Monthly Archives: September 2016

Hunting with a fox.

I like to take pictures and watch animals in Nature and one animal that gives me pleasure to observe is the fox. Near where I live, in a botanical garden, 5 foxes can be observed right now coming and going. By observing them one can really understand why they do what they do. On that day, last Saturday, it was clear that this particular fox was hungry and on the hunt.

The area to catch a squirrel was perfect; situated where trees were well spaced out the fox first crouched and appeared to be flat on the ground, looking similar to a cat ready to pounce on a mouse. It then advanced slowly, crouching all the time. It was immobile except when it advanced slowly, inching towards the target. It looked a lot like a cat.

The squirrel seemed oblivious to the fox as the fox did not move an inch. It waited and got closer until suddenly the fox sprang up and pounced rapidly on the squirrel. The element of surprise worked clearly in the foxes favor. I am always surprised at the speed of the fox looking more like a cheetah going after a big prey in Africa.

What happened then was a whirlwind of action as the fox tried to run down the squirrel. On this occasion the fox succeeded and brought down the squirrel in an ideal area as there were no trees to climb to escape the clutches of the fox. I could hear several squeals from the squirrel as I was not too far from the scene. The fox had bitten the prey. I could see no blood being spilled but was it over?

The squirrel was not dead and so the fox began pawing at it, giving it several shots to the head it seemed. The squirrel appeared to be dead, appearing quite immobile. And then suddenly the squirrel rose up and made a run for the trees that were further away. Not a chance. The fox sprang on it and bit it in the neck again.

At that point one would think that the squirrel was dead. But once again, for the last time, it tried to get away and attempted to run. Once again the fox is too quick and this time bit it and carried it in its mouth. No more squealing. The squirrel hung limply in the mouth of the fox, with the head dropping on one side and the rest of the body on the other side. It looked very nice and I did take several shots of it as I was not too far. Not for the squeamish obviously.

Not content to put the squirrel in its mouth the fox bit several more times and elicited no responses. The squirrel had passed away we could safely say. It then took its prey and ate it under a tree, well hidden from the other foxes that might be tempted to steal it.

The behavior of this fox was different from the behavior of other adult foxes as this one was a juvenile, being born in March. Older foxes would have snapped the neck of the squirrel more rapidly. This one seemed ignorant in how to kill a squirrel rapidly and cleanly. At times it seemed to be playing with it. And maybe it was, playing with its prey and knowing that it could not escape.

I was happy with my outing, having spent a good 30 minutes following that particular fox. On that occasion at least it was able to eat but often the squirrel is too quick. I was happy as the light was good and my pictures were nice. But the squealing of the squirrel was still ringing in my ears hours later….

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My bicycle is a financial black hole!

I awoke this morning early as it was 07:00. The skies were cloudy and so I decided to just relax at home and that was the plan until the sun magically appeared. It was warm and humid and I thought that a nice bike ride would be appropriate. After all, there are less cars on the road on Sunday mornings and that would make my ride a better and safer ride.

So I embarked around 09:00 and went to a park that I enjoy where every loop is 1.9 miles. Even if my bike is only three years old I have already spent 40 dollars to replace a flat tube as well as the inner sleeve. All that because of a bit of racing on a bad road. As well I had to replace brand new brakes as the old ones seemed to be defective. You want to be sure of your brakes. These new brakes had cost me around 70 dollars as well with a tune-up.

Well, after about 90 minutes of cycling at a good clip I decided to return home. Now since my tire repair of last year I had noticed that shifting gears was not easy, and that my gears slipped easily. I did not want to repair this as I usually ride only about 20 minutes when I use my bike. Not worth the effort and price I thought.

So here I am, at the end of my bike ride and I am approaching my house when all of a sudden I seem to be pedaling in thin air. I am pedaling but I am not advancing and worse, I am about to fall off the bike. I know something is wrong. I disembark and take a look at the back of my bike and what I see is horrible; the area where all the speeds are seem to be at a 45 degree angle. It looks like the axle is broken or worse still.

I have no choice so I walk about ten minutes to the bike shop near my house. Luckily I was the only customer there. One look at the bike and the mechanic asks me if I pedal a lot backwards. I reply no, of course. What is the point of bicycling if not to advance forwards…I thought this was a curious question to ask.

He then tells me that what happened is rare, and since it is a cheap bike, the components may have been of inferior quality to begin with. I reply that in my previous years of biking something like this has never happened. It could be just bad luck he replied.

This bad luck ended by costing me 32 dollars. But now at least, the gears are smooth when I shift and the experience of bicycling is so much better. It was worth 32 dollars for me. But still, it seems that every year I have to change something on this bike. I think that from now one I will call it my personal black hole, one that I can ride and touch. But if every year I have to replace something that breaks I figure than in another five years my bike will be a new bike! But at what cost…

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Of ants and spiders.

I like to take pictures, especially of small insects. Doing macro photography is not easy and requires a lot of concentration, as well as luck and very little wind. But I love these small critters outside my house and not inside. This week, for the first time in several years, I was invaded by several ants no doubt in search of food and perhaps out for a stroll. I found four of them in my kitchen and one enterprising ant was found on my table.

I admired the skill of that ant in climbing the leg of my table, but in the end this excess of adventurism on its part finished in death and provoked my fury. I had to take action and so out came the ant bait traps that had lingered in limbo for the past 5 years.

I wondered if these traps would still work but I had nothing else and I wanted to act badly. After five years in a plastic bag tucked away I knew that this might not be good for the active ingredient inside the traps. But so far I have not seen another ant exploring my appartment. Whether there is a cause and effect between the absence of ants and the traps is unknown and will remain so.

I like spiders, especially jumping spiders. They are very small but with their two big eyes looking at you they seem very intelligent. In this case, the spider I discovered in my house was not a jumping spider but if it was, it did not jump very well or very high.

I was in the bathroom, sitting down for obvious reasons, when my gaze fell upon the white wall to my right. The spider was less than a quarter of an inch and black. And then it moved. I had to wait before jumping on the spider and then I thought, why not capture it.

I fished out an empty transparent holder and gently scooped up the spider. With a spy glass I was able to examine it and saw that its eyes seemed small. I had thoughts of taking out my camera and trying to take pictures but I knew that it was too small and I did not have enough lighting. I decided to spare its life by opening my door on the balcony and gently deposited it on the floor. As I am on the third floor I will assume that it gently descended. Last time I saw it was jumping on the floor in small jumps. I like spiders, but out in the great outdoors. And the ants can join them too!

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The perils of cycling.

I thought that I was well rested this morning but I was simply unable to leave my bed. I had wanted to take pictures at the botanical garden but for that to happen I had to be early, as in before 07:00 a.m. I knew that it would not happen today.

I thought to myself, what should I do? I had to save the day. You know, when the forces of inertia are pushing you to just stay home and hide in your shell. When you feel better in your home rather than out there in the outside world. I had to do something and not waste a warm day with sunny blue skies that were enticing me to go out.

I have a bicycle and I do use it, but purely in an utilitarian way. I simply take it to go to the botanical garden and then back again, in all about 23 minutes. I rarely go out with my bike more than that. But today, I knew was the day to go further, and so at 12:48 precisely I left my home in the direction of the Maisoneuve park. I had an added reason to go bicycling; I had previously bought a new bag for cyclists that you wear on your back. With its aluminum shell and aerodynamic structure I knew that I had to test it.

This park has the advantage of being a green space with a bike path that is about 1.9 miles shaped as an elongated oval. It should be mainly for cyclists but it is not, and that is where the frustration mounts.

First, you have the well meaning parents bringing their kids on the bike path and using it for the first time. They are maybe 5 or 6 years old and they simply block the path. I had to avoid several today. Accidents waiting to happen if you ask me. Please parents, take the kids to a school yard and let them practice there. At least no one can hit them accidentally and they won’t cause accidents by their erratic bicycling.

Then what about walkers? I mean, there is a walking path just besides the cycling path but no, let’s annoy the cyclists…And some runners seem to think that it is okay to run with the flow of cyclists. For some reason. Finally, I even saw a scooter on the path. That takes the cake.

I was a marvel of patience, not saying a word to all these people. I took it out on the bike path, despite that fact that a big sign said that bicycles were limited to about 30 miles per hour or something like that. I probably exceeded that many times during my 4 laps around the oval but I felt better when I left the park. You would to if you would have cycled for about 12 miles. Of course, I’ll pay the price tomorrow as my legs will hurt like mad. And yes, that new bag was incredible as I could feel the flow of air underneath me and around me. Well worth the frustrations that I experienced.

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