.All Trips / North America / Southeastern USA

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

02 Merritt Island NWR Little Blue Heron (46)

During our last visit to Florida, my father and I drove from our base in Orlando to explore some of Florida’s east coast.  Our destination for the day was the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, not far from Titusville.  

This is a massive preserve, some 140,000 acres (57,000 ha), situated on the same island as the Kennedy Space Center.  Because of its close proximity to the Space Center, there are rare times when NASA restricts access to this National Wildlife Refuge (e.g. when the space shuttle was landing in Florida).

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

The topography of the refuge is flat, but still there are a mixture of habitats including saltwater and freshwater marshes, dunes, forests and scrub.  Here …

Read More

Tagged , , , , , ,

“Pic of the Week”, November 30, 2018. The Old Parliament Building, Colombo

00 Old Parliament Building (4)

A building that’s impossible to miss when you visit the coastal area of downtown Colombo is the nation’s first Parliament building (a.k.a. the “Old Parliament Building”).  Facing the Galle Face Green and the sea (and now the ever-growing Marina development complex), the building is situated on reclaimed land just south of the Fort District and World Trade Center towers.  Initially the building was home to the Legislative Council of Ceylon and was witness to country’s transition from colonial state to self-rule in 1947. 

Completed in 1930, this Neo-Baroque style building was home to the country’s legislature for 53 years.  During the country’s prolonged Civil War, Parliament was moved to a a more secure complex in nearby Sri Jayawardenepura in 1983.

The building …

Read More

Karl on | Comments Off on “Pic of the Week”, November 30, 2018. The Old Parliament Building, Colombo

“Pic of the Week”, July 27, 2017: Saddle-bill Stork, Botswana

Sandibe 2011 505 Sandibe. Saddlebill stork

Among many wonderful memories of being on safari in Botswana are those of its many magnificent birds.  These include our featured subject, the saddle-bill stork, which lives in sub-Saharan Africa.

These are huge long-legged birds, attaining a height of almost 5 ft (150 cm) and weighing up to 17 lbs (8 kg).  The birds have a wingspan of up to 9 ft (2.7m), so they are easy to spot at a distance. They are tallest and most vividly colored of Africa’s storks.  The tend to live on at the edge of forests, where they have access to tall trees (on which they build their nests) and marshes (wherein they feed).  Their diet includes fish, beetles, frogs, reptiles and small mammals. 

The bird’s …

Read More

Karl on | Comments Off on “Pic of the Week”, July 27, 2017: Saddle-bill Stork, Botswana

“Pic of the Week”, July 1st, 2016: White Pelican at Victoria Beach

P1030187

It’s Canada’s birthday today — Happy 149th to all my Canadian friends and relatives, eh?!  What better way to celebrate than to feature the American White Pelican, but in Canada.  Highly symbolic of the identity crisis many in the country have, feeling neither American nor Canadian.

Pelicans are great birds to observe in nature.  There’s nothing like watching a group of them catch a thermal and ride it for hundreds of yards, looking more like a formation of fighter aircraft than living creatures.  Among the largest of North America’s birds, the American White Pelican is almost pure white, but with black feathers in its wings visible only when flying.  Immature birds, like the one featured above, often have some dusky feathers …

Read More

Karl on | Comments Off on “Pic of the Week”, July 1st, 2016: White Pelican at Victoria Beach

“Pic of the Week”, January 22, 2016. Macaws, Orlando

Gatorland 11-2015 (97) macaws and parrots

Macaws are beautiful birds — although at times, perhaps, a little temperamental!  Watching a flock of them fly through the Amazon rain-forest is a sight you never forget, with flapping flashes of bright color against the green canopy.  And, of course, as easy as they are to see they’re even easier to hear as they’re quite chirpy.

The best place to study these beautiful birds up close is in an exhibit.  But beware those beaks — they can do serious damage to a finger pointed their way!

These photos were taken at Gatorland park in Orlando.

Karl on | Comments Off on “Pic of the Week”, January 22, 2016. Macaws, Orlando
.All Trips / Argentina / South America

Nowhere is a Place: Visiting Patagonia, 2) Laguna Nimez Nature Reserve, El Calafate, Argentina

031 El Calafate Laguna Nimez Nature Preserve 2-2014 001 Hawk

My first Patagonian post was an introduction to the travel hub of El Calafate. Today’s post focuses on the town’s best attraction.  Situated about a mile from downtown El Calafate, very close to the hotel we were staying at, Laguna Nimez Nature Reserve is a beautiful place worth exploring.  It’s especially a prime stop for bird-lovers, but also offers a nice easy hike in a natural setting.  The Reserve is situated at the edge of a great glacial lake, Lago Argentino, and adjoins a suburban neighborhood.  It contains two lagoons, Laguna Nimez and Laguna Secundaria.

The Reserve is fenced off and you enter through a small visitor center where a modest admission fee is charged.  Signage …

Read More

Tagged , , , , , ,
.All Trips / Florida / North America / Southeastern USA

Everglades City, Florida: Mangroves, Manatee, and the Sea.

Everglades City 2013 019 airboat pelicans

This is the second in a three part series on Florida’s unique Everglades ecosystem.  The first part focused on the Cypress forests of the Everglades, which you read about here. This post deals with a visit to the coastal Everglades.

Everglades City is a small town (population 400) in southwestern Florida abutting the ocean to the south and Everglades National Park to the east.  The town is situated towards the southern end of the Everglades.  In this region, the “River of Grass” has transitioned to a coastal mangrove forest.  Mangroves thrive where the water is brackish and saw-grass can’t survive, and mangroves are ecologically important because they helps anchor the land and keep it from eroding during …

Read More

Tagged , , , , , ,
.All Trips / Europe / Ireland

A Visit to Ireland: Part 7) the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren

047 Cliffs of Moher. Branaunmore Rock just off O’Brien’s Tower

Our journey around Ireland next took us north to the Cliffs of Moher.  From Dingle we headed through Tralee then to the Tarbert ferry over the River Shannon.  The ferry ride can save you considerable time (the other option being driving all the way around the river) but it only runs once an hour so you need to check its schedule and time your arrival accordingly.  The ferry ride lasts about 15 minutes and it was cold but very scenic.
Soon we’re in County Clare and our main stop of the day not far ahead, the famous Cliffs of Moher (pronounced Maahrr), Ireland’s most popular natural tourist attraction which draws over a million visitors a year. …

Read More

Tagged , , , , ,