20161020-27 Fall colours ends as wintery snow arrives

With similar timing as 2015 we had our first snow on October 27th,  ending the glorious fall colours of 2016.  Here are some examples of the transition.

On the back road behind north of Harris Lake Road.  Further on I met Jurgen(s?) a retiree from the Falconbridge Smelter.  It turned out that we had many mutual friends.


Crossing at Hwy 607 showing the changing colour of the trembling aspens mixed with some white pines and sugar maples.


Blackberries leaves showing their characteristic purple before showing a few days of red before falling.


The seeds are maturing in their various ways before being spread by the wind with little parachutes in the case of fall asters,


or big fluffy plumes in the case of fireweed,


or by animals, as these burdock seeds stick to their fur coats:p1800710-1

While some diehard plants like this Oxeye Daisy persists in blooming late in season:


Some mushrooms are spreading spores … like these shaggy manes fruiting in a Riverside Drive lawn …


Adjacent to these unknown gilled mushrooms:



which seem to be harvested a day later:


The clear northern sky is a harbinger of a cold north wind, which will cause snow as warm wet southern air flows over it.


Here are some photos of the results of the snowfall taken early in the morning of October 28th …


The fluffies from these milkweed seedpods form good structures for condensing frost….


And the goldenrods still have their summer-ish glow.


but the asters still seem autumn-ish cold …


This Acer rubrum leaf has turned yellow but displays the red maple leaf shape and the brilliant red stem…


Jack Frost visited this blackberry leaf …


very long dendrites on this Staghorn Sumac branch…


This Red Maple is behaving as advertised….


A bit of early snow near the gate of the house at the end of the Drive…


This Redtailed Hawk ( I think!) paused for a few minutes on its annual trip south.


Riverside Road showing the melting of the first snowfall of the season …


Meanwhile …. where are those Monarchs that we saw just six weeks ago?

First Monarchs Have Arrived at Wintering Sanctuaries

By selecting “Week ending Oct 17” it seems the Monarchs started to cross the Rio Grande, about two weeks ago.

This is a nice animation of the fall migration.


20161019 Local fall views

Here are some photos of scenes on Wednesday October 19.

Morning sun and mist on Clear Lake from Hwy 69:


Pond on Hwy 522 between Grundy Lake and the CPR crossing at Pakesley.

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Remnants of morning mist on Old Still River Road:

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Silver Birches are turning…


Aspens are also starting among the Red Maples:


Twin Rivers from Hwy 529:


Fluffy inflorescences of Goldenrods and Asters:

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An interesting time of the year.

20161017 Wet Leaves

Some recent rain showers enhanced the vividness of the colors in the fall leaves.  Here are some examples:

Decorated Rock on Hartley Bay Road:


Hartley Bay Road creek:


Shebeshekong Road:


Shebeshekong Road:


Lone Spruce Tree from Skerryvore Community Road followed by 5 more photos from the same road.












Looking east from the CPR crossing of Shebeshekong Road, near the south end of Shawanaga First Nations Reserve:


Old Highway 69 at Site 9 of current Hwy 69.


A few photos of nice trees on Riverside Road, Britt:

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Nice outcrop across Hwy 69 from Brtthome.


Although the development of the abscissa layer in these colourful leaves has stopped the replenishment of green chlorophyll it is not sufficiently developed to cause the leaves to drop.  That will happen over the next few weeks as these deciduous trees continue their processes towards dormancy.

20161015 Screaming Heads

Screaming Heads is art teacher Peter Camani’s retirement project.  It is a fringe homestead featuring Midlothian Castle, Screaming Heads, an Organic Farm and the location of the Harvest Festival.

I was torn between taking a long walk around the 310 acre site or continuing my trip south of the Town of Magnetawan, along the Old Nipissing Road, returning to Parry Sound via the Orange Valley Road.  I ended up sampling Screaming Heads and then stopped by the Cornball Store for a bite before continuing.

A sampling:

Back yard of Screaming Heads, showing entrance gate, head-shaped studio, gardens and decorated shed.


Parking area guarded by screamers.


Field across the road from the Castle.


Entrance to Midlothian Castle:


Pines and maples along Midlothian Road, enroute to The Cornball Store.


The Cornball Store, an oasis at the intersection of Midlothian Road and the (Old)  Nipissing Road south of Magnetawan.  It is a  great place for home cooked frozen meals, fresh baked goods and a freshly made sandwich on a home baked croissant.  I always try to refresh my fading Swiss German dialect  with Andrea and Andy.


These photos were all taken from the car along the Nipissing Road, south of the Cornball Store.



Spence Lake Road:


Taken from the old concrete bridge just south of the Spence Lake Road.


Near Orange Valley Road.


Here is a very nice illustrated history of The Old Nipissing Road – Ontario’s Ghost Road.



20161014 Fall Colours

Here are some photos taken in the neighbourhood as the colours are peaking —– a few days later than normal this year.

Shawanaga River, looking upstream from the Hwy 69  bridge with a telephoto lens:


Looking north along the CN Railway along the Bunny Trail to Ardbeg.


Looking NE over Straight Lake in the early morning.


Site 9 Road off Hwy 69, south of Shawanaga.


Bunny Trail:


Bunny Trail:


Turned a bit to the left from the photo above:


Bunny Trail:


Bunny Trail:


Bunny Trail:


Bunny Trail:


Bunny Trail:


Shebeshekong Road at CPR crossing:


Twin Rivers from Hwy 529 Bridge.


Beautiful time of the year!

Some of the science behind this beauty:

“To understand the whole process, it is important to understand the growth cycle of deciduous trees and shrubs. Most have a relatively short period of annual growth. New stems begin to grow from overwintering buds when the days become long enough and the weather is warm enough to support growth. For most trees, growth is usually completed by late June in the Northern Hemisphere. Next year’s leaf buds are set at this time and will not open until they experience the chill and short days of winter followed by the warmth and longer days of spring. Once the leaves are fully expanded and the buds are set, the work of manufacturing and storing carbohydrates to support next year’s growth goes full speed ahead. These carbohydrates are stored in the branches, roots, and buds throughout the growing season to support next year’s growth.


“The process that starts the cascade of events that result in fall color is actually a growth process. In late summer or early autumn, the days begin to get shorter, and nights are longer. Like most plants, deciduous trees and shrubs are rather sensitive to length of the dark period each day. When nights reach a threshold value and are long enough, the cells near the juncture of the leaf and the stem divide rapidly, but they do not expand. This abscission layer is a corky layer of cells that slowly begins to block transport of materials such as carbohydrates from the leaf to the branch. It also blocks the flow of minerals from the roots into the leaves. Because the starting time of the whole process is dependent on night length, fall colors appear at about the same time each year in a given location, whether temperatures are cooler or warmer than normal.

“During the growing season, chlorophyll is replaced constantly in the leaves. Chlorophyll breaks down with exposure to light in the same way that colored paper fades in sunlight. The leaves must manufacture new chlorophyll to replace chlorophyll that is lost in this way. In autumn, when the connection between the leaf and the rest of the plant begins to be blocked off, the production of chlorophyll slows and then stops. In a relatively short time period, the chlorophyll disappears completely.


“This is when autumn colors are revealed. Chlorophyll normally masks the yellow pigments known as xanthophylls and the orange pigments called carotenoids — both then become visible when the green chlorophyll is gone. These colors are present in the leaf throughout the growing season. Red and purple pigments come from anthocyanins. In the fall anthocyanins are manufactured from the sugars that are trapped in the leaf. In most plants anthocyanins are typically not present during the growing season.

“As autumn progresses, the cells in the abscission layer become more dry and corky. The connections between cells become weakened, and the leaves break off with time. Many trees and shrubs lose their leaves when they are still very colorful. Some plants retain a great deal of their foliage through much of the winter, but the leaves do not retain their color for long. Like chlorophyll, the other pigments eventually break down in light or when they are frozen. The only pigments that remain are tannins, which are brown.

“Temperature, sunlight, and soil moisture greatly influence the quality of the fall foliage display. Abundant sunlight and low temperatures after the time the abscission layer forms cause the chlorophyll to be destroyed more rapidly. Cool temperatures, particularly at night, combined with abundant sunlight, promote the formation of more anthocyanins. Freezing conditions destroy the machinery responsible for manufacturing anthocyanins, so early frost means an early end to colorful foliage. Drought stress during the growing season can sometimes trigger the early formation of the abscission layer, and leaves may drop before they have a chance to develop fall coloration. A growing season with ample moisture that is followed by a rather dry, cool, sunny autumn that is marked by warm days and cool but frostless nights provides the best weather conditions for development of the brightest fall colors. Lack of wind and rain in the autumn prolongs the display; wind or heavy rain may cause the leaves to be lost before they develop their full color potential.

“The character of autumn color is different in different parts of the world. In New England and the northeast sections of Asia, a few species dominate the deciduous forests. The display there tends to be short but intense because the change is rapid and rather uniform. In the southern Appalachians, the change is often gradual and the fall foliage season may last for more than a month because of the greater diversity of plant species found in the forest there. Mixed forests that have both evergreen conifers such as spruce and deciduous trees such as aspen or larch are found in the far north or at high elevations. Here, the dominant color is yellow and the change is rapid, with trees often going from green through brilliant yellow to bare over a period of two weeks. Tropical forests often have many deciduous trees that lose their leaves in response to drought; typically the leaves do not change color before they drop. In areas that are often cloudy for much of the autumn, with rather warm temperatures, fall colors are dull at best. This is often the case in much of Europe.


“While the whole process of fall color is fairly well understood, the reason for it is less clear. Scientists have long known that xanthophylls and carotenoids play an important part in photosynthesis by helping to capture light energy, but the benefit of anthocyanins is not well understood.  It might seem more logical for plants to remove all the carbohydrates they possibly can from the leaf before making it fall off. If this were the case, we wouldn’t have the red and purple pigments that we see in sugar maple, black gum, burning bush, or sweet gum. Carbohydrates are needed to manufacture these pigments. Some entomologists believe that the evolutionary reason that plants expend energy to produce fall color is to warn pests. A plant that is healthy is able to produce lots of carbohydrates, and therefore more anthocyanin. This may cause certain insect pests laying eggs in the fall to seek another host plant for their offspring that is weaker and drab by comparison. Some scientists believe that anthocyanins may act as a sunscreen to inhibit the destruction of the chlorophyll, help to prevent frost injury to leaf tissues, or limit water loss during dry spells in autumn. As far as the fall foliage watcher is concerned, their purpose is simple—they signal a last hurrah for the growing season and delight the optic nerve.”

20161010 Frosty Foggy Morning

On Thanksgiving Monday morning we awoke to no wind with a clear cold sky.  The resulting radiation fog hovered just below 0ºC and coated much of the landscape with frost crystals.

Here are a few examples of what it looked like.  Some are quite interesting when viewed full size.  Click on the image to magnify it.

Up close:



Behind the house, looking east:


Swamp near the new  railway underpass between Key River and Hwy 522.


Looking East and South East from Hwy 69 at Clear Lake (Grundy Lake Provincial Park):


These three are challenging back-lit images, which are often described as “no-nos” by some conventional landscape photographers.

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Although the above are difficult to expose properly I find them at least as engaging as the following conventional landscape imagery taken 4 1/2 minutes later looking North from Hwy 522:



Irene’s fall decorations enhance the drive into Britt:


Fall is a beautiful time of the year!





20161006 A visit to the “good old days”.

Caution:   The first part of this post is “Prattle”.

On Thursday, Oct 6th, we went to Bass Lake Roadhouse near Foot’s Bay on Hwy 169 for lunch with a retired General of the RCAF.  A boffin weapons/airborne interception/navigator, he was in the back seat of CF-100 #18375 at 2 (Fighter) Wing Grostenquin France on a fateful June day in 1962.  I, a newbie pilot, was in the front seat following his advice on my first trip towards Combat Readiness on 423 AW(F) Squadron.

We hadn’t seen each other since Dec, ’62.

The CF-100 Mk IV B Canuck was a Canadian designed and made high altitude interceptor fulfilling a role within NATO in the Defence of Western Europe against Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces.


18375 had just come off of an overhaul requiring some work on the flight control systems.

While overshooting from an approach on the wing*  of the backseater’s usual pilot the newbie pilot “noted an (mechanical) obstruction in the travel of the control column restricting full use of the elevator to give normal pitch control”.   So he declared an emergency, which gave him full access to the airdrome.   The advice from the squadron duty officer was to eject south of the airdrome.

*on the wing = in close formation, a standard way of recovering airplanes quickly.

The newbie pilot and the experienced backseater had some discussions about the ejection option and, after some brief attempts to break the obstruction loose, decided to land the kite at high speed, flapless, part way down the runway, engage the barrier and walk away to a nice lunch at the Officer’s Mess.  Ejection makes for lots of paperwork and would probably lead to a very sore back and other afflictions.   There was also some risk to folks on the ground and the total loss of the kite.

Everything was coming along nicely until the backseater said, “Beautiful, we’ve got it made.”  Immediately the aircraft pitched down while the newbie pilot struggled to pull the stick back, past the  obstruction.  His decision was to shut everything off to minimize the chance of fire,  declutch the canopy and enjoy the ride.

The impact took the main gear off and broke the main wing spars and fuselage, writing the airplane off.   The nosewheel did not break backwards, which was a good thing as such events had a bad habit of hitting the bottom of the pilot’s ejection seat, causing an unwanted, and usually fatal, ejection.

The newbie pilot was not very popular for a few days, until the Accident Inquiry found a handful of loose crap in the elevator control system.  A screw had jammed the mechanism and broke loose during the impact.   A investigator named Gunnar persisted, found the screw, found the bruises and markings, put it in the jammed positions and invited me to position the stick where I thought the obstruction was.  It all jibed.

Here is a picture of the screw.


And here are a couple of pix of what used to be a fine kite:

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That’s our story and we’re sticking with it.


On the way back we took a few pix, including these:

Muskoka Autumn:




Big Lake:


We also saw these bees busily foraging and pollinating:


Carpenter Bees or Bumble Bees?





20160930 Some interesting sights near Britt

We captured a few interesting views


at the end of September.   A few samples:

Adeline and the US Geological Survey Sturgeon at the town dock:


Along the Burwash Road:


(YUCK!  What an ugly representation of the sky!  It shows fine on the original.   I will leave the above mess here until I figure out what is happening during the upload process.)

Fierce cloud edge looking east from the Old Still River Road:


Same fierce sky, with CPR mainline in the foreground:


In an earlier post (scroll down)

20160930 Some blooms and birdies

I tried to edit the post to get a higher definition of a photo of a crow uploaded, with little success.  Click on the image below to see the eyelid of the crow:


We’ll see if it works this time!

Yes.  Double clicking on the image seems to work!

20160929 7 minutes with bees, wasps, and hoverflies on Large Leaved Aster

We had an hour or so of bright sunlight in the early afternoon of September 29, so I found a patch of Large Leaved Asters and looked for pollinators.  I was not disappointed as I pressed the shutter 60 times over a 7 minute period, all while sitting in the car.  It is fun to find the several insects on most of these photographs.   During this coming winter I’ll try to ID these pollinators as I am getting increasingly interested in their importance to our natural world.

Here are 20 photos (the other 40 are repetitious) showing different kinds and species of pollinators:









































It was quite a  magical time, seeing all of these beasties filling up on nectar at these last of the Asters.  Can anyone recommend a good field guide to hoverflies, bees and wasps?  Many thanks.

Photo data:

All of the above have intact exifs and are downloadable at less than half a MB each*.  Leica 100-400 mm lens mounted on a Panasonic Lumix GH4 at max focal length (800 Full Frame equivalent) giving a working distance of about 1.3 m, all shot from the front seat of my car.

Most are at f/11 (f/22 FF equivalent), ISO 800, giving a shutter interval in the 1/1000 sec to 1/4000 sec range.  Electronic shutter (which is why some of the wings in flight are strange.)

*Here is #18 again, this time uploaded at 1.6MB with no limit on its edge dimensions.  Click on it to see the difference in detail between this image and the ones above with a smaller file size.


Lots to see out there.  The camera is a good tool to enlarge one’s vision.

20160930 Some blooms and birdies

Here are a few photos of a late blooming Pale Corydalis, one of D.’s pansies, a sparrow and a crow inspecting the photographer.

Pale corydalis, usually one for the very early spring wildflowers blooming in September alongside its long narrow seed pods.


D. (trans?)planted these a few weeks ago.


This fellow was hopping around in my driveway looking for seeds and grit, I think.


A common sight on Riverside Road near Shirley’s place.  They are guaranteed of a snack there.

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Click to have a close-up look at the first one to see its eyelid, caught half open.

I had a bit of a problem uploading the above so please click on the image below to check the crow’s eyelid:


I hope that it works this time!

NOPE!  It didn’t.  I don’t know how to use the editor to insert “clickable” images.  😦