Camera: Canon7D Mark II
Lens: CanonEF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 L IS II USM
Settings: 400mm, f11, 1/30s, ISO 320
On Saturday, March 9 the weather was cool, dry and bright – perfect for the hour and a half drive to our viewing destination south east of Bancroft. The drive into this farm property was worth the day all by itself. Narrow gravelly roads took us 15 km off the main highway over rolling hills, rocky outcroppings, wetlands, streams, a few meadow areas and through mixed forests.
The property owner welcomed our convoy and we came face-to-face with approximately 40 adult elk right in her back yard.
The original herd, introduced from Alberta about 20 years ago, has thrived. Now numbering around 800, they are spread over a very large area including as far south as highway 7. Two females of that original herd, still collared for identification and tracking purposes, were present in this herd.
Elk such as these “old girls” have a life span of around 25 years. By the end of March, weather permitting, the herd disperses, birthing occurs late May, and then regrouping next winter following the fall rut season.
Any outing takes some planning and preparation. The most painful part, at least for me, is the 6am alarm clock. The night before is the best time for checking routes, lunch planning and gear/clothing preparation. This trip seemed to require warm clothing, winter hiking footwear with grippers and long lenses. Quite the opposite this time as lighter clothing, regular boots and shorter lenses would have been adequate. But over prepared is best.
I have been a bit vague about this location for reason. Two years ago the Bancroft Chamber of Commerce provided a day-long elk-info program: classroom education followed by a field trip to an elk viewing location. Naturalists and photographers participated. But the next day, someone, supposedly from the tour, returned to the viewing area and shot a bull elk. Our hostess told me ” oh that was Joe’s place over there ” pointing eastward over the knoll. Open access to these beautiful areas may be curtailed as was Joe’s.
Joining local photo clubs and field naturalist groups offers many benefits including knowledge and new friendships. In this case I was introduced to a natural area and fantastic experience that I would most likely not have done on my own. Thanks to John Lowry and John Blaney for organizing the day, and the Bancroft Field Naturalists for providing us with contact and access to this property.
For more information on Quinte Field Naturalists click here.