One of my favourite spots in southern Ontario is John E. Pearce Provincial Park, tucked away in the province's deep south on the Lake Erie coast west of St. Thomas. The cliffs rise well over 100 feet above the great lake, and extend for many kilometres both east and west of this day use park. It is a great spot to bird watch, with a wide variety of avian life such as red-necked grebes, various woodpeckers, and the occasional bald eagle present. Near the entrance gate is a tiny little church circa the early to mid 19th century, and across the road there is a pleasant walk through part of the Carolinian Forest, an ecosystem found mainly to the south, but still surviving in Ontario.
On this particular day in January I parked at the gate and made the short hike out to the cliffs. There is a ravine that cuts through the park down to the water, and a steeper ravine forms the other boundary. I was the only person in the park (http://www.soto.on.ca/provincial_parks/john_e_pearce_pp.html) at the time, and quite possibly I was the only visitor that day-that is what I call 'solitude'! As the photographs and videos indicate, the sun barely shone, but the temperature was about -5.C, quite tolerable with the right winter clothing.
I find that when I go hiking, which is my catch-all phrase for bird-watching, wildlife observing, and getting outside for some fresh air, I am often the only person around due to the unfavouable conditions. This is particularly true during the winter, but also on cool and cloudy spring and autumn days. Here is a useful tip: these can be the most fruitful days to see some really cool birds and animals-like this pack of coyotes playing way out on a frozen Lake Erie.
While coyotes are not particularly dangerous, they are still wild animals, and the eastern race can weigh over 60lbs. This big one, likely the alpha male of this pack, trotted out onto the lake directly below my vantage point, after the rest of the pack had returned to shore only a few hundred metres to the west. I decided to play it safe, and grabbed a nice, thick branch for the short hike back to my vehicle-which went without incident! A little shot of adrenaline to end a terrific hour in the Park! Until next time, take advantage of those cloudy days, eh-you just may see something you'll never forget!