Monday, May 3, 2010

The Niagara Falls

A visit to the Niagara Falls is a must for every traveller to Toronto or Canada in general. After an excellent birding day in Toronto's High Park, I went along with Erika, Carlos, Ana Belén and Gaspar last april 24th to the world-famous falls in a rented car. It was an easy task considering the well-marked highways and Ana´s GPS helping us. On route we crossed the Ontario lake close to its western end (tons of gulls and an American Kestrel by the way) and after an hour or so we reached the city of Niagara Falls in the canadian side. I admit that I was not expecting such a big and modern city so close to the falls, with all its fancy hotels, casinos and its tower... simply amazing. We had a tasty breakfast before heading to the falls while hearing a mockingbird that I was unable to locate. After some circling around town, we finally found our way to the falls... WOW those were really huge falls... they struck us abreast!!! By far, the canadian side is better for looking the falls. You can see both of them from the avenue without obstructions... gorgeous! It was too early for the exhibitions or for the Maid of the Mist trip so we walked around for a while, feeling the mist of the canadian falls and enjoying the sunny day. I even found some nice birds. The well-maintened gardens were full of American Robins looking for earthworms, while the American Crows patroled the area with its deep and slow wingbeats. Those are huge passerines... I wonder how a raven would looks like? The Red-winged Blackbirds were, again, abundant and noisy. Some individuals were so tame that allowed great pictures from very close... specially the female that was so cooperative. You can see its dark-red shoulders in the photo. Both Tree and Northern Rough-winged Swallows were around too. And also, the Eastern Gray Squirrels were everywhere, specially the dark phase (just like in the High Park). After a while, we were ready to board the world-famous Maid of the Mist on its journey to the heart of the Niagara Falls. It was simply amazing, you have to feel it to believe it! Despite all my search, the only gulls I saw were the abundant Ring-billeds and the occasional Herrings. Following the advices some friends gave me, I decided to walk upriver for a while. Almost immediately things changed. A lonely male Greater Scaup (the little white & black dot at the picture of the river - I took it with a point-and-shoot camera) was swimming close to shore by the power plant, while in the rocks in the middle of the river were resting thousands of Ring-billed Gulls plus many first-year Herrings (I didn't saw any "white-winged gull" among them) and one adult Lesser Black-backed Gull. A little farther, tons of Common Tern were accompanying a flock of Bonaparte´s Gulls in all sort of plumages, but mainly breeding adults. Last, but not less important, a pair of Blue Jays appeared calling from some trees close to me... a really handsome bird, and one I was expecting so much (of course!). It was a great day at the falls, a day I will never forget for sure. Back in Toronto, we spent the afternoon visiting some tourist attractions like Casa Loma, China town, and many museums, including the impressive Royal Ontario Museum (where I took the picture of my own reflection). It was our last full-day in Toronto so we spend it well. The forecast for the next day was of a rainy and chilly morning. I was suppose to be at the airport by noon, so I decided to spent the morning walking the Toronto's waterfront.

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