Some highlights from a spring weekend spent on the trails in South Ottawa: a rainy walk at Richmond Conservation Area, and a sunny jaunt at Beryl Gaffney Park. Two local spots that we love to explore, through every season, to see what we can see.
A long time ago, I went backpacking for 3 months through Africa. The morning of our long voyage home, knowing that a once in a lifetime trip was wrapping up, I woke at dawn to walk on the beaches of Nungwi, Zanzibar. A storm was passing on the horizon, and the fishermen were waiting in their boats for the tides, to begin their day’s work.
This image brings back a flood of memories – the emotions of saying good-bye to this amazing continent, the electricity in the air from the storm, and the friendliness of the fishermen, who bade me join them for breakfast on their boat (which I did). Travel is in my blood; pictures are what keep the memories alive. I can’t imagine my life without travel and photography.
So. I have these friends. And they’re biologists, as well as nature photographers. (Those two careers seem to go hand-in-hand a lot, y’know?). Anyway, they are gooooood. Their portfolio includes gorgeous scenery, wildlife portraits, and travel chronicles. Starry nights, majestic mountains, northern lights, misty mornings, wintry fields, fall splendour; moose, owls, bears, wolves, fox; Nepal, Italy, Thailand… I am awed by their landscapes, impressed by their wildlife captures, and inspired by their travel experiences.
I think what impresses me the most is the commitment it takes to take these kinds of pictures. It’s one thing to take photos of an alpine wildflower meadow; it’s an entirely different thing to take photos of a bear in that meadow. Or to be up with the northern lights on a ridge top in the middle of the night. Or to capture a lightning strike in the prairies. All of this takes patience, as well as fortitude – get up when you’d rather be sleeping, get cold and wet when you’d rather be warm and dry, be eaten alive by mosquitoes when you’re waiting by the stream for a perfect shot of that moose. Kudos, gentlemen, kudos – keep up the good work!
ILEP is currently having a sale, with 30% off their images until the end of the month. So if you’re looking for some incredible nature images, as a fine art print, or some photo merchandise (mouse pads, tshirts, magnets, etc), look no further – ilep has you covered.
(Click through to see the 5 images in this post).
Of course, being in the Caribbean without kids meant I had the time and opportunity to do some serious birding. While the biodiversity of Central and South America is better, there were still lots of endemics and beautiful birds to observe. Ironic that the best place to bird was actually at the resort, even though we spent over 8 hours in the Nacional Parque del Este (with a pricey private guide and boat tour), where we barely heard a peep. And you know what? Not much can beat birding in a bathing suit with a rum punch in your hand.
All of these images were taken with my trusty 70-200 mm f/4, which is a bit of a bulky beast to carry around on vacation. More to come on that later.
White-necked crow (with a crazy red eye):
Black-crowned palm tanager:
Hispaniolan lizard-cuckoo (so cool watching this guy hunt!):
Hispaniolan woodpecker, excavating a cavity:
(Click through to see the 5 images in this post).
In the Dominican Republic for a week, our time was pretty evenly spent looking out at the ocean, up at the birds, and down at the ground looking for critters. Ok, maybe there was a little time spent gazing into each others’ eyes – it was our 10-yr anniversary after all, and we were on vacation without the kids – but not much of that, there were too many adventures to be had!
We managed to get off the hotel grounds a few times, and spent some time in Bayahibe, on Isla Saona, and for a hike in the Parque Nacional del Este, entering from the NE access point in Boca de Yuma. The bird post will come later this week, but here are few of the critters we encountered here and there in our travels.
Blunt-headed Green Tree Snake:
A terrestrial snail on the limestone trail in the Parque Nacional del Este:
A crab on the beach in the fishing village of Bayahibe:
A basking Santo Domingo Curly-tailed Lizard:
An anole on the trail between Bayahibe and Dominicus:
A sunny Friday, a day off school for the kids, and an air of spontaneity – who’s up for a day trip to Amherst Island?! The kids were gung-ho (there’s a ferry involved), my husband was all keen (there are migrating birds involved) and I had a new lens to play with – et on y va! Amherst Island is just west of Kingston, in Lake Ontario. A short trip in the car, and we arrive just in time to make the ferry – only a 20 min jaunt across the water.
There’s not much to the Island, which is what makes it so special. Some gravel roads, cows and sheep, an old cemetery (with dates from the 1800s), lovely views across the lake, and Owl Woods. We tried our darndest to find some owls, searching up and down the trunks of the cedars, but it’s the wrong season – we’ll have to try again over the winter. (Maybe next time we won’t have to bushwhack through the willows on our way out.) But the island didn’t disappoint with regards to avian diversity. Highlights included northern harriers circling overhead, a merlin perched above us, a mixed flock of warblers in the cemetery that included a northern parula, great blue herons hunting out in the fields (for grasshoppers?) and huge flocks of starlings hanging with the sheep. The starlings didn’t do their crazy dance in the sky (that’s on my bucket list to see), but they were entertaining nonetheless.
All in all, a great day out. We ended up in Kingston for dinner, and managed to do some stargazing out the window on the way home. Soul-satifying, it was.
I got a new lens for my birthday! I tested it out on a hike to Gatineau Park to check out the ‘Fall Rhapsody’. I think our visit last week was a bit before the peak of the colours, so hopefully I make it there again this fall, lens in hand, to drink in the insanity of the autumn splendour that exists out here.
P.S. based on the perspective, any guesses what the lens might be?
We went for a wander on the trails along Moodie Drive on a blustery Sunday in September.
Jack Pine trail is one of our favourites, encompassing marshes, deciduous and coniferous forests, birds that will eat out of your hand, and mammals that are on the tamer side of wild. There were showers on and off, and a bit of a cool wind, but always, always, there is some magic to behold in the woods.
These last couple of weeks have been a little rough around here – hectic schedule with the start of school, some field work for my partner, a few days at the folk festival, and now our first colds of the season. Albeit to say, I haven’t pulled my camera out much lately. But looking ahead to a long winter on the horizon, we plunged right in and booked a getaway to somewhere warm and wonderful. I’m now slowly getting excited to see all that the tropics have to offer – rainforests and beaches, hiking and snorkeling, birds and bugs…
Can. Not. Wait.
In the spirit of the potential of the upcoming trip (months away still, but a girl can dream!): here’s a shot from high up in the Costa Rican cloud forest, Monteverde. A must-see spot if you’re ever around those parts – full of biological wonders appearing out of the mist.
Monteverde, February 2008