20 July 2014

Hail the fence

White and magenta flowers
It's so very helpful to have a fence to rest one's elbows on.  There were a lot of these, all very striking.

19 July 2014

Implausible Blue

Unknown blue flowers
I have a strong suspicion that these are benefiting from some sort of refractive effects, as well as pigment.

Can't say "they really are that blue" because of course I don't know anything about your monitor but what I'm seeing matches what I recall about what I saw, if that follows.

14 July 2014

Another front yard flower

Pink, eight-petalled flower.
These sometimes look like the gardener must sneak out in the night and dye them.  It really was pretty much that shade of pink.

10 July 2014

Purple and delicate and viewed over the fence

flowering plants with purple flowers
Also, roses all over the fence to the right, which made choices of angle somewhat restrained.

08 July 2014

I'm going to say "Cooper's"

I went for a photo walk this morning; there's a lot of flowers in people's front gardens this time of year, and the weather (severe thunderstorms expected after noon) didn't seem sensible for a bike ride.

So I got to have this flash of avian motion go by in the corner of my eye, and the slow "that's not a robin" thought, and then the glimpse of strongly barred tail that connected to "it can't be a hoopoe" which is at least evidence that the most recent bird image I happened to have looked at stuck.

There were four obviously juvenile accipters; I presume a successful clutch.  (The tree is in a small park adjacent to a primary school; it looks very wild but I was standing on asphalt and there were half-a-dozen children and parents on their way to school looking up around me.)  I only got pictures of one; I'm rather pleased with myself that I managed to get the macro lens swapped off for the long zoom in an expeditious fashion, since there was a fair bit of in-the-trees movement going on.

At the time, I thought they were Sharp-shinned; they didn't seem much larger than robins.  Then I got home and looked at the better pictures.

juvenile Cooper's Hawk in a conifer
I'm chewing my way through Peter Dunne's Essential Field Guide Companion which makes the point that Sharp-shinned hawks can't turn their heads like this.  (They have to drop a shoulder.)  I recall a discussion at a TOC meeting where Mark Peck of the ROM pointed out that Sharp-Shinned has much larger and distinct "raindrop" streaking on the breast.  (Which makes me doubt about this one.)
On the other hand
same juvenile Cooper's Hawk, same conifer, less obscuring foliage
Those are neither especially spindly legs nor a narrow white terminal tail band, and there's russet on the head and nape.  So I'm going to say it's Cooper's.

06 July 2014


Preparations to string new cables on Dupont St.
Those are big reels of what I want to call nylon cable, only I don't think it's technically cable despite not being rope and it might not be nylon, could be Aramid or similar these days.  The drilling for new post holes is done, and the view the other direction -- hopelessly up-sun for the camera -- has pulleys slung on the new poles, ready to start pulling the actual cables along.

I presume that happens Monday.  I also presume that Monday is a good day to avoid the area, traffic-wise.

There have been a few more bike rides, several successful episodes of wheel truing subsequent to the bike rides, and a general attempt to say away from the parts of town where the World Cup is a thing.  Also some writing; Commonweal #3 is harder to write than #1 or #2 were, but it seems to be moving a bit at long last.

27 June 2014

Succumbing to Optimism

It was a really nice day today, after a couple days of, respectively, threatened toad-strangling rain and actual toad-strangling (or at least "divided highway and subway station flooding") rain.  So I was dithering between riding up the Humber and riding along the Waterfront trail going west (World Pride is on, in a downtown still with much ongoing construction; staying the pluperfect out of downtown is a Good Plan until after Canada Day.)  Turns out my feet wanted to go up the Humber.

The end of the West Humber trail just short of Steeles Ave.
 The last, oh, it's just barely an entire kilometre, of the trail is rather varied in composition; large gravel, stone dust, water-sorted gravel, and it's got noticeable up to it, so it's a small ring and caution stretch.  It's also one of my very favourite trail sections anywhere in Toronto because hardly anyone uses it and the forest has flashes of feeling actually wild.
Reality lacks a road
I had the clever idea of actually emerging on to Steeles, something one does not necessarily ever want to do with a bicycle.  (Reasonably nimble armoured vehicle is more the thing for Steeles.)  I was going to try to drop down at an angle once across Kipling and try for the other branch of the West Humber, which would get me back to the main part of the Humber via at least different tree-shaded paths.

This is complicated by the presence of railroads, divided highways, twisty old subdivision road layouts, and my own rather lamentable tendency to optimism; I wound up well north of Steels on Martin Grove Road (we call this "turning the wrong way"), and started trying to figure out how to pick up some westing without, preferably, having to travel on Steeles or Highway 7, since I didn't have that reasonably nimble armoured vehicle.  The GPS showed a bike-path scale road that might just make it between Martin Grove and Highway 27, and 27 would at least get me south again. (So would have turning around; that would have been much more sensible.)  Said bike-path is actually not, it's a full two lanes and paved and in gorgeous shape, because it's the access road for the Claireville Transformer Station.  Which, alas, has a fence; a large, alarmed, multi-layer, extra barbed wire, fence. Which I crept around, on the little gravel fringe, in the hope of road continuing on the other side.

So, pluses; I can slog through three hundred metres of tall grass, thistles, and whatnot in the new cycling shoes; I can get around the fence on the little gravel border without too many thistles or raspberries, and I even found the actual gate gap in the far fence, the one that picture is looking back from, rather than trying to lift the Hypothesis over full-up pagewire fence.  I should still have turned around.

But I did get back over the 407 intact, despite the best efforts of a concealed ~15cm rise where a sidewalk started at a crossing light (nearly took the rear wheel off!), and was able to mostly follow the plan, so far as getting home goes.  And (so far) my legs haven't fallen off.  (And average cycling speed's up a bit, which the transformer station slog makes less than obvious in the available track stats.)