Bonking Toads…

One of the more splendid aspects of the Oakville area is the large number of parks of one sort or another, many of which provide excellent habitat for all sorts of interesting wildlife. If one insists, many of these locations could be used for things like engagement photography (discussion of which triggered this blog post); however, left to my own devices, I would generally…

For Fox Sake…

Before heading for Canada, I had read all about the abundance of raccoons about the place; it was possible to get the distinct impression that the country was knee-deep in the things. It was therefore slightly surprising not see a single raccoon for almost a year after arriving in country, despite looking for the things (living in a block of flats probably didn’t help…

Seagulls against a misty Toronto skyline.

Distant seagulls

This image was a result of an assignment from the class I’m currently doing; the idea was to produce more of an environmental picture of seagulls, giving a sense of the open and quite harsh conditions in which they live in the winter (even a mild one as we’ve had this year). Having the Toronto skyline looming out of the mist in the background…

Raccoon at dusk in Toronto

Ew, raccoon?

It seems that one easy way to distinguish between a real live Canadian (one of the wild ones) and a relative newcomer to the country is to look at how they react to raccoons: the newcomers tend to think that the raccoons are terribly cute and splendid, whilst the more established folk are more included to have a reaction that could be characterised as…

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…

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…