A Spring Outing

A Spring Outing

Graeme wanted to get out on the trail to obtain some high speed shots of birds in flight with his Sony NEX-FS700 with SELP18200 lens.The easiest place to do that is on the many trails in the National Capital Commission’s Greenbelt where the Chickadees and Nuthatches are quite happy to come in close and personal to obtain a sunflower seed or two from outstretched hands. Graeme was shooting at 1080p and either 240fps or 480fps. I on the other hand was shooting with my Nikon D300 and a 70-300 f2.8 lens. I restricted myself to 1 frame at a time. My finger can’t click at 480fps LOL. I hadn’t been out on the trails much this winter, so was a willing participant and offered him a hand – actually offered to hold out my hand with an offering of sunflower seeds.  The temperature has continued to be rather chilly so winter clothing was a necessity and outstretched hands can become uncomfortably cold rather quickly.


It was a Sunday, so the birds had already seen plenty of outstretched hands offering all sorts of bird seed. All along the trails, there were small piles of seed left behind by hikers and skiiers sharing the trails with the birds and the squirrels. After leaving a few seeds scattered among the snow-covered branches of the cedars alongside one portion of the trail, so that Graeme would have plenty of winged visitors to photograph, I headed further along the Sarsaparilla Trail to see if there was anything else that might catch my attention.

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There had been reports of a Barred Owl in the area and others had seen a Porcupine sleeping in the higher branches of the trees, but I saw neither. Often, when I walk along this trail, I will be greeted by a Blue Jay or two, but this particular day, the Chickadees were my only companions. There were signs that a Pileated Woodpecker had recently been hard at work, but as this large woodpecker tends to be a bit wary of humans. I suspect that this particular woodpecker had taken a few days off from its labours to avoid the weekend crowds of humans.

014_9211-Chickadee  014_9214-viewing-platform

014_9218-Pileated-holesWhen we arrived back at the parking lot, we found that someone had left a copious supply of seeds and peanuts at that spot, so we stopped again to watch the Chickadees and Red Squirrels return time after time for another bit of food to add to their cache. As we were about to leave, a Red-Breasted Nuthatch joined in and returned a few times.

014_9221-Chickadee 014_9222-Chickadee

014_9224-r-b--nuthatchOur next stop was the Bird Rescue center.  Although the sunshine was sufficient to melt some of the snow on the roof, it was still quite chilly when not in the sunshine.

014_9231Icicles-After that stop, we headed over to the Old Quarry Trail, hoping to see a White-tailed Deer or two. We saw only one doe this time around, and she was a bit skittish and raised her tail in alarm as the X/C skiiers passed by. The Chickadees and Red Squirrels were happy to entertain us, though, and in addition to a few Red-breasted Nuthatches, our more common feathered friends were also joined by one White-breasted Nuthatch. The sky was blue and the sun angle was warming, so I was able to tolerate standing with my hand out for quite a lengthy period of time, as about 20 Chickadees swooped in, one after another, to pick out their favourite seeds. Red Squirrels watched on waiting for their opportunity to run in and get something to eat.

014_9245-w-b-nuthatch  014_9253-red-squirrel 014_9256-Red-SquirrelTwo years earlier, the temperature was significantly warmer and snow had all melted away.  Not this year, though!!!  Nice to be able to interact with the birds and mammals we find along the trails and provide them with a few more seeds to help them get through the winter.

Manoir Papineau National Historic Site, Montebello, Quebec

Manoir Papineau National Historic Site, Montebello, Quebec

While we were visiting at the Chateau Montebello, we decided that it would be nice to take the short stroll over to the grounds of the Manoir Papineau National Historic Site directly adjacent to the Chateau properties. (Location) It was late in the day as we explored the exterior properties in the setting sun and then we returned in the morning expecting that we would be able to see the inside of the building. Unfortunately, it was the first week that the Fall hours were instituted and, being a Monday, this was the first day that the buildings were not open for viewing.

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A Pond in the Spring

A Pond in the Spring by R. Hay

A pond in the Spring is a mighty fine place,
As Nature gets moving at her frenzied pace.
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Feeding The Deer – Old Quarry Trail

Weather was nice today. Above freezing , sun shining and limited wind. A couple of days ago, I had decided to go out on the Beaver Trail with sunflower seeds in my pockets to feed the many Chickadees that frequent that trail. Today, I decided to head over to the Old Quarry Trail to see if I could find some deer to feed. With both carrots and sunflower seeds in my pockets, I was prepared for both Chickadees and deer. I had expected the trails to be wet and slippery so wore my better, water-resistant, boots. I was glad that I did!
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A bit of snow-shoeing and shopping.

Start of the day

End of the day

The forecast was for rain, drizzle and maybe snow for most of the day. In the end, we had a bit of drizzle and a bit of snow but all-in-all it turned out to be not too bad of a day after the morning started out with pretty limited visibility.
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Old Quarry Trail, Kanata

Old Quarry Trail, Kanata (Location)

Nice temperatures and a perfect blue sky was all that I needed to head over to the Old Quarry Trail by the Hazeldean Mall with carrots in one pocket and sunflower seeds in the other pocket.
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Deer on the Old Quarry Trail – Kanata, Ontario

Deer on the Old Quarry Trail – Kanata, Ontario

It was -8C, a light wind was blowing, a few flakes of snow were falling and the deer were there to greet me as I took a brisk walk around the Old Quarry Trail loop of Ottawa’s Greenbelt trail system.

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Offa’s Dyke Path – Day 2

Day 2 – Redbrook to White Castle

Our B&B accommodation at the end of Day 1 was a former country inn now operated as a B&B called The Florence in the Lower Wye Valley. Our hosts had driven into Redbrook to meet us in a parking lot near the iron railway bridge when we crossed back over the river following a short visit at the Boat Inn in Penallt, Wales. Rooms at The Florence were well appointed, meals were very nice and the owners, Kathy and Dennis Redwood, were friendly and accommodating.

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Hiking to Marcy Dam

Hiking to Mt. Marcy Dam

When I arrived a the trailhead, it wasn’t snowing. After I went inside to register and pay for parking, I came back out and could barely see my car due a very heavy snowfall that had swept into the valley. Thankfully, the storm didn’t last long but it did turn everything pristine white. With a 60+ pound pack on my back and snowshoes on my feet, I headed up the 2.3 mile trail to Marcy Dam where I planned to tent for the night.

When I got to Marcy Dam it was beginning to get dark so I pitched my tent and then went looking around to see if there was anyone else in the area. No one! Not a soul! I was all alone on the side of the mountain. Not often that you can experience that at this popular Adirondack Mtns site. My hiking partner was scheduled to arrive from Toronto about 7PM but, as the night ticked on, I decided to hike back down to the parking lot (another 2.3 miles but downhill) in the dark with just my head lamp for lighting. Part way down, I met a skiier coming up, but not Tom, so continued on to the parking lot. As I arrived at the parking lot, about another dozen hikers and back-country skiiers arrived, each with their own headlamps to light their way. Very interesting to see that many twinkling headlights moving along the trail and off into the darkness. Tom had encountered three hours of tougher than expected snowstorm driving conditions coming from Toronto so was happy to be eventually arriving and changing from business attire to alpine trekking attire.

The trail was well marked and had been well traveled so there was very little chance of getting lost even though it was late in the day and daylight was diminishing. At this time of the year skiis or snowshoes are mandatory on trails in the High Peaks Region.

Crossing a foot bridge over a small mountain creek on the trail to Marcy Dam.

Although cool (about -15C), snowshoeing supplied lots of body heat so the hike back to the dam was pleasant. By the time that we got back to Marcy Dam again, I was tired and slept soundly despite the -15C or so temperature outside of my tent. Tom and a couple of others decided to share the available lean-to and another chap dug a spot in the snow for his tent to be sheltered. (Lean-to photo by Tom the next morning).

For the Friday – 3 trips between parking lot and dam = 6.9 miles.

The next day.

White-Tailed Deer, Greenbelt Trails, Ottawa

Shadow Creeping up on Deer

White-Tailed Deer, Greenbelt Trails, Ottawa

I live in Kanata, Ontario, a growing community on the west edge of Ottawa. We’re now part of the big, amalgamated city of Ottawa but I think few really want to admit it :-).

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