Dodgeville

Random Wanderings and Wonderings

Category: wildlife

Be vewy vewy quiet

By , March 22, 2012

Two signs about birds in Presqu’ile Provincial Park are meant to caution bird lovers. The first instructs people to approach a viewing area quietly so as not to disturb birds on the beach:

Avoid disturbing shorebirds

Another sign in the park alerts parkgoers to the danger presented by the bird hunt allowed in the park:

Waterfowl hunt every other day

The perplexing thing is that these signs are both on the same post:

Conflicting signs on the same post

On Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, it’s Lookout #3. On Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, it morphs into “Look out!” #3. I hope the hunters are using silencers so they don’t disturb the birds.

Young buck

By , August 24, 2011

A young deer crosses the path in Mount Pleasant Cemetery

I frequently encounter joggers, walkers, cyclists, workers, rabbits, squirrels, and birds on my near-daily rides and walks through Mount Pleasant Cemetery, but this is the first time I’ve seen a deer. He was right near the Bayview entrance munching on some floral tributes before crossing the path to see what tasty treats await on the other side. I encounter deer often enough in the Don Valley that I’m not really surprised to see them in the city, but they usually bolt as soon as they see or hear you. This one walked almost straight toward me to get to the path—I moved twice to keep my distance—and didn’t seem fazed by any of the other people who passed no more than 15 metres away.

Also, I’m going to start carrying a real camera with me again; this phone camera just doesn’t cut it.

Cutest TTC alert ever

By , June 17, 2011

If you sign up for them, the TTC sends out service alerts as text messages or emails. They’re usually pretty humdrum: a bus diversion here, a subway alarm there. But one of this morning’s alerts was a little different:

A family of ducks on the SRT tracks has caused the TTC to hold service on the line temporarily while we humanely work to relocate them.

(Sent at 8:07 a.m.)

And then a little while later:

ALL CLEAR: The family of ducks have been safely relocated and regular service has resumed on the SRT Line

(Sent at 8:45 a.m.)

All together now: Awwww.

Moose-oween

By , October 22, 2010

The once proud Toronto Moose, now relegated to playing bit parts in off-Bayview productions

It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years since Toronto was overrun by Moose in the City. Why, I remember it like it was ten years ago…

There are still a few moose dotting the city in various states of disrepair, but you can almost see the sadness in this one’s eyes as he gazes back on his glory days as a tourist attraction from his current position as a Halloween prop near the corner of Bayview and Moore. Hang in there, buddy; Halloween’s here in a week and I’m sure you won’t have to wear any silly Christmas costumes afterward. Besides, this getup is much more dignified than the one Google Street View caught you in. They didn’t even have the courtesy to blur your face.

Dodgeville takes the train to Jasper

By , August 8, 2009

train-to-jasper-07884s

Leaving Vancouver behind, we took the VIA Rail Canadian to Jasper. I love trains, but even I have to admit that spending more than 18 hours on a train is pushing my limit. At least one family in economy with us was going all the way to Toronto, a four-day journey. My head hurts just thinking about it.

I’d happily take the train across the country, but I could never do it all at once. I’d get a 30-day pass (or, thanks to VIA’s somewhat limited fare structures, two or three 12-day passes) and hop across the country a few hours at a time, spending a day or two here and there to explore. Four days all at once? I can’t imagine.

Still, I highly recommend the train trip from Vancouver. The train crosses much of the B.C. interior at night, and spends most of the following day crisscrossing the Fraser River and North Thompson River valleys and eventually climbing over the Yellowhead Pass into Alberta.  By my count, our train had at least 17 passenger cars (including 6 cars with observations domes), making it by far the longest train I’ve ever been on. The observation car nearest to us was never more than half full when we went up there. My advice: try to get a good night’s sleep at the beginning of the voyage and then grab a good window seat for the rest of the day, whether in the dome car or your regular passenger car. If you can, shell out for a sleeper compartment; it’ll cost twice as much, but you’ll be at least three times happier in the morning.

Jasper, the National Park, is nothing short of awe-inspiring. You could probably spend the entire summer there and not run out of places to go or things to see. Jasper, the town, is tiny and reminds me a lot of southern Ontario tourist towns: the main drag is so focused on serving tourists that I’m always left wondering where local residents shop or eat. I can’t imagine that locals spend $100 for a middling dinner for two at Evil Dave’s or $20 for souvenir underwear.

elk-in-the-mirror-3542f

I love little local museums, and the Jasper-Yellowhead Museum didn’t disappoint. The walkthrough display chronicling Jasper’s history is so chock-full of Banff-envy that it reads like it was penned by a spurned lover. “Banff may be bigger and better, but we’re happy that we’re small and unappreciated! We swear!” While the museum spends a lot of time disparaging the development and popularity of Banff and extolling the quiet virtues of still-wild Jasper, it’s actually bang-on in making the comparison. Wildlife was abundant in Jasper, with appearances by too many elk to count, as well as some deer, a moose, a black bear, and countless ravens that seemed twice as big as their urban cousins in Vancouver.

Just about the only thing I remember about Jasper from when I was there as a kid thirty years ago was the preponderance of trailers and motorhomes. It’s still largely the same, but at least half of them these days are rentals.

Anyway, read on for the obligatory gallery and more observations.

Continue reading 'Dodgeville takes the train to Jasper'»

Best comparison chart ever

By , October 5, 2008

Can you tell the difference?

From yesterday’s Star, the above graphic (also available as a too-small PDF) accompanied a story about cougar sightings in Ontario. The relevant sentence from the story:

Some of the animals commonly mistaken for cougars: deer, lynx, coyotes, fishers, dogs, and house cats. Big ones.

Coyotes, I can understand. Lynx? Sure, why not. Deer? Okay, but only if the spotter has never seen a cat of any kind before. House cats? Seriously? You’ve got to be seriously spooked if you’re confusing your neighbour’s kitty for a cougar. Then again, if you have any giant mice hanging around your house, you’d probably want a giant kitty for protection.

Original graphic from the Toronto Star.

Red-tailed art lover

By , July 30, 2008

Red-tailed hawk surveys his domain

This red-tailed hawk seemed to be concentrating on something as I walked past this afternoon. A companion? Some potential prey? Another top predator, perhaps?

Continue reading 'Red-tailed art lover'»

Who doesn't love a bunny?

By , June 24, 2008

Rabbit in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery

Awwww.

What are you, made of stone?

This rabbit lives in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. There was also a groundhog hiding under a bush about a metre out of this shot. It kind of makes you wonder what kind of sturdy underground home groundhogs and rabbits could find in a cemetery.

The call of the grill

By , March 27, 2008

Waiting for the snow to melt

Forget spring. It’ll be summer as soon as that last bit of snow separating me (and my fellow carnivore) from the barbecue melts. I give it until Monday.

Spring on the Spit: cormorant nests

By , March 26, 2008

Cormorant nests

Winding up our Spring on the Spit series, this photo was actually taken early in the fall, after nesting season is over and the cormorants that nest in these trees have abandoned them for the season.

The area that contains these trees is off-limits to people during nesting season (April through August, if memory serves). After all, cormorants are Important Birds and need their privacy. Exploring this area each autumn, I always think it’s a shame that cormorant droppings destroy the habitat here. I’d like to think that it’s all part of nature’s cycle, but it’s possible that there are just too many cormorants here doing too much damage. It’s an eerie place to walk through when the birds are gone, and it looks like a war zone to boaters in the Outer Harbour.

Toronto and Region Conservation is hosting a public meeting on April 3 (PDF notice) at the Mennonite New Life Centre on Queen Street East to discuss possible approaches to cormorant management in Tommy Thompson Park.

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