2022-06-23 Muncho Lake Through Toad River

Trumpeter Swan - Cygnus buccinator
I’ve enjoyed seeing nesting Trumpeter Swans before, but never as near as they were on the lake at the Toad River Lodge. I was treated to a lengthy pair-bonding ritual by these great birds.
White-Winged Scoter - Melanitta deglandi
While it was the rafting Surf Scoters on the lake at the Toad River Lodge that drew me into the arena to take photos, I was delighted to meet my first White-Winged Scoters that were in their company.
Surf Scoter - Melanitta perspicillata
Prior to this meeting with these rafting Surf Scoters on the lake at the Toad River Lodge, All my encounters were in saltwater environs. But here, in the Northern Canadian Rockies is where they come to breed.

Wednesday night I roadside camped a mile from the Northern Rockies Lodge at Muncho Lake. The rain followed me all the way from Teslin and continued all night. With all the water, rocks from the steep slopes were loosened, sending them down to the roadway and making the drive even more hazardous. I stopped at the lodge to see about breakfast, but theirs was a $24 buffet, with little to interest me, so I got back on the road toward Fort Nelson. 

By the time I reached the Toad River Lodge, 38 miles of more rain and bad road away, I was ready for a meal, so I stopped at their cafe and ordered a veggie omelet. Two weeks earlier, while driving north, I stopped here and ate while sitting at their large windows, looking out to the lake. Today, I did much the same, but with no internet or cell service between Watson Lake and Fort Nelson, for $2, I rented time on their Wi-Fi to catch up with some of my blogging. I completed preparations on all the images in my backlog and prepared them for the web during my stay at Muncho Lake last night. Processing images doesn’t require the internet, whereas posting them to the web does. That left me with only the stories to tell. Having access to Wi-Fi was helpful in getting some of my story-telling done. The inclement weather was not conducive to my photographic efforts. The good news was that a slowdown on my image production meant my backlog wouldn’t worsen.

During my meal at Toad River, I observed rafting scoters on the lake. They seemed to all be male Surf Scoters. After my meal I could not resist the temptation to brave the weather and walk out to the lake shore and take a few images. [I know, there goes the backlog!] By the time I collected my gear and hiked out to the lake, the rain that I’d been watching during my meal, stopped. As I got closer to the scoters, I noticed that the raft of perhaps 50 male Surf Scoters, were sharing company with seven White-Winged Scoters. These were the first White-Winged Scoters I’d ever met. I watched this raft of scoters drift from area to area on the lake. When they came close enough, I captured some worthwhile images of them. I especially tried to work on the White-Winged Scoters.

The Toad River Resort turned out to be a wonderful place to meet birds. Between the resort’s cabins and campgrounds, was a wide green belt where I could stand with my camera gear and photograph waterfowl on the water. There were quite a few Greater Scaup and shorebirds near the far shore, and a few dabbling ducks like Northern Shovelers, too. 

When I got to the shoreline, I saw a nesting pair of Trumpeter Swans that ‌I wasn’t able to see from my seat at breakfast. I assume the bird sitting on the nest was the hen. While I was watching the swans, she came off the nest mound, and the two began an elaborate series of pair-bonding displays. The pair put on quite a show for me.

When I finished enjoying the swans, I turned my attention to the trees behind me between the campground and the lawn. I think I saw waxwings, but their shyness prevented me from getting any images. More cooperative were the Tennessee Warblers. I believe that the Toad River Resort could be very productive for birding if one could spend enough time there.

I completed my drive to Fort Nelson under rainy or threatening skies. I made a stop west of Summit Lake to look for birds in a place I’d stopped while I was coming north. I still failed to capture Varied Thrushes there, but a Wilson’s Snipe was more cooperative, and the same Tennessee Warblers serenaded me from the nearby willows. I didn’t see any dabbling ducks on the nearby beaver ponds, but a trio of swimming ducklings that looked very much like Mallards, swam below me, and testified to their presence.

Once I arrived in Fort Nelson, I paid another visit to the Demonstration Forest where I enjoyed time with birds such as the Canada Jays just two and a half weeks ago. It was a most productive visit, but that story must wait until my next episode.

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