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Click for moreJan 15, 2017 - Cuba 2016-2017 - Marine Life

For 2016-17's visit to Cuba, in addition to seeing Havana, it was also a priority that the chosen resort have snorkeling directly from the beach. Research on TripAdvisor helped to select Memories Jibacoa and the location turned out to be perfect.

From the beach, you can walk in up to your knees, and launch into the water and immediately be treated to amazing sights. Closer to the shore are grasses and coral stone, and the farther out you go the more diverse things get.

The photos in this post were shot with a Lumix waterproof camera. It's not as complex a camera as my others, but with a Leica lens and snorkel mode to adjust white-balance, it worked remarkably well and was easy to manage.

When snorkeling in this location, I typically spent 1.5-2 hours of swimming at a time, and you are only 500-700 meters from shore. There is a lot of coral structure to explore, and once you get out there flipping, it's very easy to just stay out there, relaxing and seeing what's around the next corner. Without fail my fingers were wrinkled every time I returned.

The farther you got out from the shore, the more coral there was to see. At one point was a coral barrier, and when you got past that the water dropped off to a depth of 30-40 feet. It was such a great experience to swim around for hours in this area, observing all the life there was to see.

If you're looking for a great beach and a place to snorkel within easy reach of all your hotel amenities, I'd highly recommend Memories Jibacoa. It checked all my boxes as far as peace & quiet, beach, swimming, snorkeling and access to nearby Havana.

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Click for moreFeb 11, 2013 - Weekend Adventures

This past weekend I took an outing each day and enjoyed the locations visited.

Saturday was -20 with windchill and we had a huge snowfall in the days prior. Bundled up, a visit to the Humber Abroretum was made.

We wore snowshoes, which greatly helped us to to cover a lot more ground, and in a faster way compared to normal walking. It was early and the trails had not been worn in following the big snow, so it was a perfect day to bring the snowshoes out.

At Humber a few usual suspects were noticed, and despite trying, the Great Horned Owl due weren't noticed anywhere, but this wasn't despite looking.

On Sunday, I hunted for snowy owls but didn't have any success, but did manage to take some shots of the landscape around Caledon.

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Click for moreFeb 3, 2013 - A stranger calling can be a good thing!

When I find a good productive place to explore, I find myself returning over and over, each time looking in a different area.

This weekend, the sun was shining early on Sunday, so off I went. The destination was the Humber Arboretum, where I was pretty sure I'd find a Saw-Whet owl (and sure enough I did), and I was also hopeful I'd also find the Great Horned owls I've seen on previous visits.

Upon arrival, I checked out the usual spots for songbirds and smaller species, and wasn't disappointed. Within a few minutes I had seen white-breasted nuthatches, woodpeckers including the red-bellied woodpecker, and even managed to spot a doe walking by.

Trekking further away from my starting point, I noticed a lot of tiny cones in a tree, and heard some birds that sounded different than usual. These birds were feeding on the cones, and once I got closer I realized they were common redpolls, which I've been meaning to get more shots of lately.

Roaming around the forest for quite a while, I was unable to spot the Great Horned Owls. I was on my way out of the park when something interesting happened. I know from experience that when crows and small birds are making strange calls, they may be 'alarm-calling' to alert others of an intruder. I was hearing a very strange call, and so I sought out the source.

Eventually I found the strange caller. It was a Coopers Hawk high in a tree, squawking a blue streak. I went closer to where he was trying to get a clear shot of him, and that's when I noticed he was screaming about the Great Horned Owl in an adjacent tree! Needless to say I was excited to find the hawk, and even more excited to find the owl he was crying about.

If there's a lesson learned, it's that when you're looking for owls or other predators, pay close attention to the bevaviour of other birds. They may be trying to tell you something, and this is when you'll be happy you listened when a stranger called :)

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