Sunday, November 10, 2013

Another video - deer

Deer in the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary - Ontario.

Fox videos

I recently have been transferring my old video tapes onto my computer.  I hope you enjoy this sampling.
(I suggest you do not make them full screen as I notice that the resolution is significantly degraded in the upload unfortunately).

Here is a 1 minute clip of fox kits playing.  It was taken a few years back.

And here is a 2 minute clip of the kits when they were a little older.  As you will notice, these kits were observed in a cemetery.
And lastly, here is a very short clip of the mother fox.  It should be noted that both parents help in the rearing of the kits who, having been born in the spring, stay with their parents until the autumn.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Cat mischief

I don't know what I did to make my cat Darcy feel a need for revenge.  In fact we had had a nice cuddling session just minutes before.  But this is what I found when I went into the bathroom this afternoon:

And here is the guilty party!  (He even looks guilty!)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Saying goodbye

Yesterday I made the decision to end the life of my beautiful, loving cat Firefly. 

Fifteen months ago the vet found a soft mass in her abdominal region.  Given her age (over fourteen years), I made the decision back then that I would not put her through invasive tests or surgery but would monitor her condition and provide euthanasia when I felt it was time.  The mass continued to grow but her appetite was excellent (lots of scolding on her part if her dinner wasn't on time!) and her activity level and behaviour remained normal. 

But yesterday I finally felt that I had to take action before the tumour created an emergency situation (they can burst and lead to internal bleeding and death) or any loss of quality of life.  It was, thankfully, a gentle death at the competent hands of a caring veterinarian.

Firefly came to live with me in 2001 and despite her life as an abandoned cat out on the streets for at least three years, she was one of the sweetest tempered cats I have had the privilege to know.  Firefly and Micha both lived on the streets and were great friends. 

When Micha disappeared I knew it was only a matter of time before Firefly would likely come to a bad end as well and I then brought her in to live with me.  We had twelve happy years together.  She always was a gentle creature who would get my attention by either "twanging" the door stop or by sitting on the table behind the couch and putting her nose in my ear.  Her soft breath and bristly whiskers would get me up to fill her food dish.

She leaves a space in my life that can not be filled.  There are many of these spaces left empty by other cats that once graced my life.  Yet despite the sorrow, my life has been enriched immeasurably by having known and loved, and been loved by, these wonderful, perfect creatures.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

An amazing transformation

After having photographed the metamorphosis of a Cicada last year, I was thinking about the process for Dragonflies.  To my amazement, I found one yesterday just as it was pushing out of its nymph shell (exuvia).  I managed to get off one quick shot before it was out completely.  Then I was able to witness (and capture) the phases of its transformation as its wings unfolded and it became a "full-fledged" Dragonfly!

Here is a series of photographs documenting this awesome process:

The nymph (which has been living a fully aquatic life and breathing through gills) climbs out of the water and up the stem or blade of a plant.  It then clings to the plant as the Dragonfly compresses its abdomen which causes the thoracic region to swell and split open the skin on the insect's back.  It then twitches and pushes until it manages to free itself from the nymphal skin.
In a matter of seconds the Dragonfly was completely out!
While in the larval (nymph) stage, and just before climbing up the plant, it consumes a large quantity of water which it uses to pump into its appendages causing them to elongate. 
 The expanding wings are evident in this photograph.
Further expansion takes place as minutes pass.
The wings become fully extended and the Dragonfly re-positions itself on the plant.  The re-positioning was done several times.
This side-view shows off its lovely, lacey wings!
The Dragonfly also moved its legs on occasion and made head movements as though stretching.
This photo shows how it has now moved completely away from its former skin.
After the wings are fully expanded, excess water is expelled from its digestive tract (you can see a drop at its tip) and air is pumped into the wings to harden them.
This process continues for a short time and once again the Dragonfly re-positions itself.
In a very sudden movement the wings spring open into the familiar position of those of a fully formed Dragonfly.  This picture was taken a second or two after the previous one.
As I took this final photo a breeze came up and riffled the Dragonfly's wings and I wondered how it felt for this insect who, up until an hour earlier, had been confined in another body.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Florida's wonders - part 2

The second part of our trip was spent on Sanibel Island.  This is a wonderful place (albeit an expensive place to stay) with long sandy beaches and, in my mind, the best part is that 60% of the island is protected within the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge!

In this refuge one can drive slowly through and stop at various viewing locations to see an amazing assortment of birds and other creatures. 

A highlight of one of my visits was seeing two Horseshoe Crabs mating in shallow water (a photo is displayed in my Florida gallery).  I also spent part of an afternoon with a White Ibis (just the two us on a sandy shoreline).  It was magical!

Here are some images from Sanibel Island:

A Reddish Egret.  This bird is said to “dance” and act drunk and it didn’t disappoint!  It is believed to be a fishing technique.

An Osprey
A Fiddler Crab peering out from its home in the sand
Brown Anole lizard
Two Coots in a pond at Bailey Tract on Sanibel Island
Diane photographing a Little Blue Heron at Bailey Tract
Diane at The Windjammer restaurant
Doris at The Windjammer restaurant

Florida's wonders - part 1

In March 2013 my sister Diane and I flew to Fort Myers, Florida and thus began one of the best weeks I’ve ever had!  From Fort Myers we drove to Bonita Springs where we stayed for three nights using it as a base from which to explore some of the natural areas that Florida has to offer.
Other photos (high resolution) of Florida’s magnificent wildlife are at my Florida gallery

This first post shows some of the interesting wildlife and sights at Big Cypress National Preserve (March 14), at Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve (March 15), and at Corkscrew Swamp (March 16).
One of the very first animals we saw at Big Cypress was a Manatee.  I guess I should revise that to say that we saw a Manatee’s nose!

And a trip to Florida would not be complete without seeing an Alligator.  They are truly magnificent!

At Fakahatchee Strand, we saw the following: 

 This is a migratory creature known as Dianeus Marcotteus (aka my sister) :-) 

A hawk (possibly a Red-shouldered Hawk)


Palm leaves with another plant with heart shaped leaves (philodendron?)


 Strangler Fig on tree trunk

Diane on boardwalk
Royal Palm
A Brown Anole lizard displaying its colourful dewlap
Diane and I on boardwalk
A photographer’s paradise
Sights at Corkscrew Swamp
A sign showing the location of a rare Ghost Orchid 
My photo of this orchid plant
A sampling of the wildlife that can be seen from the boardwalk


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Siblings - sheesh!!

Move over!  Let me look too!

I was here first ... sheesh!

Ow!  You're squishing me.  Quit pushing and MOVE OVER!

Ha!  He's gone.  (No way was I going to move over).

I'm baaaack!  Maybe this side will work out better.

Ok, I guess we can both look ...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Well, my avocados ripened and the "unholy guacamole" was a success!  I think I need to tweak things a little though - like try to perfect my mixing technique and get a spicier salsa - but all in all I was happy. :-)

I actually decided to try another recipe!  This one is called "Potatoes in Paradise" and involves cubing a cooked potato, dicing an avocado (as long as it is ripe like your nose), and wrapping this mixture plus some shredded lettuce into a tortilla.  Maybe someone can explain the difference between cubing and dicing?!  Anyway, it worked out quite well even though I substituted "broccoli slaw" for the shredded lettuce.  I enjoyed it immensely and will make it again.

However, my next venture will be to make a fruit smoothie using soy milk, strawberries and banana.  Having just purchased a mini-blender for the purpose, it will be another first!

If you know me, you will know that food preparation is something I view with horror so this turn of events is quite extraordinary.  Of course, since I am now becoming much more vegan in my food choices (and restaurants have not caught on to this lifestyle as much as I would like), eating in becomes more of a necessity.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Unholy Guacamole and how to find a ripe avocado!

Ok, I'm retired now you see, and one of the things I vowed to myself was that I would take up cooking (something I have avoided religiously).  Well, I bought a PETA vegan cookbook a year ago in preparation for this major life change (cooking that is, not retirement).

Now when I was flipping through the pages (and chuckling over the humourous names of the dishes), I found "Unholy Guacamole" - and it looked really easy:  3 large avocados, 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro, one 16 ounce jar of salsa , and salt (to taste).  Just mix it all together and eat with chips, nachos, or by itself!

I had some difficulty finding avocados in the supermarket and I didn't know what cilantro was.  I kept thinking that was the name of something alcoholic (but chopped?!) but then realized that I was thinking of cointreau!  Anyway, I found all the ingredients, came home, found a suitable bowl and began the process ...   

I found my knife was not going through the avocado very well.  Are they normally this hard to cut?!  After quite a bit of effort I cut one in half and found it very hard inside as well as on the outside.  Hmmm.  Ok, time to re-think.  Were they not ripe?  So how does one know when they are ripe?

As I always do when I am in a dilemma like this, I Googled "how to tell when an avocado is ripe".  I found the following advice which made me laugh through each step.  My disappointment was tempered by my amusement. 

How to tell if an avocado is ripe:


1)  Press gently on your forehead.  This is an example of how an avocado should not feel when you press on it.  This means the avocado is too firm and not ripe.

2)  Press gently on your cheek.  If your avocado feels this way, do not purchase it.  Your avocado is too ripe and possibly rotten.

3)  Press gently on your nose.  This is how your ideal avocado should feel to your fingertips.  Look for avocados with a little bit of give, but not too mushy.

Well, my avocado feels like my elbow!!  I'll wait a few days and try again.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Only Kindness Matters

One finds the most beautiful, wise and poignant messages on tombstones.  As someone who frequents cemeteries for both inspiration and wildlife photo opportunities, I have read many epitaphs during my meanderings.  One of them strikes me as encapsulating everything that life should be about in just three words:  "Only Kindness Matters". 

Riches, beauty, intelligence, success are not what makes one happy or makes the world a better place - but kindness does.

Here are those three words immortalized in stone