Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Cohen and Kinglets
















Today is the second anniversary of Leonard Cohen’s death.  When I go to the Mount Royal cemetery to photograph nature, I stop at an adjacent cemetery to visit his grave site. 

Almost every time, I see someone arriving at, lingering at, or leaving his site. Last month I met a woman, named Lise, who had come all the way from Houston, Texas just to visit his grave and lay some flowers.


Then a couple of weeks ago, I unexpectedly encountered others at his site that were very meaningful to me.  It was a flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets flitting about in the grass.


Sixty years ago, the renowned Canadian artist James Fenwick Lansdowne painted a pair of these kinglets and shortly afterwards I received a card of this painting and instantly fell in love with these tiny birds with their orange and yellow “crowns”.  I’ve been in love with them ever since but have only caught fleeting glimpses of them high in trees.  Now, at this place and this time, these birds gave me the chance to see them close up in full display. 




This special moment has inextricably linked my favorite bird with my favorite poet and moved me to write the following poem:

COHEN AND KINGLETS

Many times, I stand by your grave -
I even sometimes sing -
then one October afternoon
I saw a wondrous thing.

Around your grave site marker there,
adorned with stones and words,
there fluttered in the windswept grass
a flock of tiny birds.

My best-loved bird for sixty years,
these kinglets came to you
my best-loved poet who returned
my life to me renewed.

I felt such exultation for
the synchronicity
that you and I and kinglets were
now linked exquisitely.

The birds flickered like tiny sparks -
their crowns so gold and bright -
your poetry of birds and flames
had somehow come to life.

And tho' you lie 'neath frozen ground,
and I must stand above,
I feel a deep connection here
and sense the warmth of love.




Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Axanthic Northern Leopard Frog


Recently when walking along a trail near a river, I was stopped in my tracks by a beautiful leopard frog!  There are dozens of these frogs that nerve-wrackingly leap across the path but I immediately knew that this one was special. (You can enlarge the photo by clicking on it).



After doing some research, I discovered that there are various species of frogs which can have blue colored skin.  They are called "axanthic" and this frog is "partially axanthic". Frog skin has two pigments, yellow and blue, which make the green color normally seen.  In axanthic frogs the yellow is missing revealing the blue. Interestingly, in this animal, the pigmentation is not uniform so only blue patches appear.

My first thought when seeing him was that he looked like a FabergĂ© frog or a CloisonnĂ© frog ornament.  If you Google these things you will see the resemblance.

For comparison, here is a photo of a more normally colored Northern Leopard Frog.


Monday, August 27, 2018

A Great Blue and a Great White

On a recent trip to a nearby marsh I suddenly spotted a Great Blue Heron and a Great Egret (sometimes referred to as a Great White Egret) standing in a tree together. 

Their close proximity and almost identical pose struck me, as did the fact that they stood side by side for several minutes.  Then, at the identical moment, they took off and flew in unison across the marsh to another shared tree.  

I felt they shared a kinship greater than that determined by their genetics ... perhaps a friendship. 

Perhaps I am being fanciful ...









Friday, July 20, 2018

Darcy


This photograph of the beautiful eyes of my cat Darcy was taken 10 years ago.  I had to say goodbye to that lovely face yesterday.  We were together for seventeen precious years.  In the last few years he was diagnosed with kidney disease and I realized that in these last few days it had reached a stage whereby his quality of life was diminishing rapidly.

I am always worried about the timing of euthanasia being too early or too late.  I would rather err on the side of too early.  I know Darcy could have lived another few weeks but I could see a change in his expression and his body was losing weight rapidly and weakness was setting in.  

A few words about this handsome cat...

Darcy came into my home as a kitten rescued from the outdoors along with his two sisters.  The sisters were adopted out but Darcy was not, so he became my cat.  

He was a fellow of strong emotions - he loved and he hated.  

His big love was for one of my other cats - a beautiful, gentle tabby named Sweet-Young and he cuddled with her every chance he got.  You could almost see the love in his eyes.

His "play-fighting" mate was Cricket and they had "fierce" wrestling matches (that he usually lost to the smaller Cricket)!  He also would cuddle up to her on occasion as shown in a photo below.  

His hatred was saved for Willow and I don't know where it came from but it necessitated a constant separation of the two.  It was his only fault. :-) 

I would like to try to show the beauty of Darcy in these few photos.  





Darcy with Cricket



Those amazing eyes again!


This is my last photograph of Darcy, taken nine days ago.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Fire Rainbow




On June 10, 2018 near South Lancaster, Ontario in a conservation area called Cooper Marsh, my cousin Blain and I were treated to a rare and very beautiful atmospheric phenomenon called a fire rainbow.

After researching it on the Internet we learned that certain conditions need to be met for the formation of fire rainbows. 

These conditions are as follows:  the sun must be more than 58° above the horizon; cirrus clouds need to be present; and the hexagonal ice crystals in those clouds must be shaped like thick plates with their faces parallel to the ground.

Here is a picture that Blain took of me photographing the amazing sight!




The following shots are a selection of many that I took that day.  
(Note: colours have not been adjusted but the images have been slightly darkened to compensate for over-exposure).















I have made two other blog postings of atmospheric phenomena (iridescent clouds and ice halos).  They can be found by clicking on the following links:



Friday, June 1, 2018

To Everything, Tern, Tern, Tern ...


The Common Tern

Rather than write about these amazing, sleek birds,
 I will simply show you their aerobatics in the following images:












Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Leucism in Animals



I've come across some interesting creatures while out with my camera!  

In the process I have learned of a term called "leucism".  Wikipedia describes it as follows: "Leucism is a condition in which there is partial loss of pigmentation in an animal resulting in white, pale, or patchy coloration of the skin, hair, feathers, scales or cuticle, but not the eyes.  Unlike albinism, it is caused by a reduction in multiple types of pigment, not just melanin."

More about leucistic birds can be learned at this site:

http://www.sibleyguides.com/2011/08/abnormal-coloration-in-birds-melanin-reduction/

Here are my photos of birds (with a couple of mammals thrown in at the end).



American Robin



Canada Goose


Slate-coloured Junco


Gray Squirrel


Raccoon