Beautiful Winter day at Oak Hammock Marsh

Friday was a bright & sunny morning with temperatures around the 0C mark.  I couldn’t let a day like this go by without getting out and taking some pictures and since I haven’t been to Oak Hammock Marsh for awhile, that is where I headed.

I got there just before noon and decided to have a bowl of soup in the cafeteria and then head for the observation deck before going out on a trail.  The first photos are views from the observation deck.

The trail starts at the gate, which is about the centre of the photo and you can see it turning right. It comes out again further ahead to the right and then the short trail goes right and the trail I took goes left after that.

Then I went downstairs and outside to walk on the dock and into the bird hide that is in the 2nd photo above.  Critter prints are everywhere!

My plan was to walk on the shortest trail (.7 km), which is on a boardwalk over marshy ground, but when I got to the start of it, I saw there was a board across the path and it was blocked off.  I considered ducking under the board and going anyway, but it was obvious they had been working on the boardwalk, so I decided to turn back and take the 2nd shortest walk, which is just over 1 km.

No idea what these berries are, but there were a lot of bushes filled with them.
A zoomed in look back to the Oak Hammock Marsh building where I started.
Many more critter tracks everywhere
Oh a place to sit & rest
There is the building in the distance again – just zoomed in a little and at this point, I am about 2/3 finished my walk.

And this is the bird hide – back at the beginning

It was a harder walk than I anticipated, since I found out that they do not maintain the trails at all.  They are used more for snowshoeing during the winter than walking.  Due to it being so open there, the wind can cover a trail minutes after it was prepared for walking, so they don’t even attempt to maintain them over the winter.  Luckily for me, there wasn’t much snow, so it was walk-able anyway.

I didn’t take pictures of the path that I was walking on, but it was covered in critter prints also.  Unfortunately, I don’t know critter prints well, but I just checked and there is a very long list of mammals that can be found there.  Some of them surprise me, but Oak Hammock covers a very large area with different terrains so they are all possible.   I will list the possibilities here:

Cinereus Shrew – Northern Short-tailed Shrew – Eastern Cottontail – Showshoe Hare – White-tailed Jack Rabbit – Woodchuck – Richardson’s Ground Squirrel – Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel – Franklin’s Ground Squirrel – Eastern Gray Squirrel – Red Squirrel – American Beaver – North American Deermouse – Northern Red-backed Vole – Common Muskrat – Prairie Vole – Meadow Vole – Meadow Jumping Mouse – North American Porcupine – Coyote – Gray Wolf – Red Fox – American Black Bear – Common Raccoon – Ermine – Long-tailed Weasel – American Mink – American Badger – Striped Skunk – Northern River Otter – American Marten – White-tailed Deer – Moose

I obviously have to study up on critter tracks!

When I got back to the building and just before going inside, I saw a bird feeder and there were several Common Redpolls at and around it.  So, I finally managed some wildlife photos.

I had been hoping to find Snowy Owls while out there, but I didn’t see any at all.  It is difficult to see a white bird on the white fields, but I was looking carefully at every bump on the fields as well as checking anything raised, like the big round bales out in one of the fields.  It was a great day though and I felt wonderful after all the fresh air and sunshine.

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