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Sunday, 24 August 2014

Visit to Tommy Thompson Park - Bird Research Station

We've been to Tommy Thompson Park at the Leslie Spit 4 (I think) times now. Always an awesome long walking day! Usually we see something cool. First visit, we saw mating Tree Swallows, a Mourning Cloak butterfly laying eggs, and a lot of birds we'd never seen before. Second visit, we saw Seagull nest and eggs, tons of stick carrying Cormorants, fishing Terns and lots of Barn Swallows. Third visit was earlier during this spring. This one was the most exciting, having spotted and gotten a not bad photo of a Garter Snake chasing a frog lol!

This visit was just as enjoyable! As well, we learned something new - Eastern King birds have a little hidden red flame on the top of their heads, similar to a woodpecker or a ruby crowned kinglet. The researcher there showed us it and said you'd rarely see this just viewing them in their habitat. The day ended up being cloudy and overcast, but despite that, we had an amazing 4 hour walk and lots of really memorable sightings.

Barn swallows were still zipping around catching the bugs that clouded the sky near the tops of trees, we spotted an Osprey high above carrying a huge fish in its talons (it was bigger than the one the fisherman caught that we saw lol!) as well as one perched out in the centre water area, a white egret lifting off in the large central marshy water area, tons of bumble bees were still present and working busily, terns, tons of grasshoppers, and lots of Cedar Waxwings were about though the red ants in the paths that lead to better views of them chased us back out onto the general paths. However, not before I actually ended up with a photo of a fledgling waxwing! And I thought it was just a sparrow and was about to delete it, till I looked closer. He even had the little power ranger mask lol!

We went sort of for Butterflyfest and sort of just on our own for a visit. We did see lots of caterpillars, a few butterflies, including Monarchs and a Viceroy. We did see a Monarch butterfly caterpillar, something I've never seen in person before. We petted the fuzzy caterpillars :-)

All in all, we had another terrific visit to Toronto's unique and spectacular park that is Tommy Thompson, at the base of Leslie St. on Lake Ontario.

The Tommy Thompson Bird Research Station was a wonderful experience. The staff is knowledgeable, caring and compassionate towards the birds they encounter in the nets and band, and it was a pleasure to experience just a small dosage of the amazing and important job they perform. Both John and I will be sponsoring a bird in memory of John's Mom who passed away recently, as she herself loved and cared for the animals and birds that made their home in her yard.


Monday, 18 August 2014

Our Almost Jinxed Honeymoon

Since we love to hike in conservation areas and discover birds and animals as well as plants and flowers, we chose a 2 day trip up north for our small, simple get away after our last weekend's marriage on Aug. 9th. Well, I joked after finding out that my mother and my dad had gone to North Bay on their honeymoon, and we all know in my family what effect She had on everything and everyone, and my husband's parents had a terrible experience stopping over there on the way back from Alberta in the late 70s, that our trip was now Jinxed lol!

Well, it did end up being jinxed in a way, by Mother Nature. She played havoc that week, the dates we chose :-( Pouring rain, freezing, windy - no hikes for us lol! The resort we chose, Sunset Inn Resort on Lakeshore Rd. was really quite nice, I was impressed. Very hospitable, great little location on Lake Nippissing, lovely staff, informed us of all the areas around we could walk, etc., you are able to just come into the office and borrow DVDs to watch in your room and they had a large selection of main stream movies to choose from, coffee available all day, gorgeous view and nice little sit out beach where you could wade out in if you were so inclined.

However, though we liked our room, we liked the place, and we had a nice dinner at the Raven & Republic, we decided Fri morning to check out a day early and go home. I felt that it was not worth wasting the money on the room when we could not do the things we had hoped like sit out and watch the sunset, hike and take photos, possibly see birds and animals on hikes, enjoy the grounds of the lovely resort, etc.

One fun thing we will have as memories is that the Thursday we drove up, due to it being rainy, we ducked into the local Value Village there to kill some time as we were too early to check in. I said, "if I find some interesting bird item, I'll get it". Low and behold, I looked on a trinket shelf, saw nothing, about 15 mins later, I spotted 2 little ceramic birds. They were adorable and looked to be nice quality, little made in Japan stickers on them still. Well, turns out they are Otagiri Japanese Fine Porcelain from probably the 1970s or so. We both love birds so it was a nice little memento :-) Not to mention I got 4 awesome tops!!! Who'd 'av thunk in the North Bay VV! Before we left the resort, we stepped out in a small reprieve from the constant rain, walked down the dock off the beach, took a couple shot sof the resort and we were treated to an Osprey flying across above us, hovering for a moment before flying off.

On the way home, having really planned on the Sat to stop at Algonquin for the day, I decided last minute on the Fri drive home we were making instead, to stop at Weber Burgers near Orillia. I have not been there since a teen when my kids' grandparents told me about the place and how their grandmother had grown up summers with the owner's kids. They sure do make awesome burgers!

Of course, as we neared Barrie back down to TO on our drive, wasn't the sun shining! On a whim, we decided to go to High Park, a place we have wanted to go to for ages. The Wood Ducks are less chicken there and we'd get to see them better. They are such beautiful little ducks. Well, we saw them, lots! We also were treated to American Gold Finches feasting on the sunflowers that had gone to seed in a garden there. We saw gorgeous flowers, both growing wild and in gardens. A cool wrinkly face in a tree was good for a laugh. We saw 2 Red Tailed Hawks, one flying pretty close and visible over our heads. Tons of butterflies and dragonflies. We spotted part of a garter snake that was wound in a hedge and since he couldn't see me I patted him quickly which got him moving and going totally inside the depths of the hedge. There is even a little zoo and there were baby animals. I even got an Emu feather from the edge of the Emu enclosure.

So, in the end, our trip wasn't so jinxed after all as we'd never get to see all those amazing creatures and have so much fun and see the beauty that is High Park if it weren't for Mother Nature causing us to head home a day early. Or .... I could take that back if I wanted to be negative about the yellow jacket stings I received
at High Park and a huge resulting itchy swollen red spot on my left arm that I still have as I type ...... nah, that wasn't enough to rejinx it lol!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Little Stop at Our Old Haunt - Halls Rd!

Ok, we Do miss you Halls baby, Scarborough lake front walk areas just ain't the same. ON the way to drop my kids back home, we stopped in at Halls Rd. for a quick visit. Wow, vegetation was very tall, and surprisingly for the amount of cars we spotted parked there, we saw really no one.

On the way in, we saw the turkey babies at the side of the road (that's safe I tell yah). We saw wax wings eating berries and I got a couple ok pics. One exciting sight we saw, a first for us, a pair of Green Herons! The one was gobbling a big frog, the other was far off on a mound of sticks in the marsh. I got a few shots of the one, with his head ruff up. They are quite cowardly, hiding behind little stalks of vegetation the hopping fast through an open spot to the next little tuft of marsh grasses. Very beautiful birds.

We headed down to the beach then over to the base of the marsh and the female Belted Kingfisher flew practically over my head. I was able to get one fairly good picture of her. Gorgeous creatures.

Lots of lily pads and flowers on the marsh too, but alas, too covered in bugs for really lovely images of them, unless one is willing to spend 50 million hours in Photoshop.

A short but again, a very cool and fun little jaunt down there, our favourite little place.

( check back for more pins a few days from now)