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Sunday, 24 January 2016

Walk West of Tommy Thompson Park Entrance

Saturday, we wanted to choose a Toronto park destination to visit for a few hours since the weather was going to be gorgeous; sunny, still, and only -6. We made plans to meet up with my Dad later in the early evening for a nice dinner at Olde Yorke Fish and Chips on Laird Avenue in TO. Their fish and chips are one of Toronto's best!

At first, we were going to head to Humber, but we chose a spot near Tommy Thompson Park, bottom of Leslie St., but a little area just west of there, when Unwin curves. There had been sightings of some cool ducks. My favourite duck is the Longtail and they are often spotted easily in little harbours in Toronto and Durham Region as well as west of Toronto, often, in winter.

A foursome of Old Coots were swimming around north of the bridge, near a fenced off industrial lot. Further out was a group of sleeping very brown dark ducks, which we knew weren't mallards, but weren't sure if they were hybrids of some sort. Finally when one woke and decided to go for a dip back into the water, off the ice, we saw that it had a white piece behind its bill. They turned out to be Greater Scaups. Also in a group of 4 lol! I hadn't seen Scaups for a couple years. There were a few Buffle Heads too, some of the males doing their little displaying antics.
There were literally hundreds of Mallards, and one lone domestic variety large greyish mottled duck hanging amongst them. We ventured down onto the stone filled shoreline at one point, where they all were, and the large grey duck as well as a few mallards followed us along the shore hoping for food. Earlier, there had been a couple people down there feeding them. They sure don't look like they want for food. I felt bad though as we didn't have any, but we chose not to bring it, as I know we aren't really supposed to be feeding wild ducks. However, with the real domestic seeming mallard ducks, I don't worry too much since they don't go anywhere anyway, they are always here at every park and conservation area. Bringing them some grains and grain bread I feel is ok.

There were quite a few hawks spotted that day, red tails as well as a smaller hawk that flew away from the under brush as we approached unknowingly, and I could only get a look at the back of it as it flew.

The light was gorgeous and the dried milk weed and Queen Anne's lace in the open areas into Tommy Thompson made for some beautiful images.

Bonus sight of the day was the wolf moon that we spotted in the darkening sky, driving home east along Eglinton to the Parkway.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Old Haunt Visit on New Years Day

Happy New Year to all!

Here's to hoping that 2016 brings only the best to everyone and to our world, Earth.

Husband and I took a walk to our old stomping grounds, Halls Rd., east of Toronto, on our way to an 85th birthday party of my friend's Dad. He is an awesome person and still goin' strong, living life to the fullest, at 85 :-)

It was a fairly dull grey day though the sun did come out After we'd left our walk and were at the party, of course lol! But, it was still an enjoyable time visiting the marsh, the paths, and the shoreline of Lake Ontario. It was not too cold, there was some wind out on the lake which created some nice waves. There were the usual cute creatures, the grey squirrel, red squirrel, the black capped chickadees, one lone little American tree sparrow, the red cardinal flitted by (no pics of the little bugger).

As we left, along the road, we saw a couple photographers standing outside their pulled over vehicle. One person was crouching further away, on the new cement paths that lead into Lynde Shores, apparently he/she had spotted something. These guys had large lenses, maybe 600mm, one with lots of camouflage on themselves and the cameras.

Because we had to slow and proceed with caution I guess is why John spotted a small hawk like looking bird land on a dead upright tree trunk just to our left. I grabbed my camera and peered through my lens. It looked to me to be a small falcon like shaped bird. Right away I'm thinking American Kestrel. It indeed Was! What a treat, and I believe it is a male. I took some pics out the car window, then when it changed to a tree behind, I got out and took some outside the car. The light was too dull for me to get real sharp images, especially given the distance of the bird still was not idea, a bit too far for my 300mm lens, plus the image stabilization made for some not too great haloing sort of bordering around the bird when I tried to correct the values in my RAW image. But hey, we were so thrilled to get to see this gorgeous little bird again! It's been a couple years since we've had the pleasure of spotting one.

I guess what the other photographers saw was probably the mate to this bird, as they were back behind us, and I guess were sighting the female.

All and all, a nice walk in our old much loved conservation area where we used to live.