Thursday, April 29, 2010

Birding Toronto's High Park

Toronto's High Park is located a little to the west of downtown Toronto and is a very nice and reachable place to have a walk while watching birds. I found this place, last april 23th (one day after my first day in Toronto), thanks to all the advices I received last week (specially from you Alfred!). It consists of 400 acres of partially manicured parkland with a variety of habitats ranging from wetlands to black oak savannah. I reached it by subway, stopping by the station in front of the park and walking a little to the west to start my journey counter-clockwise at Wendigo Ravine. Despite the hour (around 7:00 AM), there were a lot of people jogging and walking in the trails. Of course, the first birds I saw were common ones, including my life Black-capped Chickadee and an American Robin (also life bird!). The chickadee was a very smart and tame little bird... I really liked it. The robin reminded me the Clay-colored Thrush (Robin) back at home... including its persistent song. Of course, its northern cousin is much prettier and handsome with those bright colors. Soon I reached the northern end of the Grenadier Pond, finding lots of waterfowls. The waterfowls are not well represented in Panama, so I was very excited by the chances of seeing many new species during this trip... and I was not dissapointed. The first birds I saw was a group of colourful Wood Ducks. Several males and females, along with a drake Mallard, were resting very close to shore, allowing close approaching. I guess they are used to the visitors. The liquid song everywhere was produced by the Red-winged Blackbirds, VERY common all over the place. Once in the Grenadier Ponds, things got better. The open waters were patroled by a beautiful Mute Swan, guarding his female on the nest. Some of the waterfowls being mobbed by the swan were the Canada Geese, that were abundant in the pond... and all over Toronto I guess. Then, a more familiar duck (for me) appeared: a male Northern Shoveler with its bright yellow eyes over the blue-green head and chestnut sides. A pair of Gadwalls were feeding alone, just like the pair of Buffleheads a little farther. No gulls nor terns at the pond. I crossed a birder in the way who told me that he saw nothing of interest... I think he was talking about the migrants because we were a little early for them. In any case I thought his words were curious considering that for me even the Mallard and the balckbirds were a life birds! I kept walking to the south (passing by the enormous maple leaf), and then, after crossing a little hill, I found the Coulborne Lodge. There I found an Hermit Thrush readily identified by its contrasting rufous tail. Also, my first Downy Woodpecker of the day appeared, along with a more cooperative Black-capped Chickadee. Eventually, I found the Duck Ponds by the southern and eastern end of the park. Again, more of the waterfowls already recorded were present. A little activity by the surrounding trees resulted on a pair of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, both males, displaying its colourful crests and chasing each other. I decided to walk towards the Allocated Gardens, through the Spring Street. Once there, I found the only warbler I saw in Toronto: a beautiful male Yellow-rumped Warbler. Despite it is not a life bird, it was nice to see it with its breeding plumage... a first one for me. Then, a pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers showed up, reminding me the Tropical Gnatcatchers back in Panama (of course, I was not in the tropics any more). Soon, I was at the Grenadier restaurant (where I ordered one of its famous $2.99 breakfast). Some birds around where a pair of noisy Northern Flickers and a not-less-noisy Chipping Sparrow. A Cooper's Hawk fly by slowly while a male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was attending a branch. The starlings were everywhere. Despite its commoness, they really are striking with its irridiscense and yellow feet and bill. Walking to the entrance I found apair of Northern Cardinals close to the ground, feeding in some bushes and a male American Goldfinch singing loud at the top of a tree. The last bird (life bird) I saw before leaving the place was a smart White-breasted Nuthatch working the main trunk of a nearby tree. It was my best day in Toronto regarding birds watched... I ended the day with a list of 32 birds, including 20 life birds. A great place for birdwatching! The plan for the next day included a visit to the world-famous Niagara falls.

1 comment:

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