24 October 2009

An autumnal giraffe

"giraffe" is one of those words I'm never quite sure I'm spelling correctly; cameleopard would be easier to spell, but there are limits to just how archaic I'm willing to purposefully be.

22 October 2009

Mallard Drake

Whereas with this one, I'm not in much doubt whatsoever. One of the least mistakable birds there is.

Black Duck

Adult female, presumably.

21 October 2009

Autumnal Pond Margin

This one just plain makes me happy.

Cubic Fracture

No surrounding flowers in October, so I can get a clear picture.

18 October 2009


This doesn't quite work; I'll need to go back in a week or two when all the leaves have turned, and I'll pretty clearly need to mess about with focus locking to get the depth of field to do what I want, but at least it's a start.

And yes, the image as a type is somewhere past clich├ęd and getting into the land of "mercy! not again!", but I like the idea of it.

Still Not a Lemming

Most owls look charmingly mad. Snowy owls often don't, I think due to the sheer austerity of their colouration, but sometimes they do, and when they do it can be even more effective as a contrast to the usual look of sullen disdain.

This has been lightly sharpened, cropped a bit, and scaled for web display; everything else is straight off the camera. Having white creatures in dark places with green foregrounds come out pretty close to perfect for white balance and exposure makes me happy.

They Gave Us Dirt!

Merely because they natively inhabit a rocky desolation doesn't mean a polar bear disdains a good roll in the dirt if they can get some dirt. The new polar bear enclosure at the Metro Toronto Zoo has lots of dirt, and here we can see the resulting contentment.

I overheard several comments about how the polar bears didn't look like proper polar bears and ought to be washed while I was taking various bear pictures. Since I wasn't taking polar bear pictures for very long, this must have been a popular sentiment. While it would create a new high-machismo profession of Polar Bear Bathing Specialist, I can't see the Zoo really wanting to pay for it. Easier to just install a bear jacuzzi and sneak in some soap and a risking shower on the way out, probably. Which gives the much lower machismo profession of Bear Enclosure Drain Cleaner but one can't have everything.

10 October 2009

TOC Bird Walk–Toronto Islands Late Migrants

The forecast for today a week ago was, in effect, cold rain and lots of it, side of wind, optional gloom. By the time today actually rolled around, it was a gorgeous fall day; high of 11 C, and mostly clear and sunny. Since this came after a week of rain and otherwise adverse-for-migration conditions, there were a lot of birds to see, in terms of both numbers and species.

Kevin Seymour ably led the walk. Highlights include the airport fence, where the snipe, kestrels, one of the northern harriers, rusty blackbirds, and a plethora of thrushes, phoebes, and catbirds simply presented themselves for viewing, and the lunch stop that included not only passing raptors but interacting ones—a sharp-shinned hawk and a cooper's hawk had words, and another cooper's hawk made a try for a blue jay. The commentary from the blue jay flock was not polite.

In total, I saw 51 species of birds:

American crow
American robin (high flocks!)
black-throated blue warbler
blue jay (group count abandoned when it passed 200...)
brown creeper
Canada goose (group count abandoned when it passed 200...)
canvasback duck
cooper's hawk (at least 3! one trying to eat a blue jay!)
dark-eyed junco
double-crested cormorant
downy woodpecker
gold-crowned kinglet (clouds of kinglets)
great blue heron (2! one immature with an upper bill the blue of hammered iron just out of the fire)
great horned owl (only 1, but it was a complete-with-yikes! experience)
hermit thrush
herring gull
house sparrow
mallard duck
mute swan
norther flicker (yellow shafted)
northern harrier (five!)
palm warbler
peregrine falcon (three!)
phoebe (almost as many as there were kinglets)
red-breasted nuthatch
red-tailed hawk (only 2, but one was eating, from a very visible distance)
ring-billed gull
ring-necked duck
ruby-crowned kinglet (clouds of kinglets)
rusty blackbird (2! in plain sight!)
sharp-shinned hawk (more than six!)
snipe (sitting in a low damp spot in a mowed field, all by itself. Eventually left when members of the drifting-that-way Canada goose flock started trying to pull its tail feathers.)
song sparrow
Swainson's thrush
teal, probably blue-winged teal
turkey vulture (15+!)
warbling vireo
white-breasted nuthatch
white-crowned sparrow (1st winter white-crowned sparrow can have a very ruddy crown stripe...)
white-throated sparrow
wood duck
yellow-bellied sapsucker
yellow-rumped warbler

06 October 2009


I see these guys—just red-breasted; the white-breasted don't like where I'm living—all year, but there's a definite uptick in their presence at the peanut feeder when the weather gets cold. I suppose from their point of view the peanut feeder is effectively just pre-wedged nuts that they don't have to work too hard to hammer open.

05 October 2009

Why is the outside broken?

That's pretty much Aoife's sole area of concern this time of year. It's not warm any more, the wretched, no-good, big mean monkey won't let her out on the balcony at all hours, and the smell-o-vision gets turned off.
You can see that her expression can reflect this concern even on those days when it's nice enough to let her out on the balcony.
And then a squirrel moves along the fence.

So the poor wee creature isn't doing too badly, despite having to evolve some kind of complex theology to explain why I wait so long to fix the weather after she's clearly—so clearly—indicated that it is broken.


It's an interesting mix of leaves a wind storm brings down this time of year.