Happy Times

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Visit to Peggy's Cove and Lighthouse, Nova Scotia

For our second full day in Halifax, we wandered the area south of the city.  The girls didn't like to get started early so we got to Peggy's Cove about 10:AM.  We found it almost impossible to find a parking spot and the place covered with tourists. All of us are very uncomfortable in crowds, so we didn't stay long. We had been driving under a cloudy sky, but before we left the area we started to see clearing skies.  But the good news, is I didn't have many pictures.

Peggy's Point Lighthouse is one of the most iconic of the Canadian lighthouses and the entire town is a historic site.  In years past, there was a little post office in the lower floor of it but it was closed in 2009 as the building is considered to dangerous to be inside of it. I also enjoyed the bagpipe player who was playing for tips just at the start of the path to the lighthouse.

Peggy's Point Lighthouse - also known as Peggy's Cove Lighthouse

The bagpipe player

Another beautiful building well worth visiting was St. John's Anglican Church. I would have like to have spent more time inside.  It is Carpenter Gothic Style and was stunning outside and inside. There were painted panels and some of the windows were of leaded glass.

The church as we saw it from the road

The view of the church from the entrance area

I think this was the only stained glass window

We walked a short trail to enjoy the incoming tide

I found the tide pools interesting

This was a view in the cove - the town still supports a little fishing industry

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Surprising Encounter with Kingsbrae Gardens

August 1, 2016

This is another adventure from my vacation with two of my girls.  And do get your coffee first. I DID edit my pictures a LOT but there are still too many. 

I was advised by several people to be sure and visit St. Andrews, New Brunswick, on our drive to Halifax. It has lots of history, several walking tours, a lovely harbor and, as we found out after we got there, a wonderful garden. Kris and I visited the harbor and the downtown area and then found where to get information on the town. I knew there were walking tours but wanted the paper copy. So we walked about a half mile to the information center and there found the advertisement for the Kingsbrae Garden. Kris immediately picked that to go visit.

We were also advised by the lady giving us information that the garden had a great restaurant and their lobster bisque was wonderful. So we planned to go pay our entrance fee, and then get lunch before visiting the garden. But the restaurant was closed for a wedding.  But the park was so wonderful, we were happy to wait a few more hours for lunch.

We were in awe of the brilliant entrance, then the fabulous textures of the white garden and the peak into the formal garden, all before we got to the Visitor Center to pay the entrance fee. 

This garden has lots to see, from formal gardens to a maze. to a vegetable garden, a garden of evergreens, a garden of succulents, a garden for pollinators, and even several kinds of farm animals. There were also fruit trees and other themed gardens, as well as a wild trail through a wooded area.   Kris is a knitter and she bought a skein of wool from the gift shop that was taken from one of the alpacas we visited.

But the most important garden was the one where garden sculptures by Canadian artists were featured. This is definitely a garden to visit if you can.

Our first view - from the parking lot

Then we found the white garden on our left and a tall  hedge on our right

One view of the white garden

I loved the closeup view of these flowers.

I had to climb on a bench to peek into the formal garden behind the hedge

The white garden crossed the path just before we arrived at the Visitor Center where color burst out

A view from inside the formal garden - there were four beds like this one as well as hedges 

I love texture and this garden had it in spades 

Another view of a walkway 

Everything was thickly planted and growing lushly

I loved the juxtaposition of these flowers with the purple, shaded background

The evergreen garden was also very textured and set off the smooth statue

The density of the evergreen plantings was amazing

Pollinators were enjoying the pollinator garden and I enjoyed studying them

I love goats so enjoyed meeting these guys

One of the recently sheared alpacas

There were several of these kind of figures

I found this mysterious guy in the evergreen maze

This just may have been my favorite sculpture

Apples were getting color

This was a beautiful sculpture - but I didn't notice the hand until I looked at the picture

I particularly enjoyed this sculpture/bench

Several of the sculptures were made for streams or ponds

I loved the statement this sculpture made -
but it was way too big for a personal garden

A butterfly sculpture

This one won my personal whimsy award

I got a chuckle out of this beaver trio

This building held the restaurant which we didn't get to visit -
 but the building and landscaping was gorgeous 

These giant chairs were everywhere on the Outer Banks,
 but this was the best displayed one I've seen

We needed to continue our trip so we fially dragged ourselves from this garden and went back back to trying to find a place to eat lunch. The restaurant we were advised to go to had just closed when we arrived, so we ended up at a fish and chips place. I never bothered to find out its name, but the fish and chips were prepared perfectly. They ended up being the best food we had in Canada, even though the girls hunted for the best restaurants. Nova Scotia seems to not believe in garlic or much spice except salt and pepper, so the food was way too bland for our Texan taste. Kris and I held out to 3:00 PM in order to eat more fish and chips at the restaurant in St. Andrews on the return trip. 

If you love history, cute towns, gardens, whale watching or even kayaking, St. Andrews has something for you. You could easily spend several days there and not get bored.

For more information on this award winning garden, click here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Bird Banding Day

August 11, 2016

Moosehorn NWR takes part in the Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship MAPS project. Click on the link to learn lots more about it. Basically it involves trapping birds in various habitats and then banding them as well as measuring the wing length and finding their weight.  They are also sexed and aged, if possible. The information gathered tells about the success of the various species and gives information of what habitat is preferred by each species.

I am also planting milkweed every hour I don't have something else to do, or as long as I can stand to work.  Kirsten didn't think they would have many birds before nine and told me to come out then.  So I planted milkweed from five-thirty to eight-thirty and then drove out to the capture site. The team had just returned from removing birds from the ten nets that are set up in two different ages of woods.  One was last cut in 1989,  I think, and the other was cut in 2009. The team had just caught the most birds ever trapped at once - I think it was over thirty birds.

So I got to observe how the birds were handled and then got to release them.  I also walked out through a rough, rocky trail to check the nets for the last time and then to take them down.

One of the most exciting things to the bird survey team which consisted of permanent staff, temporary staff, interns, and volunteers, was the capture of several Canada warblers, which is a bird of concern in this area.

At first glance, it looks like chaos

Megan is the data recorder for up to three birds at once

Mike is putting a band on a black-capped chickadee - Maine's state bird

Kirsten is aging a Canada warbler by looking at it's wing feathers

Kirsten measuring a wing

Kirsten blowing feathers to see if fat is around the cloaca and if the bird has a brood patch

The birds are gently put into the weighing tubes head first after the tubes are tared

This red-eyed vireo chewed on Kirsten's fingers while she gathered it's data. 

I think they finally decided the bird was a Nashville warbler 

Another view of the mystery bird 

This was another hard bird - it was finally called a song sparrow
but it didn't have all the normal field marks

I took this picture while keeping tension on the other end of the net - while it was still on its pole. 

And since I seldom get pictures of birds, I was excited to see a yard visitor the following day.  This is a hen wild turkey.  She has repeatedly appeared at different places around the refuge.  I suspect she may have lost all her brood.

I'll be joining Wild Bird Wednesday. Click on the picture below to read many more interesting blogs about birds from around the world.