An Early Evening Walk with the Dog in the Park

I took Monty the dog out for an early evening walk today - he had a great old time. We wandered slowly about the park, watching swallows swoop and swirl in the bright descending sunlight.

An Early Evening Dog Walk in the Park
The low sun gave some interesting lighting effects on the most mundane of subjects, like these grass blades.

An Early Evening Dog Walk in the Park
The sun was sinking in the sky, but was still almost too bright to look towards it.

An Early Evening Dog Walk in the Park
Monty enjoyed himself very much - the weather was cooling down, and he ambled about in the grass, sniffing everything he could.

An Early Evening Dog Walk in the Park
I was able to catch a swallow in flight by following it with my lens. Not very clear, but I think it gave a neat effect...

An Early Evening Dog Walk in the Park
A pair of swallows taking a break from flying close to the ground, feeding on insects.

An Early Evening Dog Walk in the Park
A swallow taking a break from flying close to the ground, feeding on insects.

An Early Evening Dog Walk in the Park
A park bench sitting idly at the side of the field.

Hope you had a nice day too,

Mungo

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Flora and Fauna at Whitchurch Conservation Park

Last week I made a quick drive at lunch time to Whitchurch Conservation Park to take a few photos.

Whitchurch Conservation Park
I was trying to find out what kind of bird this one was, and I came across this amazing resource online, a listing of all Ontario birds, along with small thumbnails of each one. This is an Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea). It often migrates by night, using the stars to navigate. Read more about Indigo Buntings on Wikipedia.

Whitchurch Conservation Park
Butterfly with an eye on its wing.

Whitchurch Conservation Park
Honey bee feasting on nectar from the flower pod on top of a second year growth of the biennial Mullein plant. Biennial plants will form the rosette flower the first year, and the stem emerges on the second year. With Mullein, you can eat the root in the first year, but it loses starches and gets quite fibrous in the second year.

Whitchurch Conservation Park
Lily pads in the pond scattered across the surface.

Whitchurch Conservation Park
It appears that the tadpoles from my last visit have turned into little green frogs. This fellow and all of his friends were no more than an inch long. Bait sized...

Whitchurch Conservation Park
The pond is quite shallow and the bottom is densely covered in weeds - perfect hiding places for small fishies and beasties. As I watched the banks, I was half-hoping to see a bear or some deer arrive for a drink or a swim about. Then I thought about what might happen if I saw a black bear. I figured I'd switch my camera onto the movie mode, and take some nice images of the bear, and then quickly recite my last will and testament. I know - that's dramatic. I know - just stand up, appear as a biped, shout, don't stare in its eyes, look 'in charge' and if push comes to shove, use my knife and fight for my life. Karate, or plain knuckle punching, eye-gouging, stab fighting. I have watched a few videos on Philipino knife fighting techniques. I hope they work on bears who try to eat me.

Whitchurch Conservation Park
One of many fish filling the pond - this one was bigger than most, but still only about 2 inches long. I'm hoping someone can help me identify this little fellow. (Update: Matt chimed in and seems to have correctly identified this as a RedEar Sunfish (Lepomis microlophus)- native to Florida and the southern states - also known as a Shellcracker because of how they can eat mussels, snails and other shellfish, they've been introduced as game fish all over North America. They are present in Ontario - as seen in the image above... And Phil has pointed out that this particular RedEar Sunfish's name is Robert. Thank you to both of you.)

Whitchurch Conservation Park
Grassy verge overlooking the pond, just outside of the woods. No-one was there. I fell asleep for an hour under my blanket.

Whitchurch Conservation Park
Dragonfly eating from the tiny white flowers of a Narrow Leaf Plantain.

Whitchurch Conservation Park
The same Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea) kept hopping from branch to branch, apparently trying to impress a female Indigo Bunting with brown plumage. He sure had it going on.

Whitchurch Conservation Park
Mayweed, or Stinking Chamomile (Anthemis cotula) flowers covered the clearing by the pond.

Whitchurch Conservation Park
Clouds in the sky

Whitchurch Conservation Park
Bright yellow flowers, identification pending, in amongst white Mayweed, or Stinking Chamomile (Anthemis cotula) flowers.

Whitchurch Conservation Park
Dragonfly sitting on the stalk of a Narrow Leaf Plantain

Whitchurch Conservation Park
White flowered Yarrow.

Whitchurch Conservation Park
Horse Tail.

Whitchurch Conservation Park
Wild Mint.

Whitchurch Conservation Park
Some kind of moth having some nectar from a Mayweed, or Stinking Chamomile (Anthemis cotula) flower.

Whitchurch Conservation Park
Some kind of moth climbing about on a plant.

Cheers,

Mungo

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A Sunday Drive Back from a Swimming Pool

We went for a swim at a friend's house on Sunday. We swam about in the pool a little, James appeared somewhat nonplussed with the swimming itself - or in his case, floating around in an inflatable horsey. After a little bit of lunch, we drove on home. We were all tired.

A Sunday Drive Back from a Swimming Pool
James watching the road and things go by on the way home.

A Sunday Drive Back from a Swimming Pool
Grasses and plants on the side of the highway.

A Sunday Drive Back from a Swimming Pool
Clouds in the sky.

A Sunday Drive Back from a Swimming Pool
Grasses and plants on the side of the highway.

A Sunday Drive Back from a Swimming Pool
James fell asleep as we made our way through the traffic.

A Sunday Drive Back from a Swimming Pool
His legs and feet fell asleep too.

A Sunday Drive Back from a Swimming Pool
Clouds in the sky.

A Sunday Drive Back from a Swimming Pool
Grasses and plants on the side of the highway.

A Sunday Drive Back from a Swimming Pool
Going under a bridge

A Sunday Drive Back from a Swimming Pool
James sleeping.

A Sunday Drive Back from a Swimming Pool
Clouds in the sky.

Hope you had a nice day,

Mungo

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Daily Digest of @mungobah Twitter Posts

Please see below for a daily roundup of my Twitter posts from @MungoBah:
  • Mors Kochanski Courses ow.ly/20Kj8
  • Aurora Fire Starter By Solo Scientific ow.ly/21tEw
  • Aurora Firestarter Review ow.ly/21tEX
  • RT @frank_in_oz: Could you camp overnight carrying everything in a 20 litre day pack? Great comp and prizes.. ow.ly/21t62
  • RT @dcpathfinder: I posted 2 photos on Facebook in the album "Rapelling Class T" fb.me/zXeDGsYm
  • Perkele´s Blog: Log laavu update ow.ly/21vbg
  • TEOTWAWKI Blog: Pocket Dump! ow.ly/21vbx
  • WildernessSKIllsresearchcenter ow.ly/21vc0
  • Making A Pocket Burner ow.ly/21vcg
  • Rowangarth Farm: Madcap Monday - Summer Solstice edition ow.ly/21vcE
  • Hiking in Finland: Interview: Tom Hennessy from Hennessy Hammocks ow.ly/21vcL
  • A Woodsrunner's Diary: Making Stone Tools part 2. ow.ly/21vcT
  • A Woodsrunner's Diary: Making Stone Tools. ow.ly/21vd1
  • June at the cabin – Part 6 « Lap(Fen)lander's Natural Lore Blog ow.ly/21vdn
  • Hiking in Finland: The Week In Review ow.ly/21vdH
  • Monday Morning Stroll Through The Wet Woods « Wandering Owl Outside ow.ly/21vdO
  • Spreading Some "Link Love"!!! « Wandering Owl Outside ow.ly/21vea
  • flowing waters: Trout fishing - Finally ow.ly/21veL
  • Irrigation Syringe ow.ly/21vfv
  • Fat of the Land: Morel Madness ow.ly/21vfL
  • Nielsen Brown Outdoors: Packing for a long trip. ow.ly/21vgi
  • Gear Talk with Jason Klass: How to Choose an Alcohol Stove: Part 3: DIY or Buy ow.ly/21vgz
  • Timbuk2 ow.ly/21vgW
  • Rowangarth Farm: Natural baked goodness: whole wheat cinnamon buns ow.ly/21vho
  • June at the cabin – Part 4 « Lap(Fen)lander's Natural Lore Blog ow.ly/21vhA
  • June at the cabin – Part 3 « Lap(Fen)lander's Natural Lore Blog ow.ly/21vi4
  • Philosophizing with a Hammer: Grub lists ow.ly/21vix
  • Step-by-step: Making Cordage From Tree Bark (Part 2) « Skills For Wild Lives – ow.ly/21viM

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Tyvek FedEx Pouch Converted to Camping Stuff Sack

Tyvek FedEx Pouch Converted to Camping Stuff Sack
The other day at work, I received some documents in a FedEx courier bag. I thought I'd keep the bag, and see if I could make a stuff sack out of it. I had seen this done elsewhere on some 'make your own camping stuff' blogs. And so I made one. At some point, I could graduate to making fancier stuff bags, but this is essentially free and works well enough for me for now.

This stuff sack bag is a great way of organizing camping gear - flexible, compactable, rip-stop tough, and easy to pack a few into a knapsack.

It was simple to make and took no more than 5 minutes. The materials I needed were as follows:
  1. A FedEx bag made from Tyvek, a strong fibrous cloth-like material that is water resistant, rip-stop, and tough
  2. A sewing needle
  3. A spool of dental floss
  4. Transparent tape - 'Scotch tape'
  5. Some cord - ideally something with the thickness of 550 Paracord - I used some thicker stuff I had in my car trunk
  6. A knife to trim the bag into the correct dimensions and to clean it up
So I turned the envelope inside out, and laid it flat on a board. Using my knife, I trimmed the top off about an inch or so, so that both sides were equal in height (i.e. removed the envelope flap). Then I cut a small 1/2 inch square on one side of the top of the envelope. This would serve to allow the cord to pass through and out, once the next step was completed... I then folded the cut rim over about an inch, and tucked the cord under this rim I had formed. I taped the rim down over the cord using some transparent tape (to temporarily secure and place it correctly for sewing), and using a sewing needle and some dental floss, sewed it shut over the transparent tape. At the end, I removed the tape.

Now I had a bag with a cord sewed into a rim, and extending out of the cut edge. I noticed that the cord was a bit bulky, so next time I would use thinner cord - but it works well, and it only took me 5 minutes. Now I just have to go and find me some more FedEx bags!

One of my big problems when I go camping is having everything scattered everywhere once I remove it from my knapsack - putting a dozen or so of these together should fix that, with hardly any weight penalization.

Tyvek FedEx Pouch Converted to Camping Stuff Sack
I used a cable tie to seal the cord together, and snipped the long end off, because I didn't have a cord lock with me. Since then, I now have a cord lock from WalMart (from the craft / fabric section), which I bought for 40 cents... I'll put that on so I can keep the bag closed tightly without having to tie the cord in a knot.

Tyvek FedEx Pouch Converted to Camping Stuff Sack
Here is why I cut that 1/2 inch square off of the side of the rim, before sewing it up. You can see why in this close up photo of the rim, showing the exit/entrance points for cord.

Tyvek FedEx Pouch Converted to Camping Stuff Sack
Again, a close up detail shot of rim, with exit/entrance points for cord.

Tyvek FedEx Pouch Converted to Camping Stuff Sack
You can see the detail here of the inside of the stuff sack, which is the outside of the original FedEx courier bag.

Tyvek FedEx Pouch Converted to Camping Stuff Sack
Cord cinched closed, showing detail of rim sewn with dental floss. It is really sturdy, and the dental floss won't break down with exposure - as it is waterproof and tough as anything.

Tyvek FedEx Pouch Converted to Camping Stuff Sack
You can pack it full of items and not worry about the bag being ruptured, like you would with a plastic bag.

Tyvek FedEx Pouch Converted to Camping Stuff Sack
Here is my stuff sack cinched up closed, containing my Trangia cooking kit, and a few other items.

Hope you found this useful. If you've done something similar, let me know. I've heard of folks making knapsacks and tarps and other camping equipment together using Tyvek.

Cheers,

Mungo

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Mungo & Matt's Hike in the Valley

Last weekend my friend Matt and I went for a hike down into the valley woods near my home. We brought backpacks and supplies for a quick lunch. Matt brought his camera, and took all of these pictures... Once you have viewed these pictures, please remit a royalty check in the amount of $12.50 to him immediately. He will appreciate it.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
I pointed out plants wherever I could. I'd be a lot of fun at a cocktail party. If they had wild plants about. That is. This is a jumble of Yellow Wood Sorrel that I forced Matt to consume.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
I don't know what this fungus is, and I don't have my mushroom book with me, so I'll update this post once I figure it out. All I know is that it looked really interesting.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
Also, I am jealous of Matt's camera. It is a big ol' Canon DSLR. It takes some nice pictures, with his assistance, of course. He pushes the shutter-release button and aims the lens in the right direction.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
I was mildly terrified when I realized that the rotten wood upon which the fungus was feasting was completely occupied (infested) by ravenous, pissed off Red Ants. I was bitten or stung by one last year and it hurt and burned for ages.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
I rapidly dusted off my arms and inspected my shirt carefully lest one of them decide to crawl down my collar and express its disdain of bipeds. Ants are really interesting. I don't know much about them. Maybe I'll learn more about them. In the (winner of most unfortunately pronounced acronym of a journal of the year award - think about it) 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences' journal, there is an article that says this:
"Ants are arguably the greatest success story in the history of terrestrial metazoa. On average, ants monopolize 15–20% of the terrestrial animal biomass, and in tropical regions where ants are especially abundant, they monopolize 25% or more. But ants did not always run the world. They do not appear in the fossil record until the mid-Cretaceous, and for more than the first half of their history—a period spanning 60 to 80 million years—ants occupied a relatively modest position in the terrestrial biosphere."
Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
Here is a picture of me making tea. I like milk and sugar in my tea, so I made a small bag containing half and half milk powder and sugar. I thought that was very clever of me.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
Here I am again. I'm situated close to our fire, and our pile of birch wood. I am using a ferrocerium rod to light my Trangia alcohol stove.

A funny thing happened. (Normally when you come across that phrase, you should expect to hear that something not so funny occurred. In order to remain consistent with other writers - as I shall refer to myself - I will ensure that you are not surprised.) I had filled up my aluminum pot and placed it on my Trangia stove, and walked away to get some dried pine branches to get the fire going. Matt said 'Hey, your water is boiling...'. I looked over and indeed, much to my non-surprise, steam was bubbling out of the lid. So I replied 'Yeah, it is', and sat down to make my tea (This is not the exciting part of the story, as you can probably surmise by the casual tone of the conversation).

Here is the exciting part of the story:

As I prepared my little pot-gripper - the one that came with the mini Trangia kit - the steam that bubbled out from the lid became intermingled with little licks of blue and orange flame. I tilted my head like a dog, trying to figure out what was happening. Matt looked at it too and I looked at him and he looked at me and he looked confused. Then in an instant, I realized that I had brought the wrong Nalgene bottle with me on the hike. Not the one full of cool water for drinking and for cooking, but rather the one I had filled with methanol for my stove, and had intended to label 'Poison - Methyl Alcohol Stove Fuel'. I had a pot full of rapidly boiling stove fuel in front of me. I took the lid off and it flared up. But not like white naphtha gas would have, and I quickly dumped it on the ground where the fire was.

So I learned the following: Store fuel in a Nalgene bottle if you must, but always label it. It is a good thing that I didn't take a swig from it, as I was thinking I might, just as I was filling my pot full of fuel. That would have been a bad thing. And don't use a permanent ink pen to label your bottle directly, as methanol dissolves the ink, leaving you in the same vulnerable situation... wrap your bottle with duct tape to distinguish it from your food and water bottles. Word to the wise...

Okay, so it wasn't that exciting, but still... it was exciting in the moment.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
I brought a pouch of ready-made rice with me for a bite. They're great, but already have the water in it, so not great for light-weight trekking. Matt had a bottle of hot sauce. I followed his lead and liberally applied it to my meal. It was good and fiery hot, like a pot of boiling stove fuel.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
I have a hat.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
I have a Mora knife in a neck sheath.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
A good campfire is a good antidote for the pains of living and working.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
This unknown flowering ground vine looks nice. It tangled around our feet as we walked toward the woods from the river.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
In an image reminiscent of Patterson's Bigfoot footage, here I am walking away to get more fuel for the fire. And not as in 'boiling vat of stove fuel' fuel. But wood fuel.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
I had never seen the river so full and fast before. It had rained earlier that day, and maybe there had been a lot of rain up north... the beach I normally wander out onto was completely immersed. Amazing.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
Here I am being amazed by the river.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
Here I am on the river path.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
Here I am maniacally smiling on the river path.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
I like my thrift shop backsack.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
After a good walk about, we returned to my home. It was getting hot by then, so I removed my hat. Here is that exact moment captured on film when that happened.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
If I were President, I would have a photographer follow me around and take photos of me when I was walking about, just pondering things. As in the photograph above.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
When we arrived back, my little boy James was wearing his Hot Dog T-Shirt. He was very happy.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
Monty the Beagle was happy to see his Uncle Matt. He too had a maniacal smile.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
Finally, this post ends with a macro image of Jame's favourite drink coaster, which he considers to be a wonderful toy.

Cheers,

Mungo

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