Partial Solar Eclipse

Even a partial solar eclipse is a pretty unique experience; we got a reasonably good view in Oakville too – the cloudy weather chose just the right time to break. The timing was especially good in another respect as well: right at the moment the Sun has the most spectacular sunspot too, rejoicing in the poetic name Region 2192 (doesn’t it just sing?!) –…

Gorilla gorilla, Gorilla

Motherhood

Visiting Toronto Zoo during the Thanksgiving weekend was perhaps not the brightest idea I’ve ever had – the place was uncomfortably busy, with rather a preponderance of morons banging on the glass to try and get the animals to do something (what kind of idiot does that anyway?). However, in amongst all this was the rather touching sight of a mother gorilla with her…

Bloody Taxonomists!

I was reminded earlier today that it was twenty-five years ago that I started my university degree; a whole quarter of a century ago! Back then, the science of taxonomy was pretty well established and one got the impression that the times of great swathes of change were largely over; needless to say, this impression turned out to be spectacularly wrong! Around the time…

Spruce Grouse

Fool Hen

I had no idea Canada had things like this; I’m more used to the idea of grouse living in the highlands of Scotland or similar, being shot at by inbred members of the aristocracy… This splendid chap is a Spruce Grouse (Falcipennis canadensis); according to my bird book, it is also known as the Fool Hen, due to its habit of allowing people to…

Alces alces. The Moose.

Alces alces, the moose, is the largest of the deer family (that hasn’t gone extinct). Seeing a wild one was very high on my list of things to do in Canada; after two and a half years, I was still failing miserably. This all changed on a visit to Algonquin Park, as the winter snow was in the process of melting; the main road…

Niagara Falls, Niagara, waterfall

Niagara Falls – not blasé yet

When one lives about an hour’s drive from Niagara Falls, one tends to end up visiting the place quite a lot, with extra visits whenever one has guests from out of town. The first time I saw the falls with adult eyes, I was expecting to be a bit underwhelmed: as has been frequently observed by others, the world’s greatest wonders are prone to…

Groundhog

Groundhog

I think groundhogs (Marmota monax) are brilliant! If you’re from North America, these things are relatively unremarkable, apart from their alleged weather-predicting abilities (!); not having anything like this back home, they’re rather more impressive to a Brit. Groundhogs are essentially enormous squirrels (Sciuridae); Europeans will be familiar with their more extreme relations that live up mountains – the marmots. Groundhogs prefer to live…

Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura

Turkey Vulture

The Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) is a frequent sight over Ontario in the warmer months; soaring with their characteristic tipping motion as they look for lunch. Whilst not exactly beautiful birds, in a conventional sense, they are still impressive: their olfactory sense especially, which is primarily how they find food. According to my bird book, gas companies take advantage of this, by putting attractive-(to…

Toronto, Skyline, Night

Toronto Skyline At Night

This was taken from Hanlan’s Point on the Toronto Islands, utilising an ND filter to allow a longer exposure; Toronto at night is almost verging on pretty… Unfortunately, I’d missed that last ferry back from this end of the islands and had to walk back to Centre Island to catch a later ferry, with a scavenging raccoon (who seemed especially keen on pizza) to…

Mink

Mink

The Toronto Islands are a short ferry ride from downtown Toronto and are usually a pleasure to visit – the little cafe at the eastern end of the islands is a fine spot for a bite to eat or a drink. On this occasion, I was on the islands with a view to getting some after dark shots of the Toronto skyline. Arriving in…