This rather splendid fellow is a resident of Toronto Zoo, although I’m embarrassed to say that I can’t remember the species – it’s some sort of modest-sized crocodilian, possibly an American Alligator. One has to be very careful when visiting zoos in Ontario: mainly due to a lack of serious regulation, a lot of them are apparently very sketchy in terms of animal welfare…

Golden-Crowned, Kinglet, Golden, Crowned

Golden-Crowned Kinglet

This shot was taken at Ball’s Falls, near Hamilton; much as I would love to claim that I deliberately got the soon-to-be-lunch insect in the shot, that would be a complete lie, alas – I was only trying to get a decent shot of the bird (the blighters move very fast) and got lucky! According to my bird-book, this is a Golden-Crowned Kinglet (Regulus…

Cicada, exuviae

Cicada exuvia

When I originally found this, I had to search online to find out what it was: it’s the exuvia of a cicada of some description. The main thing that struck me about this thing was the enormous fore-legs, which are an adaptation for digging. You can also see some remaining dried earth stuck to it, from its life underground. Incidentally, I was once taught…

Snapping, Turtles, Turtle, Crawford, Lake

Snapping Turtles

As I’ve alluded to elsewhere, one of the really cool things about Canada is that humanity hasn’t killed off all the big interesting animals here yet (unlike in the UK); as well as that, Canada has turtles! In the UK, we don’t have any native turtles; occasionally, you get the odd feral Red-Eared Slider taking up residence when its original owners decided that they…

Raccoon, Procyon lotor

My first raccoon

As most people know, the raccoon (Procyon lotor) is a very common animal all over North America; in the days before leaving the UK, I had even read an article (In BBC Wildlife magazine) explaining that not only were they very common, but the ones in the Toronto area were, on average, larger than the regular ones and had an extra offspring each season….

Red, Winged, Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus

Red-Winged Blackbirds

The male Red-Winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) is a ubiquitous sight in the GTA, especially near marshland; given how common they are, it’s hard not to get a bit blasé about these rather splendid creatures. The main thing that struck me, the first time I saw them, was that a calling male does look rather as though he’s trying to make himself explode! This is…

Hawk, Red, Tailed

Walking by the DVP

My first job in Canada was just off the Don Valley Parkway and some lunchtimes a friend and I would take a stroll around the block, to get a bit of exercise. I always took my camera, although rather more in hope than expectation; on one occasion, this splendid bird decided to put in an appearance…

American, Red, Squirrel

Cootes Paradise

Cootes Paradise (possibly an egregious missing apostrophe there?) is a rather lovely wetland near Hamilton; it is looked after by the Royal Botanical Gardens, although it is a semi-wild landscape. In the not too distant past, the wetlands were badly damaged by pollution, excessive human use and also by the damage caused by the introduced carp from Lake Ontario. Happily, in more recent years…

Geese, Canada Geese

Geese: shortly after dawn

One distressing aspect of an enthusiasm for photography is the need to get up at a totally unreasonable hour to catch some of the better light; this image required my surfacing when most sensible folk were still tucked up in bed. The Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) is one of the classic sights in their namesake country and these creatures seem to be everywhere at…

Red, Tailed, Hawk

Red-Tailed Hawk

Being from England, the sight of any bird of prey larger than a kestrel is a rare treat (unless one is driving down the M40 where the magnificent Red Kite is making a come-back); we have a deplorable history of killing off anything much scarier than a pigeon. Happily, Canada still has quite a lot of its more impressive wildlife more or less intact;…