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Friday 20 February 2009

2008 Photographic Review - second half

As promised in my last post here is the photographic review of the 2nd half of 2008: (Note if pointing your mouse at an image doesn't display a larger version make sure you are reading this blog at www.ronerwin.com/loris-old-log) Bridal Veil FallsThe first day of Summer 2008 found us on Manitoulin Island, Ontario – the largest freshwater island in the world and part of the Niagara Escarpment. (Left: Bridal Veil Falls - a Niagara Escarpment plunge type waterfall in Kagawong) Manitoulin, or "The Island" as we like to call it, is special to us for many reasons not the least of which is the fact that I was born and raised there. Many, MANY years have past since I lived on The Island, yet still at any time I could forget myself and call it "Home".
Sandhill Cranewhite-tailed deer
Photography on The Island can be amazing due to its abundant wildlife (such as this Sandhill crane above left and Whitetail deer above right), beautiful flora (such as this striped coralroot orchid below left and this wild columbine below right),
Striped CoralrootWild Columbine
and stunning landscapes (like these images along the Kagawong River below Bridal Veil Falls and a sunset over Bayfield Sound).
Bayfield SoundKagawang River
Manitoulin's slower pace and lower population also means it's one of the few places left in Ontario were it’s still possible to sit on a backroad and photograph or watch something like this Upland Sandpiper without someone else coming along and scaring it off.Upland SandpiperUpland Sandpipers and other prairie birds like sharp-tail grouse breed in Manitoulin's Grassland Alvars. As kids my siblings and I would roam these seemingly barren and rocky short-grass prairies near our home in search of wild strawberries. Perhaps that's why we were fond of the 1970's TV show "Little House on the Prairie" – we were prairie kids! Back then we hadn't even heard of the term Alvar, so we didn't know the rare habitat was also home to rare and endangered flora and fauna. (Click to visit the Nature Conservancy for more info on Ontario's Alvars) Wild ChivesNow whenever Ron and I are on The Island we make a point of searching grasslands near "home" for photo subjects like these native wild chives. But we also always go for a hike in Misery Bay Provincial Nature Reserve to see what wildflowers might be growing along the Pavement Alvar there. In spite of the flower shaking wind this summer's visit would not disappoint photographically.
Wild ChivesIndian PaintbrushManitoulin Gold
Ron would get pictures of more chives (note how this clump seems to grow right out of the pavement/limestone bedrock), Indian Paintbrush or Scarlet Cup (in Misery Bay these wildflowers often are more yellow not red), and Lakeside Daisy - a wildflower that is listed as Threatened under the Species At Risk Act (SARA) that is globally rare (only found along the Great Lakes) but that is so common on Manitoulin's Alvar coast that it is called Manitoulin Gold. At Misery Bay we were also lucky enough to spot an ever smiling Blanding's TurtleBlanding's Turtle – not specifically an Alvar species but another North American only species that is listed under SARA as Threatened in Ontario/Quebec but Endangered in Nova Scotia. piping ploverIn keeping with the Species at Risk theme, on our way home from Manitoulin Island we stopped into Wasaga Beach to see with our own eyes the two pairs of Endangered Piping Plovers that were reported to be nesting there - the first nests in Ontario since the 1970's. Anyone that knows us well knows that we have made a point of photographing Piping Plovers across the country (click to see other images). So we were pretty excited to hear that they had finally returned to nest in our home province. Unfortunately just the night before, a sudden hail storm came up and killed all the week-old chicks from one brood. Incredibly the eggs in the other nest were hatching during the storm – causing one egg to fail to hatch and the Mother and the three hatchlings to flee for cover. But in the end the desperate Mother just stretched out her wings and covered her chicks with her body –taking the force of the hail herself and getting covered in ice. When we arrived the horrified volunteer monitors were still worrying about possible injuries– but the Mother and the three chicks were alive! Ron managed to get some shots of an adult male, but all chicks remained resting far enough within the restricted/fenced off beach area to be out of good photo range –even with long camera lenses. But that’s okay. We were happy just to have seen some Piping Plovers in Ontario at last! (Note only one chick from the two broods would survive the summer to migrate) The main theme for the rest of the summer was the canoe.Canoe Paddle We started with a canoe trip into the interior of Algonquin on Lake Opeongo’s north arm where our photo subjects were mostly moose, frogs, water lilies and their habitat.
Moose CowMoose Calf
BullfrogBullfrog and lily pads
Yellow Pond LilyWhite Water LilyHailstorm Creek
Next we headed to Lake Superior Provincial Park. Small lake in Lake Superior Provincial ParkAfter a few nights of car camping at Agawa Bay and day tripping in our canoe and/or doing hikes,
Lake Superior Rocky ShorelineLake Superior Rocky ShorelineLake Superior Rocky Shoreline
we decided to canoe into the Park's interior further up the coast of Lake Superior and do some remote camping in Warp Bay and Gargantua Harbour.
Fly Agaric Mushroom, Warp Bay, Lake Superior ParkRussula Paludosa Mushroom, Warp Bay, Lake Superior ParkFly Agaric Mushroom, Warp Bay, Lake Superior Park
Canoe in Gargantua Harbour, Lake Superior ParkRainbow over island in Gargantua Harbour, Lake Superior ParkCanoe in Gargantua Harbour, Lake Superior Park
Although it was by all accounts a wet summer in Ontario, for our trips it seemed to be mostly sunny or would only lightly rain or mist on us. On all our trips the downpours seem to wait for the days we would be paddling back out into civilization or already at our car. Lake Superior is such a big lake that is usually rough. Even when it is flat it is still usually moving in soft swells up and down like it is breathing. But for several days in a row during the summer of 2008, the Lake was the flattest we had ever seen it. That didn't necessarily make being in a canoe any easier as sometimes such a thick fog would roll in that you couldn't see the islands off shore.Fogged-in island, Warp Bay, Lake Superior ParkWe would spend the last week of July with all the comforts of home in a cabin on Rock Lake near Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario.
Rock Lake near Killarney, OntarioRock Lake near Killarney, Ontario
But even there we would grab our canoe and head off up the lake exploring rivers and portaging into other lakes. It was a nice change from camping in that we didn’t have to crawl into a tent on our hands and knees to go to bed!
White Water Lily floating on the Murdock River, OntarioTiny Midland Painted Turtle
At the beginning of August we beached our canoe and headed back to native prairie – this time tall grass prairie at the Ojibway Prairie Complex in Windsor. There we walked along a trail through Big Bluestem grass that eerily enough was taller than me.
Big Bluestem or Turkey Foot grass, Ojibway Prairie Complex, WindsorDense Blazing-star (Threatened Species under SARA), Ojibway Prairie Complex, WindsorGray-headed Coneflowers, Ojibway Prairie Complex, Windsor
Also in Windsor we photographed along the Detroit River looking north towards the City of Detroit Michigan. Yes believe it or not Alaska isn't the only state that can look south and see Canada!
Binoculars in Reaume Park, Windsor to look across the Detroit River at DetroitClouds over DetroitThe Ambassador Bridge from Windsor - linking Windsor, Ontario, Canada with Detroit, Michigan, USA
On route to Windsor we stopped to car camp at Long Point Provincial Park on Lake Erie. Port Rowan and the Park are part of the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve. Unfortunately thunder storms and huge swarms of ankle biting flies kept us from spending much time on the beach or on the park's trails.
Port Rowan Boat HousesLong Point Beach Provincial Park
Driving home from Windsor we were enticed off the 401 first by the thunderstorms brewing over an ethanol plant in Chatam (noted by Ron: tripods probably make good lightening rods!), Greenfield Ethanol, Chatam, Ontarioand by the subsequent torrential rain that caused our vehicle to hydroplane – unsettling at anytime let alone in heavy traffic. So we went south of the 401 and ended up getting a room in a cheep little motel – one that seemed clean enough until my bare toe bumped into a dead lizard on the floor under the bed’s edge! Needless to say the room and the sheets were carefully examined for any other surprises. We were rather startled by this find – a strange reaction from people that spend the summer mostly in a tent and aren't normally frightened by little critters. In the past we've been sniffed in bed by raccoons, had mice run over our pillows, bats fly within arms length above us while we were sleeping under the stars, and have even pulled a couple dozen Daddy long-legs out of our sleeping bags after getting that creepy crawly feeling in the middle of the night. Each time we just noticed, dealt with it and went back to sleep. But for some reason we were so unnerved by this dead lizard that I wouldn't even try to identify it and Ron didn’t take any pictures. Instead I made Ron dispose of it while I somehow tried to sterilize my foot. Needless to say we spent a rather sleepless night. However that made it easier to get up early to take a few photographs at dawn down in Port Stanley before it started to rain again.Port Stanley Harbour on Lake ErieWe wrapped up the summer’s travels with another canoe trip back into the interior of Algonquin.
Log submerged in Lake Manitou, Algonquin Provincial ParkCanoe on Lake Manitou, Algonquin Provincial ParkLake Manitou, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario
This time we paddled and portaged our way into Lake Manitou finding a lovely campsite on a sandy beach. Bliss! One of us had just commented on how quiet it was when our illusions of tranquil seclusion were shattered – a group of 11 noisy teenagers and their 2 young guides (exceeding the park’s rule on group size by 4) parked their five canoes at the end of the beach and set up camp right beside us. By dawn we had learned more about their lives than we cared to know. Why do some people become hard of hearing once it gets dark? So we loaded our canoe, moved on and found ourselves another campsite. This campsite’s smaller sandy beach proved less tempting for others to try and share. We spent a few sunny days and one hailstorm there. See Ron’s blog posting Twenty Minutes for his views on the light after the storm.
Canoe on Lake Manitou, Algonquin Provincial ParkAfter a hailstorm on Lake Manitou in AlgonquinAfter a hailstorm on Lake Manitou in Algonquin
In the fall we did some shooting closer to home – right here in Toronto at the Chinese Lantern Festival at Ontario Place.
Eiffel Tower display at the Chinese Lantern Festival at Ontario Place - a windmill at the CNE in the backgroundThe Cinesphere at Ontario Place in Toronto
Some of those pictures might look like we were out of the country – like the ones of the Eiffel Tower, but it too was part of the display along Toronto’s Lake Ontario shoreline.
Qilin a mythical hooved creature at the Chinese Lantern FestivalLights Reflected in Lake OntarioStatue of Liberty display at the Chinese Lantern Festival at Ontario Place
Ron also turned his camera toward a couple of WWII vets and took their portraits. See his blog posting HDR Images - Pushing the Limits to see one of these portraits in HDR.
Portrait of a Veteran - HerbWeathered Hands of a VeteranPortrait of a Veteran - Alex
It would be hard to pick a favourite amongst our photographic journeys. For 2008 I might choose our trip by train to the historic old City of Quebec - maybe because it is the most recent in my memory. Or, maybe it is a favourite because the snow and cold, the City's festive lights and old-world charm made it seem like the perfect place to spend Christmas. (check out Ron’s blog posting Christmas in Quebec)
Rue Sous-le-Fort Quebec CityChateau Frontenac seen through Window in Wall in Quebec CityAuberge du Tresor, Quebec

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