It can be difficult to see wildlife in its natural habitat in the Ontario Parks System. It just happens when it happens. A few years ago, we were camping in Algonquin Provincial Park when a moose ran by our campsite around lunchtime. It was not the typical place or time of day to see a moose, but we had one of our closest views of a moose. After the moose left, we followed his tracks along the campground road but then lost the trail when he went back into the forest. Another time, while backcountry camping at Killarney Provincial Park, I woke up at 6:30 a.m. one morning to find three moose in our campsite. They quickly fled as soon as they heard me unzip the tent. If you want to spend a day viewing wildlife, here are some of the tricks that we have learned:
Dawn and dusk: The early hours in the morning after daybreak and the evening before dark tend to be the best times to see birds and mammals. It is well known that moose like to lick the salt that gets thrown on the roads to melt winter ice. The ice melts and washes the salt into the roadside ditches. The moose can be spotted along roadsides in the early mornings and evenings in May and June in some parts of Ontario. On one camping trip, I counted twelve moose, just by driving up and down Highway 60 in Algonquin Provincial Park for about one half hour in the morning and one half hour in the evening. Remember to drive slowly and be alert so that you do not accidentally collide with a moose. If you see wildlife while driving, always pull off to the shoulder and stop, so that you do not create a dangerous situation for other drivers on the road. Another great way to spot wildlife is by canoe at dawn and dusk.
Word of Mouth: Talk to others about places where they have seen wildlife. For example, the Mizzy Lake Trail in Algonquin Provincial Park is known to be a great trail to spot wildlife. Knowing this, I hiked the trail once and saw moose drinking water in a pond near the trail.
Low, Flat, Wet Areas: Areas that are low, flat, and wet are the best areas to spot wildlife, especially if there aren’t a lot of tall trees. Areas with bogs, meadows, and ponds all come to mind. One day last summer we were biking through the old airfield, which is situated between Mew Lake and Lake of Two Rivers in Algonquin Park. The highlight of the bike ride was seeing this friendly little bear wandering through the area.
I have found that the best wildlife viewing is in the larger parks, which offer more space for the animals. I have seen more deer, moose, beaver, fox, birds, and so on in Algonquin and Killarney provincial parks than in any other parks where I have camped. Another great park for seeing deer is Restoule Provincial Park. Last summer I spotted several deer at Restoule, just by walking along hiking trails and roadsides during the day. Do not forget your binoculars and camera!
Have you found any great places to view mammals and birds during your travels across Ontario? Please forward your comments and we will publish them for all to see. Thank you!