Monday, April 10, 2017

Sounds of Spring!

My photos from the weekend are a bust (see below), but I was sitting on the back deck in our 'cool summer evening temperatures', and listening to the mad chorus of Spring Peepers from across the road.  So I decided to go and see if I could record the 'sounds of spring'.  For me there is nothing like the Spring Peepers to mark the arrival of spring.  Here they are:

The picture isn't very exciting, but if you turn your volume up loud and listen, you'll hear the sounds of spring - both Spring Peepers and Wood Frogs.  The first are the loud 'peeps', and the second sound very much like gabbling ducks.  I was afraid they'd shut down when I got close, but I was able to walk right up to the little wetland and record them.  At the beginning of the video you catch a brief glimpse of our green house across the road, and there's an old farm field roller in the foreground part way through the video.

Photographer's Brainfart

I was over on the shoreline of Lake Huron on Saturday, and thought I had captured some great photos of the lake to share today.  But it was a disaster.  I had been photographing inside a building, and had the ISO set up high.  One of those newbie photographer mistakes, I failed to recheck my settings outside in the bright sun.  All the photos were over-exposed.  Never-the-less, I'm going to share three of them here to embarrass myself, in the hopes I will remember this occasion and not do that again!

Kincardine Lighthouse  

Lake Huron Shoreline

 The Bruce Nuclear Plant in the distance.

I worked away to change the bad exposure in Lightroom, but with very limited results.  All the colours are still way off!  The lighthouse picture isn't too bad, but the last two pictures of brilliant turquoise water and sky are TOTALLY unrealistic!

With that I'm taking a two-week break; will be back in late April.  Have a great early spring.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Northern Winds on the Bay

The aftermath of Thursday night's snowstorm left us with fairly fierce northerly winds on Friday, and we had reason to be in Meaford.  We stopped by the bay for 10 minutes to watch the waves crashing in onto the shore.  I'm not sure we have ever seen waves this intense, and it was a beautiful sunny to boot.

The sun had warmed the air nicely by afternoon, but when I stopped here for pictures my hands nearly froze in the very strong winds off the bay.

The waves were large enough a few of the local surfers were out.  Don't think this surfing compares to California, but you take your adventure where you can.  It's full wet suit surfing so you don't freeze!

At any rate, some serious waves were rolling into the little bay, and crashing onto the shore.  You can understand how ice builds up on these rocks in the winter.

Looking west the view was more distant, but you could see the whitecaps everywhere.

By the little playground the crashing waves were coating some trees with icicles.

Uniquely decorated icicle trees!

Nothing to beat Georgian Bay on a sunny day with a strong wind and white caps!  Here at home the snow is now almost gone again, as the temperature is soaring.  Spring my finally be here for good.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Bluebirds in a Snowstorm!

After my success with pictures of a Robin and Song Sparrow a few days ago, I headed out on the morning after our snowstorm to see if I could get more bird pix.  I could hear a lot of birds calling, so I was hoping some of them would be close and co-operative.  Didn't happen, pretty poor pictures, but I did successfully document several other species.  Given that there was 6-8" of snow I was still pleased.

I thought these were just Chickadees.  All the birds just looked black through the camera against the white sky.  It wasn't until I started editing these on the computer that I caught the flash of blue and took a closer look.  They're a pair of Bluebirds, in the middle of our snowstorm - astonishing! 

We also had a Song Sparrow at the feeder!  I've never seen a Song Sparrow at a feeder, but there was a pair of them searching for nibbles.

Tramping through the deep snow after digging out my winter boots again, I walked around the corner where there was a loud flock of Red-wing Blackbirds that have been back for some time.  Now these were definitely just black birds against the white sky, and they are all males, who return first.  But you can see a small yellowy flash on the wing of the first bird above.

I had also heard a lot of Blue Jays, but they stayed at a distance for any pictures.

Some of the Goldfinch at the feeders are turning bright yellow.

And a few days ago we had a pair of Mourning Doves on the ground under the feeder, but they haven't been back.

Then I finally got a picture of a Turkey Vulture circling over the white landscape.  This is the usual view of them, a shallow black 'V' shape high in the sky.

They rarely flap their wings, just soaring endlessly, but in today's harsh northern winds, this vulture was flapping those huge wings frequently.  And it dropped down quite closely over my head.  I was pleased with this picture.  That's the best I can do for a few critters just now.  Expecting this snow to be all gone in two days with our rocketing temperatures!

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Friday, April 7, 2017

That Dang Texas Low!

Well, the weather forecast was right this time, and that moisture laden Texas Low coming up from the gulf bumped into our cold northern air, and passed over our slightly higher elevations, and changed to snow - quite a lot of snow!  Last night driving home from further south the last 20 miles were a seriously nasty blizzard.

Of course I've already started to clear out the garage for summer, and only one car could be sheltered from the storm.  (I'd already sent the snowblower away for the summer switch to lawnmower deck too).  We got our forecast 15-20 cm. (6-8 in.).

I knew it was a bit early to put out the deck chairs and table, but there they were.  The snow blew around a lot with the strong winds, leaving it blown to very little in corners, and over a foot in other drifts.

Could have been taken in January!   I got out and walked down the unplowed road a ways; a selection of interesting pictures I captured follows - just in case you haven't had enough of winter!

It turned sunny by noon, and warmed up well above freezing, so the snow is melting fast.  It's still several inches here though, so it will take a few days.  But it's supposed to be over 20°C by Monday, so it will vanish soon.  This too is April here in Grey Highlands!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Blue Skies

Still on that walk in the woods I've been describing, I looked up and realized there were some beautiful patterns of blue sky and clouds passing over behind the trees.  So I grabbed a few pictures on the rest of my walk.

Been away all day today and just got home - driving the last 20 miles through a nasty blizzard with heavy northeast winds and blowing snow.  This is a shrub outside the front door in the house lights - iphone camera couldn't focus very well, but I know you were all waiting to see if we actually got this snow.  Well, we did; the world here is white again.  We'll see how much in the morning!  The forecast was right ..... but this too is April!

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Walk in the Woods, Part II

Well, we did see the sun briefly this morning, but it's dark and cloudy now and the rain is approaching.  Check out our delightful local forecast below.  Lots of pictures tonight, but I already cut out half - can't cut any further!

I left the first pine plantation that I described in yesterday's post, passed this big old White Ash tree, and headed into the second block of White Pine.

Most of the White Pines here seemed quite healthy.  The thinning several years ago has done it good.

There are several sinkholes in this property, where the water finds its way through cracks in the limestone below, leaving a depression on the surface.  This is one of the smaller ones, about 6 feet across and 4 feet deep.

It was an easy walking trail all the way through, though there isn't enough snow any more for the cross-country skiers.

But at the end of this you come to a small stand of Red Pine, in terrible condition.  These trees are nearly 40 years old, tall and very thin, and dying.  They should have been thilnned 20 years ago.

Many of the standing trees are already dead.  The forester's advice was to clear cut it and start afresh!  Luckily it's a small patch.

Leaving the pines I stepped into the beautiful deciduous forest, passing this big old Sugar Maple stump I've stopped at many times before.

It's mostly Sugar Maple, but there are also several huge old American Beech.

Unfortunately they're all subject to a disease caused by yet another invasive fungus.  But I liked the colours in this huge broken tree trunk.

There are 2 or 3 acres here that are some of the nicest deciduous forest along the entire Bruce Trail (marked by the white blazes).

One of my favourite big old forest giants, one of the tallest, straightest Sugar Maples I know.

More animal tracks too.  Here some very fresh tracks of White-tailed Deer.

And I'm pretty sure this one is a Coyote, also quite fresh.

The trail follows the top edge of a steep slope, and 40 or 50 years ago the farmer had fenced off the pasture so the cattle wouldn't head down the hill.  The forest has been growing a long time since then, and the fence is mostly dilapidated.

After that it was just a nice walk through the rest of the woods back to the car.  A beautiful late winter walk in the woods.  As for the local forecast.......

See that "10-15 cm" in the centre of the map?  We live right under the "15".  And there's been one change in the map tonight; it now says "15-25 cm"!  Wish us luck while winter revisits again!

And keep your moisture-laden Texas lows down there in Texas where they belong, not up here bumping into our nice cool northern air where they bring snow instead of rain!