Posted in Agriculture, Landscapes, ontario, Photo Gear, tagged fisheye lens, landscape photography, ontario, photography, sigma lenses sigma 15mm f2.8 ex dg fisheye lens, stock photography, storm clouds, storms on July 9, 2013 |
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Storm Clouds Over Winter Wheat Crop, Bradford, Ontario
Sorry for lack of posts lately folks, I have been away on a photography trip through Ontario’s Parry Sound region. During this trip Gentec International, the Canadian distributor for Sigma Lenses in Canada was kind enough to loan me a Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens. I will be doing a full review of this lens in an upcoming post soon, but I can quickly sum it up with one word – WOW! I had a ton of fun using this lens for everything from bullfrogs, rusted old wrecks, urban scenes, landscapes, forest interiors, water lilies, and agricultural scenes (as you can see above).
The image accompanying this post was captured yesterday using the Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens on a Nikon D800 handheld as the wild and wicked storm clouds were swiftly moving across the sky, above a golden field of winter wheat. Yesterday southern Ontario, particularly the Toronto area, was hit with a massive amount of rain which caused significant flooding. The rainfall amount came close to beating the record set when Hurricane Hazel rolled through the area in 1954. Fortunately I live north of the hardest hit areas and only received a small amount of rainfall at home however, as I was driving down a rural road near my home I noticed these ominous clouds and just had to pull off to the side of the road and grab a few images.
Do remember to click on the image to see the larger, sharper version.
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Posted in Agriculture, Declining Populations, Frogs and Toads, ontario, Reptiles and Amphibians, Wetlands, tagged declining amphibian populations, essa township, farm drainage, frog ponds, frogs, habitat destruction, nature photography, ontario, simcoe county, spring chorus, vernal ponds, wetlands on April 22, 2013 |
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Those of you that have been following along here at the blog know that I have been photographing frogs and toads in vernal ponds found in an abandoned cattle pasture behind my home for a number of years. Vernal ponds are temporary pools of water that are critical habitat relied upon by frogs and toads as breeding sites every spring. Each and every spring chorusing frogs and toads would filled the air with song. Late last fall, the land which was zoned for agriculture was sold to an industrious farmer who promptly cleared every tree that lined the plots of land and then plowed the land. By plowing the land the farmer wiped out much of the frog and toad population in the immediate vicinity of my rural home.
As the temperatures began to warm this spring I would listen intently from my back deck listening for the songs of chorus frogs, which are always the first frogs to emerge from hibernation. A couple of weeks ago I heard the calls of one or two individuals. As the temperatures warmed further, the calls of the chorus frogs should have been incredibly loud, but not so. One or two individuals was all I ever heard. Last week the final nail in the coffin was delivered to this field as a farm drainage company arrived and tiled the field to drain the land, making it suitable for the planting of crops.
No longer will I hear or photograph the seven species of frogs that would breed in these ponds, or the snapping turtle that would come to gorge on the frog’s eggs. No longer will I see the chimney crayfish that would rise from beneath the ground on wet nights, or the bizarre insect larvae that depend on such habitats, and the fairy shrimps will no longer dance through their watery world.
This field had been laying fallow since 1975, but was always zoned for agriculture. I honestly feel that all agricultural lands that are left unattended to for such lengthy periods of time should undergo environmental assessments prior to turning the soil for agricultural purposes again.
Amphibians are the most threatened species on Earth, mostly due to habitat destruction, global warming, and the deadly chytrid fungus. We are responsible for each and every one of these that affect the world’s amphibian population.
Below you will see a selection of photos showing the tile drainage being buried. The field is so wet and soggy that a backhoe was need to pull the tile plow through the muck and frequently it looked as though the backhoe would flip into the soft muck of the field. In the first image below you will see the before and after versions of my favorite pond. The before image was photographed in the spring of 2012 and the after image was taken last night. In both images if you look on the left side you will see the abandoned barn. In the before image the barn is hidden slightly by the tree-line.
Please click on the images to see the larger, sharper versions.
Before and After
Backhoe tipping into pond while pulling tile plow through
Tractor driving through pond with weeping tile spool
View of the pond from the road after tiling – the level has dropped significantly
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Posted in Agriculture, Declining Populations, Environment, Frogs and Toads, tagged agriculture, essa township, frogs, loss of habitat, nature photography, ontario, simcoe county, songbirds, toads on October 24, 2012 |
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Green Frog (male)
The two images of the male Green Frog (Rana clamitans) may very well be the last frogs I will photograph in the vernal ponds behind my home. As followers of this blog know my home backs onto an abandoned cattle pasture which has several low lying areas that fill with rain water and snow melt, thus creating vernal ponds. These ponds are temporary and dry out by the end of summer, but they do hold water long enough for numerous species of frogs and toads to reproduce. According to my dear, elderly neighbors that arrived in Canada, from Germany many, many years ago after the war, the field has been laying fallow since about 1975. This 40 acre plot of abandoned agricultural land is used by many ground nesting songbirds such as Bobolink, Meadowlark, Horned Lark and Upland Sandpipers. Deep in the ground Chimney Crayfish await the rains to emerge and breed in the vernal ponds. Hawks, Owls, Fox , and Coyote hunt the Meadow Voles that inhabit the field also. During the winter months I take my daughter skating on the frozen pond. Most importantly though are the vast numbers of frogs and toads that arrive at the vernal ponds each spring to reproduce – a sight and sound to behold. Having sat in the ponds among the frogs and toads during peak chorus, I can honestly state that they are louder than any RAMONES concert I ever attended A truly remarkable experience, but…
Green Frog and Water Scorpion
It is with great sorrow that today I report on October the 18th this has been wiped out. The field was recently sold to a farmer that has cut down every tree that lined the field to open up more fields and has since tilled the soil for the planting of crops. This of course will mean more fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. I have always believed that this little corner of nature, located in Simcoe County, would one day be wiped out for either agriculture (it has always been zoned for agriculture) or housing developments, but I do wish I did not have to witness its destruction.With amphibian populations in serious decline around the globe, largely due to human impact, such loss of habitat, even on this small 40 acre plot of land, can yield a deadly blow to the local populations of frogs and toads.
I do hope that I am wrong, but I believe that in the fields behind my home, the Spring of 2013 will be the season without song. A sad, but all too familiar occurrence in the world that struck home on October 18, 2012. Below you will see the photos of how the field looks today.
In the photo above you are looking out over the field where each spring the largest vernal pond is to be found.
In the above photograph you are looking back toward my home, and again, across the field where additional ponds are found each spring. My home can be found immediately behind the trees on the right side of the image.
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Posted in Agriculture, Birds, tagged agriculture photography, farmland, nature photography, ontario, photography, pumpkins, stock photography, turkey vultures on September 15, 2010 |
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With autumn just around the corner many farmers near my home are now selling pumpkins and squash at the side of the road. This particular set-up, beside a soybean crop ready to harvest, caught my eye the other day. I couldn’t resist stopping to take several frames. I then proceeded to pick-up my 3 year old daughter from the babysitter and as we drove home, a few Turkey Vultures had gathered on our road, to feast on a dead Raccoon, killed by a car a few days ago. We stopped to see what might transpire and eventually one vulture landed on a fence post near the car. I shot the image below from the car with my 80-400 VR lens. My daughter’s curiosity led me to explaining why the vultures were eating a dead raccoon at the side of the road.
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Here’s one from a couple of weeks ago. These cotton clouds were irresistible as they were floating over this farmscape. The crop in the foreground is winter wheat and the crop near the barn is corn, in its early growth stage. I will be shooting this again soon as the winter wheat is now golden and almost ready to harvest. Often, when I am not on the road shooting I will go out for quick drives around my rural home for some agriculture photography.
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