Pigeons, pigeons

The other day I was viewing photos I had taken around a year ago to see what winter was looking like then. I came upon this image of pigeons on electrical wires on a grey day. They congregate near a tiny park outside a subway station in Toronto. I love these birds. They are a familiar and often undervalued sight in the city. But I enjoy seeing them on my walks, being careful, however, not to walk directly underneath them!


Pigeons on the wires, December 2012, Toronto

Dreaming of Larkwhistle

Larkwhistle Garden

Larkwhistle Garden, June 2012, Bruce Peninsula, Ontario

I’m taking a break from the cold and going to Larkwhistle Garden in my mind. Larkwhistle is a terrific garden on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario that has been created and gardened by Patrick Lima and John Scanlan. For decades, they have opened the garden to visitors in the summer. But last year, they decided to end those public visiting days. 

Larkwhistle Garden

Kniphofia at Larkwhistle Garden, 2010

Larkwhistle Garden

Larkwhistle Garden, September 2010, Ontario

We have gone to this place of beauty for years since travelling to the peninsula and it remains with me in memories of flowers, birds and grace.  And with thanks to Patrick and John for what they have created and generously shared.

Larkwhistle Garden

Larkwhistle Garden’s resident cat, 2010.

Signs of the Donkey Sanctuary

Donkey Sign

Sign at The Donkey Sanctuary, with quote by Alice Walker, that I photographed in 2010

In my last post I mentioned that there are inspiring signs at the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada in Guelph, Ontario. I’ve photographed some of these over time.  Here’s several images I took between 2008 and 2013.  The charter feels like one we humans could benefit from ourselves!

Donkey Sign

Donkey Sanctuary’s Charter, photographed 2010, Lily S. May

Donkey Sign

Donkey Sanctuary sign with quote by James Herriot, photographed 2010, Lily S. May

Donkey Sign

Donkey Sanctuary sign with another quote by Alice Walker, taken in 2008.

Donkey Sanctuary of Canada

Donkeys at the Sanctuary

Donkeys at the Sanctuary, Guelph, Ontario, Sept. 2013

I thought I’d take a break from the cold and show you photos from the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada in Guelph, Ontario. I first learned about the Donkey Sanctuary from a friend a few years ago and have been visiting the Sanctuary ever since.  There, donkeys, mules and hinnies that are neglected, abused or unable to be looked after are cared for. Meeting the animals on this beautiful farmland has been a wonderful experience. It has taken me away from my own initial ignorance that donkeys might need a sanctuary.

Young Donkey

Ruby, a young donkey at the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada, Sept. 2013

At the Sanctuary are a number of signs with inspiring quotes about humans’ relationships with other animals. I’ve included a photo of one here, in addition to a pair of donkeys, plus the young Ruby who was just a few months old when we saw her in September.


Jane Goodall quotation–sign at the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada, Sept. 2013

At the Butterfly Conservatory

May 2014 bring us positive transformation!


At the Butterfly Conservatory, December 2011, Niagara Falls, Ontario

Cape St. Mary’s Encore

Cape St. Mary's, Newfoundland

At Cape St. Mary’s, Newfoundland, August 2013.

I’m back at the Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve in my mind.  This photo shows Northern Gannets and Kittiwakes on tiered rock.  The expanse of ocean, rock and huge numbers of birds created exuberance in many of us there.  Indeed, while setting out for Bird Rock, we came upon 2 people from England returning from the walk.  We talked for a few minutes, as people often do in natural settings. The man told us that he is a volcano watcher and has been to see some fantastic volcanoes. Nevertheless, he said, what he had just witnessed at the Cape had been the greatest natural experience of his life.  Later, I would have the same feelings.

Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve, Newfoundland

Cape St. Mary's

The sheep at Cape St. Mary’s, on the way to Bird Rock, August 2013

In August we went to the Ecological Reserve at Cape St. Mary’s in Newfoundland. This was the most intense and positive experience of nature I have ever had.  It shocks me to even be able to narrow down all the wonderful experiences in nature that I have had, but there it is. It was an extremely windy day, as I gather it usually is. Fog is also very common here. We saw it dissipating over the water as we walked over the barren’s grass, past grazing sheep, near orange stakes that guided us and kept us from venturing too close to the cliffs.

Cape St. Mary's

Northern Gannets at Bird Rock, Cape St. Mary’s, Newfoundland, August 2013

Cape St. Mary's

Bird Rock with nesting gannets, Cape St. Mary’s, August 2013

This reserve is known for its spectacular views of seabirds who nest on Bird Rock, 10 – 20 metres from the viewing area which is the edge of a cliff.  The majority of the birds we saw were northern gannets, but we also saw black-legged kittiwakes and other visitors saw murres.  There are over 50,000 birds nesting at the reserve–an amazing sight as they flew with grace near us or sat on the rocks with their young.

Cape St. Mary's

Northern Gannet, Cape St. Mary’s, August 2013

Cape St. Mary's

Northern Gannet, Cape St. Mary’s, Newfoundland, Canada, August 2013

The entire site is beautiful in a haunting way, what with the fog, 100 metre high cliffs descending to the ocean, the lighthouse in the distance and fog horn sounding.  I also enjoyed the nearly level walk to Bird Rock with grass and low lying plants stretching out before us. It reminded me a bit of the prairies.

Cape St. Mary's

Looking back at the Interpretive Centre and Light House, Cape St. Mary’s, August 2013

No Denying Newfoundland!

No Denial Path

One of the great signs we came upon while hiking near Mad Rock, Newfoundland, August 2013

I’ve just returned from nearly three weeks in beautiful Newfoundland.  Many posts to come from the east and west of the island.  This hike near Mad Rock was terrific. Views of the ocean, dramatic rocks and rolling terrain.  We loved the signs we encountered, particularly this one.  It was near here, on rocks by the ocean, that we saw whales nearby.  Our best guess is that they were minke whales.

A Refreshing Drink

Here’s another bird, a more common mallard. Still, she was delightful to see earlier this summer on the Cyprus Lake Trail in Bruce Peninsula National Park.  I see many mallards in the city and enjoyed seeing their countryside relative.


Mallard at Cyprus Lake, Bruce Peninsula, June 2013

Black-Crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned night heron

Black-crowned night heron at the Evergreen Brick Works, Toronto, July 2013

A week ago Sunday we went to the Brick Works which has been flooded twice this year from torrential rains.   A little over a week after the last flood and a clean-up effort, the site had recovered quite a bit. On the way over, the wildflowers by the railroad were dense leaving only the tiniest of paths to stumble through.

Black-crowned night heron

Black-crowned night heron at the Brick Works in July 2013, Toronto

Shortly after arriving at the Brick Works, we saw this black-crowned night heron in one of the ponds. He or she stood hunched and still for long periods, except when catching a meal.  It is heartening to see wildlife in Toronto in this place where nature is being restored so close to a major highway.