Friday, December 16, 2016

Athens Kaisariani Monastery

On our recent trip to the Mediterranean, one of our favourite spots was the Kaisariani Monastery in the hills and forests above Athens.  The original Monastery dates back to the 11-12th century.  In addition to the historical features, this area provides nature in abundance...with a great variety of walks through the pine forests and olive groves... filled with woodsy scents and singing birds.

I enjoy taking photospheres and posting them on Google Maps.  Now...with the latest iteration of my video editing software, I'm able to "fly" around inside my photospheres!!  I'll show you what I mean -take a look at my video of the Monastery of Kaisariani (also spelled Kessariani).

For more info see Info from the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports

Also see the Monastery of Kaisariani (Wikipedia)

Friday, November 25, 2016

Leaning tower of Pisa

Hello friends!
I've just returned from the Mediterranean on a fantastic cruise with Holland America on board the ms Rotterdam.  During my lecture series I presented this short video that I created using Google Earth Pro.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Three Spanish Ports via Google Earth

Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona, Spain

 We will be visiting three Spanish ports on our coming Transatlantic cruise; Malaga, Alacante and an overnight stop in Barcelona.  Here's a short 4 minute Google Earth tour I've prepared showing these ports.

Feel free to download the photo at the beginning of this post (click on the image and right click to save) - there are more postcards with inspirational quotes under the Postcard heading above.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Tour of Azores ports via Google Earth

Quiet road in rural Sao Miguel, Azores. Photo by Jan Cadieux
The Azores islands are among the most beautiful places we've visited anywhere in the world.  They are green jewels floating in the middle of the Atlantic ocean.  We have two ports in the Azores in our upcoming transatlantic cruise on the ms Rotterdam; Horta on the island of Faial and Porta Delgada on São Miguel Island, the largest and most populous island in the archipelago.

I've prepared a quick 4 minute introduction to these islands and ports using Google Earth Pro.

Google Earth Pro became a free download last year and I use it extensively in preparing my lectures.  A very handy tool if you want to include maps and satellite photos in your own presentations!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Grizzly viewing, Tweedsmuir Park, British Columbia

Sow Grizzly on the Atnarko River in Tweedsmuir Park
 This September we hopped in our car for a road trip to Bella Coola, on the central coast in BC.  It took us 14 hours to make the drive from Vancouver (after our 1.5 hour ferry ride from Victoria).  We were headed to see Grizzly bears fishing for salmon on the Atnarko river, courtesy of the Belarko Wildlife Viewing Platform in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, about 1 hour from Bella Coola.

Here's a photo of the wildlife viewing platform.  Guess who's behind the electric fence this time...? ... luckily, us humans!!  Lots of serious photographers with big lenses.

We didn't see any Grizzlies the first evening we arrived.  On the second day we saw a bear in the distance fishing on the river.  However, on the third day, we were fortunate to see a female with her chubby cub fishing and sauntering on her way up the river past our vantage point.

As she came close we managed to get a better and better view of big Momma (my what huge claws you have!)

She came right up close to our location, and then feasted on salmon as she nonchalantly floated across the river to the far bank.
Here's Momma Grizzly with a freshly caught Coho salmon

This is beautiful, wild country and it's a real privilege to have a chance to watch Grizzly bears feeding so close and in - relative - safety!  Many thanks to the Provincial Park staff and volunteers who make the Belarko Wildlife Viewing Platform such an amazing experience!

This is the stunning view down the Atnarko river from the viewing platform.
River guides take groups floating down the Atnarko river --
but it is a costly venture!
It's a long drive but well worth it... the Cariboo in the interior of BC provides some more amazing scenery.  Here's a view of the Fraser River just west of Williams Lake on the road to Bella Coola.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Learn about Homo floresiensis - or ‘the Hobbit’

Homo floresiensis Photo credit: © National Geographic Society

I've just signed up for a fascinating free online course about 'the Hobbit' -
a 1 meter (3 ft) tall extinct species of hominin discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores.  If you've ever traveled with me on a cruise near the Indonesian islands, you may remember my lecture on the amazing creatures of the Australasian region - including the Hobbits and other early humans.  (Check out my experience with  Komodo dragons).

This is a FutureLearn course - which I can highly recommend!  They are well-researched and well-presented by experts in their field, with lots of multi-media, and they are available free online.

Here's the description for this course on Homo floresiensis, presented by Bert Roberts, Director of the Centre for Archaeological Science at the University of Wollongong, Australia:
 Over the next four weeks we will embark on a quest of discovery and adventure that will take you to the forefront of modern archaeological science methods and research. We will commence our journey in a cave on the Indonesian island of Flores to discover the skeletal remains of Homo floresiensis - or ‘the Hobbit’- as it has come to be known. Each week we will then follow a dedicated team of scientists to uncover clues and answer questions that expose the complexities of human evolution and the significance of archaeology.

    By the end of the course you will have a greater understanding about the discovery and international significance of Homo floresiensis, and the controversy and heated debate over its biological status. You will have examined evidence related to the stratigraphy of archaeological sites, faunal remains and stone artefacts. And you will have explored the role and application of a range of dating methods and approaches used to shed light on the life and times of Homo floresiensis, and our own origins.

        Prepare to embark on an adventure filled with mystery, questions and secrets all waiting to be unearthed throughout this quest…

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Wings in Slow Motion

Broad billed Hummingbird, Madera Canyon, Arizona

I'm fascinated with birds in flight and have been fortunate to capture a few photos worth sharing.  Lately, I've been messing around with high speed videos at 120 and 240 frames per second (fps).  The result is slow motion; often revealing some of the added beauty of flight that we don't normally appreciate as birds whizz by!!

Here's a short compilation of some of my latest video clips from the past few months, including birds from Costa Rica and Mexico, as well as here at home in Victoria, BC.

By the way, if you find yourself in North America in February, Madera Canyon, just outside of Tuscon Arizona, is a fantastic place for escaping the Canadian winter and enjoying early spring birds.  See the Friends of Madera Canyon for more info.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Maasdam - Panama Canal cruisers - Thank You!!

Gatun Locks, Panama Canal from on board Maasdam, May 2016

Dear Friends from the Maasdam,

Thank you very much for being such a great audience!  Hopefully you've had a chance to regale your family and friends with tales of vineyards moving north, the Red Devils of the Sea of Cortez, and cooperative hunters communicating with the whites of their eyes!!

I presented some fascinating research on Human cooperation
(what's wrong with this picture...??)
PS: real apes don't have such highly visible white in their eyes
 In our species the sclera is bright white and the iris is colored, providing sharp visual contrast. When we look at someone, we can clearly see where their eyes are pointing independently of where their face is pointing, even at a considerable distance, thanks to the contrast between the sclera and iris.  Our eyes have evolved to enhance communication and cooperation - i.e., teamwork while hunting.  Other primate species try to keep their eye direction less discernible because they're not as interested in sharing. (see Nature 387, 767-768 (19 June 1997) Unique morphology of the human eye, Hiromi Kobayashi & Shiro Kohshima).  For more on this I highly recommend the book: Evolution for Everyone by David S. Smith.

And now, for your added enjoyment...!! Here's the clip I took of the Black-mandibled Toucan while we were on a shore excursion in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, feeding on the Cecropia tree.

Thanks again for a great voyage... hope to see you on another cruise!!  Our next cruise will be on the Rotterdam, Atlantic Adventurer, October 25 - November 19, NYC to Athens.

If you'd like to stay in touch, please sign up for my email updates -- scroll to the very bottom and you'll find the sign-up on the right side of screen.

All the best and happy travels!!
George & Jan

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Toucans and Tapirs, Costa Rica

Black-mandibled Toucan, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is renowned for its birds and wildlife.  In March, we undertook a research trip to explore some of the exceptional wildlife viewing opportunities.  We were not disappointed!!  For example, we had an amazing time in the tropical rainforest managed as a wildlife refuge and eco-resort by Jack Ewing at Hacienda Baru, near Dominical.  (BTW, I can highly recommend Jack's book Monkeys are Made of Chocolate!!)  This wildlife refuge is an important link in the Mesoamerican biological corridor.  The aim is to provide sufficient interconnected natural habitat for wildlife such as the native Baird's tapir and, ultimately, the "top of the foodchain" in these rainforests - the jaguar.   This fascinating creature (check out that snout!!) can reach up to 400 kg or over 800 lbs.

Watch a great little video of a female and her youngster on YouTube.  Females with young can be dangerous, as discovered by the Costa Rican Minister of Environment (luckily he was OK... and it's a great story!!).

Here's a short video clip of our explorations in search of a mystery caller!!

 I will incorporate many of these photos and stories in my upcoming lecture series on the Maasdam Panama Canal cruise May 3 - 25, from Ft Lauderdale to Seattle. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

What the Coot...!?? or - Coot de Grace!

American Coots seem almost ubiquitous in our travels throughout North & Central America... but I didn't expect to see them in Death Valley!  Sure enough, they've discovered the golf course pond by Furnace Creek.  And the coyotes have discovered the coots!!  Here's what we witnessed on two consecutive days while watching birds at the Audubon viewing platform (location 36°27'43.4"N 116°52'28.1"W)