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Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Crazy Fun Walk at Tommy Thompson Park

This is now the third year we've headed to Tommy Thompson Park at the bottom of Leslie in Toronto. This place is worth seeing. It is a man made conservation area, created from decades of dropped clean fill from old demolished buildings, etc. It is only open to the public on weekends as during the week, there is still fill being taken there. It has been said to rival Pelee Island for migratory birds, bird populations and bird sighting. We love to go in the Spring but this year, we are planning a second summer trip. One thing about going there is you Have to make sure you have water, food and are willing to use a porta potty as there are no washrooms, no places to get water and No garbage cans so it is the public's responsibility to take their garbage Home (please!). No dogs are allowed either which is another good thing.

This time around we went 1 week earlier than usual. We didn't see a lot but what we did see was exciting and fun! It was very windy and it actually was quite chilly. We didn't make the mistakes we made the first and second year. The first year we went on a whim right after I got my 70-300 mm lens, We had No water and it was like an 80 degree day. We thought we saw a stand that was handing out waters (knowing Nothing about the park) but it was just a group packing up an info booth. An elderly couple offered us their own water after we asked if we could purchase some from them. It was so kind and we were So grateful! The second year, last year, I didn't apply sunscreen well enough during the day and I received a terrible blistered infected burn on my lower lip that lasted almost 3 weeks :-( This year's visit, we planned smarter :-)

Though migratory birds were scarcer this time, we spotted several Yellow Rumped Warblers. The usual White Chested Sparrows were around and plentiful.

The highlight of the walk happened fast, came from my right side, and I am shocked of the 3 shots I took real fast, one turned out ok. I had to sharpen the animals and use a mask to leave the background as shot, less sharp, so the 2 animals showed up in the environment a bit better. As we walked along a path near the Toronto skyline and harbour side of the park, out of my peripheral vision flew a snake, seemingly across the tops of the grass blades and ahead of the snake by about 6 or 7 inches a leopard frog leaped for its life. Holy crap, wtf! was my reaction. I whipped my camera up, had no time to check the settings though I tend to always make sure it's set at a sort of happy medium while walking, chosen by the general lighting conditions, etc. As they crossed in front of me I took 3 shots. One was semi half decent and I have it here above. We must have sort of startled them as they came upon us and us them as eventually they stopped and both went in opposite directions through the ground cover. The frog, to live another day (or few hours only since there were many snakes under foot that day lol), and the garter snake still hungry.

Every year we go into the little bay area even though there is a no trespassing fence up. I'm always reluctant but we've seen the best things there both times! All the seagulls hang out there and the terns too. We walk straight through along the shore and rejoin the main path. Last year we saw the terns hunting fish and this year we saw Caspian Terns standing on the beach. So cool!

Almost back at the entrance, after a 5 hr walk, as I walked past a brick, I did a double take. The words replayed in my brain that I had just read on an old brick sitting off to the side of the path. lol! Say what?! Had to take a pic lol! What it Really means is Cubic Meters - Price.

The last 2 sights worth noting, were also near the end of our hike. John spotted a red Necked Grebe way out on the water of Lake Ontario and I came upon a little Garter Snake who was curled up, I guess kind of cornered, in between a bunch of large rocks. He checked me out as I looked down on him. I'm sure he could easily sneak through a crevice but I took a couple pictures then backed up and left him alone. He was so cute! We also saw a lot of swallows of various kinds flying, most were Tree Swallows but we did see a Rough Winged and Barn Swallows. There were also Canvas Backed Ducks, Mergansers, and Killdeer around, as well as my favourite little duck, the suck I can mimic well, the Long Tailed Duck, AKA in the past as the Old Squaw Duck. Love them :-) Soooo gorgeous and cute and they make the weirdest sound!

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