Hanlan’s Island + Recipe

I’m thoroughly enjoying my visits to the Toronto Islands. It’s hard to keep giddiness at bay given the combination of the ferry ride, the opportunity to watch the sun rise, the presence of the iconic skyline, the proximity to island airport as well as the unique character of each island.

After having read that Hanlan’s Island is the best place to visit in the fall, I headed over twice this week, each time catching the early ferry. On both days the birds were so plentiful I needed at least two extra sets of eyes just to keep up. Here are a few of the birds I photographed:

Gray Catbird at Hanlan's Island

Gray Catbird

Black-throated Blue Warbler at Hanlan's Island

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Palm Warbler at Hanlan's Island

Palm Warbler

White-throated Sparrow at Hanlan's Island

White-throated Sparrow

Blue Jay at Hanlan's Island, Toronto

Blue Jay

Dark-eyed Junco at Hanlan's Island, Toronto

Dark-eyed Junco

I had stopped on the beach to adjust my knapsack and fiddle with something and in doing so was I ever surprised to spot this pair of juvenile black-bellied plovers to my immediate right. I was stunned. I walked past them once and would have walked past them a second time had I not stopped. They were completely relaxed. I took a few photographs and left them to enjoy the gorgeous beach.

Juvenile Black-bellied Plovers at Hanlan's Island, Toronto

Juvenile Black-bellied Plovers

Juvenile Black-bellied Plover at Hanlan's Island, Toronto

Juvenile Black-bellied Plover

On both days, this mink had the slough all to himself. He would go for a swim and on returning to land he rid himself of excess water by rolling on the driftwood. Ah, the single life!

American Mink at Hanlan's Island, Toronto

American Mink

American Mink at Hanlan's Island

American Mink

My ever-ungrateful stomach dragged me kicking and screaming back to Toronto. I wanted lasagne. I knew just the place – Piazza Manna in Brookfield Place. The lasagne was delicious and filling.

Delicious lasagne from Piazza Manna!

Delicious lasagne from Piazza Manna!

Brookfield Place (formerly BCE Place) is my favourite office tower. Tour groups regularly traverse the upper concourse. It is also home to the Hockey Hall of Fame. From time-to-time there is an art or photo exhibit on the upper concourse. Presently The World Press Photo 14 exhibit is on display.

Brent Stirton - 1st prize, staged portraits singles

Brent Stirton – 1st prize, staged portraits singles


Brent Stirton - 1st prize, staged portraits singles

Brent Stirton – 1st prize, staged portraits singles

On Saturday, my firstborn took time away from her studies to accompany me to Hanlan’s. What a treat! The skies were cloudy and grey as we walked from Ward’s to Hanlan’s. Given the forecast I was sort of worried that we would not find much. The sun broke through just as we arrived at Hanlan’s. The trees came alive with song and activity. As we walked along we chanced upon pockets of activity. On other occasions we would peer into the thick shrub. It was such fun birding with her. We look for birds differently. It’s reflective of our respective shopping style. I’m not one for tarrying too long in one spot. She lingers and lingers. Tee hee! Together we managed to photograph the following:

Palm Warbler at Hanlan's Island, Toronto

Palm Warbler

Northern Flicker at Hanlan's Island, Toronto

Northern Flicker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Hanlan's Island, Toronto

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Black-throated Green Warbler at Hanlan's Island, Toronto

Black-throated Green Warbler

Ruby-crowned Kinglet with insect at Hanlan's Island

Ruby-crowned Kinglet with insect

Ruby-crowned Kinglet at Hanlan's Island

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Blue-headed Vireo at Hanlan's Island, Toronto

Blue-headed Vireo

Brown Creeper at Hanlan's Island, Toronto

Brown Creeper

Brown Thrasher at Hanlan's Island, Toronto

Brown Thrasher

Great Blue Heron at Hanlan's Island, Toronto

Great Blue Heron

In addition to the above, we saw a black and white warbler, a common yellow throat, two sharp-shinned hawks, a flock of blue jays, osprey,and song sparrows.

As we waited for the ferry, in the pine tree right next to the waiting area we noticed golden and ruby-crowned kinglets and magnolia warblers. What a fitting send off!

After a fun day of birding I craved comfort food. I made a big pot of chicken noodle soup and chased it down with strawberry rhubarb pie! Yum.

I’ve been blessed with a high metabolism. The downside – it gets expensive to keep hunger at bay. I find I’m hungry within an hour of consuming Tim Horton’s offerings. For the past three months I have been buying yoghurt and artisanal granola every morning during the work week. The combination actually tides me over until lunch time. At almost $35.00 weekly, I thought to myself, why can’t I make that? I flipped through my personal copy of The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee: Growing, Roasting, and Drinking, with Recipes. About two weeks ago I made my first batch of brown sugar and winter spice granola. The recipe is incredibly easy. I’ve enjoyed the granola on its own and as cereal with cold milk. I’m going to try it one of these days with plain yoghurt. I discovered the recipe is freely available on Amazon: http://g-ec2.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/books/rando-ems/BlueBottle_WinterGranola._V400710450_.pdf

Feel free to tweak the recipe to your liking. My tweaks: I use only slivered almonds; substituted extra virgin olive oil for the canola oil; used two teaspoons cinnamon and only a pinch of nutmeg; omitted the salt.


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