Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spring Wildflowers

Today I went for a walk at Brunet Park in LaSalle, Ontario. This park has a spectacular display of spring wildflowers.  Here are a few photographs of the species I discovered flowering. All the photos were taken with my Sigma 105mm macro lens attached to my Canon 30D.

White Trillium 


Trout Lily 

Wild Geranium 

Early Meadow Rue

Wild Oats 

Blue Violet 

Purple Cress 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Prescribed Burns

Fire is essential to the survival of the oak savanna and tallgrass prairie. Without it these diverse ecosystems would disappear along with their unique flora and fauna. Prescribed burns are conducted safely by professionals and mimic naturally occurring fires such as lightning strikes. The same people who fight forest fires are the ones performing these controlled burns. Fire will help accelerate growth of the prairie species, eliminate shrubby vegetation and provide the soil with extra nutrients. In addition it will also help deal with invasive species ie. Black Locust, Japanese Honeysuckle, and Common Buckthorn.

This spring two prescribed burns were undertaken in the Ojibway Prairie Complex. Here are some photo/videos.

Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve

Black Oak Heritage Park

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nesting time!

Today on a walk through Ojibway Park ( I discovered a female Downy Woodpecker hollowing a hole inside a dead ash tree. I observed the bird for over 30 minutes watching and photographing as she dug deep inside the tree. Here are a few images that go along with the story. I'll be keeping an eye out to see if she decides to nest inside this particular tree. 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Great Horned Owl Nest

This evening my friend and I went to photograph a pair of nesting Great Horned Owls. When we approached the nest the adult flew from its nearby perch but landed a couple hundred yards away. It was difficult to find the owl after it flew but after a thorough search the bird was relocated. It was almost impossible to get a photo of the adult; however, I was able to get some photos of the young owls. The nest was approx 8o' high so this was the best I could achieve with my set up (Canon 30D 300mm+ 1.4X teleconverter). The owlets would pop their heads up every now and again which allowed me to get this shot. As we were leaving the adult owl was mobbed by crows, but the bird stayed perched and didn't seem too bothered. I hope to photograph the owls a few more times before they leave the nest.

Great horned Owls (Original)

Great Horned Owls (cropped from original)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Smoky Mountains April 2-4

My wife and I decided to take a trip to the Smoky Mountains for our first anniversary. This was our first time visiting the park and it definitely won't be our last. We stayed in a cabin in Sevierville which was approximately 12 minutes away from the park entrance. We couldn't have asked for better weather with blue skies and highs in the mid 80's; not bad for the beginning of April. Our trip was short (3 days) but we managed to see some of the park's most beautiful sights, hike some of the most breathtaking scenic trails we've ever seen, and best of all, (for me of course), I found and photographed new salamander species. Here are a few of my favourite pictures from our stay.

"Cabin Fever"

The view from the balcony

Blue Ridge Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea wilderae)

Imitator Salamander (Desmognathus imitator)
This Salamander is an endemic to the Smoky Mountains.

Ocoee Salamander (Desmognathus ocoee)

Southern Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon serratus)

Black-bellied Salamander (Desmognathus quadramaculatus)

Seal Salamander (Desmognathus monticola)

Desmognathus sp.

Desmognathus (larval stage)

While walking the Cove Mountain Trail we came across a Black Bear foraging just off the trail. The bear could care less that we were there and continued feeding as if we didn't exist. I was able to get some decent shots of the bear before it disappeared. This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.

I discovered this scorpion under a rock at the cabin.

One of the thousands of waterfalls in the park.

Newfound Gap at 5048'