By Myrna Pearman
November is not usually considered a prime month for exploring our nearby wildlands. However, the mild fall has resulted in some larger water bodies remaining open longer than usual, attracting record numbers of swans and other waterfowl. An exceptional viewing opportunity has been enjoyed by many birders at Erskine Lake, south of Erskine. This lake and other nearby wetlands have been designated as a national Important Bird and Biodiversity Area.
November is hunting season in Central Alberta, but there are still many no-hunting protected areas within about an hour’s drive of Red Deer. With a few exceptions, hunting is not allowed in Provincial Parks or Provincial Recreation Areas. Check their website for complete details. The trails in these protected areas are usually quiet at this time of year, so why not get out and explore them, either on foot or bicycle-Dry Island Provincial Park, Red Lodge Provincial Park, Pigeon Lake Provincial Park, Rochon Sands Provincial Park, Jarvis Bay Provincial Park, Crimson Lake Provincial Park, Glennifer Reservoir Provincial Recreation Area and The Narrows Provincial Recreation Area.
Lacombe County has a number of excellent and accessible areas to explore, including Kuhnen Natural Area, Kuhnen Park, JJ Collett Natural Area, the NOVA Chemical Community Nature Trail and the Soper Natural Area. Details about these areas can be found here. Fortunately, Canada’s Great Trail passes through Central Alberta and is readily accessible for both walkers and cyclists.
While hunting is allowed on most other protected areas, there are three local Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) properties that do not allow hunting: Boote, Fyten Lea and Pope. Access to these properties needs to be booked through their connect2nature online booking system. Other non-hunting protected areas that can be enjoyed during November include Warren, Ponoka Hospital Lands and the Alix Nature Trail.
Last but not least, get a copy of the Red Deer River Naturalist’s very popular Birding Trail Guide. Hard copies are available at Kerry Wood Nature Centre, or you can download them here.
Once hunting season is over, many of the 160+ protected areas within 100 km of Red Deer can be enjoyed on foot, skis or snowshoes. Check out this website for a complete listing of the protected gems—right in our own backyard—that await discovery!