The Waterfront Trail Hamilton Harbour

Tuesday November 22 2011

Boating Hamilton

Each Day this and last Summer I travelled the trail from end to end with wonderful images. Enjoy what Mother Nature has too offer

Site coordinator

Doug Worrall

Hamilton Harbour

The Waterfront Trail runs along the sandy dunes beside the lake. The trail is a wide 2 car lane paved path and must be the best and longest roller blade section I’ve seen so far. Its ironic that a major industrial and shipping center of Canada, has the longest lakeside trail of all running the full length of the city. Thank you Hamilton!

Hamilton Harbour June 16

There are 2 public washrooms along the path for rest stops and water refills. At it’s North Burlington section, the trail begins on the lake side of the Lift bridge. Head up the path from the pier where the paved trail begins

Wildflowers harbourfront trail

Wildflowers june 2011

Heading south towards Stony Creek the path crosses several sandy beaches. You’ll notice that the nature along this section is unique mixture of beach grass, sedges, birds and some flowers that managed to escape their owners. The houses along this section are also a unique blend of cottage and home. This area was the Sunnyside of Hamilton where, like Sunnyside beach in Toronto, the area was an entertainment mecca in days gone by.

Towards the southern end of the path, you’ll pass the entrance sign to the waterworks. If you stop here and look over the QEW, you’ll see the smoke stack of the Hamilton Steam Museum. Continue on and you’ll pass the waterworks park. Here you are, near the end of the trail. when you’re past the waterworks, look back and enjoy the view of the trail from Burlington, the lift bridge, the beaches and the Niagara Escarpment in the background

Sunrise Yacht club

The Escarp

Webster Falls "The Escarpment"

ment  was formed 450 million years ago from the calcium bodies of sea creatures deposited, compressed and compacted over a period of 25 million years into a hardened rock (called Dolostone). This ledge of hard rock traces a large circle around an ancient sea bed centered under the state of Michigan. A vast inland sea existed in what is called the Michigan Basin, a depression and buckling of the shield.

The hard rock at the top of the Escarpment erodes much more slowly than the shale below it, and water speeds the whole process as you can see how far the Niagara falls are inland from the rest of the Escarpment.

Dundas Conservation area

Doug Worrall Photographer

Genetic Diversity of Mute Swans and Egg Clutch Size

Genetic Diversity of Mute Swans and Egg Clutch Size

Tuesday March 1st 2011



Researcher Anne Charmontier, from England, has devoted most of her professional career investigating Genetic Diversity of Mute Swans as a wild and avian bird population. Along with other researchers Charmontier published in American Naturalist a 25-year study regarding Egg Clutch Size entitled “Mute Swan Population Helps Explain Evolutionary Question.” In this study the scientific question was – Why does a population’s average clutch size differ from the most productive clutch size ? Charmontier and the other researchers hypothesis was supported in this study results that (a) recent relaxation on food constraints, and, (b) an increase of protection from predators, both may have helped the Mute Swans to Evolve towards a Larger Clutch Size. In her work, Charmontier has studied and published data on (1) Evolutionary response to egg clutch size, (2) Individual variation in rates of Senescence: Natal Origin Effects in wild bird populations, (3) Seasonal Changes in Male/Female Mute Swans, (4) Climate Changes in wild bird population; (5) Genetic Models of Mate Choice in the wild; (6) Variations in Breeding Behaviour; and, her current work in 2,011 is entitled (7) “Age-Dependent Genetic Variations in the Life-History Traits of Mute Swans.” Other researchers measured the eggs and hatching mass in birds and reptiles. They found in birds the most important factor affecting hatching mass (HM) was the initial egg mass (IEM) at laying the egg.

Busking out of hand

They also found a physiological link between (IEM) and (HM) which contrast the observed relationship between egg mass and the incubation period. The results of this study, for birds and reptiles, showed “significant implications for the interrelationships between (IEM) and Embryonic Growth (of the Cygnet within the egg in swans).” Another study of 1,525 bird species and 201 reptile species investigated initial egg mass (IEM) and incubation period (IP). Their statistical ANOVA tables demonstrated that for bird eggs incubation period is NOT determined in large part by egg mass. And this study’s results allowed for new scientific questions to be proved by researchers. Two of these questions include (1) Ecological and Physiological Factors affecting the Length of Incubation Period, and, (2) The Rates of Embryonic Growth for different taxa (animal kingdoms) and habitats. In light of these studies considering Embryonic Growth within the Mute Swan’s egg, how do you feel about some people spraying the eggs with corn oil so they won’t grow and the pen Mute Swan would sit on those eggs forever with no cygnets hatching ?

Egg thickness

Signets 1 day old

Heterozygosis is dissimilar pairs of Genes or in a Cell the loss of normal function of one allele (different forms) of a Gene. Genetic variations from Genes are important in zoology and nature in general ! In Mute Swans and other animals body proportions can change depending where particular master Hox Genes are active. The same Hox Gene – Hox C6 – switches on at different points along the body. The Hox Gene marks the beginning of the Thorax, therefore, different species end up with necks of varying lengths…a long neck in the goose…and a much longer neck in Mute Swans, according to National Geographic’s “Fins to Wings.” In the Journal of Zoology March 2,011 issue includes a study on “Genetic Diversity in Birds associated with (1) Body Mass (BM), and (2) Habitat Type (HT) [aquatic or terrestrial] in 76 Avian Bird Species.” These variables were chosen because (BM) and (HT) are predictors of Genetic Variation which is very similar in birds. The results of this study show Terrestrial birds have a greater Genetic Diversity than Aquatic species. And, these results were interpreted from published data of other vertebrates that suggest the “Patterns of Genetic Diversity in Birds” depends on two relationships, namely (1) Bird Evolutionary effective POPULATION SIZE , determined in part by Ecological and Environmental features, and, (2) on the Rate of Molecular Evolution. J. L. Quinn stated in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology that “Evolutionary Biologists increasingly use pedigree-based quantitative Genetic Methods to address questions about the Evolutionary Dynamics of Traits in wild bird populations: data depth (number of years) and completeness (number of observations). The results of J.L. Quinn’s study showed by using long-term studies of the Great Tit and Mute Swan Estimated Breeding Values in the Great Tit were NOT influenced by data depth; but, Breeding Values WERE INFLUENCED by data depth (number of years) in the Mute Swans. This influence in Breeding Values by Data Depth was probably due to the differences in pedigree structure between the Mute Swan and Great Tit. At Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, Sushma Reddy published in Science “Genetic Sequence of 169 Birds.” In the study results Reddy indicated “Flamingoes and some other aquatic birds did not evolve from water birds, instead, they adapted to life on the water.” Along the same line of thinking, Evolution Diary states “New bird family tree reveals same odd ducks.” The Mute Swan (Cygrus olor) is a species of swan, and thus a member of the duck, goose and swan family Anatidae. E. Marjorie Northcote, Cambridge University, England study indicated “Limb bones of Mute Swans from Neolithic [the last part of the Stone Age – not a time frame, but state of the culture] to the Bronze Age in Cambridgeshire PEAT were larger than that of a recent sample when compared biometrically.” That means, a study of biological phenomena, such as, measuring physical characteristics, such as, Limb Bones of Mute Swans.

Mute Swans 6,000 years old are found in post-glacial PEAT beds at East Anglia in England. Despite the Eurasian origin of Mute Swans, its closest relatives are the Black Swan of Australia and the Black-Necked Swan of South America. The Mute Swan is constantly criticized for stealing Trumpeter Swan, native to Canada, nesting sites. Conversely, in a List Of Animals Displaying Homosexual Behaviour it included Black Swans. This listing stated: “The Black Swan (Cygnus Atratus) is a large waterbird that breeds mainly in the southeast and southwest regions of Australia. An estimated 1/4 of all Black Swan pairings are homosexual and they STEAL NESTS, or form temporary threesomes with females to obtain eggs, driving away the female after she lays the egg.” The Stealing of Nests seems to be a family trait in both Mute and Black Swans. . For many years Black Swans have been on the River Thames in Stratford, Ontario and there were a pair at White Chapel Pond in Hamilton, Ontario. The International Union For Conservation Of Nature (IUCN) founded in 1963, Red |List or Threatened Species is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species. The (IUCN) is also the world’s main authority on the conservation status of species. A series of Regional Red Lists are produced by countries or organizations, which assess the risk of extinction to species within a political management unit. Joseph Travis, Presidential Address of the American Society of Naturalists stated: “Ecology and Evolutionary Biology are fundamental processes that unfold from a variety of histories. The task of our science is to match the question to organisms, or systems. For many scientist, the organism leads to the question when we observe (participant observation) some of nature’s striking phenomena.”

Signets 3 days old

Sources: Journal of Zoology, National Geographic, Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Science, American Naturalist, Evolution Diary, American Society of Naturalists

By Jacqueline


Doug Worrall Photography

Staying In Touch With Nature

In Touch With Nature
Sunday February 20 2011

Grace and Beauty

” In all things of nature here is something of the marvellous” (Aristotle B.C. 384-322)

Nature is the physical world including plants, animals and landscapes as they tend to preserve nature as they found it. Landscapes draw one towards themselves and they look so beautiful that one can never get enough of them. As the navigator, the engineer, and the artist, nature is our school. Nature’s pallet has inspiring colours as a tonic. More often than not to make a living on mother earth, one thing we all usually miss is the beauty of nature. No one ever stops to look around and observe the magic and miracle of nature in every cubic inch of mother earth. How does Nature affect you ? Nature is a language and every new fact one learns is a new word. Thomas Bailey Aldrich said about the touch of nature, “When first the crocus thrusts its point of gold up through the still snow-drifted garden mould; and flooded green things in dim woods unclose their crinkled spears, a sudden tremor goes into my veins.” Since prehistoric times, people have felt an affinity with wildlife. We admire birds and animals as symbols of strength, speed, cunning, even nobility. Wildlife gifts speak to people’s love of animals and, when well chosen, can enhance the experience nature provides. In the study of animals structure and formation teach any one lesson, it is the unity of the plan of construction, the correlation of parts and forces for the preservation of life, and the simplicity of the scheme by which nature attains that end, states the 1869 British Medical Journal. In Out-Of-Door-Life For The Children they states, ” We were all meant to be naturalists, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life to care for none of these things.” As Henry Fielding (1707 – 1754) aptly put it, “All nature wears one universal grin.”

Great Canadian heron

Now, consider this: If you were only one inch tall, you’d ride a WORM to school and the teardrop of a crying ANT would be your swimming pool. A FLEA would be a frightening beast, but you’d swing upon a SPIDER’S thread, If you were only one inch tall, said Shel Silverstien. Time spent in nature is time replenished, rewarded and enlightened, among just a few benefits. In addition, time in the outdoors teaches and reminds people of the importance of such places , and it promotes conservation by retaining outdoor activities and wild places. Many recommend to take regular nature walks and keep a journal, by photographing all you see, then sort, categorize and write all the observations you made along your walk.The living part of nature consists of all life on earth. It is Emily Dickinson (1830 -1886) who has an interesting slant on nature, as she said: “How strange that Nature does not knock, and yet does not intrude.”

in touch with nature

I had the camera lens ! But they were the ones watching me ! The light in the swamp was dim and the only human being in the swamp was damp. Except for one of my more expensive lenses falling overboard into the murky water – the camera lens I wasn’t about to retrieve – the day had gone remarkably well photographically speaking. I made my way back to the boathouse. Here, I thought about he glistening cranes and herons that seemed to pose for me like poolside starlets hoping to make it big. Not like the swift, camera-shy water moccasin I spotted. The noise of the swamp by now was at a deafening level. The din had been rising as steadily as the sun fell. I only wished there was some way I could have photographed the strange, ethereal sounds coming from the hidden creatures who spent all day spying on me. Tomorrow I will pack up and move northward. I will have to get along with all but one of my camera lenses . That one is in a gator’s belly by now.

Sit and meditate

We all are parts of a big cosmic whole. Often in our busy involvement in the daily tasks of life, we forget about this eternal truth.

One of the easiest and most effective way to reconnect with yourself is to spend some time observing your surroundings. We all are part of the nature, yet for most of us nature has become a sort of alien subject. In our concrete home, we seldom or never care to look at the sky. To look at the rain drops, to experience the cool breeze, to walk on the grass, to observe the greenery, to touch a tender flower- all these tiny tasks can result in an instant connection with the nature. However, how many of us try to connect with nature this way.
If you really want to deepen your closeness to nature try meditation practice,. Just do something daily to ensure a direct connect with some part of the nature. Try to touch and feel at least some part of the nature be it earth, water, wind, plants, trees, grass or any animal.

Let nature come to you

Each day Connecting with nature is a way of life for many.Myself included. While outdoors and alone, let nature come into your heart, Become involved, keep your world beautiful. This is the first Winter in 50 years I have wanted Spring to arrive swiftly. We shall see if March comes in like a Lamb. Enjoy the images

Pen mute swan

Site Coordinator

Doug Worrall

Source: web, The British Medical Journal

Compilation : Jacqueline and Doug


Doug Worrall

Source: web, The British Medical Journal;

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