On a bright February afternoon, 15 Naturalists toured the wooded alluvial fan which was formed by the outwash from Matthew Creek. Luckily, some fresh snow had fallen on top of about a foot of very hard snow which had compacted due to a prolonged mild, dry spell.
We noted the species distribution of trees which varied according to the proximity of water. Logging during the past few decades, gave us an opportunity to recognize and understand natural regeneration and planting of mixed species. An old oxbow lake created a sunny opening with some slow moving water. Soon we walked into the chilly shade caused by the steep uplands just south of the St Mary River. Here we began to see many tracks. From the tiny, hopping Deer Mouse to the Canada Lynx with it’s large, round deliberate prints. Following some discussion, we identified the signs of Ruffed Grouse, Red Squirrel, Snowshoe Hare, Deer, Elk and Moose, Coyote and possibly a Timber Wolf. Winter Finches had been feeding on birch and alder catkins, dropping bits of debris, while three toed woodpeckers had flaked the bark from dying larches. Sapsuckers had made rows of ‘wells’ in deciduous stems.
The views along the river were particularly spectacular. Distant, sunlit, snowy peaks contrasted with the dark water, shadows and large trees. Judging by the abundance and variety of tracks, we shared this unique area with many forest dwellers. George provided some insight to the classified waters and fishing implications while Paula helped us to understand the American Dipper which conveniently appeared in the background.
Naturalists anticipate that we will return to this patch of woods in each of the seasons. It is an easily accessible chunk of crown land with a narrow right of way between private acreages.
Submitted by Daryl Calder, Photos by Helga Knote.