Saturday, October 30, 2021

More Sandhill Cranes

Yes, a week after successfully chasing Sandhill Cranes around Elsinore, west of Owen Sound, Mrs. F.G. saw another Facebook post reporting a flock of about 100 'near Copper Kettle'.  So after physio this week she sprung it on me and we headed out to hunt for them.  I pulled up Google Maps and looked for open fields in that area (Copper Kettle itself sits in forest for all directions).  So I directed us on our new expedition.

And we were quickly successful.  The Cranes were scattered over a large field around a farmstead, walking along searching for food,  Mixed in with them were a few Canada Geese, looking about half the size of the cranes.

Our first view of them was off in the distance, but we got closer quickly.

Luckily for us they were close enough to the road that we got a really good luck at individual birds, unlike the enormous flock we saw two years ago east of Collingwood.

As we passed the farmstead we saw there was an even larger number ahead in the next field, so on we went.

If anything these were even closer to the road, so we enjoyed just looking.

We counted nearly 100 before we moved on.  And so our second Sandhill Crane hunting expedition was a success.  My only regret was not having my big camera, so I couldn't really crop in closely.  But sometimes it's better to just enjoy what you're seeing!

Friday, October 29, 2021

Best Fall Colour Shots from the Past

I've always found fall colour shots a challenge, because you simply can't capture the vibrancy of what you see in person in a camera, especially not in an iphone camera!  And the human eye is drawn to individual bright trees, but that's not what the camera captures best.  But some shots are certainly better than others and sometimes you just get lucky.  So here are some of my best fall colour shots from the past, most from nearly 10 years ago, along with some comments on what makes them my favourites.

Since 'whole tree pictures' aren't usually winners i photos, I'm leaving those out.  The first group of these are shots capturing a portion of colourful trees, and the second group zoom in on just a group of leaves.  If you find these sharper than my usual photos today, that's because they were all shot with my bigger Nikon, not just an iphone.

This is certainly a top favourite.  The structure provided by the tree trunk adds a lot.  

This one I think is still very good, with the two trunks providing some structure among the bright leaves.  Without that structure both of these it would be just a blur of red leaves.

In comparison, I actually don't like this one very much, because there's really no structure to it.  It is just a blur of, in this case, orange leaves.

But I love this one just because the lighting was perfect!  And the Sumach is indeed beautiful.

Oak leaves.  I have found that bright sunshine does not necessarily make the best pictures - unless you can get the sun shining through the leaves like this one.

This one is not sunny, but it works because of the dramatic perspective on the closest Beech leaves.

These two shots of maple leaves with the sun coming through work well for me.  I like the second one even though the left half is dark, because the eye is drawn so strongly to the right hand side.

So that's my first batch of favourite fall colour shots from the past; in the next post some scenic shots.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Fall Colour

Before it gets too late, I want to share at least a few photos of the fall colour around here.  These are taken just around the neighbourhood and out the back windows, and a warning, there are too many of them!

This is the reddest tree I've seen.  I'm always wondering if the entire tree makes the better shot, or if it's better to zoom in on a certain part of the tree, or even a few leaves.  You can decide.  And sorry about the wires.

And around the corner from that is this tree that turns orange.

I'm pleased to say that they've moved right ahead and paved the strip of gravel on Nelson St. where a new watermain went in.  I was afraid they'd leave it until after winter.  That strip cut me off from my favourite short ride, and I'm glad to get back to it.

Coming closer to home there's a bright large Burning bush that's at its peak red right now.  Here I've zoomed in on just a few leaves.

This carpet of Ash leaves made me remember the wonderful sound of your feet shuffling through the leaves down the trail in the woods.

And right here at home, the same Sugar Maple out in the golf course from two different windows.

And our own Sugar Maple right outside the window.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

The October Garden, Part II

The big task in the garden now is to clean things up for the winter.  And as of today Mrs. F.G. and our gardener are pretty well finished.  Don't know what we'd do without kind, supportive (and very hard-working) Andrew, and he appreciates the money.  But there are a couple of things I still want to share.

Our strange and wonderful vine, Mina lobata, or Firecracker Vine, is flowering like mad in the absence of frost.  Strange how the lighting conditions change the colours of the two photos.

The flowers themselves range from white to red along the stem, and usually two stems of flowers are held together parallel to each other.  You can see the stamens reaching out of the lower blooms here.

Our Zebra Grass has been doing magical things too, growing 8' tall right outside the window and tasseling.  It's been trimmed back now for the winter (so that I can see the bird feeder), but it was growing like it lived in the jungle.

This is the magical part, all the tiny pollen-bearing anthers dangling from the flower stems, perfect for being pollinated by the wind.  Grass flowers are not showy but for a few days they certainly are magical.

We also had one Dahlia that amounted to something with its rich yellow blooms.  I think it's the only one being saved for next year.

Our son and daughter-in-law visited for Thanksgiving, with their 'little puppy, Zombie, a Great Dane.  Big but very well behaved.  I noted the license plate on her new jeep as they drove away too.

I rode over to the window where I usually do my morning exercises and looked out - what a change, all the Hostas were trimmed away.  Yes, Mrs. F.G. is serious about garden tidy-up!

Friday, October 22, 2021

The October Garden

It's long past the time I should have updated you on our garden.  It has remained remarkably colourful right into the third week of October, thanks in part to the fact that we STILL haven't had any frost!  Don't remember it ever being so late, and there's no sign of frost yet.  The Zinnias are the best, bright red and orange, and straight outside the window I sit at.

On the other hand the planters were cleaned out a few days ago, and they're now looking terribly empty.  Compare to the photo below.

Yes, the bright yellow Marigolds in the foreground were there until just a few days ago,  Note that the only flowers still in bloom in the background are those red Zinnias.   

There are two schools of thought among gardeners about cleaning up in the garden in the fall.  One adheres to the principle of leaving it to winter and letting the birds feast on any seeds, the other believes in having it all neat and tidy and ready for winter.  Before we moved here I was the chief undergardener (the one who did all the work), so it didn't matter.  I have learned in the past few weeks that Mrs. F.G. strongly believes in the latter position.  It will be a fight to even get her to leave the Zinnias until first frost.  Everything else has been completely trimmed and tidied up.

Our Lavender plants have done extremely well this summer, growing from small plants in pots to this once planted out.

This pink Echinacea is a new purchase earlier this fall.

And we still have blooms on the yellow Rose.

Mrs. F.G. (who has to do all the work now, so I owe the beauty of the garden entirely to her), has a nice display by the front door.

And she's been experimenting again with tuffa pots of various sorts.  She hasn't done this for 20 years.

P.S.  The cows we're seeing around here are all beef cattle, not dairy.  Most of them will have access to a barn during the winter, but cows get over-heated easily and benefit from being outdoors most of the time, even in cold weather.  And they do have built in fur coats.  

I'm not sure about why farmers who raise calves apparently sell them in the fall and bring in others.  Maybe they just keep in their own and bring in extra.  I'm going to have to do some research.  I do know the cattle they bring in will start out at 600-900 lbs. and will reach market weight of about 1500 lbs. when they're sold the next year.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Lots of Cattle, and Wetlands Too

As we drove around looking for Sandhill Cranes we saw a great many cattle out in the pastures.  Here in Grey-Bruce, this is the time of year when farmers have sold on the calves they raised this summer and purchased young cattle to graze over the fall and feed over the winter to bring them up to a market weight of about 1500 lb.  Right now they're making use of any available pastures, the most readily available way to feed the young cattle.

Our route took us through Kilsyth, the village where both my grandparents lived, and my own parents met.  Lots of happy memories of times spent here, including the summer Mrs. F.G. and I lived here after my last living aunt died.

By this point the rain was covering the windshield, but we drove through it and it cleared up by the time we reached Elsinore.

Just one example of many, this a small herd out grazing.

These are 'Black Baldies', a crossbreed between a Hereford (with the white face) and an Aberdeen Angus (all black cattle).  

Lots of cattle barns too, many of them large and modern, in spite of farmers complaining about the price of beef..

Just another field, right?  This is winter wheat coming up and this is what Mrs. F.G.'s sharp eyes spot.  Can you see them?

Lots of wetlands too.  Sandhill Cranes typically nest in secluded spots around the edges of wetlands, building a nest 3-4' across.  They mate for life.

This small branch covered in fungi looked neat to me.

As did this old drainage ditch, now turned into an almost-natural wetland.  Water levels are very high after all the rain we've had.

Just one more shot to show you Mrs. F.G.'s sharp eyes.  There are about 10 Sandhill Cranes in the left half of this picture, just before the end of the first field.