Friday 17 November 2023

Where do babies come

 With all the spectacular results coming from space telescopes like the James Webb and Euclid, it is no wonder that age old questions of cosmology, of our origins arise again.

Of course, our children know the answer the way we "knew" Santa Claus:

However, "in my day", I believed the stork brought me/us/children.

So 10 years ago I decided to investigate:

I saw no evidence of babies being fed in the nest. So I looked lower down, on the ground:

This did seem to be like stalking. At least potentially interesting. So I watched some more:

Could this be? Alas I never saw any results.

This Spring I tried again.

I saw the "stuff" for mangers but no evidence for children.

And then just a couple of days ago I saw some "cranes" - the White-neck, and the rarer


Here was clear evidence of people being "delivered"!

And -

So that would seem to settle the point - it is cranes, not storks that deliver humans

in our culture.

Whoops - the Whoopers and the Sandhill cranes might have something to say about that!

Here are some reactions when the Sandhills were asked a couple of days ago:

I think here at least, the jury is still out:


Wednesday 8 November 2023

Where does the water go?

 I read today's Nature eAlert, Nature Geoscience Contents: Volume 16 Number 11

and was struck by a review which I could only partially see and the article:


Locally surprising megafloods in Europe can be anticipated from
continent-wide observations.
Nat. Geosci. 16, 942–943 (2023).

Megafloods are rare and hence difficult to predict.
However, using a collation of historical flood observations across Europe,
it is now shown that recent megafloods could have been anticipated — local surprises
are in fact not surprising at the continental scale.

Megafloods in Europe can be anticipated from observations in hydrologically similar catchments
Miriam Bertola, Günter Blöschl, Milon Bohac, Marco Borga, Attilio Castellarin et al.
06 November 2023 Nature Geoscience 16 | doi:10.1038/s41561-023-01300-5
Megafloods that far exceed previously observed records
often take citizens and experts by surprise,
resulting in extremely severe damage and loss of life.
Existing methods based on local and regional information
rarely go beyond national borders and cannot predict these floods well
because of limited data on megafloods,
and because flood generation processes of extremes
differ from those of smaller, more frequently observed events.
Here we analyse river discharge observations
from over 8,000 gauging stations across Europe and show
that recent megafloods could have been anticipated
from those previously observed in other places in Europe.
Almost all observed megafloods (95.5%) fall within the envelope values
estimated from previous floods in other similar places on the continent,
implying that local surprises are not surprising at the continental scale.
This holds also for older events, indicating that megafloods
have not changed much in time relative to their spatial variability.
The underlying concept of the study is that catchments with similar
flood generation processes produce similar outliers.
It is thus essential to transcend national boundaries
and learn from other places across the continent to avoid surprises and save lives.

Our son has a canoe-touring company in Germany and uses some of these gauges
to estimate the safety factor on the streams his groups paddle. He does
sometimes access the gauges near where I paddle here in Ontario.

For example:
Parks Canada water levels affecting the Severn canal system:

for values for currently 532 stations

I chose one on the Black River:

Real-time data - subject to revision
Copyright Environment Canada(2023)

"Real-Time Hydrometric Data for BLACK RIVER NEAR VANKOUGHNET (02EC019) [ON]"

Description of parameters:
6    "Discharge (daily mean values)"    m³/s

Date (EST)    Parameter     Value(m³/s)
2023-11-01 00:00:00    6    3.73
2023-11-02 00:00:00    6    3.74
2023-11-03 00:00:00    6    3.76
2023-11-04 00:00:00    6    5.04
2023-11-05 00:00:00    6    4.53
2023-11-06 00:00:00    6    4.06
2023-11-07 00:00:00    6    5.26
2023-11-08 00:00:00    6    5.90

And I also chose one relevant to Hurricane Hazel -

Real-time data - subject to revision
Copyright Environment Canada(2023)

"Real-Time Hydrometric Data for HOLLAND RIVER EAST BRANCH AT HOLLAND LANDING (02EC009) [ON]"

Description of parameters:
6    "Discharge (daily mean values)"    m³/s

Date (EST)    Parameter     Value(m³/s)
2023-11-01 00:00:00    6    0.552
2023-11-02 00:00:00    6    0.520
2023-11-03 00:00:00    6    0.490
2023-11-04 00:00:00    6    0.470
2023-11-05 00:00:00    6    0.459
2023-11-06 00:00:00    6    0.491
2023-11-07 00:00:00    6    0.530
2023-11-08 00:00:00    6    0.514

The Holland River discharge is a factor 10 times lower than that of the
Black River.

And we "know" what happen here in October 1954.
Hurricane Hazel was Toronto’s perfect storm
So the data is in. No acts of "god" or even "God". We now know the certainty of an uncertain future rest in our hands - mine aren't webbed so I must depend on conservation measures - to get by with a little help from my friends, as it were. I wonder if there is some webbing between my toes?


Sunday 22 October 2023

Orionids and Bison

 It has been "wet" here. And we were "in the wet" Friday when we went looking for a reported and photographed bison. Got to be reel real right? Well, no.

And it was raining -

So no Orionids and no Bison and that's no Bull

Just remember though, that pictures of cows are free but the bull charges. Helpful photo hints from the field,



Thursday 19 October 2023

I get by with a little help from my friends

 So a week ago Donald reported a sighting but it was gone by the time Vicki and I arrived. 

Last night I asked him if I had been at the right spot - yes - and was he interested - yes - in going back there today - yes but he couldn't. But I could and just after 2PM:

There it was.


Thank you, Donald!


Sunday 15 October 2023

Once upon a time my camera was broken

 So if Newton can walk a beach and admire the stones, why can't I?

                      A bag of colourful stones gathered at various times in various places.

I am taking my inspiration from some pottery Vicki found attractive while I was training to run a race in Thüringen, along the Rennsteig.

So here is the sculpture:

Vicki and I actually saw an eagle catch a fish at Chatterton Falls in 1991 when we left the cameras in the tent. But the memories ...

So  I did a preliminary in Killarney in August 2015:

Vicki's camera was used to capture the ephemeral.

Then when she was away in 2018 I had the balcony for my stage,


Es ist absichtlich frei - zu wiederholen, zu leben, zu atmen, und weiter zu fliegen und schwimmen.

Do I need to translate that?


Sunday 8 October 2023

Greetings from Muskoka

 And I don't mean the chair!

This is Jan's successful interaction in soothing international tensions:

It is the annual "studio tour" of art by Mother Nature and her friends. We were "out and about" yesterday.

We saw some countryside.


in artists' work -

The above canvas was illuminated by sunlight entering through a window in the upper left. There had been strong shadows, However, by waiting for the rain clouds to move about appropriately I was able to get this spotlight.

After 3 years of Covid, I found the artists very open to discussion. Maybe they always were and it is I who is more open?


Sunday 1 October 2023

Stand and wait

 "When I Consider How My Light is Spent" 

F-stop, shutter speed, ISO,

half my days, in this dark world . as an astronomer.

Can I stand on one leg and make a living?

To see the world as others see it, to understand -