Sunday, March 27, 2005

Spring in Canada

Our first real sign of spring came this morning in the form of a red-winged blackbird atop the power pole in our yard. There is still plenty of snow on the ground here in Nova Scotia, but it's edges are receding. The Northumberland Strait is still packed with drift ice, and that sometimes hangs around long enough to delay the start of the lobster fishing season in May.

Out on the shores of Lake Erie, Gerard Pas reported seeing his first red-winged blackbird yesterday. In other blogs, Barend has reported the spring weather in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Further west in Montreal, Barry Welford reports that the St. Lawrence Seaway is open, and wonders if the record length of season it had last year is due to global warming. Out in mid-western Canada, Jeff comments on the dramatic metamorphosis of the changing season.

There are a couple of other creatures I like to watch as a further indicator of the changing season. First is the northern spring peeper. There used to be a website which recorded when it was first heard in various locations, but I am unable to find this today, so if you know this site, do please let me know. The second is the ruby throated hummingbird with one reported sighting yesterday in Virginia.

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Thursday, March 24, 2005

Blogs are going everywhere these days.

Everest Post 2005 is the journal of Gavin Bate's solo Everest bid in aid of Moving Mountains children's charity. He leaves the UK on 28 March and should be at the summit by 28 May.

In case you have trouble finding the RSS feed for this site, it is :

Canal tunnels

Of all the RSS feeds that I watch daily, the one I look forward to the most is from the blog Retirement with No Problem. Sue and her hubby are retired and live aboard a narrow boat on the English canal system.

It seems like Sue doesn't much like going through tunnels, especially if they are inhabited by bats. But today she met her worse fears head on ( Blisworth Tunnel and on to Northampton) and made it through to the other side. I like bats, and even encourage them to live near us to help keep mosquitoes under control, but I think the decision to make Greywell Tunnel a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is a bit extreme. Blisworth tunnel would seem to prove that bats and boats can co-exist. But of all the tunnels I have been through, I don't recall an encounter with a bat. About the worst thing that happens in a tunnel is the downpour of water as you pass under a ventilation shaft.

The first major canal tunnel I went through was Harecastle on the Trent and Mersey Canal. It was a school trip and my first introduction to boating on canals, though I had by that time worked on a few canal restoration projects. It may have been in Harecastle that we kept the boogie man at bay by singing "Underground, overgound, Wombling free".

A few years later I was part of an expedition that walked into the eastern end of Sapperton Tunnel. At that time the canal was drained, but we still needed waders to get into the tunnel and we took a small inflatable with us just in case. I'm glad to see that the Canal trust now run boat trips into this section of the tunnel when there is sufficient water.