Friday, October 25, 2013

Algonquin loons

...and what would a trip to Algonquin be without a few shots of some Loons.  We weren't sure if they would still be around and I was really happy to see a pair of them doodling around in the bay shortly after we arrived.  Loons, like all birds, replace their feathers twice a year, and some birds have "2 sets of clothes" and their winter feathers are different from their breeding feathers.  This pair of loons spent most of their time preening and pulling out feathers to be replaced by their winter coat which is quite different from what you expect to see.  Both of them were quite accommodating to our canoe and let us get quite close to them as long as we didn't do anything alarming.  These are full frame shots with no cropping...

Loon, winter plumage.
This loon was well on its way into it's winter feathers, you can see one small feather that has come loose just beside its neck...the water around them was at times littered with floating feathers!

"Grandpa Loon"
This one was more "loony" looking and had barely started it"s moult. I called it Grandpa loon because he/it had a white beard just starting to appear under it's chin.  I don't know how long the whole process takes but they really can't fly very well at all during the moult. The other of the pair that was almost finished must have been saying "hurry up" its getting cold out here, we have to leave!

Classic loon photo
and this is the quintessential Loon shot. They do this a lot, ruffling and flapping their feathers to get them to dislodge.

All in all I took quite a few shots of the Loons, some of which will eventually be turned into paintings.  We certainly enjoyed our trip to Algonquin, (except for the noisy, ignorant campers) and we really lucked out on the weather ...a huge contrast to what is out the window this morning - cold, wet. sloppy snow covering what is left of my flowers and grey colourless sky.  There was a nice little flock of Gold Crowned Kinglets in the tree outside the studio, I expect they will be moving south away from this ugly weather.

a Busy Life

I guess that is what I should have called this blog!  Here it is almost the end of October and I finally have a few minutes to share. August went by like a shot, we had our children home from their diplomatic posting and we were busy, busy while they were home as well as playing catch up into September with our usual fall chores. September is canning month for me - tomatoes, chili sauce, salsa and pasta sauce.  This year our cucumbers decided to keep on giving, so I had to make pickles (2 kinds) and relish.  In between all that chopping, stirring and canning I have the gardening to take care of - at least one trailer load of garden waste goes out, usually two.

We were rushing the chores a bit in September because I knew that I wouldn't be here much in October!
The first of the month we left for Algonquin Park for some camping, back country canoeing, fishing (for Sandy) and some painting en plein air (for me)  The weather was amazing - our neighbours were disgusting - It might have got nasty if we hadn't had the canoe and could escape out onto the lake for most of our trip!

Algonquin morning
This was the view point from the bay where we were camping the first morning we were there.  The sun has such a special quality at this time of year and when it hits one of those gorgeous colourful trees they almost seem to vibrate with colour.
 This is a bit closer to where I was standing - I don't think the camera can really do justice to the sparkle of the sunshine on the water, it was like the brightest of diamonds.

The purples in this shot really struck me - since I started experimenting with pastels I have been making a very conscious effort to really look at colour.  I already consider myself a fairly skilled observer (kind of have to be to paint realism) but now I am really looking at the colours of the landscape and assessing a name, a value, a hue to what I see - and isn't fall the perfect time to undertake such an exercise!
This was taken from the canoe somewhere out on the lake, I had to take 2 cameras with me so that I could capture beautiful scenes like this as well as be ready with the big lens if any wildlife appeared....and I had to do my share of the paddling as well! If you notice the water has a bit of "texture" to it in this protected cove...but down the lake, oh my! there were waves and white caps 12" to 18" high!  That was a real work out, at one point heading right into it I didn't think we were making any headway at all but we kept at it, putting in along the shore when we were tired and called it a really good day when we made it back to camp.

 I took this at one of those spots we stopped for a rest, it had a lovely sand beach, the sun was warm and we were sheltered from the wind.  There was a walking trail just up a hill that led to the "Booth rock" which was a popular hike for many who wanted to see the fall colours from an elevated vista.
Fall Ferns
The next morning dawned once again very sunny and warm and this time dead calm. We decided that we would head up the Madawaska river into Whitefish lake.  It was so pleasant to glide along in calm water and just enjoy what was around us.  I kept hoping for a moose or fox or even a raccoon to pop out of the brush but no luck on that.  These ferns caught my eye - so colourful when they turn from their summer green to the rusty brown, oranges, yellows (burnt sienna, umbers, ochres, lt. sap green) of fall.

I had fun with reflections!
Look again...
 No...this isn't up side down, there are a few tiny ripples there.

Algonquin - Madawaska river
And this shot has to be my favorite of the trip, and there isn't even a lot of fall colour in it but I just like it - the over all colour, the composition and especially the reflections of the clouds in the water - you can't see that texture up in the sky on a sunny day!


Next post - a few more shots from Algonquin.