Daisies

On my balcony this year, I wanted some yellow, bright, cheerful, and easy to grow flowers.

I chose these daisies, know as African daisies (or osteospermum), that are giving me my money’s worth.

They should bloom all summer long – hope so!

At last!

As I mentioned on a previous post (My winged neighbors), I’ve been trying to take some photos of the turkey vultures when they come gliding above my house.

They are very difficult to photograph as they move very fast, and my photos are usually out of focus.

But this week, I was finally able to take a good enough photo where we can see some details – we can clearly see the shape of the wings and the small bald head covered in red.

The photo is not as sharp as I would like it to be, but I will try again and again all summer long.

In heaven

When I see these beautiful skies, I feel I’m in heaven.

Since my moving along the Rivière-des-Prairies, I witnessed the most incredible sunsets. These were taken from August to October 2020 – the best time for the most colorful skies!

On the left photo below, the skies became bright yellow after the clouds briefly parted on the already low setting sun. It lasted at most 30 seconds, and it was as intense as it was brief.

On the right photo, the fluffly low cumulus caught my eyes.

But this is the most impressive skies I saw last Fall.

This humongous black cloud was moving fast, almost like a spaceship. I had to take this (blurry) photo quickly because I knew this was a precursor of torrential rains and strong winds.

It was scary but impressive!

Gorgeous duck

The migratory birds are back!

Last weekend, I spotted a colorful one on the Rivière-des-Prairies by my home – the Wood Duck.

The male has an intricate plumage – glossy green head with prominent crest at the rear, white throat, bright red eyes, and red-and-white bill.

The female has a warm brown plumage with a grayer slightly crested head, white a teardrop patch around the eyes, and a dark blue patch in wings.

This species is monogamous and the male remains with the same female during the whole breeding season. The male uses its beautiful plumage to attract the female by exposing and moving its wings and tail, and raising them frequently. I witnessed its dance today – great show!

What other birds will I discover this year? I will keep you posted.

A lot of snow

At last!

Last weekend we finally got our first snowstorm of the year, the kind with big snowflakes. And after 24 hours we had about 30 centimeters of snow (approximately 1 foot).

And the nature lovers were out walking, skiing or playing in the snow.

A lot of Montrealers were inspired and snowmen and sculptures appeared all over Montreal in parks and on lawns.

Check it out: https://www.lesacdechips.com/2021/01/17/les-photos-incroyables-de-montreal-remplie-de-bonhommes-de-neige-apres-la-tempete-de-neige

A little bit of snow

A few days before Christmas we got a bit of snow. I was hopeful that we would have a white Christmas.

Sadly, it rained on Christmas day, and the day before, and it felt much more like a warm Spring day.

Maybe next year!

Autumnal greys

No more leaves. The cold has arrived and winter will officially be here in a week. There is no going back.

Even without the sun and a lot less colors, there is still a lot to see: lines and curves in the landscapes, and waves and reflections in the water. And I saw a few courageous mallard ducks on the river that are staying put for winter.

Nature is lethargic and resting. And the monochromatic landscapes allow my eyes to also rest from all the colors of this past fall and before the bright winter whites.

I can’t wait to see what the river and its surroundings will look like this winter – a whole new environnement.

I can’t wait for the bright winter whites!

Disappearing act

The horizon has disappeared.

A few weeks ago, I woke up to this enchanting scenery and it reminded me of Maurice Carême’s poem that beautifully describes the phenomenon.

[original version in French]
Le brouillard a tout mis
Dans son sac de coton
Le brouillard a tout pris
Autour de ma maison
Plus de fleur[s] au jardin,
Plus d’arbre[s] …

[my translation]
The fog has put everything
In his cotton bag
The fog has taken everything
Around my house
No more flowers in the garden,
No more trees …

I love the faded background that gives the scene a mysterious vibe.

It seems like I am at the end of the world!

My winged neighbors

The Île-de-la-Visitation nature park offers a network of paths ideal for strolling and observing species of shore birds. Together the nature parks form a vast network of protected natural areas on the Island of Montréal.

I was able to take these photos on the Île-de-la-Visitation nature park or along the Rivières-des-Prairies. These birds are all migrant species and can be observed during summer on all the shores of the Montréal island. They all left, by now, and are surely on their way or already down South.

  1. The Great Blue Heron, one of our largest, most picturesque avian migrants, stands more than 3 feet tall and is very impressive when it takes flight [wingspan around 6 feet]. It often stands motionless as it scans for prey or wades belly deep with long, deliberate steps. It may moves slowly, but the Great Blue Heron can strike like lightning to grab a fish.
  2. The Black-Crowned Night Heron is without a doubt the darling of the Île-de-la-Visitation nature park, from mid-April to mid-October. Although it is most active at night or at dusk, it is frequently observed in the open, perched on a low branch overlooking the river or keeping a lookout on the emerging rocks near the rapids during the day.
  3. The Canada Geese are fairly easy to see swimming in open water, resting near shore, or grazing on lawns. When migrating, they fly in large V-shaped flocks and can travel more than 1 000 km in one day. More and more of these grassland-adapted birds are staying put in urban and suburban areas year-round.

This summer, I also witnessed groups of 4 to 10 large vulture-like birds gliding above my home everyday. I couldn’t identify them until I was able to take a photo. After enlarging the photo on my screen, analyzing the details and doing a lot of research, I recently figured out that they are turkey vultures (with small bald heads covered in red, wrinkly skin). They move so fast that all my photos are out of focus but still I was able to recognize the head and the beak [wingspan around 6 feet].

They are not vultures per se, but they play the same ecological role, i.e. they are carrion eaters. They are excellent gliders and can be seen gliding for hours with wings fully extended (no flapping required), which is exactly what I witnessed. They are majestic gliders!