Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Stone Barn

For nearly a decade now I have driven back and forth through the tiny village of Rocklyn.  I was down there the other day again, through my old tromping ground, and again I noticed this beautiful stone barn (or perhaps more properly drive shed), right in the village between houses, and right at the edge of the road.

It's not your usual old barn around here, being only one story high, like just the foundation of a larger barn, but it was obviously built like this.  Perhaps it started out as a drive shed for the former small church across the road.

It's quite a good size, but I don't know what's inside.  I don't think I've ever seen the door open, so I don't know what it's used for, or if it's used at all.

Interesting patterns in the old wood of the 'man-door', set into the bigger barn door.  At some point in the distant past this was obviously painted red.

At some point someone has added these concrete buttresses along the south wall, counteracting the beginning of a slight bow in the wall.

I always look closely at the corner stones of old barns.  This one is almost entirely made of limestone as far as I can see.  Look at those somewhat square-cut corners on the bigger limestone blocks.

Looks like the north wall is bowing out a bit too, but I hope it survives for many decades yet.  It's the only old stone barn I know of in the entire region.

Meanwhile, the snow is melting fast here; it's above freezing and the snow just vanishes into thin air.  We have freezing rain in the forecast for Monday.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Swans and Ducks

I've actually seen some waterfowl over the past week.  I always enjoy birdwatching, but there's not a lot about at this time of year, at least in places I've been.  So I'm glad to have some pictures of swans and ducks to share.

The swans were in the waterfowl sanctuary at Harrison Park, a small collection of birds that has been a historic component of the area for as long as I can remember.  I have mixed feelings about it, but after I got these pictures I realized that this was a Trumpeter Swan, a bird I have never seen in person before, let alone up close.  I was having a little trouble getting the pictures I wanted with the zoom on our little point-and-shoot.

The story of the Trumpeter Swan is quite amazing.  By 1933 it was thought that only about 70 wild Trumpeters existed in the wild.  But aerial surveys revealed a hidden population in Alaska that enable re-introductions to take place in eastern North America.  Through the never-ending efforts of a dedicated biologist, Harry Lumsden, we now have Trumpeter Swans migrating through Ontario again, though they are still uncommon.  They are our biggest swan, in fact the largest waterfowl in North America.  Note the pinkish-red colour under the bill that helps identify it - if you get a close enough look, like this.

The park also has a pair of Whooper Swans, the Eurasian counterpart to the Trumpeter Swan.  I've never knowingly seen this species before.  It nests in a wide swath across northern Europe and Asia, and winters in the more southern region of those continents.

It has a very distinctive yellow pattern on its bill.  Of course the park also has a few Mute Swans, which have mostly pinkish-orange bills too.  Our own most common native swan is the Tundra Swan, which migrates through Ontario by the thousands.  This site gives good comparison photos of the three North American swans for identification.

The sanctuary in Harrison Park attracts hundreds of Mallards, because people stop and feed them.  At least the park provides small handfuls of corn visitors can buy, so they are not being fed bread (which is not at all good for them)!  But this is the crowded part that does not appeal to me, even if they are fun to watch.

Meanwhile, 'back here at the ranch', we stopped by Meaford harbour to see what the bay looked like the other day.  I'm getting used to the fact that the mood of the bay changes every day!  On this day ice had blown in from the north, leaving wide swaths of white between bands of water.  I read that the Great Lakes are freezing faster this year than has been the case for at least two decades.

I certainly didn't spot them, but Mrs. F.G. with her sharp eyes did - four pair of Common Mergansers, the males largely white on the left, and the females, with their rufous-brown heads, on the right.

Then I realized there were more ducks in the background.

These are mostly Buffleheads, which have a larger distinctly shaped white patch on their head, though the two right-hand whiter birds are more Common Mergansers.  Seeing a few birds like this makes me think of spring!  And makes me think I need to remember to take my binoculars with me!

Linking to:

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Lifting the Roof - Again

A week ago they came to lift the roof onto the house under construction next door to us.  If you remember, they built the roof at ground level (on the foundation) and lifted it off to build the walls.

I thought I heard a noisier truck than usual, so I poked my head out and there was the crane, just getting set up - here with it's front end entirely off the ground.
It took them about 6 hours.  They started with this big piece that had been sitting beside our driveway.

And on it goes.

Then they moved to the other large piece that had been sitting in the back yard.  Up it went.

Very strange to look up at a moving roof over your head!

But at this point the wind was fairly fierce across the golf course behind us.  Take a close look at the angle of that chunk of roof.

It swung back and forth a couple of times, and I heard a resounding 'crunch' as it bumped.  The builder later told me that was no problem.  Took a little trouble to fit that piece in though.

But at length they got it in place.

The last smaller piece had been parked down the street on a vacant lot.  Not every day you look out and see a roof driving down your street.

They swung it more or less right over my head, but got it in place before it got totally dark.  I had a video of that, but it's too large for Blogger to handle.  But once I try to load it, apparently I can't delete it.

Bu the end of the afternoon, although it was almost dark, the roof was on the house.  As you can see, they leave gaps to allow for fitting, and for stringing the cables used to lift it.  Today it's all finished off and they're starting the shingling.  Must be cold for these guys at this time of year!

That's the last of the roof lifting and the big crane that I'm going to show you.  It's been fascinating to me to watch this way of building the roof on a house!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Snowy Rock Cut

You probably drive right past them and don't notice, but I'm intrigued with rock cuts along the highways.  And a week or two ago they were decorated with lots of snow clinging to the rocks. 

This is a rock cut at the village of Woodford, halfway to Owen Sound from here.  It's the Amabel dolostone, a hard limestone that sometimes shows narrow layers, and sometimes large blocks of rock.  It forms vertical cliffs along the Niagara Escarpment.

In fact the road used to avoid the cliff by curving around the hill to get through Woodford, but a few decades back they blasted out the rock and provided a nice straight road so you don't have to slow down.

You can tell these rocks haven't been exposed for too many decades, as they're not weathered and still fairly light brown or beige in colour.

I just thought the pattern of snow catching and holding on all the little rock ledges was really interesting, and there's a nice wide shoulder to safely pull off on here..

Interesting layers,

and some big snow cornices along the top in places.  Of course this is all gone now, after the thaw late last week.  And starting tomorrow it's supposed to be above freezing again for a few days, with considerable rain on the weekend.  I expect we won't have much snow left at all by Monday.  It's the usual 'January Thaw', even though today was quite cold with a serious windchill.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Weaver's Creek Falls

For years I never knew Weaver's Creek Falls existed, but 15 years ago the city of Owen Sound added a short nature trail up the creek to the falls.  The valley is so narrow that a lot of the trail is boardwalk built right over the water, and it's a beautiful short walk starting right beside the swimming pool in Harrison Park.

This is the start of the trail.  You're seeing about 80% of it right here, so it's very short, and there's water flowing under that boardwalk.

A couple of curves of the boardwalk and a short distance of further trail and you're at the end.

Tried to capture the bedrock steps the creek flows down over here.

As you get closer the valley is tangled with fallen trees, but there's the little waterfalls.

I sometimes think a more distant view provides better context in a situation like this.

But of course I like to get as close as I can too, so I zoomed my little camera out to the max and got this shot.

But I was carrying my big Nikon with its telephoto lens (its normal lens being in the camera hospital), so leaning on that fallen tree I got even closer.

I'll leave you with what I thought was my best photo of the outing.  You can find much closer shots of the falls online if you care to look, but there's a 'No Trespassing' sign which I have so far obeyed, so this is as close as I get.

I was pleased to see that this project was actually organized by Owen Sound's Scenic City Order of Good Cheer!  That may be a group I want to find out more about' they have raised a great deal of money for community projects.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Harrison Park, Owen Sound

Harrison Park in Owen Sound is probably the nicest municipal park that I know of.  Given to the city by John and Emma Harrison in 1912, it had been John's personal project in the late 1800's, known as Harrison's Pleasure Grounds.  It appeals to me both because the Sydenham River runs through it, and all the slopes around the edge of the park are still forested.  And there's a great restaurant!

At the moment the Christmas decorations are still up.  there are a lot of lights at night,

Picnic tables waiting for spring.

One hundred years ago a 'Mile Drive' was laid circling the outer edge of the park at the bottom of the steep slopes.  I expect it was initially used by horses and carriages.  I remember driving with my grandmother around this loop when I was a young child.  Now it's a popular walking trail.

At the same time they created a secondary shallow river channel that children can wade in - which I did as a very young child!  Not at this time of year though.

The restaurant has always been a popular heart of the park, and the times I've eaten there the food has been excellent.  I highly recommend it.

Now they've added some fancy new playground equipment like these musical chimes, which were clanging gently in the breeze.

And an outdoor rink with artificial ice no less, that doubles as a basketball court in the summer.  Occasional warm days over the winter play havoc with natural outdoor ice rinks here, so this is a great improvement, though expensive.

But my favourite feature is Weaver's Creek and falls.  I'll share some pictures of that tomorrow.  I'll undoubtedly be visiting Owen Sound and walking the trails of Harrison Park regularly over the next few years, and perhaps having lunch there too occasionally!