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

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

Friday, 10 April 2020

Easter Island Dreaming

American Museum of Natural History Moai Easter Island Figure.

Location: New York City, New York, USA
Address: 200 Central Park West
Date: Sept 2007
Website: https://www.amnh.org

  Easter Island remains on our bucket list.  It is a small island located about 3220 km west of Chile and received its name from a Dutch explorer who found it on Easter Sunday 1722.  The island is famous for its large stone sculptures called moai.  Just because we have yet to make it to the island, does not mean that some of the island has not made its way to us.

American Museum of Natural History Moai Easter Island Figure.

  At the American Museum of Natural History in New York City there is a plaster cast of a moai statue on display.  The mold was made from one of the real moai during a museum expedition to Easter Island in 1935.  A copy of this cast statue comes to life and was featured in the movie Night At The Museum.  Brad Garrett voices the character that spends most of its time asking for some gum.  Sorry, gum gum.

Easter Island Statue At Sunset Park Las Vegas.

  Las Vegas always tries to copy everything so it makes sense that it has a replica of an Easter Island statue.  The Vegas strip has its own Eiffel Tower, Venice, New York City and even an active volcano among the copied structures.  The strip used to have two Easter Island statues outside the Aku Aku restaurant which was part of the Stardust casino.  The restaurant and casino are no longer around.

Easter Island Statue In Sunset Park Las Vegas

  One of the statues was moved off of the strip and placed in Sunset Park. It sits on an island in the pond at the center of the park.  Not quite Easter Island but it is still an island none the less.

Sea Life London Aquarium Shark Tank.

  London, England  has a few replica Easter Island statues as well as the real deal.  There are replica statues sunken in the shark tank at Sea Life London Aquarium.

Sea Life London Aquarium Shark Tank.

  Sand Tiger Sharks spend their days swimming around while these giant heads keep a close eye on them.  Unlike these replica statues the real Easter Island statues all reside on land although many have sunk deeper into the soil through the centuries.

Easter Island Statue At The British Museum.

  The closest we have ever come to Easter Island is at the British Museum where they have an actual statue that was transported from the island back in 1868.  This statue is called Hoa Hakananai'a.  Easter Island has requested that it be allowed to return home again.  If they let us know, we will gladly accompany it on the ride home and then we can cross another item off of our bucket list.

Map of Our World
Post # 283

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Ethel M Chocolate Factory & Cactus Garden

Ethel M Chocolates & Cactus Garden.

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Address: 2 Cactus Garden Dr.
Date: March 2020
Website: www.ethelm.com

    Franklin Mars started the Mars Candy Factory in 1911 with his wife Ethel.  Today Mars makes Snickers, Twix, Mars bars and more.  Ethel is the Ethel M from a popular chocolate factory near Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ethel M Chocolates Factory.

    While in Vegas you can take a short drive to see Ethel M chocolate being made in the factory.  It is made in small batches with no preservatives.

Ethel M Enrobing Machines.

  The tour starts with a taste of some chocolate.  So far so good.  You then wander past the machines where the chocolate is prepared.  Next it is more machines that fill multiple molds and create patterns on top of the chocolates and then put them into cases and boxes.

Chocolate Wall At Ethel M Factory.

  The end result is something like the giant chocolate wall at the end of the tour.  Thanks to all the different shapes and patterns you can identify which pieces to eat first when sampling from a box.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberreies At Ethem M's In Las Vegas.

  After our tour we enjoyed a chocolate cappucino and some chocolate dipped strawberries. Very nice.

Ethel M Cactus Garden.

  Next it was outside to take a tour of the cactus garden located just behind the factory.  A little desert after dessert.

Purple Pancake Cactus At Ethel M Las Vegas.

  If you still feel like food, there was purple pancake cactus on display.  We don't think they were very edible.

Ethel M Cactus Garden Joshua Tree.

  There was a couple of Joshua Trees.

Mountains From Ethel M Cactus Garden.

As well as a nice view of the mountains.

Costa's Hummingbird Ethel M Cactus Garden.
Costa's Hummingbird Ethel M Cactus Garden.

  There was also wildlife to be found in amongst the cactus.  Above is a male Costa's Hummingbird that is known for its purplish head if caught in the right light.  Its head feathers also sort of flare out on the sides.  It was sitting surprisingly still for a hummingbird.

A Verdin At Ethel M Cactus Garden.

  A small white, grey bird with a yellow head was all over the place.  We managed one good photo of it as it moved from branch to branch faster than we could get it into focus.  These birds are fairly common in Nevada and are known as Verdin.

Ethel M Cactus Garden.

Ethel M Chocolate Fountain.

  We enjoyed our visit to Ethel M.  A great chocolatier knows that chocolate and cactus work well together late in the afternoon.

Map of Our World
Ethel M Cactus Garden
Ethel M Chocolate Factory

Post # 280