Alone on the Wilderness Trail

Brookfield Zoo North entrance 2-2-14 112A1960.jpg-1960

It turned out to be not quite as cold as predicted today, and the sun was shining brightly. I was already thinking of going to Brookfield Zoo to see if there were any birds around the Wilderness Trail. I was not sure whether the Wilderness Trail would be closed off, but I knew the Zoo would be open. Their motto is “Open 365 Days a Year.” It was almost a shock a couple weeks ago when they closed with that first big snowfall that took us deep into our lasting arctic plunge. By the way, did anybody even pay attention to The Groundhog today? Sunny day, I knew he’d see his shadow. I’m afraid he was already eclipsed by the weather forecasters and the Super Bowl. You know it’s getting bad when even The Groundhog becomes obsolete.

Icicles on the trees at Brookfield Zoo

Icicles on the trees at Brookfield Zoo

The Zoo doesn’t open until 10:00 a.m., so I had the early morning to feed the birds, unbury the car from yesterday’s snowfall which seemed more like 6 inches accumulation instead of 10, eat my oatmeal and play piano before I went. When I arrived around 10:30, there were perhaps a dozen cars in the parking lot at the North Gate. Admission was free today. I’m sure they did not want to pay the ticket takers if they expected few visitors.

Brookfield Zoo Wilderness Trail 2-2-14 112A2110.jpg-2110

The Wilderness Trail is out behind the Great Bear Wilderness exhibit and borders the Salt Creek. It has been built around a small lake. The trail is never very crowded, but today it was totally empty, although someone had carved a trail in the snow before me.

Bactrian Camel

Bactrian Camel

Not very many animals outside today. I had no intention of going inside, since I only wanted to walk the Wilderness Trail and the camera would not appreciate the transition from 14 degrees to 78 degrees. But on the way to the Wilderness Trail I encountered two camels in their outside pen, and while it seemed strange to see camels in the snow, these are Bactrian Camels, native to Mongolia, so I guess snow and cold are nothing new to them. They certainly seemed well-protected.

Brookfield Zoo Mallards and Canadas 2-2-14 112A1986.jpg-1986

In warmer winters past, the shallow little lake attracts Northern Shovelers and Hooded Mergansers, but this year with only a small area of open water, there were only Canada Geese and Mallards. And the resident Trumpeter Swan put in an appearance standing on one foot on the ice at the edge of the water.

Trumpeter Swan

Trumpeter Swan

The rest of the small lake was frozen and covered with snow.

Brookfield Zoo Pond View 2-2-14 112A2107.jpg-2107

The feeders, on the Salt Creek side of the trail, attacked the usual suspects.

Black-Capped Chickadee

Black-Capped Chickadee

White-Breasted Nuthatch

White-Breasted Nuthatch

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Dark-Eyed Junco

Dark-Eyed Junco

On the other side of the fence by the Salt Creek there were a couple young White-Tailed Deer. While the birds did not mind my presence, the deer were upset with my camera and kept moving ahead.

White-Tailed Deer

White-Tailed Deer

Overall my visit to the zoo was nothing spectacular, but it was good to be outside in the sunshine, and the pristine snow, as sick and tired as I may be of shoveling it, is still beautiful. Meanwhile, back in the birding world, there have been many White Winged Scoters reported on the lakefront. Tomorrow will be only slightly warmer than today, but sunny again. I will try to get out to Monroe Harbor tomorrow afternoon and see if I can find a White-Winged Scoter or two; while I’ve seen them before, it’s always been at a distance too far away to photograph. Anyway it’s something to look forward to.

Feeder Birds at Brookfield Zoo

Feeder Birds at Brookfield Zoo

7 thoughts on “Alone on the Wilderness Trail

    • Thanks, Bob! I was surprised to see anybody out in the snow. I looked them up later and found out they had two or three offspring, so I guess life is okay if you’re a Bactrian Camel at the zoo. 🙂

    • I’m not a big fan of zoos in general but I live so close to Brookfield I try to get over there at least twice a year, and in good weather it’s a nice bike ride through Riverside.

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