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Entries in toronto (3)

Monday
Feb282011

Saturday In The City - Part One: Humber Bay West

We haven't spent much time outside this winter aside from our 4 hours of delivering the mail out in Oro everyday. We decided that it was completely unacceptable to spend another weekend indoors so we got our stuff together and headed up to Toronto's Humber Bay Park West.

We were greeted by a large group of Sparrows, mostly House but also a few Songsters and Trees were scattered about the trees at the entrance.  

 

Then it was ducking time!!  We love to go out ducking and Humber Bay has proven to be a great place to explore. Within our first 10 minutes there we spotted a close to shore pair of Buffleheads and Greater Scaup!! What a great way to start the day.  More to come on the Scaup a bit later ;)

As usual there were plenty of Mallards around and we would be remiss if we did not include a few shots of them in this post.  Because they are so tame it's usually quite easy to get up close to them, unlike the majority of other ducks that fly away the instant they see you.

 

Mute Swans were scattered all about and appeared to be establishing mating territories - we witnessed a few altercations, it was fun to watch! :)

 

The overcast skies were a bit of a bummer.  In fact, the skies were the only negative aspect of an otherwise perfect winter day of ducking in Toronto.  The grayness was so thick at times that it even hid the CN Tower but the rocks and boulders that make up the shoreline were still covered in snow and ice which made for some interesting photography.

 

 

 

We were walking around the tip of the park when I noticed a male Red-breasted Merganser coming in closer and closer to us.   My excitement level was sky high not only because I think they're freakin' cool but because I rarely get to experience them up close.  So I grabbed Juliette from Nate and hunkered down behind some rocks along the shoreline and waited.  Sure enough he came to within a decent distance of me and I was able to capture a few images.  I was so incredibly happy!!

While I was working the above Merganser Nate was off working this Northern Mockingbird.

After a couple of hours we began to make our way back towards the car and this was when things started to get REALLY interesting!!  It all started after I spotted a small group of White-winged Scoters quite a ways off shore. First Nate got close-up to a male Long-tailed Duck... 

...then a female Long-tailed...

...then, as though destiny was guiding us, we made our way to an open peninsula where we both hunkered down and experienced our first close encouters with Greater Scaup...I mean REALLY close!!  We positioned ourselves on either end of the peninsula and the ducks stayed between us.  That's when I looked over at Nate and just had to take a shot of him :)

Here's what he was photographing while I was photographing him...a beauty female Greater Scaup...

...and a male Greater Scaup.  There had to be upwards of 150-200 Scaup around us at one point!!  Wow, what an amazing experience!! :)

After our time with the Scaup we were on cloud nine, filled to the brim with utter satisfaction.  We continued to make our way towards the car when out of nowhere a Mute Swan flew in and landed right beside us.  We couldn't pass the opportunity to capture some intimate close-ups.

While Nate was taking some shots of the swan, a Red-breasted Merganser came up from a long dive about ten feet out from where the swan was - I just about lost my mind with excitement!!  I thought I had captured some great images of this duck earlier but Nate really rocked it out with this second even closer encounter.  All the while, the swan remained positioned about 2 feet in front of him - scary and exhilarating all at the same time!!

Drenched in a Scaup and Merganser afterglow, we forced ourselves to leave Humber Bay West for High Park but not before seeing a Kestrel perched atop a small tree directly across from the bushes filled with House, Song and Tree Sparrows.  What a nice little surprise!!

Join us tomorrow when we'll be posting the second part of our day at High Park!!

Sunday
Feb272011

Pearl Jam 20 - "In Hiding"

White-throated Sparrow shot at High Park in Toronto

Monday
Mar082010

Duck Watching in Toronto 

After a long and arduous winter we are beyond eager to get out bird watching.  With the forecast calling for sunny skies and warm temperatures on Sunday, we decided to visit our two favourite spots in Toronto:  Leslie Street Spit and High Park.    Finally, some weather we could work with!

We left Barrie in mornings first light, giddy in anticipation at what the day would hold for us.  We arrived to overcast skies and a crisp breeze which quickly became irrelevant as we walked along Lake Ontario. We were greeted by a great many Common Mergansers and Long Tail Ducks.

About an hour into our journey the skies opened up, providing us with added vigor.  We were surrounded by water and a ton of ducks.  All the while we could hear the racket of one of the worlds largest Ring-billed Gull breeding populations, as seen below.

As we walked around, we noticed that certain areas where access had been denied last year was now open.  We decided to head in as we could see many ducks off in the distance.  We quickly realized why the area was closed from April 1 - September 1:  we were walking through the breeding grounds for the myriad of Double-crested Cormorants and Black-crowned Night Herons that make the Spit their home during the temperate months.  It most certainly wasn't the highlight of our walk , but we were rewarded with two lifers - a White-winged Scooter and a Redhead Duck.  We also spotted a pair of Gadwalls (only our second time seeing them) flying in, and had a close encounter with some very cute Buffleheads.

After five wonderful hours of walking around, the inactivity of the winter months caught up with me.  I was growing weary so we started to make our way back.  Along the way Nate took this photo, which happens to contain 7 species:  Mute Swans, Canada Geese, Mallards, Buffleheads, Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup and American Widgeon.

Though tired, we made a quick stop at High Park.  By this time it was around 3pm, the park was busy and the walking trails by Grenadier Pond were VERY mucky.  There were many swans, both Mute and Trumpeter, Mallards and Canada Geese.  Up the hill, we spotted a Merlin, some Cardinals, Golden-crowned Kinglets and of course, House Sparrows.

 

We started the day hoping to see 40 species in total - we ended up with 33, mostly water fowl.  Despite missing our target, we were very happy with the day.  In fact, if weather permits, we intend to return next weekend, as we are eager to capture some early migrants.

Happy birding!