Tag Archives: birds

Australian Safari

This morning, Kat and I were picked up at the very late hour of 07:10. The tour bus seated 15, plus the driver and all seats were filled. There were a number of us Canadians, some Americans, British and Swiss.

Today was our safari tour of a rain forest up here on the northeast side of the continent. There was a lot of driving, not only to pick up everyone. The drive up to the rain forest probably took close to two hours.

The safari started with a boat cruze down a river in the hopes that we might see a crocodile.

Crocs, as they call them here, don’t like clear water because they can’t hide and surprise their prey. This is why the river is so muddy. The muddiness actually comes from the tides going in and out, as this river is connected to the ocean. When the tide is in, the water is salty. When the tide is going out, it’s fresh water.

If you look closely at this next picture you can see a small bird in a nest on the dead tree. I believe they said it was a type of kingfisher.

Here we have a funky red plant that I don’t remember the name of.

This next one is of an actual crocodile.

No, really. The tour guide even brought the boat in closer so we could all see it. I couldn’t see anything except brown water and trees. There were a few others that were spotted as well, but it was either on the opposite side of the boat or it disappeared before it came into my view. I am sorry to say, we don’t have any pictures of actual crocs.

We do have a lot of pictures of the massive ammounts of greenery growing along the side of the water.

Many of the trees are well over 30m (100′).

It was a gorgeous, sunny day so almost any picture will look good.

After the boat cruze, we had a walk through the forest. You might think this to be dangerous, it being Australia and all, but the path was a boardwalk with waist high railings, so unless you decide to wander from the path, you’d be pretty safe. The only real danger were the mosquitoes. They really liked legs, and any time we stopped I spent a considerable amount of my attention on removing them. There was one girl who had so many bites on the back of her legs, she had a welt the size of a grapefruit.

We did get to see some interesting creatures, but many of them were not out in the wild.

This one was, though.

Sorry about the bad focus. This is a medium sized golden orb weaver. We saw another one later on that was bigger but I couldn’t get a picture of it as we were in the bus. Yes, we saw a spider that was big enough that you could spot it from 4-5m away (13-16′).

A snake in a terrarium. I don’t know what kind.

Another snake. This one might have been the death adder, but without seing his head, it’s hard to tell.

A small aquatic turtle.

A really big crayfish.

More snake.

Here we have a big lizard hanging out on a log in a cage.

These are Galah birds.

These bright little guys were being quite noisy.

This guy was just hanging out on the back of a chair, and he wasn’t camera shy either.

There were also two sharing a cage, though the door was open, so they were able to come and go as they like.

Okay, last birdie.

They had a bunch of displays at the visitor’s center showing some of the insects.

A lot of them were butterflies or moths.

This guy was just sitting on the hand railing during our walk through the forest.

I’m sure you would all like to see something cute after all that, so here are the wallabies.

These wallabies are all orphans and can’t be returned to the wild. We were given pieces of sweet potato and we got to feed the wallabies.

I’ll give you one guess as to whether this next wallaby is male or female.

Here is the female with a full pouch.

There was a lot more that happened, but unfortunately I am going to have to cut this short, as it’s getting late and it has been a long day.

I will leave you with this awesome picture from one of the lookouts that we visited today.

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Getting back outside

It’s the start of May now and things have warmed up considerably since my last post. April was all over the place in terms of the weather. The last you heard from us we had just had a big snow storm. I took those pictures on a Friday morning as we were clearing the fallen trees from our driveway.

The next day we woke up to full sunshine and it was quite warm. Everything started to melt. This is what it looked like in the morning.

By 16:00 that day, there wasn’t a tree left that had any snow on it. Sunday was nice a sunny too and by the end of that day, the driveway was clear of snow, though still mushy. The following day, on Monday, we hit 24C (75F) and it was really humid. We had a huge thunderstorm in the afternoon too, with some really loud thunder and close lightning strikes. So in the space of five days, we went from heavy snow fall to serious thunderstorm.

With all of that snow and rain, things have not been dry around here. In fact, all sources of water in the area have exceeded their banks and there is a lot of flooding. Fortunately, most of it is flooding the forest. There are a few cases of people who are near the York river who are having difficulties.

This reminds us of spring 2014 when we first came to look at the property. The other pond we have at the top of the hill was over flowing. Don’t remember the picture? Well, here is what it looked like back then.

As a way of comparison, here is what it looked like on April 26th.

That’s really close to the 2014 level. I should add that we just had a huge rain storm that lasted two days straight. We haven’t been back up to the top of the hill, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the upper pond has now exceeded the 2014 level. I say this because, despite having a drain pipe under the driveway for the pond we have beside it, we had enough rain to wash out part of our driveway.

The drain pipe couldn’t keep up fast enough and the water just rushed over the driveway. I’m sure there will be another load of gravel in our near future.

Going back a bit to April 18th, it had dropped below freezing the previous night and the pond beside the driveway had a thin layer of ice on it. It looked pretty spectacular so, of course, we had to take some pictures.

Needless to say, we have had some really nice weather, and some really wet weather in April. We have been trying to get out as much as we can to work on important projects outside before the bugs arrive. The project with the highest priority right now is firewood processing for next winter.

Last week we had a good run of clear weather so we were able to get out many days in a row. Unfortunately, a bunch of our time was spent clearing fallen saplings from the roadway up to the top of the hill. We did get some trees cut for firewood though.

We started off with that small pile. Anything big I buck up on site and the smaller branches we just haul back and use the saw buck I made last year to make it easier to cut. It sure saves the back using the saw buck.

Another day, and more wood. I split some of it by hand. The cherry is pretty easy, but I leave most of the elm as it is painful to split by hand. All of it is dead already, which makes splitting it much easier than if we were trying to split live wood by hand.

We cleared out the middle section of our wood storage at the back of the trailer and this is where we are piling the newly harvested wood.

It’s not a lot yet, but it’s better than nothing. We’re hoping that things will dry up this week so we can get back out and do some more.

When we aren’t processing firewood or working on other projects, Kat and I like to take walks down our road. Kat uses this opportunity to pick up all of the dang garbage that people throw out their vehicle windows. We live on a very quiet road, but that doesn’t seem to stop people from polluting it. We’ve gathered several large garbage bags worth of things people have tossed away, most of it is beer cans.

There are some nice things to see while we’re out walking too. Like some pussy willows we found growing beside the road.

You have to take advantage of pussy willows pretty quickly as they turn into fuzzy tree buds soon after they appear. Yes the buds are all out on the trees now and some are even starting to sprout a few tiny leaves.

Soon everything will be exploding with colours. The leaves will be out in full force and the flowers will be in bloom. Heck, even Kat is looking really awesome in her spring colours.

She doesn’t tweet as nicely as some of the birds we have hanging around our place, but she sure is nice to look at.

It’s always good to end with a smile 😀

December 2016

Time keeps moving on and it has been a while since my last post. There is a variety of things to cover, so stay tuned.

First, I’ll give you a solar update.

Solar power during winter has its challenges. Optimally, it would be nice to have the batteries in a semi-heated/temperature stable location, but alas, we don’t have such a place so where they are is what we have. That being said, the solar system has been behaving very well. Unfortunately, the weather hasn’t been all that sunny. After that snow we had on my birthday, it warmed up a bit, rained enough to get rid of all of the snow and then it snowed again.

… and again… and again… In fact, there haven’t been too many days in December where it hasn’t snowed at least a few flakes. This means I need to get out and clean off the solar panels each time. I have a system where I don’t need to get on the roof, but it still has its own risks being up on a ladder. I fell from it once and I don’t recommend the experience. Nothing major was broken, fortunately.

The other thing I discovered is it is not sufficient to simply clean off the solar panels. The more you do that, the more the snow builds up at the bottom and then starts covering the bottom panel. Once that happens, your incoming voltage will drop so much that you can’t get enough power out of it to recharge the batteries. So I spent an extended amount of time cleaning off the roof below the panels yesterday.

If the panels are clear of the thick snow, any ice or minor coverage will quickly melt even on a cloudy day. Last Thursday (Dec 15th) was one of the first days where we had any sunshine at all, but it was bitterly cold. I think the windchill that night was down to -32C (-27F). Fortunately, we went back to getting snow and it wasn’t quite so chilly. Today, was a brilliantly awesome sunny day and we were able to get some good power out of it. If it is constantly cloudy, we can go three days or so from 100% battery down to 80% at which point I run the generator to top them up.

I’m sure you’re all wondering where the pictures are so here are some nice scenery shots of the snowy landscape that we now live in.

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In that last picture, on the far right you can see a black barrel beside the smurf house. The snow cap on it is probably 40-50cm (16-20″). As I said above, it’s been snowing a lot. We’ve certainly enjoyed having our driveway ploughing done by someone else, that is for sure.

Kat also managed to sneak a picture of me as I was cleaning snow off the roof yesterday.

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In case you’re wondering, I have a squeegee attached to the end of one of those telescoping poles you usually use for painting. It works great for the panels, but is less efficient at clearing the roof itself.

While I was outside taking pictures, our bird feeder has been quite the area of activity. Chickadees, bluejays, wood peckers and nuthatches all like to feast on what we have to offer. I managed to snag a picture at just the right time to get a shot of a nuthatch. They are pretty flighty and don’t stay for very long, even less so than a chickadee.

You can see this one on the side of the feeder on the right.

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Next, we’ll move inside.

As you may know from previous posts, we have a new bed frame that is working very well. Soon after that was put in, I hooked up this.

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That’s an LED light strip on a dimmer switch. It’s very snazzy and makes reading in bed very enjoyable.

Once that was in it was time to work on paneling the walls.

This is the area around the closet, before any paint was applied.

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This is the first section on the opposite side of the closet, by the window, after the primer was applied.

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Here you can see both sides after the primer.

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Progressing along, all of the window side is now paneled. Some has been painted, some are waiting to be painted.

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That last picture is a little out of date, as those unpainted panels now are.

Recently, we were back at my parents for our annual cookie day event. Friends of ours from the Ottawa area, Ian and his wife, Heather, who were attending said event, kindly donated a small set of cupboards to us that they no longer needed. As it turns out, the cupboards fit nicely over the counter where the sink will be going (yes, another project yet to be completed).

Unfortunately, this did mean some adjustments needed to be made to the spice rack we had made to go over the stove, but nothing that we couldn’t handle. But before we could install it, Kat wanted to paint the wall to match the rest of the area. So, she did.

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Isn’t that a lovely blue? Anyway, I did need to make a few modifications to the cupboards before I could install them. We don’t have standard wood studs behind our walls, so you can’t just hang it any which way you like. Here is a picture of me on the floor praying to the cupboards.

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It wasn’t a whole lot of work, and we now have a nice new storage location for more things. Actually, all of the spices ended up in the cupboards until I finish making the modifications to the previously mentioned spice rack.

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This was right before it got really cold last week, so we haven’t done much since then. I still need to go outside into the truck shelter to do things like make cuts in the pieces of wood we want to use. If it’s -20C (-4F), I’m not really inclined to go out and do that.

Things are winding down now and we’re getting ready for the holidays. We won’t be doing any major traveling this year, just visiting our family and friends within easy driving distance.

Make your holidays great 🙂

Happy Birthday to me 2016

Today is my birthday. I suppose you’re wondering if I received anything interesting as a gift? I did.

Snow

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It’s not every year that I get snow on my birthday, but it is pretty frequent. Sometimes it’s the first snow of the year. Sometimes it’s the first snow that stays.

In any event, we are now well into winter mode here. The guy we hired to plow our driveway came by this morning (after I took this picture).

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Doesn’t snow on spruce trees look lovely?

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It would probably look even better in sunlight, but we don’t have much of that right now.

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It hasn’t stopped the chickadees either. I don’t think there is much that does stop them.

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It can be the coldest day you’ve ever encountered and as long as there is seed to be had, the chickadees are still zooming in and pecking away at it. Oh, hey, I guess we can hang out the suet for the wood peckers now, as it’s not likely for the bears to be out too much at this point.

Good idea. I think I’ll go do that.

Later I’ll go drown myself with cake.