Toronto Islands: Day 1

Royal Bank & Brookfield Towers in Toronto, ON

Royal Bank & Brookfield Towers pre-dawn

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.

Sunrise on way to Ward's Island in Toronto, ON

Sunrise on way to Ward’s Island

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.

Palm warbler at the Toronto Islands in Toronto, ON

Palm warbler

Black-and-White Warbler at the Toronto Islands in Toronto, ON

Black-and-White Warbler

 

White-breasted nuthatch at the Toronto Islands in Toronto, ON

Palm Warbler's fighting at the Toronto Islands in Toronto, ON

Palm Warblers’ disagreement

Blue Jay at the Toronto Islands in Toronto, ON

Curiousity got the better of this Blue Jay

Black-throated green warbler

Black-throated green warbler

Juvenile Cedar Waxwing at the Toronto Islands in Toronto, ON

Juvenile Cedar Waxwing

Palm warbler in pine tree at the Toronto Islands in Toronto, ON

Palm warbler

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.

Cooper's Hawk flies over the Toronto Islands in Toronto, ON

Cooper’s Hawk

American Kestrel flying over the Toronto Islands in Toronto, ON

American Kestrel

Osprey in flight at the Toronto Islands in Toronto, ON

Osprey

Cooper's Hawk in flight at the Toronto Islands in Toronto, ON

Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper's Hawk flying over the Toronto Islands in Toronto, ON

Cooper’s Hawk

I would dearly have loved the opportunity to enter the Gibralter Point Lighthouse but this note was on the door.
Osprey in flight at the Toronto Islands in Toronto, ON

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!

I got a decent photograph of a male belted kingfisher!  Wooo hooo!
American Mink at the Toronto Islands in Toronto, ON
I didn’t check on the shorebirds or the unfeathered humans.

Clothing optional beach at the Toronto Islands in Toronto, ON

Self-explanatory

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.

Canada Post vehicle on Algonquin Island in Toronto, ON

Canada Post vehicle on Algonquin Island

Metropolitan Toronto Police Marine Unit near Centre Island in Toronto, ON

Metropolitan Toronto Police Marine Unit near Centre Island

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.

Toronto Island Airport in Toronto, ON

Toronto Island Airport

Coming in for a landing Toronto Island Airport in Toronto, ON

Coming in for a landing

Plane trail near the Toronto Islands in Toronto, ON

Plane trail

I left Hanlan’s Island on the 1:45 p.m. ferry.

Monument to Edward Hanlan at the Hanlan's Island in Toronto, ON

Monument to Edward Hanlan

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!!

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