20160329-30 Spring, new Olympus lens

We enjoyed a few days of sunny warm spring weather making it very pleasant to be out and about.

This crow was welcoming spring also … caw caw caw.


Some more practice with the Panasonic 100-300 mm long lens at minimum focus distance (just over a metre) on the Panasonic GH4 Micro Four Thirds camera.


A pair of Hooded Mergansers on the Still River:


The beaked hazelnuts buds are swelling.  In a week or so we’ll see them show their unique blossoms (shown on the link).


On the following day the pair of Hooded Mergansers split when I stopped beside the River.  Here is a better photo of the male:



All of the following photos were taken with my new Olympus 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens.  My first attempts need a lot of work to compete with expert photographer Robin Wong’s review of the lens.   That lens has a minimum focus distance of about my open hand span, 20 cm, 8″ so it gets me out of the car. The photos have some good detail, to it’s worth clicking on them to view full size.

As the snow disappears I will be able to get close to more objects of interest.  I am keeping my eyes open for Mourning Cloak butterflies which overwinter under loose bark in adult form.

Here is a yellow lichen, which I’ve photographed many times with my long tele lens.  With practice and good light I will eventually get a good image of it.  Lichens are fascinating symbiotic plants.  I could easily spend the rest of my life studying and photographing them exclusively.  Not for me though, as variety adds spice to life.


Shield lichen on a Jack Pine branch:



Same Pixie cup lichen as above (after the crow) taken with the macro lens, (with very thin depth of field when magnified so much).  The width of the tops of those cups is about 1/8″ or 3mm .


Shot from a bit further away to give better depth of field (range of focus.)


British Soldiers on one of Glen’s  fence posts, corner of Old Legion Lane and Riverside Drive.  Another member of the Claydonia family of lichens.


While stepping over a rock to photo some more lichens I saw this very old fence staple shielding a parachute with seed as it slowly decomposed, along with the fallen post that it was embedded in.   Worth clicking on to see the texture.


Shield lichen on rock this time.


More pixie cup lichens showing the “stem” structure on an older specimen.  I wonder how old this plant is?!  Years?  Decades?


It is raining hard here now, in the wee hours so it will be interesting to see how the lichens respond later in the day.

Mary Holland has been keeping busy, this time a post about how spiders cope with cold winters.  I find her column to be very useful as a indicator of what’s to come a little further north.

A southern DEW Line, advising us of spring’s arrival and telling us where fall goes.

Speaking of traffic, these forecasts of bird migration are interesting and worth perusing.

Finally have a look at the Great Lakes in mid-May and late-August to see something very special on this Mesmerizing Map of Migration.

And this will help develop your eye-brain coordination:


Fun, eh?

20160328 Snow-ice storm Thursday-Easter Friday

The weather gods gave us another adventure just before Easter weekend with snow and freezing rain.

This is a CN freight northbound on the CPR track near my house (Old Still River Road) in Thursday’s snowstorm:


Warming up the car Easter Friday Morning after the snow/ice storm:


Outflow from a culvert caused interesting patterns:


The heavy ice coating on the snow was very reflective …


but led to some very nice shadow patterns:


… including spots were the snowplow threw some fragments up onto the ice surface ….


It turned cold, which froze frost flowers on the surface of a dripping vertical rock.


On Saturday morning there was a light frost on the vegetation, giving some delicate images …






And, later in the day, the ponds reopened where the first Great Blue Heron of the season was catching minnows in a distant slough.


Although it is snowing again today, we are expecting the Buffleheads to come through any day now.

20160323 Harbingers of Spring

Heavy snowfall is expected tonight and tomorrow so I thought that these signs of spring would be nice to see as the storm arrives.

Byng Inlet is opening up … all the way out to the South and North Entrances:


The ice has morphed into the gray unstable stuff.


The ponds are opening up …


Some early spring gardens ….

The lichens are getting brighter …


The spore capsules are maturing ..


The British Soldiers are forming up…..


And the Pixie Cups are getting their green fluorescence colour.


Fuzzies are showing, including this pussywillow …


… and these seeds …


… from these cattails …


And these birdies are coming back …


Including this, my first photograph of a Red Breasted Nuthatch:


Dabbling Duo ….


This Ring-billed Gull hopped from leg to leg …


…. before giving forth with a long call!


March, in like a lamb, out like a lion?



20160323 More ditchriding … bubbles

In addition to frost flowers roadside ditches also provide a home to bubbles.  Here are some of the ones seen recently:





The above were all photographed on a very misty flat day.   The following were taken on a brighter day:



Bubble and “ex-bubble”:



As usual, clicking on the images gives new sights to see in the bubbles!

These bubbles were taken in bright sunshine … difficult …. but with the bonus of little “sunbursts”.  I’ll try them again!


The snow that we got overnight and which is forecast for the next day or so will cover the little bits of spring that started to show recently.  So I’ll make the next post a “harbingers of spring” show.

Michele Holden, who commented on the earlier “Mid March Ditchrider scenes” is a local artist who has a very nice website here.

20160322 Mid-March Ditchrider scenes

We had some clear frosty mornings after the water got running in the local ditches so we  enjoyed a couple of hours “ditch-riding*” to see what we could see.   Here, without commentary, are some of the results.   Click on the photo to see some of the delicate structure.  Quite amazing.

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  • *Ditchrider:  In the first half of the last century the orchards in BC’s Okanagan Valley were irrigated by snowmelt carried very large flumes up along the hillsides.  They fed water from their intake boxes to pipes which took water down to each orchard.  Since water was very valuable in that arid spot it was controlled, each day, by a fellow who walked the flume.   He was called a “ditchrider” a job which lasts to this day.

The ditchrider walked many miles each day, stepping along these crossmembers which were conveniently spaced about 30″ apart.  As kids we used to imitate the ditchriders by walking along the flume to look down on the Valley below.

Surprising what can be seen in roadside ditches, eh?




20160320 Rainy days in March

We had a thaw and some rain a few days ago.  Here are some of the scenes we saw:

Little cobwebs stray from this tip of a juniper bush …


See the globules of water resting in the cups of these Crowned Pixie Cups ?


I wonder why these spheres cling to the spikes of these spore capsules????


Rain “sticking” to the remnants of this inflorescence in the streaking rain.  Those streaks are about 4 cm long.  The camera exposure was 1/200 sec.  What is the terminal velocity of raindrops this size?


Yes, about 800 cm/sec or 8 m/sec or about 29 km/hr or about 19 mph.

Do big raindrops fall faster or slower than little raindrops?

“Don’t try to balance on one leg when standing on ice!”  nags one to the other in the rain.


PS  Big raindrops and little raindrops DO NOT FALL at the same speed …. in spite of what you might remember from high school physics.   Think of your experience in a thunderstorm compared to a Scottish mist rainy day.

Careful observation is often better than what is taught by folks who do not include the assumptions that are made in their promulgations!

Fortunately there are many teachers who get it right …. including this wonderful editor of his students’ work:

Speed of falling raindrops

I have bookmarked Glenn Elert’s Textbook, mainly because it is elegant and correct.  At least the parts that I read fit that description.  A nice find.

20160314 March melting, Byng Inlet, birdies

We are experiencing very variable weather this winter.  March is no exception.  The main thing is that we have virtually no ice cover (~10%) on the Great Lakes — a very different situation compared with the last two winters when we had heavy ice covers (around 90%) in mid March.  The high evaporation rates plus the lack of water content in the snow cover of the drainage  signals a low water summer for Georgian Bay this year.

Here are some pix taken over the last week or so:

Some early morning hoar frost, due to freezing temperatures, humid air and no wind …


Riverside Drive:


The last few minutes before sunshine finished off the ice crystals …


Very different day with rain and fog, well above freezing …


A Pileated Woodpecker (or two) spent a day cleaning out the grubs in this Elm which died due to Dutch Elm Disease about 5 years ago.  I am sorry that I missed the performance!


Oft photographed corner post in the ground fog/rain.


Bits of light reflecting off of raindrops here…


Remnants of 100 year old dockage in Byng Inlet.


Byng Inlet architecture:


Late afternoon melting snow from Hwy 522:



(shorter, square-tail, smaller beak, smooth throat feathers compared to Common RavenAmerican Crows have been back for about a week and are busy collecting baubles etc for their nests.  (Double click on its beak to see its whiskers!!)



Pine Siskins are chattering in the willow and alder thickets …




and are often seen with the Common Red Polls … who will be soon heading back up north for the summer.


Nature lovers who wish to share their love with youngsters might be interested in this practice:


20160305 First week of March

Here are some pix taken March 3, 4, 5th in the area around Britt:

Oft photo’d tuft of juniper on Riverside Drive amoung crystals of snow reflecting and refracting sunlight.


Ruffed Grouse heading for cover …


Tracks of an animal that emerged from the open water in the ditch behind the former Skylight Motel.


Yes, an otter, dragging its tail in spots.

Downy or Hairy?


Downy Woodpecker, which has a shorter beak than the Hairy Woodpecker.

Oft photographed tree:




Wintering flower stalks from a cultivated succulent whose name I have forgotten.  Help.

Click on the image for some texture ….


Afternoon skies on Boucher’s Road….




So far March has been lamb-like.  So we might get a bit of a roar in a few weeks!

20160229 Returning from Parry Sound in the wake of snow squalls

We visited with Muskoka Artist Connie Zator ( whose paintings might look familiar to some) and stopped to snap some pix on the return trip.

The wind was  kicking up little gusts of blowing snow on Hwy 529:



Causing varied reflections of light off of the windblown snow drifts:


And interesting peaks into some backlit drifting of blowing snow:


Some interesting rays of sun glinting off of the little whirlwinds of snow:

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Threatening squall over Bayfield Inlet:


Snowplow stirring up some more snow and tossing it far into the bush:


Ripples and drifts were forming on Big Lake:


St Amants’ dock poles in the late afternoon sun:


And the lone clump of sedge in the evening shade:


Interesting trip.  Always something different.