Canadian Nature Visions: Blog en-us Hans Toom (Canadian Nature Visions) Thu, 17 May 2018 15:44:00 GMT Thu, 17 May 2018 15:44:00 GMT Canadian Nature Visions: Blog 80 120 Surfing Common Eiders These Common Eiders were surfing into  Sandy Cove's beach, Halifax, an unusual activity for them. I snapped a few quick photos.

Surfing Common Eiders

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]]> (Canadian Nature Visions) birds of nova scotia halifax nova scotia sandy cove's beach surfing common eiders Wed, 09 May 2018 19:32:25 GMT
Cruise Ship Fram The Fram is a specialized ship designed for nature experiences in exotic and  cold locations. I snapped this photo(s) from my front window. I had a telephoto lens mounted so I was unable to capture the ship in one frame. This photo is four photos stitched together. It was leaving Halifax at the time. The other photos are the Fram entering Halifax harbour.


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]]> (Canadian Nature Visions) canada fram halifax nature ship nova scotia Wed, 09 May 2018 19:21:48 GMT
Duck Reef Loop at Duncan Reef, Nova Scotia A favorite walk and hike of mine is the Duck Reef loop at Duncan's Cove/Duncan Reef. Park your car at the Duncan's Cove parking area and proceed past the steel gate on the road leading up to the white monolith aka mansion at the top of the hill. This mansion was the location and building of the communications centre of the harbour defenses for Halifax during WW ll. Below the mansion and by the trail is the Champagne Dam the source of war time water.

Location and Route of the Duck Reef Trail

Duck Reef Hiking TrailDuck Reef Hiking Trail

The road is public access and proceeds through several waterfront lots, mostly undeveloped. At the top of the hill hill turn right for the clockwise loop or proceed along the barrens for the counterclockwise loop. The route is wet at times so be prepared.

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This is the trail sign you will meet on the counterclockwise loop. The barrens here host Whimbrels, Ruffed Grouse, coyotes and white-tailed deer. The wet areas provide habitat for nesting Lincoln's Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow and Palm Warbler.

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This view is towards the coastal gun battery from WW ll, about the halfway point of the loop. At the gun battery proceed downhill towards the ocean, or soak up the spectacular view.

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Northern Redbelly Snake

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The colorful interior of the gun implacements, and great shelter from thunder storms.

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Duncan Reef, the site of many ship wrecks.

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Duck Reef to the left with no breaking water at high tide.

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This is Duncan Reef at high tide. I've seen thirty foot breakers here with southwestern gale winds.

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Champagne Dam

This was the water supply for the communications centre, now the white monolith above.

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The Duncan's Cove Nature Reserve sign as seen on the clockwise loop.

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Duncan's Cove

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This is the route to the trail. The concrete works to the right are the WW ll water supply pump house which pressurizes the water from Duncan's Pond. It now services the community of Duncan's Cove, originally an artist's colony.

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]]> (Canadian Nature Visions) canada duck reef hiking loop duncan reef duncan's cove nova scotia Fri, 04 May 2018 22:57:56 GMT
Indigo Bunting This Indigo Bunting was at Sandy Cove's beach, Halifax municipality. This location is a local hot spot as it entices migrating birds to feed on the maggots and flies among the rock weed and kelp washed up on the shore. There were two Indigo Buntings and they were quite shy. I tried sitting and waiting but my usual technique did not work so my photographs are distant and cropped. Photographed with the Sony a99ii, 400mm F4.5 and 1.4X II, hand held.

Indigo Bunting

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]]> (Canadian Nature Visions) birds of nova scotia canada halifax indigo bunting nova scotia sandy cove's beach Tue, 01 May 2018 22:44:01 GMT
Great Egret The Great Egret is a photographer's dream, elegant and majestic. Although common in the American south it is uncommon here in Nova Scotia with substantial variation in numbers year over year. Photographed at Russell Lake, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia with Sony a99ii and 400mm F4.5 and 1.4X II, hand held.

Great Egret

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]]> (Canadian Nature Visions) dartmouth birds of nova scotia great egret nova scotia russell lake Tue, 01 May 2018 22:37:08 GMT
Upland Sandpiper The Upland Sandpiper is a favourite bird of mine well remembered from my years living on the Canadian prairies. We often saw this bird calmly sitting on fence posts. It's song is an unforgettable, "wolf whistle". Photographed with Sony a99ii and 400mm F4.5 with 1.4x II, hand held.

Upland Sandpiper

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]]> (Canadian Nature Visions) birds of nova scotia canada canadian prairies nova scotia upland sandpiper Tue, 01 May 2018 22:30:52 GMT
Grey-cheeked Thrush This Grey-cheeked Thrush was on Cape Sable Island. It's very similar to the much rarer Bicknell's Thrush found on Cape Breton Island in the northern highlands. The two thrushes are very difficult to separate in the field. A recording of the song and a good photograph are helpful during migration. Photographed with Sony a99ii and 400mm F4.5 and 1.4Xii lenses, hand held.

Grey-cheeked Thrush

Note: I use the English spelling for grey(colour) rather than the incorrect gray(a proper noun or name) used by the ABA.

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]]> (Canadian Nature Visions) bicknell's thrush canada cape breton island and highlands cape sable island grey-cheeked thrush nova scotia Tue, 01 May 2018 22:21:41 GMT
Peggy's Cove Sunset, April 11, 2018. I went to Peggy's Cove the evening of April 11 to photograph the sunset. It was brutally cold for the time of year but I persevered.  I used my Sony A99ii, Sony 70-400mm G2 and Sigma 24-70mm. Some of the photographs demonstrate artistic license. Peggy's Cove Sunset April 11, 2018 40Peggy's Cove Sunset April 11, 2018 40 Peggy's Cove Sunset April 11, 2018 37Peggy's Cove Sunset April 11, 2018 37 Peggy's Cove Sunset April 11, 2018 38Peggy's Cove Sunset April 11, 2018 38 Peggy's Cove Sunset April 11, 2018 39Peggy's Cove Sunset April 11, 2018 39 Peggy's Cove Sunset April 11, 2018 36Peggy's Cove Sunset April 11, 2018 36 Peggy's Cove Sunset April 11, 2018 34Peggy's Cove Sunset April 11, 2018 34 Peggy's Cove Sunset April 11, 2018 35Peggy's Cove Sunset April 11, 2018 35

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]]> (Canadian Nature Visions) canada nova scotia peggy's cove peggy's cove light sigma 24-70mm sony 70-400mm g2 sony a99ii Sat, 14 Apr 2018 17:48:46 GMT
The Day After the Great April 8, 2018 Snow Storm Here in Nova Scotia we had an early spring snow storm after glorious weather for most of the winter. So despite my preference for sleeping in I ventured forth for a three hour tour, firstly in Sir Sanford Fleming Park, in Halifax and thence along the ocean coastline of the Chebucto Peninsula.

I only used my Sony A99ii and Sigma 12-24mm for this trip. This combination of camera and lens is hard to beat for woodland and coastline photography. The fresh snowfall was a major bonus.

The Chebucto Peninsula After the April 8, 2018 Snowfall

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]]> (Canadian Nature Visions) 2018 canada nova scotia sigma 12-24mm sony a99ii dslr camera spring snow storm of april 8 Tue, 10 Apr 2018 22:45:53 GMT
Searching for the Best Pocket Camera I've been searching for the ideal pocket camera for a couple of years. I've tried most brands and sensor sizes. Leica is the best by far but unfortunately for most of us unless its our prime camera its far too expensive as a second or third camera in one's kit.

A pocket camera must be just that, a camera that fits comfortably in a shirt pocket, sometimes a big pocket. Point and shoot cameras are not for serious photographers. Despite the robust advertising their image quality is awful with poor resolution, washed out colours and low contrast,.... and they will not fit in a shirt pocket.  I've tried working with these small sensor images in photoshop but there is not much that can be done to make the images respectable.

So I looked at the 1" sensor cameras. Not bad for image quality and most do fit in a shirt pocket but alas the sensor is still too small and they are mostly fixed lenses. The mirrorless cameras are good to excellent for image quality in the 1.5X and full frame sizes. The camera body fits in a shirt pocket alright but not with a lens attached. Indeed the lenses for mirrorless cameras in 1.5X and full frame are just as big and heavy as the lenses for the digital single lens reflex cameras.

Finally I settled in on the 4:3 or 2X cameras. I field tested the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85K and am generally satisfied with the performance although I only have the low end kit lenses to work with. Eventually I will get the Leica 15mm lens to hang on the end of my Lumix and I will have a true shirt pocket camera that can take professional photographs on the street or in the bush.

I already have the Sony A99ii 42mp full frame and Sony A77 24mp 1.5X for nature photography but for those nature hikes and walks around my city the Lumix is the ticket, at least for me.

First Field Test of Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85K with Kit Lenses

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]]> (Canadian Nature Visions) canada nova scotia panasonic lumix dmc-gx85k searching for the best pocket camera Tue, 10 Apr 2018 22:38:22 GMT
Ipswich Sparrow The Ipswich Sparrow is an "all-Canadian bird", born and raised mostly on Sable Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. It's adapted to living on and raising young on broad sandy beaches, hence its light presentation. An appropriate name for this bird would be Sable Sparrow. Some believe it is a variant of the Savannah Sparrow, yet another dubious name for a bird since it has nothing to do with Savannah. Others believe it is a separate species. The Ipswich Sparrow is larger and lighter toned than the Savannah Sparrow, has a different song, and most importantly has a very different personality. How long after a species splits from the main line does it become a species of its own?

I used my tried and true technique for photographing the Ipswich Sparrow. I sat on a rock and waited for it to approach. Most birds adapt well and become accustomed to an interloper that makes no threatening moves or noises, such as playing bird song from an ipod.

Ipswich Sparrow

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]]> (Canadian Nature Visions) birds of nova scotia canada ipswich sparrow nova scotia sable island savannah sparrow Fri, 06 Apr 2018 22:55:01 GMT
Moving Waters I took a trip to one of our natural cascades here in Nova Scotia. Water scenes are always a challenge since slow exposures will show motion well and faster exposures show detail such as individual droplets of water.  Each method has its advantages but these photos were mostly taken at a shutter speed of 1/8 second. Usually I use both techniques. Using fast exposures to freeze droplets of water and photographing with close up lenses can have spectacular results combined with back light reflections and refractions. Next time!

Moving Waters

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]]> (Canadian Nature Visions) canada moving waters nova scotia reflections refractions shutter speed Wed, 04 Apr 2018 22:34:01 GMT
Tricoloured Heron Portraits My cameras images' natural ratios are 3:2 and 4:3 since this is the ratio of their sensors. The Tricoloured Heron was photographed with these two cameras at 16:9 and 3:2. I found that many of the photographs framed nicely at 5:4 and are presented here that way. Portions of the camera sensor is not used when cropping at different ratios but the presentation and quality of the image is nonetheless more aesthetically pleasing.

Tricoloured Heron

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]]> (Canadian Nature Visions) birds of nova scotia canada cropping ratios nova scotia tricoloured heron Wed, 04 Apr 2018 22:20:40 GMT
Little Blue Heron This Little Blue Heron did not want to pose. It remained at the back of the salt marsh until it abruptly flew off. I managed a few distant, cropped 1260mm photos, but I never complain. Just seeing this elegant bird is a treat.

Little Blue Heron

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]]> (Canadian Nature Visions) birds of nova scotia canada little blue heron nova scotia Tue, 03 Apr 2018 22:09:22 GMT
Blue Moon March 31, 2018 The Blue Moon of March 31, 2018 is the second blue moon within 29 days. There were four full moons in three months, two in each of January and March(the latter moon is the blue moon of January and March) and none in February. Despite the preceding rainy few days it cleared just in time here in Portuguese Cove for the clear sky event.

Blue Moon Rising Over the Ocean

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]]> (Canadian Nature Visions) 2018 blue moon march 31 blue moon rising over ocean canada nova scotia portuguese cove Sun, 01 Apr 2018 22:25:07 GMT
Tricoloured Heron in the Ultimate Pose I obtained my best photos of the Tricoloured Heron last Wednesday evening. I went to the Sambro Head Salt Marsh at about 5PM ADT and joined my friend in a secluded spot behind a group of spruce but providing a clear vantage to the area of the salt marsh that the Tricoloured Heron was frequenting. We watched the heron walk along the water course of the marsh all the way to the water side of the spruce grove we were lurking behind. Eventually the heron emerged from the water and to our amazement and delight landed right in front of us not twenty feet distant, and to further enhance the photographic opportunity it jumped onto a leaning stump and posed.

Tricoloured Heron

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This is my new cover photo for my website.

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]]> (Canadian Nature Visions) birds of nova scotia canada nova scotia sambro head salt marsh tricoloured heron Fri, 30 Mar 2018 22:37:51 GMT
Tricoloured Heron and Great Egret While I was at the Sambro Head Salt Marsh this morning the Great Egret and the Tricoloured Heron decided quite obligingly to pose together. I was stretching the limits of my equipment when I photographed the pair at 1260mm and then did severe crops as well. They were almost as far back in the marsh as the tree line.

Cars make excellent blinds but unfortunately beginning or inconsiderate birders and photographers still approach these birds in the marsh scaring them off when the poor critters are hunkered down in the cold wind. It is always best to use one's car as a blind and wait for the birds to approach on their own terms.

Tricoloured Heron and Great Egret
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]]> (Canadian Nature Visions) birds of nova scotia canada nova scotia sambro head salt marsh tricoloured heron and great egret Sun, 25 Mar 2018 18:51:37 GMT
Tricoloured Heron Yesterday after photographing the Great Egret I returned to the marsh and immediately found a Tricoloured Heron. It was comfortable and feeding until a dog walker blundered into the marsh with a cell phone and it flew off.

The Tricoloured Heron was formerly known as the Louisiana Heron and is much smaller than the Great Egret. It's about the same size as a Snowy Egret. Tricoloured Heron 3Tricoloured Heron 3 Tricoloured Heron 4Tricoloured Heron 4 Tricoloured Heron 5Tricoloured Heron 5 Tricoloured Heron 6Tricoloured Heron 6 Tricoloured Heron 8Tricoloured Heron 8 Tricoloured Heron 9Tricoloured Heron 9 Tricoloured Heron 10Tricoloured Heron 10 Tricoloured Heron 11Tricoloured Heron 11 Tricoloured Heron 12Tricoloured Heron 12

]]> (Canadian Nature Visions) birds of nova scotia canada nova scotia sambro head marsh tricoloured heron Sun, 25 Mar 2018 18:36:22 GMT
Great Egret I photographed a Great Egret at Sambro Head Salt Marsh yesterday and today. This marsh has been a favorite of waders since we've known of the place. Waders found here over the years include Great Great, Snowy Egret, Little Egret, Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, American Bittern, Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron and Tricoloured Heron. Cattle Egret and Green Heron although not found in the marsh itself have been seen nearby.

Great Egret

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]]> (Canadian Nature Visions) birds of nova scotia canada great egret nova scotia sambro head bog Sun, 25 Mar 2018 18:24:10 GMT
Orange-crowned Warbler An Orange-crowned Warbler is no big deal in Florida's winter but it sure is here in Portuguese Cove, Nova Scotia. This demure little green-yellow warbler is a winter's treat for us. It showed its orange crown to Laura once during a gust of wind but I've yet to see it. I usually see this warbler in late November and early December on its southern migration. The Orange-crowned Warbler does not breed in Nova Scotia but further north in Labrador, a hardy bird indeed.

Orange-crowned Warbler

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]]> (Canadian Nature Visions) birds of nova scotia canada labrador nova scotia orange-crowned warbler portuguese cove Fri, 23 Mar 2018 22:20:00 GMT