I took another tour of their “Songbird Trail” that loops through the forest of Balsam Fir and Balsam Poplar trees, and met several species who hid well from me on my previous visit. When I ended my tour with the birds there, I felt it was time once again for traveling. I first got some groceries for the road ahead and had breakfast and gas at the Sawridge Travel Centre in Slave Lake.

I didn’t capture images of all the species present in the woods at the east end of the lake, but I was pleased to meet, the American Redstart, Black-Capped Chickadee, Least Flycatcher, Magnolia Warbler, Northern Flicker, Ovenbird, Red-Eyed Vireo, Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, Swainson’s Thrush, Western Tanager, White-Throated Sparrow, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, and Yellow Warbler.

There was one more chore to sort out before I left town. I had an equipment mishap during my morning trek with the birds. The tripod shoulder guard I made from PVC pipe many years ago snapped in two. Its function is to prevent the hard corners and edges of the tripod from digging into my shoulder while I carry my gear on my walks. I couldn’t fix it with the materials I brought with me, but I found a “Home Supply” type store in Slave Lake, and I bought a rivet tool, some rivets, and a hinge. With these I was able to cobble a solution to the broken shoulder guard. It seems to get the job done, and I’m back in business.

I camped at Lake Winagami Monday night. I could tell there were warblers around, but there was also an intolerable explosion of flying insects. Though none were biters or blood-suckers, there were so many it made it difficult to spot birds in the canopy of White Spruce and Quaking Aspen. I left camp mid-morning and pointed myself toward Grande Prairie. As I was leaving, I ran into the ladies from Montana who I’d met at the Marten Campground by Lesser Slave Lake. They had recognised me from my blogs, and we spent time visiting before going our own ways. We chatted again here at Winagami for about ten minutes and I hit the road, leaving them to finish their preparation to visit Peace River. They were traveling in tandem with their husbands, each with their own long trailer.

As I put the finishing touches on this story, I’m all the way into British Columbia at Fort Nelson, and about an hour’s drive along the Al-Can Highway. As usual, I’m behind in my blogging chores (I know it’s like a broken record!). I’ve revised my ideas about my destinations for this Canadian expedition. I feel including the Dempster Highway on this voyage would prevent me from taking the time to appreciate many of the locations I’ll be passing through. As of this writing, Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory is as far north as I plan to travel. Setting this new limit should help me enjoy quite a few locations I might otherwise pass by. When I get finished in Whitehorse (there are a lot of attractions in the region), I’ll reassess my options. But for now, it feels right to get as much as I can from the area, rather than preceding Clark Griswold-style, just to see the world’s largest ball of string (figuratively speaking).

Click map markers to reveal further information