Archive for the ‘animals’ Category

The Bats Looked Healthy to me

P1010706, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Much has been said of the mysterious disease that had been killing bats this spring. Having just seen numerous bats in Northern Ontario (Bancroft area) I was unable to notice any of the white fuzz around the nose. This disease might possibly have just shown itself earlier in the year – or maybe it has not hit the mines up around Bancroft. These bats are sheltering up at the end of a shallow drill hole and numerous other bats were flying around in the tunnels.

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Real cute little guy – Costa Rica

Costa Rica 3 185, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

A mother and baby howler monkey in what we came to refer to as “the monkey tree”.

One really hot day when Maggie only wanted to relax on the beach I ventured further inland up a dusty road. I reached this tree that must have had about 30 howlers in it. I think it may have been a guanacaste tree that has been enveloped by a strangler fig.

The monkeys just watched me until I got really close and then the males started barking. It was insane. Every monkey within several kilometers took up the cry, you could hear them everywhere. Its quite intimidating.

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Ontario cave with a scary past.

IMG_4403, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

The picture is a little blurry but I thought that I would post it today in memory of a time not so long ago when I was able to go outside without my nose almost freezing solid.

This is Donald of the SQS – a Quebec caving organization. Donald, Corneilie, Marc Andre and I had entered this Ontario cave and we followed it to its sump where there had been an especially harrowing diving accident some years ago. Two divers followed the underwater tunnels inward and only one returned. Fortunately the diver who came back went back to the surface for extra air tanks and then returned to rescue his buddy who had found an airpocket somewhere.

What was especially cool about this cave – aside from the dip at the entrance was the bats. They were fluttering around in the tunnels in significant numbers – possibly leaving the passages by an entrance other than the one we had used.

In reaching the furthest extent of the passages I was very interested to see the sandbars which seem re-worked each year. I cant be sure – maybe I was just confused by the map but in retrospect I think that maybe a passage; that is not mapped has been exposed from behind a sand bar. I hope to visit when the weather warms up to be certain. I was reluctant to probe further on my last visit as I did not want to disturb the sediment but with a map in hand I can seperate my confusion from reality. It’s probably just wishfull thinking though.

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Costa Rica 3 068, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Maggie fans herself with a pamphlet in the heat. We are in the Tamarindo estuary with Meeener as our guide. From the main channel we weave in deeper through the mangrove roots. There are plenty of alligators, sting rays and birds of every variety. We eventually reached a point where the boat could go no further and we sat in silence eating pineapple and watching the wildlife. There is the high pitched shrill of the “chichira” – maybe it means cicada – and the smell of diesel from our boat. It rocks most alarmingly and is made of rotting plywood with a piece of bent rebar as an anchor.

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Bad attitude earns the big bucks.

Costa Rica 3 413, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

These are the bulls – the most ferocious in Central America. Guanacaste is famous for its bulls and these are the cream of the crop – killers every one of them. Guanacaste is especially well suited to raising cattle as its interior consists of vast dry plains – the only shade being the umbrella expanse of the Guanacaste tree.

The humped cattle or Zebu are more tolerant to heat and have far more sweat glands. Their oily skin helps shed parasites and ticks. The famous Brahman is a sub species of the Zebu along with other species such as the Gir, Afrikaner and the Indo Brazilian. To my untrained eye the above appear to be Brahman – first domesticated in India some 10 000 years ago but the cattle most commonly seen in Costa Rica are the Indo Brazillian. They have great hanging dewlaps and absurdly floppy ears.

Terrible meat and I would not reccomend them to anyone.

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His blue eye and white claw lead me to that conclusion.

IMG_6301, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

There we go – “Bad Old Chester”. Chester – the new “Rockhound”.

Sadly Shaka passed away in October. He had a tumor on his spleen – virtually unsaveable as the ensuing operation revealed. You may remember him from the post “Cave Police” (July 2006) and also “Bubbles at the Bear Lake Apatite Mine”(July 2006). Of course you can never replace so loved a member of your family but you can move on. I went through a slump that lasted several months during which time I found it hard to write or enjoy anything for that matter, but Maggie and I finally decided to get another golden. Chester came from a Mennonite farm up near Palmerston – his father an absolutely beautiful creature – pure white and of amazing temperament.

Chester has one white claw and it is this – according to Maggie – that makes him evil. I say it is his blue eye – the evil eye – try sleeping when he wants to play – you will understand the true meaning of evil. Joshua, my son also appears with Chester. Some suggest that it was from Joshua that the dog got his wicked nature.

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Fossilized creatures of the Devonian Age still lie along the ancient Lake erie shoreline.

100_1896, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Anyway … To continue with the narrative about our “Caving off the radar”…

The Devonian Age rock (360 -408m yrs in age) first cuts the surface in Ontario as far east as Brantford. This is but a short drive from the homes of several prominant cave hunters and we have made a number of forays to this area in search of underground tunnels.

Ariel photographs show many sinking streams and by the prevalence of limestones and shales in the Devonian Age rocks we were somewhat optimistic.

The last of the Silurian Age rock – the Bertie formation appears as a coral-derived dolostone just south of Hamilton and from there on the unknown factor of the Devonian Age rock. “D” was absolutly blown away by the fossils on his first visit and he sent me the above photo that he took. On the way down today he ranted on in the car about their incredible variety and size – I think he should have been a paleontologist but instead he took the noble pursuit of ….. for a career. It seems oddly prevalent that many cavers follow that trade.

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