Mud Lake – National Capital Region


Mud Lake is one of the most ecologically important natural habitats in the urban part of Canada’s Capital Region. It is identified as a Provincially Significant Wetland and an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest by the government of Ontario and is classified a Protected Area management Category IV (habitat and species management area).

This 60-hectare natural environment is a complex of wetlands along the Ottawa River, the majority of which is made up of deciduous swamp forest. The driest part, to the west, contains a mature forest stand which is made up predominantly of white, red and burr oak, as well as white pine.

Mud Lake is a habitat for a wide diversity of animal species. Located within the Lac Deschênes area and in a major migratory corridor, it specifically serves as an important environment for bird conservation and is recognized as one of the most popular urban sites for birdwatching in Canada. 269 species of birds have been recorded, as well as numerous species of amphibians, reptiles and fish that are not commonly found either regionally or nationally. It also hosts diverse plant life, with 44 rare and 15 uncommon plant species as well as several fauna species-at-risk.

Several species of invasive non-native plants threaten the biodiversity of the Mud Lake habitat. Eleven of these species have been recorded, covering about 29 percent of the total area of this natural habitat.

Half-Life Still Life (January 2017)


Half-life is a term used to describe the time required for a quantity to reduce half of its value, and the term is commonly used in nuclear physics to define radioactive decay.

Several years ago, my friend Elizabeth, knowing that I am fascinated with glass objects, introduced me to an interesting vase. The type of glass used to make this object is called uranium glass, because a small amount of uranium, typically in the form of an oxide, is added to the glass mix before melting. The uranium gives the glass a pale yellowish-green colouration. In the 1920s this colour led to the nickname Vaseline glass because it resembled the colour of petroleum jelly from that time.

Uranium glass is a subset of a type of glass called Depression Era Glass. Depression Era Glass, or simply Depression Glass, was popular and inexpensive during the depression period and was made into common houseware articles such as vases, cups, saucers, plates, and candy bowls. Using a sensitive Geiger counter, uranium glass would register slightly higher than normal background radiation. Most pieces of this type of glass are harmless and only slightly radioactive. When asked if ingesting uranium glass would cause radioactive poisoning, one scientist replied that the shards of glass would kill you before your body even noticed the radiation.

All very interesting – but what fascinated me was the way that the uranium in the glass fluoresces under ultraviolet light. With that bit of knowledge, Elizabeth and I, with portable UV lights in hand, haunted the antique shops in the Ottawa area looking for reasonably priced uranium glass objects. In addition to Elizabeth’s vase, we discovered a small plate, a cup and saucer, an ice cream dish and a candy bowl. I found several inexpensive UV fluorescent lights and after some experimentation, I started taking photos using the light from the fluorescing glass. Using some paints and dyes, which phosphoresces under UV light, I added some painted objects to the glass scenes.

These photos are the result of that experimentation.

I took these two photos as a comparison of a hand-painted dried rose under normal light and UV light.

Après-ski … A Different Way


I believe “après-ski” implies sitting by the fire and drinking wine with friends after your day of skiing. Well I did a morning of spring skiing yesterday at Calabogie peaks, and as usual I had my camera with me. So instead of guzzling wine in a bar after my ski session, I hopped in the car with my camera and drove around the back roads between Calabogie, Burnstown and Pakenham. (And I even managed to get lost a few times – no GPS signal where I was and it was more fun to get lost than to stop and check the map!)

The clouds were awesome and the air was so clean and the sky so blue. I couldn’t help thinking that it will not be long before the skis go away for the season, and the motorbike comes out of hibernation.

Ottawa’s First Snow Fall


Well it snowed here in Ottawa during this past week. Not much, just a few centimetres (that’s less than an inch for the Imperial measuring folks). It was enough to make a hike through the local forests pleasant and different from past hikes through bare trees and dry leaves. I headed off to one of the local National Capital Commission hiking trails just west of Ottawa and tramped around for about 90 minutes with my camera. It was a bright sunny day, not too cold, and the trees provide an excellent shelter from the wind gusts.

During my hike I came across this wee critter hanging out in a tree. If it could talk, it would probably be cursing me as one of those annoying paparazzi who wouldn’t leave people, or in this case, an animal, alone.

NCC Hike - First Snow

More iPhone Photos


I belong to a loosely knit hiking group, and most Tuesdays we meet up in the morning to explore the many hiking trails around Ottawa. This past Tuesday, with the co-operation of the weather, we explored a hiking trail which I did not even knew existed, being situated on a seldom-used back road. During the hike we came across an abandoned log building and we were trying to think what it might have been. Maple syrup shack? Bootleg distillery? Regardless, it was neat!

Abandoned Farm with an iPhone


I recently visited some friends who live in Eastern Ontario, and whenever I visit, I try to make a point of dropping by an abandoned farm that is close by their home. This time, when I visited the farm, the only camera I had was my iPhone and given that the best camera in the world is the one in your hand, I decided to use it to capture some photos of the farm buildings and surrounding landscape. Adobe makes a version of Photoshop for the iPhone and iPad, and I used that software on my iPhone to edit and “dramatize” the photos on my iPhone.

Here are the results …