As a local resident, guide for our company Earth Rhythms, and photographer, I am thrilled with the ability to share the stories I see in the snow during the winter months using the digital medium. The combination of digital image-making cameras and HD video combined with such powerful and simple to use tools like Mac OS iMovie (new version as of OS Mavericks is FANTASTIC and even easier and more intuitive to use) make it possible to share digital stories easily.
Riding Mountain National Park’s winter months offer superb opportunities to experience a national park when there are less visitors, no bugs, and using snowshoes gives you access to locations you would not easily get to in the other three seasons of the year. In addition, the snow surface itself provides an abundance of stories in the snow surface. The lack of leaves makes it much easier to “see into the bush” and see longer distances and catch sight of mammals and birds that you might not normally see.
Here is a fresh edition of Stories in the Snow – with a combination of photos and video. I hope that you enjoy!!
Sometimes, things happen to be perfectly aligned. Today, it was absolutely beautiful out with no hint of the surprise wildlife sighting that you often wish for – seeing a wolf in the park. We had bright intense sunshine with azure blue skies that is so typical of a day in Manitoba between December and February. I was out looking for wildlife with colleagues Jennifer Gustafson and Brett Smith from Riding Mountain National Park. Parked and in conversation, Brett gestured towards an animal in the distance.
As we watched, it became obvious that this was a sighting that is all too rare in the park. A grey or timber wolf loping along on the frozen surface of a pond, alert, looking around, stopping as nearby ravens called and then sniffing the surface of the snow for quite some time. Finally, he moved out across the lake in front of us, as we stayed motionless in our vehicle slightly hidden behind cattails.
Tips for identifying a wolf, based on what you notice in this video:
The slow, loping gait
The long legs in proportion to the body mass
The overall grey colour on the back in contrast to the white legs
The grey face
The large paws – noticeable as it walks
When it is -40C, everything is noticeably different. From the breath that freezes into moisture on my beard, to the bright sunlight reflected off the snow surface, to the squeaky sound of snow underfoot from the bison that leaves our presence.
I think that this is one of the reasons that our Earth Rhythms team loves to provide short outdoor experiences in the winter months – they are so amazingly full of sunlight, or beautiful night skies; we hear things that are so different; you know that you are alive, and when you return to the spa or your dinner meal, you feel very comfortable and somehow, “right with the world”.