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Showing posts with label Natural Beauty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Natural Beauty. Show all posts

Thursday, 20 May 2021

Uluru

Uluru Ayers Rock in the Centre of Australia
 
 Location: Uluru, Northern Territory, Australia
Address: 3 Yulara Drive
Date: May 2012
Website: parksaustralia.gov.au
 
  Uluru is located right in the red centre of Australia.  The giant sandstone rock is a sacred spot for the aboriginal people of the region.  Uluru is also known as Ayers Rock when it was named after Sir Henry Ayers who was the Chief Secretary of South Australia.  We prefer the original name.  During our Australian trip we spent a couple of days and nights exploring the area around Uluru.

Kata Tjuta Uluru

   We stayed at a place called Emu Walk Apartments.  In the distance we could see Uluru and another important group of rock formations called Kata Tjuta.

Kata Tjuta

  Kata Tjuta is made up of about 36 domed rock formations that jut out of the earth. We took a tour which gave us the opportunity to see some of these formations up close.

One Of Kata Tjuta's Valleys
  
   We walked into one of the valleys that is formed between the domes.  You can see how the sandstone rock is shaped by rainwater running down its walls.  While the mass of rock was impressive we had hoped to see some of the desert's little creatures on our walk.  We would have to wait until we returned to our apartment.
 
Crested Pigeon

  As we entered the property a few crested pigeons ran across the walkway.  These pigeons seemed to prefer running around to get out of our way rather than take flight.

Spider In Uluru Australia

    As we walked through the apartments, a spider was spinning a web right at face level.  We are glad we noticed it in time.  We snapped a photo in case a doctor needed to see it later and carefully passed by making sure we didn't get tangled in the web.  Australia is full of deadly insects and spiders.  We are not the best at identification so we just generally avoid everything that crawls or slithers.  We believe this is an orbweaver spider which, while its bite might be painful, is thankfully not deadly.  If anyone reading this knows otherwise please post in the comments.
 
Caterpillar In Uluru Australia
 
   Outside on the ground we found another fuzzy critter.  Australia is known for having processionary caterpillars that follow each other in long lines across the desert.  This caterpillar was all alone so we don't know if later it would join up with a group for a game of follow the leader.

Uluru Camel Tour Camels Sit On Ground

  The next morning we had our own version of follow the leader.  We had signed up for a sunrise camel tour.  The tour started in the dark so that we could be out on the trail when the sun finally started to rise.

Sunrise In Uluru Australia

   When the sun did rise there was a beautiful orange glow that grew from beyond the horizon.

Wild Camel On Hill Uluru

  We noticed a large animal walking along the top ridge of a hill.  It turned out to be another camel.  This camel wasn't an escapee from a camel tour, it was a feral camel.  Dromedary (single humped) camels were brought to Australia's desert for transportation back in the19th century.  Today, close to a million wild camels roam Australia.

Wild Camel Near Uluru Australia

  We also saw other wild camels walking beside the road when we travelled to Kata Tjuta.

Camel Rides Uluru Australia.

  The camels on our tour we not so wild.  They followed each other slowly and steadily.  Everyone was riding two people per camel. 

Uluru Camel Tours

  Our camel had a bit of an itchy head and took any opportunity to rub against the camel in front of us.

Camel From Uluru Camel Tours

   Our camel was named Chester.  As the guides called him it is pronounced "Chestah!"  It is quite high up sitting on top of a camel. When they sit down they fold their legs underneath them.  This means the riders are tilted way forward as the front legs fold under and then levelled out again as the back legs fold.  The process is the same for when the camel stands up.  Chester did a good job and we remained in our saddles the entire time.

Uluru Sunset

  After an early morning of camel riding, we had plans for a late night too.  We headed to Uluru to watch the sunset.

Sunset BBQ Near Uluru.

  There were some tables set up so we could enjoy a meal and some drinks while the sun went down.  We hate to admit it, but the kangaroo was tasty. After dinner we would look up at the sky and see the stars in the reverse of how we are used to seeing them in the Northern Hemisphere.  

Desert Mouse Near Uluru.

  During dinner we had a few friends scurrying under the table looking for scraps.  Uluru is known for having the cute Spinifex Hopping Mouse.  We are quite sure our visitors were just regular mice.

Uluru From Ayers Rock Airport.

   Our time in Uluru came to an end and we caught one last glimpse of the giant rock formation as our plane started down the runway.  We had seen some creatures big and small and even more reasons why Australia is such an unusual and special place.


Map of Our World
Uluru Camel Tours
Emu Walk Apartments , Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Post # 299

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Winter in Algonquin

 Spruce Bog Trail In Winter.

Location: Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada
Address: Spruce Bog Trail
Date: Feb 2019
Website: www.algonquinpark.on.ca

 While Algonquin Park is known for moose and bears and wolves, in the winter it is all about the little guys.  We visited the Ontario provincial park with a goal to try and see one little critter who is quite active during the winter months.  We were on the trail of the American Pine Marten.

 Chickadee At Algonquin Park in Winter.

  We started our search on the Spruce Bog Trail as there had been reports of marten spotted here. A chickadee welcomed us as we started the trail. Things looked promising.

 Animal Tracks in Algonquin Park in Winter.

  We came across some small tracks in the snow.  Things looked even more promising.  We are not the best at identifying tracks, but we believe we have marten tracks in the photo above.

Grey Jay in Algonquin Park.

    Next we were greeted by one of the guardians of the forest. A grey jay flew to a nearby branch to watch us on our hike. "Can you show us where the pine marten are hiding?" we asked. The grey jay flew from branch to branch in front of us leading the way. After a short time he flew off. We didn't come across any marten, but we always enjoy a visit from a curious jay all fluffed up for winter.   

A Snow Fly Walking In Winter Algonquin Park.

  As we were scanning the snow looking for marten tracks we noticed something unexpected walking across the snow.  It was a snow fly.  We never expected to see insects during the winter months, but that is when the adult snow flies live.  They have glycerol inside them to prevent their bodies from freezing in the cold weather.

Pine Marten Fur in Algonquin Park.

  When we returned to the parking lot after our hike, we learned that we had just missed a pair of pine marten running around in the snow at the edge of the lot.  While we had been out on the trail they had been putting on a show.  We hung around for a little while just in case. Still we had no luck and decided to see what was going on at the Visitor Centre.

Porcupine In Tree At Algonquin Park.

    At the back of the Algonquin Visitor Centre is a large viewing area that looks out across the valley below.  We noticed a group of photographers interested in something in the distance.  In the center of the photo above is a porcupine at the top of a tree (trust us).  Unfortunately, there are not too many porcupine in Algonquin.  They are preyed upon by the slightly larger relative of the pine marten, the fisher.  Fishers themselves are a rare sighting in the park.
 
Common Redpoll in Algonquin Park.

  There is also a bird feeder behind the Visitor Centre which sometimes attracts martens looking to eat some of the bird seeds. It never disappoints as various birds come and go.  A common redpoll (above) is one frequent winter visitor. 

Pine Grosbeak.
Pine Grosbeak.

    Another bird we had never seen before is the pine grosbeak.  The male is the brighter red coloured one.   We had seen a lot of different things today, but it was still the martens we had our sights on.

Mew Lake Campground.

  We had one last place we wanted to try in our search for the marten.  We headed to Mew Lake Campground where there is an old airfield and of course camping.

A Pine Marten in Algonquin Park.

   No sooner had we pulled the car into a parking spot when we spotted something in the rear-view mirror.  At last!  A pine marten had just climbed over the snow bank and onto the road.

A Pine Marten in Algonquin Park.

   We stepped out of the car and the marten ran back into the woods.  We stayed still and it wasn't long until the marten showed itself again and continued searching through the snow.  A marten is about the size of a small cat but with much shorter legs.

Snow Fleas in Algonquin Park.

   After spending some time with our new forest friend, we started to head back to our car.  We noticed something that looked like pepper in the snow.  Upon closer examination we realized it was snow fleas or springtails.  Another winter insect.  As we watched them we could see the fleas hop off the snow and disappear into the air. 

  Suddenly, something flew near us and at first we thought it was a moth.  We had seen enough insects that day, why not a snow moth?  Something else flew towards us and we realized it was a group of chickadees.  They took turns swooping in and landing or almost landing on us.  They must have thought we wanted to feed them.  As they flew closer to our faces, we decided to take cover and call it a day.   It truly was a day full of small creatures, but the marten was definitely the cutest animal in the forest that day, or some might say any day.


Map of Our World
Algonquin Park (Mew Lake) , Algonquin Park (Spruce Bog)

Post # 297

Friday, 15 May 2020

Orchid Oasis

Orchid Wall At Toronto Zoo Greenhouse.

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address:  2000 Meadowvale Road
Date:  Feb 2020
Website:  www.torontozoo.com

  Once a year the Toronto Zoo hosts Orchid Oasis in their greenhouse.  It usually happens during the coldest part of the winter and is a nice change of warmth and colour.

Orange & Yellow Orchid Toronto Zoo Greenhouse.

  Once our camera adjusted and defogged from the warmth of the greenhouse we took a closer look at what was in bloom.

Orchids At The Toronro Zoo Greenhouse.
Orchids At The Toronro Zoo Greenhouse.
 Orchids At The Toronro Zoo Greenhouse.

  There was an endless variety of patterns and colours.

Lady Slipper Orchids At Toronto Zoo.

  One of our favourite flowers is known as the lady slipper orchid.  They usually have petals that stick way out of each side and a pouch (or lady slipper) in front.

An Orchid Mantis At Toronto Zoo.

  While orchids are beautiful they can also be deadly.  Look closely as the orchid mantis hunts its prey by disguising itelf as an orchid.  When unsuspecting insects come too close they get snatched in its outstretched arms and quickly devoured. 

A Green Frog In Toronto Zoo Greenhouse.

Another greenhouse resident was this green frog who had found a better way to spend the winter.  Instead of hibernating in the pond nearby it had snuck into the greenhouse to spend the winter.

Toronto Zoo Orchids.

  In the cold of February it is always enjoyable to go into a greenhouse or pavilion to warm up while visiting the zoo.  It's even better to do it while the orchids are in bloom.

Map of Our World
Toronto Zoo Greenhouse

Post # 286

Monday, 20 April 2020

Mavrovouni

Mavrovouni Greece

Location: Mavrovouni, Greece
Address: Mavrovouni 232 00
Date: Aug 2015

   Mavrovouni is a small Greek village located in the South Pelopponese.  The name Mavrovouni means Black Mountain.  The village sits on the top of the mountain above. 

Gytheio View From Mavrovouni Greece.

  A short distance from Mavrovouni is the larger fishing town of Gytheio.  You can see the homes of Gytheio and Cranae Island as you look across the water.

Home Near The Top Of Mavrovouni Greece.

  As you work your way to the top of the mountain you go past the homes with their terracotta rooftops and white painted walls.  We made this climb several times in the heat of the mid-day sun.

The Three Holy Hierarchs In Mavrovouni

  At the very top of the village stands the church The Three Holy Hierarchs.

A Lone Tree In Front Of Goulades Castle.

  On land next to the church sits Goulades Castle.  This castle was built in the late 1700s.

Mediterranean View

  The view from the hills spreads out revealing the beautiful scenery.
 
Sunset In Mavrovouni Greece.

    As the sun begins to set, you get an even more spectacular view as you look towards the Mediterranen Sea.

Olive Trees In Mavrovouni.

  The sun sets behind the rows of olive trees.  The sky, sea and land come together as one to reveal shades of blue, orange, pink and yellow.  A typical end to another day in a small village beside the sea.

Mavrovouni Sunset.

Map of Our World
Post # 284