Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Nice Walk

Yesterday was a beautiful blue sky day, and we were headed for Owen Sound for a doctor's apt.  Then we picked up some lunch and took it to Harrison's Park to enjoy.  With the bright sun and mild temperature the trails were beckoning, so we headed out for a walk (ride).

There was still lots of colour in the trees, but a lot of leaves had fallen too.  It was certainly a beautiful day.

Mrs. F.G. wanted to be sure my chariot had no trouble on the gravel trails, but this was all fine-packed gravel, and the chair handled it easily.  I had to go slow so she could keep up.

This trail heads north toward downtown Owen sound on the east side of the river, passing through a mix of forest and meadow.  We only walked half of it.

The smiley face protects people who get too close from bumping into the blunt steel post that holds the headrest - see how far back it goes in the 2nd photo above.  We've already had two injuries!

A closer look at my hat!

Quite quickly we came to a bit of history in the park.  This is today's toboganning hill, but it was once the site of a large ski jump.  In fact, my mother competed here as a ski jumper in the '30's.  I can remember the old wooden jump that skiers took off from.  A personal connection to the park.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

October - the Golden Month

I have been reminded this year, the first we have spent in this house in October, that October is the golden month.  As the leaves change from green through yellows, reds and orange, the very atmosphere changes. Every sunny day the back yard just glows with the colour.

As we slip into the last day of the month, the golden  colours remain, though the leaves are fewer and fewer. It's as if the air glows with a yellow or orange hue. 

You can take the process apart and understand the chemistry, but what I see is simply beauty.

I think part of it this year is our new, very small back yard.  The trees are so close along the back of the yard that the leaves seem to wrap right around you..

That's my impression of October, the golden month.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Acqua alta - Venice is Flooded!

Venice, one of the most interesting cities in the world, has suffered the worst flooding in at least 10 years.  You might have to read a British newspaper to be aware of this, but water levels in Venice have risen to over 1 metre asl in places, and 75% of the city is flooded to some extent.  News reports show tourists wearing the famous yellow plastic boots, wading through the shops and streets.

The iconic St. Mark's Square is the centre of 'acqua alta' (high water).  The water doesn't wash in from the lagoon; rather it rises through the drainage grates and spreads across the square - in this case until it's thigh deep.

We have visited Venice twice, and were amazed at what we learned about rising water levels.  This restaurant is along the Grand Canal just south of the Rialto bridge.

Tourists walking outside St. Mark's Basilica.  The city puts out raised wooden sidewalks, so some tourists anyway can keep their feet dry!

The famous yellow plastic boots.  Today, with water reaching mid-thigh, these would be of no use at all.  But Venice is currently finishing construction of a flooding barrier known as MOSE at a cost of 6 billion Euros..  Based on enormous gates set in concrete foundations across 3 inlets to the lagoon, it remains to see whether it will work.

Shallow water flooding St. Mark's Square in the evening.

Acqua alta isn't the only challenge facing Venice.  As this photo suggests, there is a huge conflict between the traditional and the new.  In fact, in 2017 Venice banned large cruise ships from using this route and docking in the city.  They now have to dock on the mainland.

All of the photos in this post are from our trip to Italy in 2013.  Google 'Venice flooding' to see current pictures and videos.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Late October Snow Flurry

We woke to another dusting of snow across the grass and roofs of nearby houses.  It seems inevitable as we near the end of the month that we'll get at least some snow flurries, if not more.  Parts south of us are getting considerably more snow.

Other than that, it was a quiet day, hopefully the start of a quiet week!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Fall Continues

It was a quiet stay-at-home sort of day.  After the extremes of the past week, we thoroughly enjoyed the chance to slow down a little.  Having been home 5 weeks now, we're doing well, though I must admit it's been a lot more difficult than we anticipated.  Last week we had 19 different medical appointments, mostly here at the house.  It's all you can do to keep up with it.

Meanwhile, fall continues, with beautiful orange/gold leaves on the trees like this Sugar Maple.

 At one extreme tress like this have lost all their leaves, foreshadowing the look of November.

At the other extreme, this maple behind our neighbour's shed is still totally green.

 And on a lot of the trees, the leaves are about half gone, like this view straight out back.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

October Skies

We've had some beautiful October skies which I haven't shared, but since I haven't been getting out much recently, here they are.

 Meaford Harbour

Thornbury Harbour 

At Home

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Dark-eyed Junco

The other day when I was gathering the bird pictures I posted, I noticed that one of the Juncos I photographed was very dark compared to the others, almost black.  So I looked the species up and learned that it is one of the most plentiful and the most variable birds on the continent. 

Juncos are considered to be sparrows, even though they are largely grey and white, not brown and striped like most sparrows.  In this part of the continent they are called the Slate-coloured Junco, and they are white underneath, grey on the back and black around the head.

Juncos are one of the most numerous birds in North America.  They both feed and build their nests on the ground, pecking through the leaves for seeds,and grabbing insects when they can, especially during the breeding season.

This is the very dark Junco I saw the other day, almost completely black on top.   I had to watch some time before it turned around.  Looking up Juncos I learned that there is widespread colour variation and at least 6 different sub-types of the Dark-eyed Junco.

This is the best known of the variations, the Oregon Junco, which is much more brown on the sides and back, though it still has the black head and white underneath.  Taken at my daughter's house in B.C.

The three birds in front are also Oregon Juncos, foraging in the grass beneath a feeder, though they will also come to a feeder on occasion.  Thd bird in the background is a Spotted Towhee.

Here you can see how dark the centre Junco is compared to the other two.  We all know birds that migrate south for the winter and reappear in the spring, from warblers to robins.  Juncos breed in the northern boreal forest.  They do fly south when winter arrives, but only into eastern North America.  They are the birds that come with the snow, or 'Snowbirds'.  There's a lot more to the story of the Junco than I realized.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A Cold Rainy Day

Late October brings a lot of change in the weather as we leave the warm days of fall and head toward winter.  It's a time when we have dress more warmly and the winter jackets come out of the closet.  There's lots of outside clean-up work to be done too, for which cool sunny days are best.

Not much you can do outside on a day like this, but the Blue Jays were still by, hunting for seeds.

Days like this at 5 degrees above freezing in late fall always feel colder than winter days at 5 degrees below freezing. I think we must get used to the colder temperatures as winter arrives.

The raindrops provide lots of interesting patterns, but can you tell I'm struggling ton find new blog topics every day!  Not getting out much, and not many new photos.  Any suggestions would be welcome.

I thought a short video might give you a
more realistic impression of both the back yard 
and the weather.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Bird's at the Feeder

A few days ago we had our first influx of winter birds at the feeders.  They came in a mixed group mid-morning, and stayed about half an hour.  I was surprised at the variety we saw.

This chickadee actually showed up before we put seeds in the feeders.  Made me wonder if they can remember the feeders from one year to the next.

Then the pair of Blue Jays I shared the other day dropped by.  I hope we keep seeing them; the colours are so bright.

We've also had some woodpeckers, this one a Hairy Woodpecker.

And this one, I think, is the smaller species, the Downy Woodpecker.

Both species of nuthatches were part of the group, and have both been back since.  This is the White-breasted Nuthatch, mostly blue/grey on the back and white underneath.

The Red-breasted Nuthatch is a rusty brown underneath, and slightly smaller.

For the first time a small flock of Dark-eyed Juncos visited, and stayed around quite a long time, scuffling in the leaves for food.

This is a sparrow who looked away just as I pressed the shutter, but I got a good look at it 'head-on'.  I think it was a White-throated sparrow.  Here's hoping we get lots more birds over the winter; they will add add a lot of interest to my days.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

A Beautiful Day

I came out for breakfast this morning and was stunned again to see the bright orange leaves shining in the sun in our back yard.  Hope you enjoy the colour!

We put hawk silhouettes up on the big windows to scare the birds before they fly into the glass.