Monday, February 28, 2011

Random Island Trilobite

This week's look at nature goes way back.  Trilobites were small ocean arthropods which lived in large numbers on the ocean floor - about 250 to 450 million years ago.  There are thousands of species and they are found throughout the world.

These are great for fossil-hunting with kids.  Trilobites are found in sedimentary rock - the kind which flakes off in layers. Why so common?  When Trilobites gathered in large numbers under/near a slope and that slope collapsed, they were trapped. Their remains were fossilized. Where you find one there will be many.

The most well-known place in Newfoundland  is at Manuel's River on the Avalon Peninsula.  I explored an area on Random Island, at the base of Trinity Bay and near Clarenville.  There, on a hillside, was sedimentary rock and an occasional Trilobite. You have to pick through many pieces of loose rock to find one.  It's amazing that the entire area was once under water.

Here's one of mine below.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pearly Everlasting - a classy plant

For anyone that has been out and about in any part of Newfoundland, you have walked by the lovely plant Pearly Everlasting. It grows usually in dry, well-drained areas; very common along roadsides. The plant grows throughout Canada and in much of the U.S. In fact, it's so common that most people barely pause to give it a closer look.

Pearly Everlasting blooms for many weeks from mid-summer onward.  It stands at about knee-length. The leaves and stems are covered with fine hairs, giving the plant a silver sheen.  A remarkable feature about the plant is that it holds its form for many months.  It looks good in late fall and stands up to early winter. I've read that it is poisonous so don't nibble.

This plant is good addition to your garden; it does well in dry areas and requires very little care.  Better yet, get out for a walk and enjoy in its natural place.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Baby Beluga in Plate Cove

Summertime in Newfoundland holds many surprises - especially at the ocean. While Humpback whales are the norm, Potheads are common and Killer whales are occasional visitors. In recent years Belugas have been showing up.

They have been spotted in many areas of the province, often in quiet coves. Their interest in humans, and ours in them, have provided lots of great close encounters.

The footage below is from Plate Cove, on the province's east coast.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Snowshoeing in Local Shoes

It has been a busy couple of weeks and the blog suffered!

Today was awesome!  My family was presented with some locally made snowshoes recently. We just returned from a test run.  As much as I'm a fan of cross-country skiing, snowshoes offer a different experience and a varied workout.  Local snowshoes are relatively easy to find in Newfoundland and beyond.  If you plan to try them make sure that the circumference is big enough to hold your weight.  Another important thing is the straps/bindings.  Buy something of good quality; you'll be thankful when in the snow.  Finally, a set of ski poles are very helpful for stability. They allow for an excellent shoulder work-out.  Fit the snowshoes snugly to your boots while still at home.  Once you get out there you'll need to re-adjust slightly after about ten steps.

Today there were lots of animal tracks and a great dispersal of seeds on top of the snow to keep the birds happy. There are still lots of delicate plants poking through the snow despite its height this winter.  Our walk in the woods was excellent and the snowshoes performed well.

Get out there - its good for the mind and body.  Lifting snowshoes at every step also provides an excellent leg work-out.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday Snow Walk

A very nice Sunday morning in Newfoundland.  I'm just back from a walk in the woods; a new storm is about to start and it feels good to get outside.  The snow just started when I set out - heavy in open areas but gentle in the woods.

A rabbit had crossed my path a few minutes in front of me. Its tracks were still perfectly outlined despite the falling snow. I've taken a video because the tracks led to a pretty stream where the rabbit seemingly paused for a minute.  I was drawn to the same gap in the woods. 

If you're feeling couch-potatoish, take a some time to dress well and get outside.  There is beauty, some nice surprises and clarity of the mind awaits.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Though the coyote was not native to Newfoundland, it has established a presence for at least 20 years. It will probably here for the long run.  There has been ongoing discussion about the relative safety of coyotes when near people.  However, most of the focus has been with the increased numbers and the impact on moose and caribou populations. 

We shouldn't be really surprised. Coyote-like canines have roamed North America for about 40 million years, moving throughout the continent and onto Europe. They find new places to thrive. Newfoundland has been an open territory since about 1911, when the last Newfoundland Wolf (canis lupus beothucus) was spotted. The species is extinct.

Like wolves, coyotes are highly social and have a complex system of communication - allowing them to be excellent group hunters.  There is a theory that the relationship between humans and dogs was made possible by the social skills of early wolves. They could tolerate human beings!

For the most part coyotes stay away from humans. However, they are quick learners and notice our behaviour - such as leaving family pets outside and unattended.  At 25-40 pounds and nearly five feet in length, they are big animals.  Give them their space.