SNOW seen in Ottawa

On my way back to Ottawa, I learned there was a Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) seen in Peterborough near where I used to live, so I was quite disappointed that I did not hear about this news sooner during my time in Peterborough.  Once I got back to Ottawa, I started searching for information on owl sightings here.  I know Snowy Owls visit Ottawa because I saw them here last winter.

Information about owl sightings is usually very secretive among naturalist groups because of the human disturbances to wildlife and private property (which I totally agree).  Observing wildlife in their habitat is a great way for people to learn about nature, but it is importance to treat wildlife as other human beings and keep a respectful, non-disruptive distance because I doubt most people would like it when others start to invade their personal space.  The Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club has listed code of conduct and ethics here

Nonetheless, there are usually some clues left on internet (e.g., eBird, Flickr, general news media) that give people an idea of where to look for them.  Then the rest is just being at the right place at the right time.  I followed this news article, and looked for owls south of the airport today.  It took me some searching, but I eventually saw this Snowy Owl about 200-m away from where I stood.

This was as far as I could get with my 70-300 lens (i.e., 140-600 lens).

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus)
Sitting and watching around.

Three crows briefly mobbed it while they flew by but the owl stayed still.  It flew to a hay bale shortly after I walked to another spot.

Such a beautiful creature!


Final holiday update - Mudppy Night in Oxford Mills

One of the several reasons I came back to Peterborough this holiday season was to go to Mudpuppy Night (happening every Friday at 8 PM starting with the first Friday after Thanksgiving) with friends from Peterborough.  I don't remember exactly how I come across information about this event (probably from reading someone's blog post, such as this), but it is something I want to do for a while now. 

On Friday afternoon, we started our journey from Peterborough, and we couldn't had asked for a better weather with just a few degrees below zero.

Rural lifestyle
View from the farm where we dropped Bronte off for the night.

We arrived at Kemptville Creek (near the intersection of Water and Bridge Streets) just around 8 PM and was greeted by the starry sky.  If you Google" mudpuppy" and "Oxford Mills", you'd be certain to come across a lot of information about Mudpuppies (Necturus maculosus), so I won't really go into it here (e.g., this and this).  But if I have describe this place in one word, I'd say it is special (or two words - very special).  There are a lot of places with similar conditions (shallow, rocky, clean, and relatively slow-flowing water), but to have tens of wild salamanders right in front of you, I doubt there is another place like it in Canada (or perhaps even North America).  Plus, Dr. Fred Scheuler is a very knowledge expert on Mudpuppies, so coming here, seeing the Mudpuppies in-person, and talking with Fred is the only reasonable way to learn about Mudpuppies.

[Photo series] Black dog in a white landscape

As mentioned before, I took care of my friend's pets during my time in Peterborough.  Since I took the dog (Bronte) out walking everyday and couldn't see anything (exciting) to photograph, I ended up taking a lot of photos of Bronte playing and just being a dog in the snow.  There were a lot of photos, so I compiled them all into this one post.

Sticks.  Bronte just love sticks.

Holiday update #3

I just returned back to Ottawa around midnight today, after spending a couple of hours driving from Peterborough and "mudpuppying".  I will post about it shortly, but here are three of the photos I took on Christmas and Boxing Day.

Morning snowy shadows

Silence of the wintery forest
Snowy walk to school

Found another dead honey bee on the snow.  Rest in peace.  [Note: I just found this YouTube video and blog explaining that living bees perform cleansing flights in the winter to remove dead bees (from both natural and unnatural causes) from the hive.  All part of the nature's ingenious design to keep everything in balance.]


Holiday season update #2 from Peterborough

Hope everyone had a spectacular Christmas day.  This is another photographic update from the past few days.  I was busy cooking a turkey (for the first time) yesterday so I didn't get any chance to sort through yesterday's photos.

December 22nd (Sunday) - I shoveled snow in the driveway and was exhausted in the end to walk to school just for using internet.  I took the dog out for few short walks and that was about it.

Kami the cat
Kami the cat.


Happy holidays & Update from Peterborough

Happy holidays to everyone!  I returned to Peterborough last Wednesday to stay at a friend's house to take care of her pets while she's away for Christmas break.  The wifi access is limited at her place, so I walked to school almost everyday (with the dog) to use internet.  I am still taking photos everyday, but uploading them won't happen immediately, hence there are a lot of photos in this (and upcoming) posts spanning several days.

Merry Christmas
A festive photo from Ottawa two Sundays ago.


Pileated Woodpecker in McCarthy Woods

I went out for a walk this afternoon after working in my room all day, and wow, was it cold when I stepped outside (-35 degrees Celsius and frostbite warning, apparently)!  I went to a forest near by called McCarthy Woods, and saw a large murder of crows, one nuthatch, some chickadees, a few squirrels, and caught a glimpse of a woodpecker flying away.  It was so cold that I had no motivation to take out my camera from my backpack and take pictures.

It wasn't until near the end of my walk when I heard something knocking on a tree near me.  I looked around until I realized there was a Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) on the tree right next to me.  I was very excited because this will be my first time properly seeing and photographing a Pileated Woodpcker (if I don't scare it away first).  My previous attempts at photographing this species are pretty pathetic, if I must say so, for example this and this.  So I slowly and stiffly (from the cold) took out my camera and snapped away.

Right on top of me.


Holiday season in downtown Ottawa

People who have followed my blog for a while will know that I like to photograph Christmas decorations and lights during this time of the year.  In previous years, I usually fly back to BC at this time of the year, but this year, I will be spending my time here in Ontario and getting ready for my Ph.D and working on my manuscripts.

Nonetheless, I still keep an eye out for place with interesting Christmas decorations and lights, and this particular blog provides excellent information and images for such a thing.  I left my office this afternoon and headed towards Parliament Hill to take some photos.

Hint of Christmas in downtown Ottawa
I was a bit early so it was not dark yet.


Mud Lake, Ottawa

Last night, my landlord hosted a Christmas party at her/my place, so I didn't go out until this afternoon.  I searched online to see where popular bird-watching spots are and decided to go out to where I went almost two years ago (and saw waxwings).  The spot is called Mud Lake, near the Britannia Yacht Club.

Mud Lake, Britannia
Since the lake was frozen, the Mallards had limited choices of where to go.


Frog-eating Mallard at Brewer Park

I took care of some business at the bank this morning at Billings Bridge Shopping Centre, and then I went to Brewer Park nearby (across from Carleton University) because the weather was nice.

Icy river
Ice forming on the Rideau River.


Strathcona Park, Ottawa

I had a productive meeting with my supervisor this morning.  During lunchtime, I went out for a walk to Strathcona Park.  There are a lot of embassies in the area, and because late Nelson Mandela passed away yesterday there were many flags outside embassies flying half-mast.

Not an embassy, but an interesting-looking apartment building.
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