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Sunday 11 January 2009

2008 Photographic Review - first half

It seems my blog postings were few and far between in 2008. But we were out there - mostly touring our home province of Ontario. Ron of course continued to create beautiful images. This posting is a small photo sample of the first half of the year. (Note point your mouse at any image to see a larger view - no clicking necessary!) The winter of 2007/2008 was long and with plenty of snow even right here in Toronto. We did get out of the city and up to Algonquin where we found a few winter birds (click to view more) like this red-breasted nuthatch, (right) willing to pose in spite of the frigid -29C temperatures not including the face numbing wind. Because of the cold, our photo subjects were limited by what we found on short walks along packed trails near plowed roads. Why you ask? Because when we started off on our trip our vehicle broke down (needed an expensive head gasket replacement) so we rented a car and continued. But when we transferred our cross-country ski gear from van (without heat) to rental car (with heat and very little room), some necessary ski items failed to complete the exchange. But that's okay as we consoled and warmed ourselves later with a glass of brandy in front of a fire in Grenada (that's the name of the cabin we stayed in at the Adventure Lodge just outside Algonquin's east gates). But after winter would come spring - for its first taste check out my blog posting Harbingers of Spring
(Don't forget! Point mouse at images for info & larger view)
As spring advanced Ron would get up close and personal with the endangered Black Rat Snake (left) in Murphy's Point Provincial Park, (we would even join the Park's Adopt-a-Snake program), a Snapping Turtle (right) trying to cross a road in Killarney Provincial Park and Water Snakes sunning themselves in Frontenac Provincial Park (left). Doesn't the water snake on the left look like it's laughing at him? Possibly it did find Ron lying on a boardwalk in a swamp face-to-face with a three foot long snake (right) amusing, especially since other water snakes would come up between the boards and slither along the boardwalk beside Ron as if he wasn't there. Maybe they were curious or perhaps they wanted to be photographed too! I remained standing but I did make sure that all backpacks lying on the boardwalk were closed to ensure we didn't take home any stowaways. Spring means growth, birth and renewal and we witnessed our share of that. While in Killarney we would watch a scraggly thin Mother raccoon scrounging for food in the swamp, under rocks, and in the outhouse garbage cans. She even glared at us accusingly as if we should share our food with her. It was obvious from her physique that she had many babies hidden somewhere waiting to be suckled. In Killbear Provincial Park we almost stumbled over newborn Whitetail deer fawns and their Mother. Actually we almost ran over them as we drove the dirt road into the Park's picnic grounds. It appeared as though they had just been born right there on the side of the road - their fur still damp after perhaps being licked clean by their Mother. The wobbly legged twins froze when they saw us to avoid attracting attention to themselves – one laid down flat the other remained frozen in a standing position. The Mother moved further into the woods probably watching from the cover of the trees. Ron quickly took a few pictures of the newborns and then we moved on so as not to stress them or their Mother. Less than an hour later the three of them had all disappeared into the woods - no doubt with the twins' wobbly legs getting stronger with each step.
Also in Killbear we found a Midland Painted Turtle laying eggs in a hole she dug in the side of another dirt road (see above 2 left images and my video at the bottom of this post), and still another Whitetail doe (above right) lying in the woods with her bulging belly having spasms as if she too was about to give birth. We watched the doe quietly for a short time and she even moved closer to us to graze while still eyeing us. Rather than stress her, we moved on so did not witness the miracle of her giving birth. But spring was not only about photographing wildlife and wildflowers. We of course got up before dawn so Ron could capture landscapes such as this Dock on Desert Lake in Eastern Ontario (left), these rapids on the Oxtongue River in Muskoka (right), and the Bay of Quinte Skyway Bridge near Picton, Ontario (below).
Spring also found us shooting other subjects such as the old Canary restaurant in Toronto's Distillery District (below left and see Ron's blog posting for more info) and Mennonite country in the Waterloo Region (below 2 right images - point mouse at for larger view)
As spring became summer we continued our tours around Ontario, but one theme seemed consistent between the seasons - BUGS! Or as Ron quipped, "There will be blood!" Thankfully Killarney’s black fly swarms were unusual and the bug of choice for the rest of the spring and summer became the mosquito. But you’ll have to check this blog again next week to read about the rest of 2008’s adventures and see the photographic review. So until next week – but meanwhile here’s a very short video I created of that turtle laying her eggs.

Friday 9 January 2009

More to come!