American Toad, Toadlet, Toad, Young

In the middle of summer, the Spring’s generation of baby toads start getting adventurous and venture forth from the ponds in which they were spawned. One has to be careful where one puts one’s feet whilst out walking, as the paths are often crawling (hopping?) with loads of these little chaps.

This makes me happy: in the UK, toads are struggling (the usual human ghastliness, plus fungus), so it’s nice to see them doing a little better here.

People: be nice to toads!

Hello, lady toads…

American Toad, Bufo americanus

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single toad in possession of a good pond, must be in want of a wife.

Despite having been interested in, and looking out for, frogs and toads since a young age, I’d never actually seen a male Anuran calling; whilst walking in a park in Oakville, I found this enthusiastic chap parked on the edge of a fountain and calling merrily away.

He was so engrossed in the business of attracting lady toads that I was able to get incredibly close with the macro lens and get this shot.

You don’t get this stuff at home

Black Bear, Bear, Ursus americanus

This sighting was one of the highlights of my time thus far in Canada; whilst exploring a path from a rather splendid B&B (Shambhala, in Buckhorn), I found this bear just strolling towards me. After contemplating me for a few moments (and kindly refraining from eating me), it wandered off into the bushes; just enough time to get a few photographs.

I love the fact that you have things like this wandering around the woods of Canada.

I rather identify with this bear: the poor thing is being roundly eaten by mosquitoes – the little b*ggers were being especially troublesome during our visit – the dragonflies etc that would normally thin the numbers out a bit had yet to hatch from their larval forms.



This is a close-up of a well-preserved Rhamphorhyncus from the Royal Ontario Museum; it’s from the Middle Jurassic, so it’s at least 161 million years old. Rhamphorhyncus was a pterosaur (so, not a dinosaur, as any fule kno) – apparently, the name means ‘beak snout’.

This particular fossil came from the Bavarian Solnhofen limestone (noted for its beautifully preserved fossils, including Archaeopteryx) and is interesting partly because it has the head of a small fish preserved in the creature’s throat area – presumably the creature’s final lunch.


Royal, Ontario, Museum, ROM

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is one of my favourite places in Toronto; the recent(ish) refurbishment included the addition of the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal – whilst I’m not an architecture fiend, I feel the modern addition works extremely well with the fabric of the original building and makes for a great exterior, leading to the wonders within.

Tiffany Falls

Tiffany Falls, waterfall, cascade

Tiffany Falls is one of the many waterfalls that drop down over the Niagara Escarpment around Hamilton; this was taken on the second trip out to find the falls – I’d failed miserably to find it the first time!

This image is a fairly straightforward long(ish) exposure; the overall effect was generated via Color Efex Pro.

People too?

Orangutan, Toronto Zoo

It’s difficult to do Orang-utans justice in just a few lines; they have such intelligence and depth to them – I still recall being taught about their behaviour, when I was at university and eventually reaching the conclusion that you can make a very good case that they are people too – admittedly, hairy orange ones. When you meet their eye or watch them for any period of time, it’s hard to deny.

One of humanity’s more deplorable activities is the destruction of the Orangs’ habitat (and the habitat of hundreds of others species at the same time), much of it to produce palm oil. So, don’t buy stuff that has unsustainable palm oil in it – at the moment, that apparently includes Tim Horton’s doughnuts and suchlike (sorry, Canadians).

Incidentally, for anyone who doesn’t know, they are not monkeys (contrary to what I hear a lot of people saying at the zoo) – they’re apes, dammit!

A grand old lady

Clouded Leopard, Merriweather, Toronto Zoo

This is Merriweather, Toronto Zoo’s venerable Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa); every other time I’ve visited her, she’s been asleep – this was a rare opportunity to see her moving about.

When you’re as old as this Clouded Leopard, you’re entitled to a bit of rest!

A typical life-span for a Clouded Leopard in captivity is apparently a little over a decade; Merriweather was almost twice that when this image was taken. These days, she is no longer on public display and is living out her final years in secluded retirement, I’m told.

This isn’t the clearest image, partly due to being shot through glass and at a comparatively high iso setting.

Seagull against the Toronto skyline

Seagull, Toronto, skyline, lake

This image was taken on a beautiful sunny afternoon in the middle of March last year; I had done a walk along the lake-shore to Rattray Marsh and was heading back to the car – although it was beautifully sunny and the water was crystal clear, it was also d**n cold (to use the technical meteorological term) and strategic bits of me were starting to freeze.

Seagulls were out and apparently having a lovely time swooping around and catching the occasional hapless fish in the lake; I walked to the end of a small breakwater to see if I could get a half decent shot.

A mixture of bad technique, slow reactions and a slightly basic autofocus (mainly the first two!) meant that my hit-rate was lousy, but I did get this image, which I rather like.

Toronto Motor Show

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I’ve been very fortunate since coming to Canada to meet some really fantastic people; one of the finest paid me a great compliment by inviting me to join him and his son for their annual pilgrimage to the motor show – the first one I’ve been to.

It was a thoroughly memorable day, spent admiring a plethora a great cars, from the newest shiniest supercars, to hot-rods, to street racers and all manner of classics.

Photographically, it was a very interesting diversion from the usual sorts of subjects I make pictures of.