Top row (left to right): Jenn, the rookie; Jason, the captain; Kerry, by evening light. Middle row (left to right): Kerry stands tall at the Pinawa Dam; Tulabi Falls (and Lake, still frozen). Bottom row (left to right): Kerry's last photo for the day, I swear; me, chaneling my inner Luke Perry.
April means it's time for my first real getaway opportunity of the year: the annual spring nocturnal owl survey that my friends and I have taken part in for the past seven years. Our route in Nopiming Provincial Park is not remote by any stretch of the imagination – about two hours north of town – but at this time of year (and day) we may as well be the only people in the region for miles and eerily quiet miles. This year was no exception.
This spring has been more disagreeable than most, and I half-expected to be very much encased in winter as the changing of the seasons out there typically lags behind the city by a few weeks. But we caught a rare (so far) glorious early spring Saturday and made a bit more of a day out of it than normal, arriving on the scene early in the afternoon to check out some nearby scenic haunts; the old Pinawa Dam and Nopiming Park's Tulabi Falls, a locale I hadn't been to since the mid-90s. Both places were in fine form, a curious mix of snow, ice, muck and torrential meltwater.
Not surprisingly, our survey route itself – a lumpy logging road – was snowed in; we came to realize this fact about a mile or so in. This resulted in the same mile being driven in reverse on a pair of snowy tracks in the dark at walking speed. Getting stuck would mean a night in the car and who knows how many more hours contacting another person or vehicle. Back on dry land though, on our back-up route – despite the late spring conditions – we did hear four owls, alongside some grouse, geese and mysterious chewing noises coming from the dark.