Saturday, July 19, 2014

Do adult ravens trick juvenile ravens to keep the best food for themselves?

When I watch birds I most watch common ravens close to home. I don't go for long treks across boggy ground to see them; they tend to show up around where I live. I suppose they come around because I feed them: eggs, lard, cheezies, meat and other stuff.
Right now I get visited by two adult ravens and about four very noisy juveniles. I suspect that parents have kicked them out of the nest but they still follow their parents around to beg for food.
Today I watched some interesting interaction.
I threw an egg and one of the adults took off with it; pursued by two juveniles. The adult started eating it, they kept whining and eventually the adult abandoned it to them. Feeling sorry I threw another egg and the adult grabbed it. Then something different happened. The adult dropped the egg by the edge of some tall grass and headed into the tall grass and came out with some rolls. I recognized them as ones I had thrown out earlier; the adult had cached them in the grass.
The adult started to eat the rolls. The juveniles approached. While this was going on another adult raven came and grabbed the egg and took off. The first adult broke up the rolls and gave pieces to a juvenile. Eventually two juveniles grabbed big chunks of the rolls for themselves.
It left me wondering: was this a deliberate strategy to divert the attention of the juvenile ravens while the adult raven removed the egg? Eggs, after all, are a favourite food.
If you want to see more pictures of ravens take a look at the ravens gallery on my website.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Winch driven ferry at Gardiner.

Photographs of the Gardiner ferry.

Coming back to Moosonee we usually stay overnight in Cochrane and catch the train in the morning. This trip we got into Cochrane early and decided to take a drive north on highway 579.
Our goal was the ferry at Gardiner, about 20 miles north of Cochrane. It's a quiet drive on a decent road through peaceful country to get there.

We came on the ferry suddenly; the road turned and headed down to the Abitibi River and there it was.
It is a small ferry, a couple of vehicles but it is big enough to handle the demand. It doesn't have a schedule; it runs when there are people who need to use it.

We grabbed a couple of shots, drove down and drove on. We went across to the other side of the river then drove up the hill and bank down to come back across.

Afterwards we got to talking with Alex Carriere who was the operator of the Cassiopeia IV, something he has been doing for a long time. Alex showed some pictures of the ferry and its predecessors and described how it works in the winter.

Coming from Moosonee we are used to people driving vehicles across the river but here was a new twist. They keep running the ferry until people can drive across beside it. That I would like to see sometime.

The ferry is winch driven. When you look at it you see that there are two guide wires to that keep it in its channel; when you look more closely you see the winch cable that runs along one edge to propel it back and forth. Apparently it is the last winch driven ferry in Ontario.
After making the trip ourselves we decided to wait around for the next run and get some pictures from the shoreline. That took a while, it was more than hour before another vehicle showed up. Fortunately, it didn't rain and the bugs were not terrible. Finally got a chance to get some shots of the ferry in operation.

Pictures of the Gardiner ferry.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Back in Fort Albany, Ontario again. This time for the funeral of an old friend who was also the mother of my partner's son in law.
Fort Albany is a small community on James Bay in Northeastern Ontario; about 90 miles north of Moosonee.
Getting here is a short plane ride; less than half an hour. The cost is $540 return per person. It sounds reasonable to me but is probably outrageous to people who are used to traveling long distances for that kind of fare. We came on a small plane where one side was taken up by mail and cargo; the other by passengers.
I first came to Fort Albany more than three decades ago. In those days we flew on much slower flying DC-3s most of the time. A lot of things have changed; a lot of things have stayed the same.
One big difference today is that there is a functioning water distribution system. Often, you can drink water right out of the tap. To me that seems amazing. Unfortunately right now the water is a bit murky.
There are a lot of new buildings here. A lot of old ones are gone, for example the old residential school which lingered on as a day school, police station and band office for years after it was closed down. There is a good picture of St. Anne's, unfortunately mislabeled as Fort Albany Regional Hospital.
On my first morning here I went for a walk. Beautiful day for it; the ground and snow still mostly frozen but warm enough that I could have gotten away with wearing a medium weight jacket. After about an hour and a half I realized I was in danger of getting a very bad sunburn.
I posted a few shots from my walk.
One thing that is amazing is the availability of internet here. Naturally the place I am staying (Loone's Lodge) has it but everywhere I went people are online, tablets and laptops running. Cell phones don't work here; maybe some day.