Two pertinent questions: Rain or sunshine? Hawk Hill (High Park) or the Toronto Islands? Answers: Sunshine and the Toronto Islands.
*Breathe in: On September 16th I took the first GO Train out of Burlington, wove through the construction at and outside of Union Station, waited for then jumped on the Bay bus to the ferry docks, had one minute to board the 7:00 a.m. boat to Ward’s Island, no ticket agents present, crew members wished me luck buying a ticket from the machine advising passengers and crew needed both a Ph.D. and an engineering degree to figure out the machine, tried valiantly to buy a ticket, crew told me to board as long as I promised to pay once I returned to Toronto, I promised, jumped on board and awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay we went. *Exhale.
I downloaded the two-page guide from ofo.ca, so generously prepared by Norm Murr. I didn’t manage to visit all 17 spots but I birded from Ward’s to Hanlan’s Island. I had a rocking awesome day. The birds were plentiful, particularly the blue jays (by my estimate at least 100), warblers and northern flickers. The warblers were located high atop trees and/or within thick brush.
I really wanted to go to Hawk Hill to witness the raptor migration. Was I ever happy, ecstatic, overjoyed and just about to bust when I counted at least 30 raptors heading in a westerly direction. The birds generally appeared singly but at times flew in pairs.
After the class exited I was told the lighthouse was off limits. The students and their instructors weren’t even aware the raptors were flying by just outside the window. Aaaaaargh!
Well, I did walk down one unmarked path. The usual sign was absent. I therefore proceeded in all my faux-birding finery. At the beach head to my left at some distance was an unclothed human being. Le ooops!
Unlike the nudists, there were other people at work on the islands including the postman and the Metropolitan Toronto Marine Unit.
Of course, being near the Island Airport, who could resist taking pictures of the iron birds. Felt a bit uneasy once I realized I could make out the pilots’ faces.
I left Hanlan’s Island on the 1:45 p.m. ferry.
On arriving at the ferry docks I headed to the ticket wicket, explaining that I promised to pay on my return. The teller was taken aback, “Oh kaaay”. A puzzled look remained on his face as he rang in my fare. I hopped, skipped and happy danced all the way up Bay Street until I arrived at Union Station. I was completely sated as I headed home on a pre-rush hour GO train. Life is goooooooooooooooooooooooooood!!