Wednesday, 15 July 2020
Location: Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
Address: 2440 Durham Regional Hwy 2
Date: November 2019
The Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex held a wildlife education event called Heroes for Wildlife. We attended and got to meet a few native Ontario creatures up close presented by different groups. We also were introduced to Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue and ended our day by making a donation which included a tour of their facilities at a later date.
The skunk above is just one of the animals that we had a chance to meet at the event. Soper Creek is lucky to also have a great team of volunteers.
We also got to see a type of red fox known as a cross fox. It has different colouring on its face and fur including a darker cross on its back. All red foxes have white on the very tips of their tails. We eventually had to say goodbye to everyone and looked forward to our future tour.
Finally, the day of our tour arrived. We were a little bit early so we waited in the parking lot. A cardinal kept flying back and forth and was checking himself out in the car mirrors. He would take a good look and then fly towards the mirror and land on top of it. He would take off again and then return and repeat the process. We are not sure if he knew it was just himself in the mirror's reflection, or thought it was a rival male. Perhaps it was time to check himself in to the Soper Creek rehab.
Our tour started and the first animal we visited was Minnie the porcupine. She was on a special diet of no produce. While we visited she slept sprawled out over a rock. Minnie shared her enclosure with a sparrow recovering from an injury, several pigeons and a starling whose wing never quite formed properly. There was also a group of sneaky chipmunks who would rush into the enclosure and tip over the bowls of bird feed as they tried to sneak off with a mouthful.
The next animal ambassador we met was Stella the opossum. Opossums have been slowly moving further north and they are becoming more common in Ontario. Just a couple of the reasons that opossums are unusual are that they are the only marsupial in North America as well as having the most teeth (50) of any land animal in North America.
Most marsupials are found in Australia. The next animals we encountered were from down under as well. They are New Guinea Singing Dogs and are closely related to the dingo. Their names were Mario and Luigi. As we fed them a small snack they entertained us with a chorus or two.
A couple of crows were in another enclosure. One of them of was called Russell. We think the Toronto Zoo also has a crow named Russell. It is a very common crow name especially since the successful Gladiator movie.
We had seen a skunk at the Heroes For Wildlife event. No two skunks have the same stripe pattern so it is easy to tell them apart. Based on the stripes on this skunk we knew that we had met Persephone both times.
The next enclosures housed all kinds of foxes. Actually only two kinds, but with different fur variations. The photo above is of a red fox with traditional orange fur.
There were the cross red foxes which we had seen at the Heroes For Wildlife event. One of the cross foxes only had three legs.
There were several silver foxes which are the melanistic form of the red fox. Again remember that all red foxes have white on the tip of their tail.
Soper Creek has red foxes and also arctic foxes. The Arctic fox normally has a white coat of fur to hide in the winter snow and a darker coat for the summer. These foxes were rescued from the fur trade so the white one had been bred to remain white all year round.
In one pen was a badger who wasn't quite so happy to see people. We took a quick look and the badger stomped around and got rather agressive. It could have been some bugs or something else disturbing it, but it did throw us a serious look or two so we got the message and moved on.
The last enclosure we went into was the bobcats. These two bobcats liked to spray and let us know this was their territory. Despite their relatively small size, bobcats can jump up to 10 feet high and take down a deer all by themselves. Just to prove this point one of them effortlessly jumped up onto one of our shoulders. A quick shoulder shrug brought it back down again. Thank you for the leaping demonstration and for skipping the taking down larger prey demonstration. Thank you also to Soper Creek for helping so many wild animals in need and for giving us the chance to connect with some of these wonderful creatures.
Map of Our World
Heroes For Wildlife
Post # 289
Wednesday, 17 June 2020
Location: Athens, Greece
Address: Athens 105, 58
Date: July 2000
The Acropolis sits on a flat rock overlooking the city of Athens. Acropolis means highest point and there has been some form of monument or structure up on the hill since at least 600 BC. It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site since it is a great architectural achievement and a place filled with history. Thousands of tourists brave the heat of the mid-day sun to climb up the hill and explore the site.
In 447 BC the Athenian Empire started construction of the Parthenon. It is the most visible structure standing today.
The temple was attacked in 1687 by the Venetians and the structure was heavily damaged. Restoration attempts continue to this day. When you visit the site you will see scaffolding and equipment as workers painstakingly restore the Parthenon to its former glory.
We toured the site and could see how many of the columns had been put back together. This one column above appeared to not quite be a perfect fit.
As the repair continues, new marble is used to match the existing pieces. You can see in the photo above how the new white marble stands out. Someone will have to match the new stone to the old stone by hand.
The Parthenon is an impressive site as its columns stand tall reaching up towards the sky.
On the north side of the Acropolis stands the Erechtheion. It contains several caryatids which are female figures used as the columns which hold up the building.
On one side of the Acropolis sits the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. This is an open air theatre that was built in 161 AD. In the 1950s it was restored and in 1957 the famous Greek opera singer Maria Callas peformed there. Since then many performers have taken the opportunity to play this unique stage. Sting, Foo Fighters, Placido Domingo, Frank Sinatra, Florence & The Machine and Elton John are just a few of these performers.
Standing up at the Acropolis you can see Athens sprawling out around you.
From the Acropolis you can also see Lycabettus Hill. Lycabettus Hill is actually the highest point in Athens.
After a day spent soaking in history up on the Acropolis you should enjoy a drink and a nice meal in one of the endless restaurants located back down in the city below. Sit back and relax and let the sun set. Next, the Acropolis will wow you once more as the Parthenon is lit up against the night sky.
Map of Our World
Acropolis Of Athens
Post # 288
Wednesday, 27 May 2020
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address: 2000 Meadowvale Road
Date: May 2020
Since the Toronto Zoo was closed due to COVID-19 we have missed our visits. The zoo finally reopened. Due to social distancing you can not walk around the zoo but must drive your car through instead. We were one of the first to sign up for this unique opportunity. We followed a long line of cars as we slowly made our way towards the front gate and then drove right inside.
The zoo normally has a zoomobile that circles the grounds. We mostly followed the same path that it takes with a few added diversions due to there being no pedestrians to worry about. The first animal we drove towards was the Indian Rhino. They were outside ready to greet us as we slowly rolled past. An Indian Rhino can weigh over 1600 kg which is the same as our car.
The next step was a highlight. We got to drive on the long bridge that crosses over the Rouge Valley. We kept the car straight and steady as we rumbled across.
The next animal we encountered was the Southern White Rhino. We had now entered Africa. We were glad that the rhino was behind a fence as we forgot to check if our insurance would cover us for collisions with a giant mammal while driving on zoo property.
Usually if you come across something black and white on the road it means to slow down and watch for pedestrians. One type of pedestrian crossing is called a zebra crossing. On our Scenic Safari we didn't have to worry about people on the road, but there were a few black and white Grevy's Zebras nearby.
A kopje is a small, rocky hill that sticks up from the African grasslands. The Toronto Zoo has one that you can walk through. Since this is the Scenic Safari that means this time we drove through.
It was a bit of a tight fit, but we made it through the lion's den. We didn't see any lions. That doesn't mean the lions didn't see us.
After we emerged from the kopje we passed a group of large antelope called Elands. We also passed Ankole-Watusi Cattle which have some of the biggest horns of any animal.
We still couldn't get over the weird feeling of being in a traffic jam where we usually walked amongst crowds of people.
There were traffic signs and arrows directing us where to go as we crept around the zoo grounds. 5 km per hour was the maximum speed and no passing allowed.
We curved around through the Americas section of the zoo. We passed a flock of flamingos enjoying the sun.
We drove around in behind the Australasia Pavilion. A fake coyote was stationed near where the kangaroo indoor home is located. This possibly helps keep away other curious creatures.
Our safari wound its way into Eurasia where we saw this red panda relaxing in the shade.
It wasn't much longer until we reached the end of our tour and exited near the zoo's administrative offices. The whole tour took about one hour and gave us a new view of the zoo. The only view these days. Thank you Toronto Zoo and thank you to all the frontline workers. Here's hoping we will be able to walk through the zoo next time.
Map of Our World
Post # 287