Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Toronto's waterfront

As expected, my last day in Toronto, april 25th, was a rainy and chilly one, contrasting to our previous day at the Niagara Falls, which was sunny. I was suppose to be at the airport by noon so I decided to walk along the Toronto's waterfront. There was other reason why I wanted to visit that place: the report of several Long-tailed Ducks still in the Harborfront, maybe the last ones of the season. There is something about these ducks. They just looked beautiful in the plates of the North American Field Guides that I studied during the adolescence and, by other hand, they are really tundra birds... very very far away of Panama... and even far away for the average north-american birder. Other thing was the excellent post about this species in the 10000 Birds blog, by Charlie. Since I read it, I was wondering when it would be my turn to see and write about them. Guess what... now it is my turn! When I first saw them, it was a pair not so close to shore... then they sumerged in the waters of the Ontario Lake just to re-emerge only few feet from me! Soon, they were accompanied by several individuals, both males and females. I don't know how many different plumages does this duck have (I read that the male is unique among the waterfowls by having three different plumages in a year), but these were molting, and two patterns were identificable: winter and early summer plumages. I really liked the winter-plumaged birds (first photo, a male)... they were simply beautiful (please don't bear in mind the quality of my photos, these don't make justice to them). Other thing about these birds... they don't know how to use their feet as brakes when landing (as noticed by Charlie). They simply drop their bellies into the water with a big splash! That was very funny to see. After a while, they began to call... and I swear it sounds like old-squaw, old-squaw! After all, a great experience... a dreamed bird that simply materialized in front of me. In the meanwhile, the rain stopped me from taking more pictures, but anyway I managed to shot some common birds. These species were around every single day I spent in Toronto... some are abundant like the Ring-billed Gulls. I saw a couple screaming loud to each other, not taking care of my presence. Just thinking that this species is the highlight of any birdwatching trip to Costa del Este or Panama Viejo back in home makes me smile. They are much more interesting when they are rare! Other abundant bird was the Mallard. In Panama, it is a mega-vagrant, with only few females reported in this and the last century or so. Here, well... here is the common duck. But a beautiful one. The drakes are simply gorgeus with its contrasting pattern and green head. They were all around, not only in the lake, but in the gardens and the streets. Others omnipresent birds were the House Sparrows and the European Starling, plus an absurd number of Double-crested Cormorants in the lake and flying by. I even saw the double crest... two curled feathers in each side of the head. It was getting late, so I took the subway in the Union Station to my hotel. Within a couple of hours we were at the airport, finishing our visit to that beautiful country. I will return for sure!
P.D.: if you missed the rest of the account about my visit to Toronto, Canada, you can read Jan Axel's Blog becomes international and then just follow the linked text at the end of each entry. Enjoy!

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