Visiting Belgium 2012

Visiting Belgium 2012

Belgium would be our fourth and last country to visit on this trip. We had begun the trip in Copenhagen, Denmark, taken a one-day side-trip across the bridge into Sweden, then traveled to the Netherlands where we visited Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Now after a short train trip from Rotterdam we were staying for a few days in Brugge, Belgium before visiting Ghent and flying home from Bruxelles. Continue reading

Visiting the Netherlands 2012

Visiting the Netherlands 2012

Although we had a few moments of concern when we learned that Copenhagen’s Metro ticket vending machines only took coins and not plastic, our flight from Copenhagen to Amsterdam was uneventful. Danish and Swedish portion of our vacation travels can be viewed at our Copenhagen, Denmark entry. Continue reading

Gananoque, Ontario

Gananoque, Ontario

June 2, 2012 – Gananoque sports a population of 5200 and is located on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River a few kilometers downstream from Kingston, Ontario. There are a number of reasons that one might want to visit Gananoque. One reason might be to visit the OLG 1,000 Islands Casino visible from the Hwy 401 intersection. As we were arriving at that intersection, we were directly behind a large white bus that acted as a shuttle bus bringing another busload of people to the Casino. We had no particular interest in following that bus into the casino parking lot since my success rate at slot machines is very low.

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New Year’s Eve – Ottawa, Ontario

New Year’s Eve – Ottawa, Ontario

My wife and I headed to Parliament Hill for New Year’s Eve. Some years they have fireworks, other years they don’t. This happened to be one of the years when they didn’t. We waited along with a small crowd and midnight came and there was no big bang in the sky so like everyone else we said Happy New Year to those around and headed home.
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Perth Wildlife Reserve, Perth Ontario

Highland Cattle seen on the trip to Perth (more info on this breed at the end of this blog)

The Perth Wildlife Reserve, Perth Ontario is located on the Tay River and Tay Marsh complex just south of Perth, Ontario. It one of many such wildlife areas maintained by the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority. Along the way we passed a series of farms with such unusual animals as Highland cattle, llamas, and donkeys.

The Perth Wildlife Reserve has one main trail that follows along the Tay River to an observation tower that looks out over the Tay Marsh.

Canada Goose on nest.

Duck nesting box

The Tay River emptying into Tay Marsh.

Tay Marsh from the lookout platform.

Fruiting bodies of the lichens.

The Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon) and the Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) are residents in the area and hibernate in the underground rock formations near the marsh. It is still early in the Spring (April) and the snakes are just beginning to come out of their winter dens. Both of these snakes are non-venomous but, if cornered, the water snake has a nasty ‘bite’.

Snake skin consists of a series of overlapping scales.  From time to time, and more often when the snake is young and still growing, the snake will discard its skin in a form of moulting and replace it with a new skin. 

The Garter Snake is one of the most commonly encountered snakes in North America.  It should come as no surprise, therefore, to learn that it is also known as the Common Snake or the Common Garter Snake.

Snakes use their tongues to “smell” the air, passing the air particles back to special organs in their mouth for analysis.

Both the Northern Water Snake and the Garter Snake eat by swallowing their prey whole.  They can detect prey and predators by sensing minute vibrations in the ground but this does not help them much when the predator flies down from above. The snakes form an important link in the overall biological food chain eating rodents and insect and other small creatures whole at the same time becoming a potential food source for birds and mammals.

I’m not sure how fast snakes can slither across the ground but once they have decided to slither out of sight, they are no slouches.

Slate-coloured Junco (Junco hyemalis hyemalis) is one of a number of subspecies of the Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)

Heading home

More info about the Highland Cattle breed from the Highland Cattle Society and Wiki:

The Highland breed of cattle has a long and distinguished ancestry, not only in its homeland of western Scotland, but also in many far-flung parts of the world. One of Britain’s oldest, most distinctive, and best known breeds, with a long, thick, flowing coat of rich hair and majestic sweeping horns, the Highlander has remained largely unchanged over the centuries. Written records go back to the 18th century and the Highland Cattle Herd Book, first published in 1885.

New folds, as herds of Highlanders are known, are founded every year both at home and abroad and in recent years Highland Cattle societies have been started in Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Germany, Holland, Finland, France, Switzerland and Norway and there are also Highlanders in Luxembourg, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Poland, and the Faroe Islands. In the British Isles folds are found from the furthest south to the extreme north on many different types of ground varying from the slopes of the Sussex Downs, the fenlands of East Anglia,to the windswept machars of the Outer Hebrides.

But it is on the vast areas of poor mountain land with high annual rainfall and bitter winds that Highland Cattle thrive and breed where no other cattle could exist Making the most of poor forage, calving outside and seldom, if ever, housed they make a real economic contribution to hill and upland areas.The breed is exceptionally hardy with a natural and unique ability to convert poor grazing efficiently. They are remarkable for their longevity: many Highland cows continue to breed to ages in excess of eighteen years having borne fifteen calves. They are great mothers. The versatility of the Highlander led to a great upsurge in exports to the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Austria, Holland and South America. Highland Cattle can be found foraging 10,000 feet up in the Andes.

From wiki:
Highland cattle or kyloe are an ancient Scottish breed of beef cattle with long horns and long wavy pelts which are coloured black, brindled, red, yellow or dun.

The breed was developed in the Scottish Highlands and western isles of Scotland. Breeding stock has been exported to the rest of the world, especially Australia and North America, since the 1900s. The breed was developed from two sets of stock, one originally black, and the other reddish.

Highlands are known as a hardy breed due to the rugged nature of their native Scottish Highlands, with high rainfall and strong winds. They both graze and browse and eat plants other cattle avoid. The coat also makes them a good breed for cold Northern climates.

The Highland cattle registry (“herd book”) was established in 1885. Although groups of cattle are generally called herds, a group of highlands is known as a fold. They were also known as kyloes in Scots.

Highland cattle have been successfully established in many temperate countries. Their hair provides protection during the cold winters and their skill in browsing for food enables them to survive in steep mountain areas.

source: wiki