Monday, June 6, 2016

A Visit To Salmonier Nature Park

Just before we left on our latest 'away from connectivity' loop, Nicole Skyped with her folks.  It was their journey to Newfoundland several years back that sparked the conversation that resulted in our actually making this trip.  As a result, they have been very excited to re-see some of the things they saw on their own journey and to explore some new ones along with us. 

While we were Skyping, her folks pulled out their photos from that time and we started discussing the animals they had seen at Salmonier Nature Park.  We hadn't yet considered stopping at the park but it just so happened that we were going to be driving right by it on the opening day of the season. 

We sure are glad that we stopped in.  It is a wonderfully well designed park, that takes in nuisance or injured wildlife and releases those that can be sent back into the wild.  They have now opened a brand new visitor center with some nicely done and informative displays and, to top it all off, it is FREE!

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    The one-way, looped and raised boardwalk leads you through a variety of habitat.

Of course, before reaching the first enclosure we were distracted for a good while by plants and flowers like this cute little number called...

                                                  Skunk Currant.

      The lichens and mosses were equally distracting.

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  When we arrived on island many of the trees were still leafless and barren looking.

So, it is nice to see nature responding to the changes in temperature even if we are still wearing our big coats and thermals!

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       Oh yeah!  We've done 200 yards of the 1.8 mile trail in 30 minutes.  Woot!

                      Just outside the first animal enclosure the views and

                                the Cotton-grass delayed our movement.

But, once we opened the door to the first enclosure and located its inhabitant, we were mesmerized by this beautiful creature.

                                The Snowy Owl is a long desired LIFER!
              (Although, until we see one in the wild our list remains unmarked.)

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Our chances though of being this close to one in the wild are pretty slim.
So, we reveled in the opportunity.

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We were standing inside the cage!  A pretty awesome experience.  Did you know that owls do not have eyeballs so they cannot move their eyes inside their head.  Instead they turn their necks in a radius of about 270 degrees.

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                         A look of 'surprise' compared to previous photo?

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Just outside of the Snowy Owl enclosure we found ourselves belly down on the boardwalk getting a closer view (and photo or two) of the Newfoundland Pitcher Plant (and whatever else happened to pop up).  It sure was hard to stay focused and get good shots with all of those other tourists wanting to walk along the boardwalk!  Up.  Down.  Up.  Down.  Here's a few of the shots we got.

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This plant is really quite amazing.  It is a carnivorous plant, yet it doesn't really do the carnivoring.  

These 'pitchers' are actually the leaves not the flowers.  They form these pitchers which fill up with rain water.

Insects are attracted to the rim of the brightly colored leaves, lose their footing on the slippery waxy surface and slide down into the liquid-filled traps.  Downward-pointed hairs prevent the insects from crawling out of the pitcher.

The insects drown in the liquid and decompose through the action of enzymes and micro-organisms (mosquitos and midges) living in the fluid.  The plant absorbs the nutrients released by the breakdown of both the insect bodies and of the micro-organisms.

Hard to believe that a spider managed to build its web inside of the pitcher without finding its doom.  Then again, we never did see the spider.

Along the line of carnivorous plants, Nicole has been wanting to see a Sundew Plant.  At Salmonier she finally saw one but didn't know it until she got her photos onto the computer.  It seems that there was one all wrapped up in a pitcher plant she was photographing.

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See the little round green plants with red hairs sticking off of them?

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   Here's some more with what looks like the start of a pitcher plant flower, as well.

The Sundew plant feeds on insects, which are attracted to its bright red color and its glistening drops of a sugary substance covering the sticky glandular tentacles on its leaves. It uses enzymes to dissolve the insects and extract ammonia and other nutrients from their bodies. Since the Sundew finds itself in a nitrogen depleted area, the ammonia replaces the nitrogen that other plants absorb from the soil.

In the non-carnivorous family, we saw a few more plants starting to bloom.

                                             Like this Bog Rosemary

            and the Goldthread Flower which is one of the first signs of spring.

But, alas, it was time to move on.  Salmonier is, after all, known for its animals and we'd seen only one so far.

More boardwalk.  Don't look.  Eyes front.  Don't get distracted.  No, that isn't a new flower!

           Oh, no.  A nice view.  Darn distractions!

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We made it!  Caribou.  Another lifer for us.  We'd been told we'd see them wandering in the wild here but that hasn't happened, yet.  So, happy to have at least gotten an eye on some.

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This is Buddy.  He had made himself a little too much at home in one particular community and as a result picked up the nuisance label.  For his safety it was decided that he should be housed at the Nature Park.  Buddy has been busy.

                                  This is Buddy's first project from about a year ago.

                   This is his most recent masterpiece giving Mama a kiss.

                                          Buddy finds it all very amusing.

    When you've got feet like these though you really need to find a reason to laugh.

All kidding aside, these well designed paws have a split hoof in the front which can spread out and permit easier walking in snow or mud.  Not only that but they make great paddles when swimming and are excellent for digging down through a thick blanket of snow to get to the lichen (a Caribous main food source).





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We have no plants to segue us to this next creature.  Although we can tell you that, as we gazed at some Solomon's Seal, (s)he was watching us for quite some time wondering when we would notice that we were being stared at.

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The Great Horned Owl is another bird that we look forward to seeing in the wild one day.

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We have heard that these are the most defensive of owls which may be why we are staring through a chain linked fence!



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When we stopped to look for the Lynx, at first we saw only a glimpse of movement way in the back.  Then the movement stopped and he walked out toward us.

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                            What a big, beautiful, magnificent kitty cat.

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Curious as he may have been, we were not impressive enough to hold his attention.

           How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck would

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                                      stop flirting with the visitors...

       Oh, to have seen this Northern Goshawk in the wild.  One of these days!

                                  What a beauty.  Just look at that eye.

This might just be Mountain Fly Huckleberry but we're not
definite on that one yet.  Either way it was pretty and a nice
end to our day at Salmonier Nature Park.

Hope you enjoyed it, as well.

Goodbye for now...