Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tommy Thompson Park

Justin and I went to Tommy Thompson Park on the weekend. The weather here in Toronto is warming up. We decided to take advantage of it.

At first I was considering visiting High Park to see the cherry blossoms. But they were only just starting to blossom. So I figured I'd wait a little longer before going.

That left us wondering where we could go instead. I thought it would be nice to go somewhere new. While Tommy Thompson Park isn't exactly new, I hadn't gone there in at least two or three years. I figure it was time to head back.

Early spring is a good time to go if you want to try to catch nesting or migrating birds. A lot of them are returning from wintering down south around now. Both of us brought our cameras in hopes of capturing some cool shots.

I have to say, the last time I was in the park I only had my 24-105mm lens. Over Christmas I bought a 70-300mm. It should help somewhat. Though, a lot of birds are pretty small, and many of them are understandably skittish. So even that lens might not be long enough.

We got to the park in the early afternoon, just after 12:30. There were a few cars parked on Leslie Street leading into the park. As well, there were a number of spaces left in the lot. We chose the parking lot. The caveat was we had to make sure we left by 6:00 p.m.. That's when they lock the gates.

The main path/roadway leading down the centre of the spit is around 7.5 kilometres long. That would bring you to the lighthouse at the southern tip. If you walked straight there and back five and a half hours would be plenty of time. We, on the other hand, were intent on taking as many pictures as we could.

We took a side path on the east side of the spit at the start. Less traffic. No bikes were supposed to be on this trail, though the odd one did pass. The first thing of interest we saw wasn't a beaver. We thought it may have been, but it turned out to be just a ground hog. It was hiding in thick brush. We couldn't quite make it out. False alarm.

We did see two new birds (to us). The first was a bufflehead duck paddling around in the sheltered harbour on the north side of the spit. The second was the white-throated sparrow (pictured above). Justin spotted it first. I thought it was just a regular sparrow. But, upon closer inspection, noticed the patch of yellow above its eye. According to the girl working at the park, they stop here on their way migrating north.

She also mentioned the park has the largest number of nesting double-crested cormorants in the world with at least 12,000 nesting pairs. They were all over the place.

I have to say, we barely walked half way down the spit before we had to turn around and head back to the parking lot. Time was of the essence. We didn't want to have to take the bus home. Next time we'll make sure to park on the street to avoid that problem.

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