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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Lucky Collingwood Trip

We were real lucky recently, to be invited to stay a few days at a friend's timeshare in Collingwood. It gave us a rare opp to get away somewhere different, and explore new to us conservation areas. I've been to Collingwood a few times in the last 4 yrs or so, for various reasons; sports tourney, a moms and kids weekend,    work related, and just for fun. However, I've never really explored anything more than the typical expensive "touristy" spots really. My partner and I decided we would love to see a couple different hiking or conservation areas. It gave me the opportunity for some photos in a different environment.

We walked through the Nottawasaga Lookout Provincial Nature Reserve and a few different areas in the Minesing Wetlands. The Lookout was amazing. We ran into huge drops, dark and creepy drops in the earth down rock embankments where we could even spot ice at the bottom of real perilous looking huge gouges in the earth - part of the Niagara Escarpment. Breathtaking! We could hear ravnes making a racket and ventured along in hopes of seeing a nest. We did end up seeing a pair of what we thought were adult ravens. Turns out what we saw were the fledgling ravens. They were well hidden behind branches, around the turn on a cliff face. I barely could get shots of them, stepping 1 ft more would mean a hundreds of feet drop. I got an ok shot of their faces and blue eyes. Prehistoric looking creatures! Their calls are unearthly sounding. Before getting to this park, we had turned to early, towards Pretty river Provincial Park, and came upon a group of turkey vultures eating roadkill. I got a couple shots of these strange creatures too.

Minesing was a bit harder to navigate. I suspect it is more suited to portaging access. We hoped to be able to walk in to see the heron colony area but it was pretty impossible. We tried out a couple entry points. We ended up off the marked trails pretty easily, without even knowing How lol! We do know how to read trail markers on trees. However, funny enough, the only time we saw anything interesting was on private property lol! Saw a grouse in the grass of a field, a deer running, woodpeckers, etc. Seems wrong turns and wrong roads always ended up producing our sightings this trip lol! Last entry point, in the last hr of a 6 hr hike day, we ended up at Mayer's Marsh. We saw an Indigo Bunting and a light yellowy Oriole, possibly an immature male. We also saw horses, animals I Love!

All in all, a nice little vaycay.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Thickson Woods and Halls Rd.

Been out a lot lately, for what ended up being pretty long walks - 5 hours 2 days in a row lol! Omg my neck killed from looking up lol! It is exciting to see so many different birds and animals, that for one I have never seen, and secondly, never even knew we had in Ontario lol!

At Thickson, I accidentally stepped on something soft that out of the corner of my eye, then moved. I thought it maybe was just a small stick. I walked on a bit and was about to turn because something told me Maybe it was a snake. Last time I walked beside a snake, it was in Tobermory, and it had a rattling tail lol! I know we don't have those this south in Ontario but....... my boyfriend then called my name and said "there's a snake" so I realized I sensed right, I had stepped on a snake. I hadn't hurt it but when I saw it, I had No idea what it was lol! Turns out it was an Eastern Milk Snake, harmless, but can still bite. It was in strike pose none the less. Cool to see, very pretty, about 4' long.

Halls Rd. by far is our favourite. The trees and brush is lower so the birds are closer. We also always tend to see Something interesting there. We regularly see deer, raccoon, squirrels, the muskrats, baby animals currently, rabbits, chippies, and tons of different birds. I was lucky enough recently to pull up and see a Cardinal 2 ft from my car. I shot some images out the front windshield then slowly got out and managed to get an awesome shot of the female reach down to try to take the sunflower seed the male had taken from top of a fence post. She never ended up taking it but flew away further instead. The cardinals always stay pretty far back so it was quite a lucky moment!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Tommy Thompson Park - Wow!

I have lived in and around Toronto since birth, and I have never been to this "urban wilderness" down the bottom Leslie Street. It is just beyond words. Quite a visual contrast, with man made rubble, clean fill, which built it since the late 1950s, blended with natural landscape which has grown over time. This place is quite the home to many many birds, insects, plants and wildlife. At the same time as enjoying this lush wilderness, one can spot the TO skyline pretty much at any point. The freakiest sight we were treated to was the thousands of perching and nesting Cormorants as we reached the end of one path at the shores of an inlet. Unfreakingbelievable. No wonder teams of them were flying overhead, heading in that same direction all day.

Just a few interesting sights from the park.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Baby Animals Abound!

We took a brief jaunt down to Halls Rd. the other evening, and were treated with all kinds of baby animal sightings. We even saw a wild turkey cross in front of us as we left the area. One thing you can be sure of, you will always spot wildlife, and I use that term loosely since many will come right up to people, at Halls Rd.

Jay with eggs.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Portrait Work in Progress

Continuing today on the portrait I began a week ago. Content with the progress. Today is a perfect day for painting due to it being an overcast day. I work in natural light conditions so bright sunlight strips coming in across my work surface are not ideal conditions.

Keeping the skin neutral and not "hot" has always been a challenge for me. I seem to be tackling that so far.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Smorgasbord of Wildlife! Virginia Rail and Owl Family Treat!

Virginia Rail
We've been pretty damn lucky lately, in our own area even, to see some first time ever sights. While walking around in the forest east of us, we ran into people there who let us know there was a Great Horned Owl family.  People were being generously allowed, by a resident home owner, to come onto his property and view through his telescope, a baby owl and mom owl. The dad owl was a bit farther away on a different tree. It was a once in a life time amazing thrill to have that privilege! I could only get semi ok shots as I have only a 105mm old manual Nikkor lens. We saw other birds in the same area.....Magnolia Warblers, Kinglets, a Cat Bird, and Magpies.

We also were excited to see the deer for the first time, and a Virginia Rail, as well as some other kind of rail...maybe a Sora. The squirrels and muskrats of course, we always see.


Cat Bird

Baby Horned Owl