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Click for moreFeb 2, 2013 - Indoor Oasis in Toronto - Allan Gardens

The day was overcast, so instead of trying to catch birds in the shade, a trip was made to Allan Gardens in downtown Toronto, a place I'd heard and read about, but never been.

In short, do yourself a favour and go! In sub-zero weather, I enjoyed shooting indoors in a lavishly planted series of greenhouses, wearing a t-shirt. It was quiet, full of an amazing variety of plant life, and photographically I'd highly recommend taking a trip!

The range of habitats for plants included humid conditions for orchids, dryer rooms for cactus, a colder room for spring bulbs such as daffodils, and much more.

I've gone many times to the Centennial Park greenhouse in Etobicoke, but this greenhouse series is significantly larger and is a great place to spend a few hours on a cold winter day.

Equipment-wise, I shot a lot using flash, extension tubes to allow me to get closer, a 70-200 Canon lens for many shots, the broader photos were taken with a wide-angle lens, and then as I worked my way back on the way out I used an 85mm prime lens to really bring out the details in some of the intricate plants.

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Click for moreJan 26, 2013 - Humber Arboretum - Great Horned Owls

Today the weather wasn't really supposed to cooperate according to the meteorologists, and so a nearby trip was planned given lighting might not be ideal. As it turned out the sun came out, and a great day was have following Great Horned Owls around.

The Humber Arboretum has proven to be an excellent place for nearby outings this winter, and today was one of the best visits.

Upon arrival, we saw the usual suspects, and shot the red-bellied woodpecker, some nuthatches and of course the friendly chickadees were there too.

Some time later we ran into a friend Mike we keep seeing there, and he was on the hunt for not one, but two Great Horned Owls. We were all too happy to help with the search and were rewarded!

We were able to see both a male and female, and managed to see them at a few different locations in the lowlands where they were perched high enjoying the sun.

We also went and visited the resident Saw-whet owl, and otherwise enjoyed a great walk on a sunny Saturday.

As for Great Horned Owls, I got interested as my suspicions were that these two were mating. I researched the timeframe and it appears and of January is about right for mating, so in the weeks to come these two will likely find themselves a good spot to nest and rear their young.

Ah yes, another great day in our frigid winter here in Ontario, gotta love it!

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Click for moreJan 19, 2013 - Barred Owl in Guelph

Today I had a nice and also lucky outing at Guelph Aboretum. I've read reports the past few weeks about a Barred Owl being spotted in the area and after failing to locate one in another park after at least 5 visits, I thought I'd try Guelph today.

A number of birder/photographers were walking around aimlessly, none of us sure where to look. We had faith it was here though, so the looking continued.

I had the good fortune to run into a few people. One dog-walker steered me to the rough area he thought I should look. There, I met up with another photographer, and we agreed to split up and try different areas, I told him I'd whistle if I found anything.

Eventually, this gent located me and said "I found it", and we went to see. The owl wasn't where he thought it had been, but eventually we found it, and watched with fascination.

Within about 1/2 hour, we were treated to a show as the Barred Owl hunted for and caught a mouse. He ate it whole, and all the while we watched and snapped shots.

Thanks to the gent "Grenfell" that helped me out, I had walked a large portion of the wild lands, and in the end the Owl was near where I parked, which is perhaps not unexpected :)

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