Clint and I decided last Fall that during this Apocalypse, we would make a point to go out driving/hiking at least two days a week. We still occasionally walk around the block but we wanted to get off our street, with our cameras, and see what was going on in some of our local parks and Conservation Areas, in our area.
Yesterday was supposed to be nice albeit COLD but we decided to get up at o’dark thirty (translation – 5:30 a.m.) , dress, grab our coffee and go… so we did. We were hoping to get to Presquile Provincial Park for the sunrise. It was -22 Celsius when we left. But you know, the guy on the radio said there was no wind chill so there you go, hardly cold at all.
Lake Ontario is still not frozen but there is lots of ice and some very tiny mini volcanoes along the shoreline. One area off shore, there was a lot of frazzle ice and I thought it looked very unique. So other worldly, don’t you think? There is the shore, with snow on it, then open water and then the dark patches are the ice pieces.
Just another view along the beach, the snow has almost a pink look to it from the sunrise which is over to the left of this photo.
We did see some turkeys but they are so fast! Before I could get out of the truck, they were gone. We did see a small group of about 6 deer playing the woods but there weren’t cooperating for their photo being taken.
We had a great morning in the Park but time to head over to Chisholm Mills. This is a very picturesque Mill and I love photos of it. They believe this mill was built in 1851 and in 1857 the Chisholm family bought it and it has been in the same family since. That is amazing isn’t it? So below is the whole view, such a scenic spot.
You know me, or maybe you don’t, but I love to do old buildings in B&W so here it is below.
So that was our outing, social distance was enforced, mostly because we saw NO ONE because it was SO EARLY and SO COLD. lol
And yes, Zoewiezoe, Trum was there, he just didn’t want to leave the warmth of the truck!
I loved this Park. I honestly thought it was going to be a boring, flat, “nothing to see here” kind of park. Boy was I wrong. We had spent 4-5 months traveling across the US and home through Canada. We saw more wildlife in this park than we did the whole trip…. and we were also in Alaska and Yukon so go figure.
Grasslands National Park is in the province of Saskatchewan (Canada) near the village of Val Marie on the Canada USA Border. It is one of 38 National Parks in the country, along with 10 National Park Reserves and one National Urban Park. I do love our National Parks and we have been to 22 of the National Parks, 1 Park Reserve and the one and only Urban Park. I would like to go to them all, it would be awesome to travel and spend time at every park.
The park is open year round but the Visitor Centre is open from late May to mid October and is located in Val Marie. This gives you access to the West Block of the park. The East Block is via Hwy 18, south of Wood Mountain. We had bought a National Parks pass but if you don’t have one, it’s about $6.00 per person per day to enter; camping fees are extra. The National Parks pass for Canada is about $140.00 for a family. It is not cheaper to pay per adult if you are a couple. We camped at the Frenchman’s River Valley campground, right in the Park,so we could stay a couple of days. It is not a big campground and there are no facilities, except washrooms. There are only about 20 sites with electrical and some tent sites. The campground is fenced in as there is a herd of buffalo roaming around.
You can see a couple of trailers and a couple of Yurts
The bison were all over the place, here is a herd off in the distance.
There is only a gravel road through the Park and it took us about 40 minutes to get to the campground from the Visitor Centre. It was, I may add, not the smoothest road.
There are a few old buildings and such in the area. There are also active farms, not many though.
We drove the Ecotour Scenic Drive which is about 20 kms (80 km round trip to Val Marie) There are hiking trails and other places to stop at and we stopped a lot. There were coyotes, deer, Pronghorn deer, hawks and more. We stopped to watch a coyote chase a prairie dog across the road and then circle the prairie dog’s home to try to figure out a way in! He didn’t find it but he was so persistent.
We also watched a hawk with a prairie dog in his mouth. There are so many of those little critters running around, they are the number one food source. Below he is resting on a pole, the poor little dog is in his claws.
Flying off to find more little dogs to eat
There were lots of deer…
We spotted on old car abandoned, well obviously! No one is driving that baby home lol
So many Prairie Dog towns in this park. They are super cute and it was entertaining to watch them. The only places in Canada where the Black Tailed Prairie Dogs exist in their natural habitat are here (and neighbouring lands.) They are also considered a species at risk, which is quite sad. Their entire mating season is only one hour long and their vocabulary is more advanced than any other animal language that’s been decoded. For more interesting facts, click this link.
We went out a couple of times a day for drives while we were there. There were always things to see.
I like Magpies, we don’t have them in Ontario so it’s always great to see them.
This bunny was adorable but yet another food source for someone.
There are a couple of Prairie Dog Towns and at one of them, there were also a bunch of Burrowing Owls. These owls are really small and they hang out with the prairie dogs. They hang out there as the grass is shorter and their predators have other options(prairie dogs) besides the owls to eat. And they will also take over the underground burrows for themselves. In the photo below, you can see another owl in behind this one. They are not very big, only about 19-20 cm tall.
We saw only one fox but he had the most beautiful tail. Probably looking for that bunny.
We also don’t have any Pronghorn deer in the province where I live. They are very interesting looking. And did you know they are the second fastest land animal in the world? Well they are, hitting speeds of up to 98 kph (60 mph)
It was unbelievable how many hawks we saw. These two were just sitting on top of a knoll looking around. They were there quite a long time. We passed one field and there must have been 20-30 hawks all just sitting there. The farmers had cut the field so I feel like they were waiting for mice and voles, etc to come pick up the grains and then they would nab them for lunch.
It was a unique landscape, it could be flat and dry, green with trees or like below.
They have lots of trails to hike and if you like, back country and trailer camping. But be warned, there are rattlesnakes so be alert! Also the bison can be aggressive so keep your distance.
All in all, it was an enjoyable park and I would definitely go back and spend a bit more time.
Until next time….
Foot Note: Someone asked me where Trum was! My husband told me I should have put a photo of Trum in the Grasslands but I didn’t. My mistake! So here he is….
We also traveled with another “little friend” that year. (Not sure why I put that in quotes) and his name is Digby because he was made in Digby, Nova Scotia, he was made for Canada’s 150th birthday, which happened the year we traveled to the Grasslands (2017). The company, at that time, was called Monkeys and More but has since been renamed to Maritime Tartan.
So here is Trum and Digby looking over the Grasslands. Yup we’re a little odd…….
Everyone who knows me knows that I love Moose…but then there are BEARS and I also dearly love bears. We have had a lot of encounters with bears but surprisingly I do not have a lot of photos. I think sometimes I am too shocked to take the picture lol. Plus they are very fast, they usually run away pretty quick. Couple of quick facts: Black bears are about the size of humans; approximately 100-180 pounds. They are solitary and have few predators and are basically just awesome.
We have been followed by a bear on a bike path, had them in our trailer campsites, our back country campsites and had the pleasure of seeing some super cute little cubs over the years.
Below is the young bear, maybe 2 years old who followed us on a bike trail in Algonquin Park. We got off our bikes and walked our bikes and he followed. We did not ride our bikes away, he may have given chase, you never run from a bear… although sometimes the urge is strong lol. Anyways after a few minutes, we made a lot of noise and he took off.
Another time, we had been out paddling our canoe all day and came home for a beer and a rest. We were sitting in our chairs reading, and drinking, and I happened to look up and there he was! So close, that is another pretty good story.
We used to do a lot of back country camping or interior camping whichever you prefer. We had one trip that we called the Summer of the Bears. We were with my sister and her husband and we canoed/portaged into Pen Lake in Algonquin Park. There was a mom bear and two cubs and they were making the rounds around that lake. We had them in our site every day and I talked about this summer in another Blog Post. https://trumstravels.com/2017/05/30/bear-stories/ Pretty interesting trip I’d say! So below are the photos of the mom bear in one of our camps and also how we hang our food barrel, (we call it a food bucket). And another photo showing her teaching the young cubs to climb trees. It is not a great photo but it was darkish and we were scared lol
Now in the province of Ontario we have lots of Black Bears. We also have Polar Bears way up north, like WAY up north, around Hudson Bay. Now I always thought we did not have Grizzly Bears in Ontario; however, I was lately reading a 2019 research paper that indicated it would not be surprising to see Grizzlies in Northern Ontario, again WAY up in northern Ontario. There are Grizzlies in the province of Manitoba, which borders our province, and there has been indications they may have crossed the border. I mean come on, they are GRIZZLIES, they can go where they want! The only Grizzlies I personally have seen was in Denali National Park . We were in a tour bus, which is the only way you can get into the park, and I spotted a mom and 2 cubs, way off in the distance so I got one or two pics as the bus sped past. Again, they were far away and it was through a window but still…
While in Fairbanks, Alaska, we had a mom bear and cubs traipsing around our campground. Well the mom was, the cubs didn’t come out of the bushes.
If you have never seen a bear trap, here is one below. This one was set up about 4 campsites down from our campsite at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. They set it up as there was a “nuisance” bear in the campground. Don’t even get me started on nuisance bears, more like nuisance people.
I write about “getting the shot” vice respecting wildlife. And in my Post, there are stories about different animals and the way their lives end up because they are “nuisances”. Very sad.
Anyways in this particular instance, they did catch the bear in the trap and no more bear.
We have been to the province of Alberta a few times and you can see lots of bears there, usually alongside the road. They have some good looking bears in Alberta. I cannot wait to go out there again, it’s probably my favourite province, or one of them anyways.
And just in case you are wondering, I did not get out of the truck while taking photos of this Alberta bear.
A couple of years ago we were so fortunate to spot these four cuties and their mom crossing the road in front of us. Then they all climbed a tree.
So that is that. I have more photos and stories but pretty sure you have had enough of bears this time, hopefully I can see some bears and get some more photos this summer.
Herons – my husband and I love herons. It is not unusual for us to sit in our canoe for a couple of hours watching a heron, taking photos. They always remind us of being a little prehistoric, don’t you think?
We have photographed herons all over Ontario. On the waterways, in ditches, on dirt roads, from our canoe, you name it. They don’t weight as much as you might think, maybe 5-6 pounds. I think their height makes up for their lack of bulk. They can grow to be anywhere from approximately 38-50 inches tall. They are the largest heron found in Canada and they can fly up to 55 kms an hour, which is quite impressive. Their lifespan is about 15 years but one was recorded as being 24 years old, not sure how they found that out!
They can live in freshwater and saltwater habitats and as I mentioned are quite often found in swamps, ditches and shorelines of lakes
We were fortunate, this year, to find a heronry, a first for both of us. We had tried traveling to different spots over the years but were disappointed, this year we were not disappointed. They were quite a distance away from us but it was still fascinating to see them sit way up high in trees alongside their nests and young.
They nest mainly in trees but there are other places they will nest such as the ground and elevated platforms. They normally go to the same site every year. A heronry is more than one nest and family, you can see anywhere from dozens to hundreds of nests in one location. The males will pick the site and get the materials. Now in heron families, the male and female will both incubate the eggs and they will have 1-2 broods and 2-6 eggs at a time. The heronry we saw this year was quite a distance away but I feel like I only saw one baby per nest. But maybe the rest were huddled down and only one at time was allowed to look out.
We have never seen a heron at night but apparently they have fantastic vision that allows them to hunt at night as well as daytime. Honestly we have never looked for a heron at night before so maybe we should start.
The photo below I took while we were canoeing at Marten River Provincial Park. We came around a corner and he was standing there and I guess we startled him and off he went. Hence the shot from behind. But I like it. Their legs are so long.
We normally see them catching fish or frogs but they will eat insects, other small mammals, birds, baby ducks and more. Not too fussy these guys!
If you see a heron cleaning his chest or her chest, it’s because they have specialized feathers that are always growing and they need to wash off the remains of their meals. I think the fellow below took the chest cleaning a little too seriously. I don’t even know where his head is.
I was reading an article that said if you have a pond with fish in it, for example Koi fish, they will feed your fish. What? Yes, they will regurgitate into a pond and of course the fish will smell that because it smells of FISH and come running. Then they get eaten. Herons are very smart. Fish are very dumb.
Great blue herons do migrate out of Canada during the winter. I mean really, who doesn’t want to do that? But herons living on the Pacific or Atlantic coasts will stay all year round.
Surprisingly, the adult Herons have very few enemies. Now the eggs and the young do have predators; crows, ravens, gulls, eagles, raccoons and a few others.
However, in the fall of 2018 we were camping in Algonquin Park and we went to a favourite spot of ours. As we were leaving, I heard this commotion and we looked and a heron flew in and had a very rough landing by the shore of the pond. We watched him and noticed he could not stand up, his legs were straight out behind him. Long story short, we contacted the Park Warden and the resident biologist, Allison. They came and looked at the heron and said there wasn’t anything they could do, it was a form of botulism caused by a bacterium. This affects their nervous system which paralyzes their wings, legs and necks and eventually they die. Sometimes it can be treated. Allison told us that one year, on one of the lower Great Lakes, there was about 7,000 loons, grebes and other birds all found dead from botulism. It is caused by the birds eating polluted fish and it was heartbreaking to hear about. So the poor heron had to stay where he was and we checked on him the next two days and the third day he had passed away. What I thought was odd is that he was not attacked nor eaten. Was it because other animals sensed he had a sickness? Or is that just my romanticism showing?
In the photo below, you can see his legs sticking out behind him.
We were in Restoule Provincial Park (Ontario) last year and we paddled every day we were there. Wonderful paddling; we could paddle from one lake, down a river and into another lake. The wildlife in the river was terrific. We spent a lot of time watching this one heron, what a character. I love the photos I got of this guy/girl. Not sure what he was doing but he was quite dramatic.
So that’s it for herons, hope you enjoyed my photos and stories.
Stay safe and let’s hope paddling weather gets here soon.
A sign is displayed telling about the loss of the Speedy, a ship that supposedly sunk off this shore. This is a very interesting article detailing how this ship, had it not sunk, could have changed the course of Canadian History. Click above link in the word Speedy to read it.
Presquile has lots of history and historical tidbits. Below is a sign detailing a cemetery that used to be here where there is buried some of the earliest European settlers, who settled on this point, during the first half of the nineteenth century. You can’t see the spot anymore as they let it grow over.
Off to GOODRICH-LOOMIS CONSERVATION AREA
We left the Park and headed to Goodrich-Loomis Conservation Area, not too far away. This is a nice area with 12 kilometres of trails, picnic areas and a nice river.
I spotted this piece of ice in the river on a stick so thought I’d play around in Lightroom with it. Just a little something different.
It was funny when we went back to our truck we saw a lady heading out on the trails and she looked like our friend Jane, but it wasn’t. Jane if you are reading this, you have a doppelganger out there!
It was a long day and we were glad to get home and put our feet up, we aren’t getting any younger. I sound more and more like an old person every day! lol
We are truly fortunate to have so many Provincial Parks and Conservation Areas close to us.
On our way to Massassauga Point we passed this sign by the side of the road. I have never heard this expression before and didn’t know quite what to make of it. Some of my friends don’t like and some find it funny. It’s certainly unique! Now if you aren’t sure, because I wasn’t, they are referring to eggs, who knew?
Anyways on to our destination…
Massassauga Point Conservation Area is about 60 acres set on the Bay of Quinte. There are a few trails you can take and a spot for having a picnic. The parking lot is close to the water and we could see one lone ice hut just off the shore. Some portions of the trails follow the shoreline, which is really nice and some go through the forest or past an old quarry.
So one day of winter adventures, tomorrow off to Presquile Provincial Park and Goodrich-Loomis Conservation Area. I think we are supposed to get a lot more colder weather coming next week but so far, hardly any snow. Is that good or bad? I say not so bad but I know skiers would like more!
I always think about perspective and/or perception when taking photos.
Perception is what or how you interpret situations, people, objects.
Perspective is your point of view.
Perspective in photography has been described as the change in depth in a photo, spatial dimensions, blah blah blah. That is what I got from a lot of articles that I read. But I see it as – perception is your understanding of how you see things or interpret things by your attitude or outlook and that can lead to a change in your perspective which is your opinion or point of view. Confused yet? I certainly am…….
This whole thing started in my brain this past fall. Clint and I were hiking a trail at Bon Echo Provincial Park and a young guy came up behind us. He was so close to me and it startled me. You know how you can sense someone behind you? I said to him you are very close, you should have said Excuse me, or whistled or something. He marched past us muttering “Well you people are so slow” I said to him” well we’re 3 times your age, plus we are enjoying our hike!” No answer. But it got me thinking about him and I started wondering, has he noticed all the cool mushrooms on the side of the trail? Has he seen the animal tracks that we see? Did he notice the beautiful wildflowers hidden behind a large Maple tree? Probably not, he was in a hurry to get back to his car and cell service…..
I feel HIS perception of the whole hike was to get it over, his outlook was “let’s be done with this hike”. When my husband and I hike, we perceive things differently. For example, we look at mushrooms and see the colour or texture and want to capture it. Or we see the flowers and try a macro shot or a distance shot or we wonder how to edit a photo into something else perhaps. This attitude can change our perception of what the hike should be.
So, in my opinion, in regards to photography, basically looking at things in a new perspective can change your perception. So if you look at your subject in a different angle or location or how you process it, then your perspective changes which is basically the composition of your work.
We have been fortunate enough to see a number of bears to photograph and this one particular year, we saw a family of a mom and 4 cubs. The one cub was so tiny that to tell people how tiny he/she was would have been hard to describe. When I did a Blog post up on this experience, I left a woman’s feet in one photo to show how little the bear was in comparison. Normally I would not leave the person in the photo but it gives a better perspective on the size of this little one.
As I mentioned, we normally walk trails at a somewhat slow pace as we are always stopping and looking around. And as photographers, we look up, we look down and we stop and look behind us on the trails. Your perspective can be quite different if you do this. Sometimes we take our photos by being down on our knees (that one is getting more difficult), laying down on the ground, being up high…..these can all change your perspective and your perception of a particular landscape, animal, etc. in how you see something and how you choose to photograph it.
I know people that have to have their wildlife shots face on. And yes normally I do too. I took a bunch of photos of a raven last year and my favourite one is of his back. In the photo below, he is more or less face on.
Below is a view of his back, which I prefer. I just think it gives more mystery or something. And by doing this, your whole perspective can be changed. What’s he looking at? Why is he ignoring me? Does he not want his photo taken?
I took this photo of a garter snake by standing over him. I could have gotten down close to the ground and got a face to face but I wanted something different. Plus I don’t like snakes.
Trails can be the same, your view in front of you can be completely different if you turn around on the trail and take a photo in the direction from which you came.
I find if I do a photo in B&W, it can also change the perception of an image. This photo is of an old mill and I did it both ways. In my opinion, the B&W gives it a timeless quality and it looks aged, more so than the colour version. These are all my own opinions so if you have a different opinion, comment…..please feel free to share. I like hearing other people’s opinions or choices.
When you take a photo, you can edit it to change the perspective entirely. Crop something out, stick something in, change the colour, age it, all kinds of different ways can be used to change the look.
I put a photo in a presentation once and it was trees, in the fall, reflecting into the lake. I chose to take a photo of the reflection in the lake which made the trees look upside down. I remember a woman saying “Look they are upside down” because she thought I put the photo in upside down, not realizing I was trying to be artistic lol
So below is the original photo….
But I decided to crop it and make the reflections the focus. I don’t like it but I wanted to try something different. But it did change my perspective of both photos and so now I don’t like either photo lol
The point being is that there is so much more to photography than pointing and shooting. You want people to really feel your photo and see it as you saw it in the moment you took it or do editing to make it artistic, like a painting or B&W or add/remove items, change the colours etc.
Changing your perception on anything, not just photography, can change your whole perspective.
Like living with Covid, we all have had to change our perceptions on the way we live our lives. My perspective on my life has changed a lot in how I view the world now. I appreciate all the little things, and big things, we used to be able to do which has certainly changed my viewpoint or perspective.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love to photograph animals, usually the four legged kind. Moose, bears, fox, raccoons, coyotes all those guys. I do however, occasionally, break out of my mold and do flowers, insects, birds, landscapes and a slew of other types of photography. I have to say I do not do portraits. Why you may ask? I have absolutely no interest, zero, zilch, none at all to photograph people. Give me a cute squirrel any day to photograph!
But this post I am going to highlight some flowers I have taken over the years. For the most part, the flowers will be from Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia. My birth home. Not the gardens……..Victoria. I love this city. If you ask me where you should visit if you come to Canada, I will give you a list of provinces and/or cities and the city of Victoria will most likely be on the list. And I could probably write out a good list because I have been to every province and one territory more than once. I just have two territories I need to visit.
But I digress…. back to the flowers. Enjoy
So that’s that, some of my favourite flower photos.
We have been going pretty regularly to Presquile Provincial Park this winter to walk and do photography. This park is right on Lake Ontario and strangely the Lake has not frozen up this winter. In fact we really do not have a winter to speak of here in Ontario, Canada. We should have winter! We were in the Park a few days ago and the waves were lapping at the shore. No freezing happening.
I got looking back through old photos, well not that old………but I wanted to see what winter USED to be like on Lake Ontario. Now I just sound like an old person………….
Anyways, this Post is showing photos I took in the Park in March 2019. So only two years ago and it was so fun to see the Ice Volcanoes. And we also came across a beaver. What more could you ask for?
These ice volcanoes have an actual scientific name, they are called cryovolcanoes. I put a link in the first paragraph, kind of interesting how these things come to be. It’s dangerous to climb on top of these as they are usually hollow. So you could be lucky and come down alive….or not! So be careful.
We barely have any snow and it’s heading to the last week of January. And by any, I mean we have maybe one centimetre. So it’s nice to have photos to look at.
We headed out bright and early Saturday morning for Presquile Provincial Park, about 30 minutes from our home. We go there quite a bit, it’s a big park set on Lake Ontario and lots of trails and some wildlife. No wildlife today for us which is unusual, we almost always see something. But a nice walk around the park nonetheless!
It was -14 Celsius this morning and didn’t warm up while we were there which was from 730 a.m. and until about 1030-1040. We like to get up and go early when we go places. Usually there is hardly any people around which is kind of nice. I think we came out here about 2 weeks ago and were surprised then that Lake Ontario along the shore line was not frozen, and not today either! Usually it is and some years we get some cool ice volcanoes showing up.
We did a couple of hikes and walked along the beach and over around Owen’s Point.
We did see a few finches in the trees, they are pretty cute. They were chomping down on some pinecones.