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Monday, 30 January 2017

Wild Roosters

Red Junglefowl.

Location: Daintree, Australia
Address: Mount Alexandra Lookout
Date: May 2012
Website: www.npsr.qld.gov.au

  Jan 28, 2017 is the start of Chinese New Year.  This year is the year of the rooster.  On our travels we have seen many different types of chickens, but this blog is about feral chickens.  Feral chickens are chickens that have left domesticated life behind and taken to the wild.

Another curve on The Road To Hana.
 The Maui Coastline.

  In Hawaii, the road to Hana is a winding right of passage for many tourists.  The road has many twists and turns as you make your way along the beautiful Maui coastline.  We encountered some Red Junglefowl at one of the first parking lots we stopped (picture at top of post).  The  roosters had beautiful feather combinations of red, yellow, orange, green and white.

The mouth of the Daintree.
 No Farm in Sight.

  While in Australia we took a tour that brought us into the Daintree rainforest.  The Daintree is Australia's largest tropical rainforest.  At Mount Alexandra Lookout we encountered another group of feral chickens.  An Australorp is a special Australian chicken that is usually black with a red beak and a red comb.  The comb is the part on top of the rooster's head.  Again these chickens were just roaming the parking lot without a farm in sight.

Wild Australorp.

  Instead of calling these wild or feral chickens we think there should be a new classification called Parking Lot Roosters.  While in the Daintree we noticed a small little fruit stand at the corner of the parking lot.  It appeared to be operating on the honour system as no one was around.  We wondered if it was the result of entrepeneurial chickens or if they were secretly the security guards.  Happy New Year roosters!

Cock-A-Doodle Do you want a piece of fruit?


Map of Our World
Mount Alexandra Lookout , Hana Highway

Post # 159

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Royal Eagle Hotel

Royal Eagle Hotel.

Location: London, England
Address: 26-30 Craven Road
Date: Sept 2015
Website: www.royaleaglehotel.co.uk

   The original Trainspotting movie, about the lives of a group of heroin users, was released in February 1996.  A sequel is coming out in February 2017 which reunites the original cast 20 years later.  The movie itself is also set 20 years after the first so there was no need for a make-up team to age the actors.  Time had already done that for them.  When we were in London we visited the Royal Eagle Hotel which was the filming location for some of the final scenes from Trainspotting.

Conduit Mews.
 UpBrook Mews.

  A mews is a row of stables.  This would be where the horses were kept, so it makes sense that there would be one next to a hotel.  Craven Road has a lot of mews and a few of them are pictured above.  None of the mews above appear in the movie and these days they would be filled with people, not horses.

Crossing Craven Road.

  The reason we mention mews is because the scene in question opens with the group walking out of Smallbrook Mews, crossing Craven Road and heading into the Royal Eagle Hotel for a drug deal (above).   The group consists of Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), Renton (Ewan McGregor), Spud (Ewen Bremner) and Begbie (Robert Carlyle).  The first three are all heroin addicts and Begbie is just a violent, troubled man.

Let's Face It I Ripped Them Off.  My So Called Mates.

  The deal goes well and the group now has a large bag of cash.  While the others are sleeping Renton steals the bag and heads out into the street.  He heads down to Gloucester Mews.  You can see the curved opening to the mews just past the man with the suitcases.  The Royal Eagle Hotel has also cleaned up a lot since 1996, perhaps due to all the Trainspotting fans spending the night.

Entrance to Gloucester Mews.

  During this entire scene the soundtrack is playing Born Slippy by Underworld.  This is a great track on its own as it slowly builds up.  It works perfectly here.  Finally, Renton turns and enters Gloucester Mews.

In the doorway boy.

  The camera is on an angle as Renton walks towards it.  You can see the opening to Smallbrook Mews across the street. The camera turns with Renton and flips to look down into the mews.  A lot of the walls have been repainted, but the black trim in the bottom of the picture (left side of the mews) matches with what we see in the film.

And all in your inner space boy.

    Renton has gotten away with it.  Begbie goes ballistic.


Map of Our World
Royal Eagle Hotel

Post # 158

Friday, 20 January 2017

Ptarmigans & Buntings

The Ptweet Ptweet of Ptarmigans on the Ptundra.

Location: Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
Address: Churchill Wildlife Management Area
Date: Oct 2014
Website: www.everythingchurchill.com

  Most people come to Churchill, Manitoba to see the bears.  There are also lots of interesting birds out there on the tundra.  Two that we encountered were the willow ptarmigan and the snow bunting.  We would have loved to see a snowy owl, but there is always next time.  We suspect that the owls saw us even if we didn't see them. 


  Willow ptarmigans can usually be found walking along the ground out on the tundra.  They build their nests on the ground as well.  We spotted groups of them as we surveyed the terrain looking for polar bears.  The birds had already changed into their winter plumage which made them easier to spot against the brown, rocky tundra.  Normally the birds are also brown which helps camouflage them throughout the summer months.  Soon enough the snow will come and the birds will blend back into their surroundings once more.  Willow ptarmigans are members of the grouse family and we would put their size at somewhere between an overgrown pigeon and a small turkey.


  Another bird we spotted out on the tundra is the snow bunting.  Buntings are a small songbird and love the northern climate.  They can be found anywhere up in the arctic. We spotted a bunting on the rocks (below) sitting not far from where a polar bear was digging through seaweed.  This was the only one that sat still for any length of time.

The Hitter Squares Up.

Snow Bunting Rides The Rails.

  The photograph of the bunting on the train tracks was a lucky shot as the bird only remained still for a second.  It was taken behind the Churchill train station where there were a few snow buntings flying from rail to rail.  They all had their brownish winter plumage which both sexes have this time of year.  During mating season the males will turn all white with only some black remaining on their wings.

Buntings On The Tracks.

  We enjoyed the ptarmigans from the safety of our Tundra Buggy and the snow buntings from the relative safety of the train station platform.  As always while in Churchill you have to be on the lookout for bears.  We recommend that you bird watch with a buddy.  You never know who might be watching you.


Map of Our World
 Ptarmigans , Snow Buntings

Post # 157

Sunday, 15 January 2017

The Quebec City to Levis Ferry

Ferry Passes Frontenac.

Location: Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
Address: 10 Rue des Traversiers
Date: Feb 2010
Website: www.traversiers.com

   We didn't need to get to Levis, in fact we didn't even get off on the other side.  We rode the ferry that goes across the St. Lawrence River for sheer pleasure.  We had been staying at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City and from the hotel we could see the ferries pushing through the ice that had formed on the river's surface.  We just had to get a closer look.

View From Quebec City To Levis.

  So despite the bitter wind and cold we took the funicular (incline railway) down to where the ferry departs.  We rode the ferry from Quebec City to Levis and back again.  The trip only takes about 20 minutes each way.  At these low temperatures you could get frostbite much faster.

Old Quebec From The St. Lawrence.

  From the middle of the river you get great photo opportunities of Old Quebec along with Chateau Frontenac (top of this page) and the famous Citadel.  That is if you were willing to leave the warmth of the  ship's interior and head out onto the deck 

Ice Chunks.

  Broken chunks of ice jutted up from the river's surface.  These had been broken up by our ferry or other boats from further up river.  We watched as the ice moved from our path or sometimes huge cracks formed as our boat fought its way through.

Cold as Ice.  Paradise.

  In some spots the ice was moving rapidly because the current was so strong.  The ferry had to adjust for the current so it would force its way against the current and then ride with it in order to arrive at the station on the other side.  The St. Lawrence River runs from the Atlantic Ocean, through the provinces of Quebec and Ontario until it finally ends its 3,000 kilometre journey at the first of the Great Lakes, Lake Ontario.  

Icy Waters.
The Mighty St. Lawrence.

    It wasn't long until the ferry scraped up against the icy wall on the Levis side of the river.  While the ferry off-loaded and re-loaded we took the opportunity to warm up back inside again.  Our cameras also appreciated the break.  Just be aware that changes in temperature can lead to a foggy lens so be sure to give your camera some time to adjust. 

Levis.

  We had started off on the upper deck but now we wanted to get even closer to the action.  The lower level of the ferry is where vehicles are secured while they make the journey across the river.  This also just happened to be the best spot to get right up close to the cracking ice and the metallic creak of the ferry as it forced its way along.  Oh what a noise!  In the video below you can hear for yourself.  Mostly what you will hear is the wind blowing into the tiny microphone on our camcorder, but beneath that is the crunch of ice.


  As the boat scraped against land once more on the Quebec City side we were glad to be back from our adventure.  We headed up to the warmth of our hotel where we were happy to report that everyone, camera equipment included, had survived the trip.


Map of Our World
  Quebec City to Levis Ferry

Post # 156

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Not Bay Station

Which Way To Bay?

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address: 14 Bellair Street.
Date: Jan 2017
Website: deciem.com

  We were walking through Yorkville in Toronto when we came across two signs.  One sign lead down to the TTC's Bay subway station and the other was over a store for The Abnormal Beauty Company.  The Abnormal Beauty Company is a Toronto based cosmetics manufacturer and above their store the sign read "Not Bay".  We wondered if each evening they had a rush of commuters coming into their store and then stopping with confused looks on their faces when they realized this was not a subway entrance.  The sign would be a helpful way to let people know that this was not Bay station before they even entered the store.  The more likely reason for the sign, that appears in a similar font and style to the subway entrance sign, is clever marketing.  We just bet that they are hoping people will see the sign, find it amusing and then post photos of it online or even write a blog post about their store.  It might just work.

Not Bay. Bay.


This location is near Bay subway. Visit other Toronto TTC stations.

Map of Our World
Not Bay Station

Post # 155

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Toronto Zoo's White Lion Pride

The White Lion King.

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address: 2000 Meadowvale Rd.
Date: Jan 2017
Website: www.torontozoo.com

  The four white lions born at the Toronto Zoo in 2015 were part of a baby boom. They were all males and have the colour mutation, like their parents, that makes them rare.  The Toronto Zoo is one of only a few zoos in North America where you can see white lions on display.

White Lions. Blowing Through My Mind.

  The Toronto Zoo has seven white lions, but very soon the four brothers will be leaving. We visited one last time to say goodbye to Hank, Harrison, Oliver and Gus.  The whole family was outside huddled together for a family portrait.  Only their mother couldn't sit still to pose for a good photo.

White Lion Around.
Sunny Day.  Sleeping The Day Away.

  Aside from their colour, white lions are just the same as regular African lions.  This means they like to sleep in the sun on a hot summer's day and are no more susceptible to sunburn than other lions.  The Toronto Zoo has both white and regular lions that take turns sharing the display so this means that you will see different lions on different days.  White lions also tend to be more of a beige colour so it can sometimes be difficult to tell which lions you are seeing.

A Typical Male.

Above is a picture of a regular African lion male for comparison.
Below is a male white lion.
 
White Lion Male.

  We enjoyed our last visit with the white lion cubs and it was great to see all of the brothers together one last time.  Soon they will be off to start prides of their very own.

The Four Brothers.
 Farewell Young Lions.


Click here to take a virtual tour and see our collection of Toronto Zoo animal photos.

Map of Our World
 Toronto Zoo (Lion House)

Post # 154