A Great Day In Moosonee. Hiking, A Boat Ride To James Bay And Watching A Strawberry Full Moon.

A Great Day In Moosonee. Hiking, A Boat Ride To James Bay And Watching A Strawberry Full Moon.

Moosonee Canada morning hike June3 (2 of 23)
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I was up early my first morning in Moosonee  Ontario. I was excited to take my Jeep out and hike in this remote Canadian wilderness, I had  received some warnings  form the the locals  to be careful because there were  bears, bobcats and wolves in the  woods surrounding Moosonee  but I wasn’t worried. I love to explore. Nothing we do is 100 % safe so, after a cup of coffee in my room I was on the road. 

First I stopped at the boat docking area to watch the rising sun. There were wild fires to the south in Quebec and  the sunrise was  obscured by the smoke.  It was chilly, with temperatures in the low 40’s so I was glad I brought some warm cloths along. 

I drove through the dusty , unpaved streets of thre  sleeping town and on to    rutted old Quarry Road. 

I  drove out a few miles,  and over the bridge that crosses a fast flowing stream.

I stooped to look for wildlife and didn’t see any, except this beaver lodge. I think the beavers were still asleep.

I drove on the rutted and dusty road to a utility station. Here the road got even worse. I parked here and decided to explore further on foot. 

I loved  hiking in this remote area. The air was cold but fresh.  I loved the smell of the spruce trees.  And there were a lot of sprue trees, mostly black  spruce, with a few white spruce.

The other dominate tree was the balsam popular. There wasn’t much variety here in these northern woods.    On my 186 mile train ride to Moosonee I  only saw these three  trees from the train. 

Now that I was able to look closer on my hike  they really were pretty much the only trees I would see, with a few shining willow trees growing along the trail. 

There were only a few wildflowers  growing along the trail  on my five mile hike, a few Labrador violets, 

wild strawberry flowers 

and baby primroses flowers.

In contrast with the sparse diversity in the flora, there was a lot of fauna, well  no bears, bobcats or wolves but  there  a lot of bird activity in the boreal forest. 

Soon after I  began my hike  I saw a number of birds, some I haven’t seen before.  I  first saw this veery, a wood thrush, which I have seen in the woodlands in Pennsylvania, 

I  then saw this Tennessee warbler a first time sighting or “lifer” for me. 

I was very excited to hear, then see another lifer,  a Philadelphia vireo.   I have traveled to  many cities on this planet, but Philadelphia is my favorite since I first visited it as a five year old child. I will ever forget that visit and especially the elephants and other animals in the zoo. I am a life long Philadelphia Phillies, Eagles, 76’ers and Flyers fan. I was pleased to finally photograph this bird  named after my favorite city even though it was in Canada. 

As I continued my hike  the forest was filled with the song of birds, 

I saw a familiar black and white warbler, 

and a  pretty magnolia warbler. 

 And it wasn’t only in the trees were I saw the birds. I had hiked out about 1 1/2 miles when I saw this bird sitting on the trail. 

I learned it was a spruce grouse. I think it was sleeping when I approached. It got up and slowly walked into the woods. It was a beautiful bird. 

The trail soon entered  a wetlands, 

and here I saw a northern waterthrush, this bird is found in bogs and wetlands. It is also a species of warbler. 

Nearby was an alder flycatcher.

 The trail now became muddy and flooded. I was glad I didn’t try and drive my Jeep out here alone.  I was out about 2 1/2 miles wen I decided to hike back. On the way I saw many of the birds I had  seen on my hike out and I also saw this blue headed vireo. 

And it wasn’t only birds that I saw on my hike.  Despite the cool temperatures, I saw  a lot of mosquitoes, gnats and flies, and of course I forgot to use the many insect repellants I brought with me. One of the insects I saw didn’t attack me , this belted whiteface dragonfly, a dragonfly common in Canada, and found as far north as Alaska. 

I would see one more bird as I approached my Jeep , a one common  here near my home in Pennsylvania, especially during our winters, a white throated sparrow. It would not be the last one I saw this day. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. Moosonee Ontario morning hike birds  June 3  2023 

I finished my five mile hike. I  would have stayed out  longer. This boreal forest was a birders paradise. However, I had a boat trip to James Bay scheduled for 2 p.m. and I was hungry. So I drove back to town, stopping again at the small  stream, hoping to see a wild critter. But no bears, or bobcats, or moose or wolves,. I will be honest  I was a little disappointed. I drove a long way hoping to see one. But I loved walking in the boreal forest for the first time and enjoyed seeing the many birds that live here in the  warm moths, knowing they will be passing through Pennsylvania in the Fall, on their way to as far away as South America. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos rom my hike. Moosonee Ontario  morning hike June 3 2023. 

I drove  back to my hotel  and got back by 10:30 a.m. , just in time to have breakfast. Not  a great breakfast, a  waffle, oatmeal and a banana but there was no other options up here in remote  Moosonee. It would have to do. 

I edited  photos for a few hours and  then walked down to the boat docks to meet my boat. I arranged the trip with two other folks who were in Moosonee on business. I arrived at the dock and received a text the boat was delayed. 

I didn’t mind. it was sunny and a pleasant 73 degrees so I roamed the streets of Moosonee, and watched planes flying overhead to fight a small fire to to the north. It wasn’t one of  the larges fires that were ravaging Quebec and causing the smoke problems back in my home town in Pennsylvania and throughout the Northeastern United States. 

I also was able to photograph  some birds including  I think a carrion crow attacking a larger northern raven,

and this common grackle. 

My boat  and guide arrived around 2:45 p.m.  I met Greg and Carmine, delightful folks, and our very knowledgeable guide Jim as I boarded the small boat. We learned so much from  Jim on our 12 mike three two hour  ride to James Bay and back. It was a rough ride. We were heading into a strong northwesterly wind which made the waters of the Moose river very choppy. 

We watched the mostly black spruce trees of the boreal forest pass for the first part of our journey and we listened to Jim talk about the natural environment, the history and the culture  area. We learned that this was and is the tribal homeland of the Moose Cree First Nation . Most the the population of Moose Factory and Moosonee are Native Cree.  We learned about their history and customs as we  headed north into the wind toward James Bay. 

James Bay is  the southernmost extent of the Arctic Ocean.  Polar bears roam these frozen waters in the Winter. I had hoped to see seals, whales and large flocks of birds here. We didn’t only, we only saw  a few tundra swans, 

and  Canada geese. 

We soon found out why the  northerly wind was so cold. As we neared James Bay we saw a towering sheet of ice in the distance. It hadn’t melted yet and probably kept the whales and seals out of the fresh waters of the Moose River. 

We had gone as far a we could on our small boat so we headed back, and on the way Jim   set the small boat ashore and   let us explore these remote   lands  along  the Moose River. 

I was excited to walk on these  lands near the Arctic Ocean. 

I walked inland and found this small stream, 

where I saw some interesting native  plants, identified by my PictureThis   iPhone app. including these  pretty arctic sweet coltsfoot flowers,  

Hulten’s licorice root, 

and yellow marsh marigold. 

And, as I walked through this strange lands I heard the familiar songs of a song sparrow and a white throated sparrow. I was surprised to see these birds  on these remote northern shores. On my way back to our boat I also saw something else that was familiar to me, the footprints of a black bear.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t around. 

We boarded our boat and continued back to Moosonee. The return trip was so much warmer with the cold northerly wind now on our backs and the warm June sun on our faces. It was a nice ride with more pleasant conversation. And as we neared Moosonee, Jim spotted this  juvenile bald eagle perched high on a spruce tree. 

It was a beautiful bird. . We saw two more juveniles. It was a great way to end our trip to James Bay.   Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos from my boat ride to James Bay. Moosonee Ontario   boat ride James Bay June 3 2023. 

We docked the boat and let the pier as friends. It was a great afternoon. It was near 6 p.m. when I returned to the hotel. I stopped at the grocery store to buy some fresh fruit to eat with my left over  Pizza Hut pizza for dinner. 

I was tired, but after a shower, I edited some  photos and, around 9 p.m. I decided to walk back to the boat docks and watch the Full Strawberry  Moon rise. I walked through the quiet streets of Moosonee. There was almost no automobile traffic, but I did  see and hear the music and laughing from a few yard parties; It mist be great to live the peaceful life in this remote Canadian town. I walked down to the Moose River,

and waited for the moon to rise. It was a reflective wait,  standing alone along this remote river.  The haze from the smoke from the wildfires to the south  turned the moon a  pretty reddish/pink color when it  gradually appeared on the horizon. . It was a pleasant evening.  A few weeks earlier I would never had thought I’d be watching a moon rise near the shores of the Arctic Ocean. I was glad I made the long drive and train ride to this remote region. 

I walked back to my hotel, hungry and tired and I was soon asleep looking forward to another day exploring  Moosonee and the Moose River region . 

“In the boreal forest the jolly evergreen giants create a sea of fresh air come summer warmth or winter chill.” Angela Abrahm



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