musings from Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington ... home of The Write Spot

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

picture says it all...

stillpoint... blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

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Wednesday, June 07, 2017

it's hard being grebe...

Today dawned gloriously sunny in Toronto so I packed up my camera and went for a walk by the lake. We've had a lot of rain and flooding in the last month and water levels are still higher than I ever remember seeing them at Colonel Samuel Smith Park. The swans were flooded out of their traditional nesting spot in the pond and have retreated to the wooded bank. Those trees in the foreground are usually high and dry, well back from the water's edge.

Mute swans at Colonel Sam Smith Park, Toronto

The top of those rock walls are usually a meter above lake level

Out on the lake, the grebes are busy rebuilding after a bullying cormorant destroyed their first attempt at a nest. I hope they'll be successful this time - they're beautiful birds and diligent parents.

Red-necked Grebe on nesting platform,
Colonel Sam Smith Park, Toronto

Red-necked Grebe pair working on their nest

Grebe nest in yacht club basin at Sam Smith Park

Red-necked Grebe on patrol

One of those nasty Cormorant bullies, too close
for comfort, as a Grebe keeps watch from afar.

I heard but couldn't spot an Orchard Oriole that had a group of bird watchers all a-twitter. Spotted but couldn't photograph a lovely little Wilson's Warbler, and watched a Robin capture what I thought was a gigantic worm but turned out to be this tiny Brown Snake. The Robin eventually abandoned it on the path. Maybe his eyes were too big for his beak? High above, someone else waited to claim the prize.

Brown Snake


Back on the pond, this Mallard Duck and Red-winged Blackbird made it easy for me to photograph them, almost as if they were posing to show off their best features.

"Alright Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up."

Wind-blown Blackbird

Until next time, may all your rambles be happy ones!

stillpoint... blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

hawk in the 'hood

This handsome red-tailed hawk spent an entire morning hanging out on the fence behind my building. The neighbourhood robins were absolutely frantic but aside from an occasional imperious glance, the hawk ignored their scolding and even the occasional daring dive-bomber.


Permalink: hawk in the 'hood

stillpoint... blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

babes in zooland...

A few weeks ago a friend and I spent a happy morning getting to know the two and four-footed residents of the High Park Zoo. A Toronto institution since 1893, the little zoo made news world-wide last year when its resident Capybaras escaped and went walkabout for most of the summer. The whole city seemed obsessed with finding the missing rodents. News reports regularly showed camo-clad people hunting through the bushes around Grenadier Pond brandishing cameras and nets... but the wily Capybaras eluded every sleuth and would-be captor. Eventually, one of the pair was spotted and lured into a trap by zoo staff. The other ran wild and free for a while longer but finally the duo, appropriately named Bonnie and Clyde, were safely returned to their newly-reinforced pen inside the zoo compound. 

Plans are afoot to move the Capybaras to upgraded quarters with a much larger swimming area and other rodent spa amenities. Meanwhile, Bonnie and Clyde seem content to bask in the sunshine and show off their three little "Capy-babies" – aren't they sweet?

There's a contest going on to name the Capybara babies.
What would you suggest?

This little dude looks as if he's plotting his own escape!

Soaking up the sun.

There are plenty of other critters keeping the Capybara family company in hillside paddocks. Here are a few of my favourites.

Bison, looking a bit itchy as he sheds his winter coat.

The Highland cattle were more interested in breakfast than visitors.

A sign on the Llama enclosure read, "Watch out, we spit!"
Apparently that's how you know when they're tired of your company.

Wallaby, enjoying his breakfast.

This Yak seemed quite interested in my camera.
I love how alert and intelligent he looks.

We waited, hoping for a tail display, but
this gorgeous peacock turned his back on us. 

As soon as we walked away, we heard him shouting and
feather-rattling, so hurried back to see. Turn around, turn around!

Finally. Isn't he glorious? Oh, that vivid blue!

So ended our day in High Park. It was my first visit in many (many!) years. Now that I know what I've been missing, I will definitely return more often. In case you missed it, while in the park we also visited the Cherry Blossom festival on Grenadier Hill. My photos are here

stillpoint... blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

cherry blossom time...

In the spring of 1959, the citizens of Tokyo, Japan made a gift of two thousand Sakura cherry trees to the people of Toronto as thanks for Canadian support of Japanese refugees after WWII. The little trees found a new home in High Park, thus beginning a springtime tradition in our city: cherry blossom time. 

I'm a couple or few years older than those cherry trees, born and raised in Toronto, but until this week I've never had the chance to see the trees in bloom. What a magical sight it is! 

My friend and I set our alarms for oh-gosh-thirty on Monday morning and made our way through rush-hour traffic to arrive at High Park a few minutes past eight. The parking lots were already busy, the grassy slopes full of people with cameras, people walking, people gazing up at the masses of pale pink petals in mute admiration. (There was even a bride with her photographer – lovely dress but no competition for the absolute perfection overhead.) 

Cherry blossoms on the hill, High Park, Toronto

Click on any photo to see larger version. (Images will open in new window.)

The vista over Grenadier Pond seemed stark as we emerged from the tunnel of blossoms but we soon discovered more signs of spring along the pathways... a gorgeous pair of Merganser ducks on the pond, daffodils blooming in pretty clumps, early flowers in sheltered suntraps, and  my favourite  riots of brilliant yellow forsythia.

Our rambles eventually lead us to the famous High Park Zoo, a Toronto institution since 1893. The zoo made news world-wide last year when the resident Capybaras escaped and went walkabout for most of the summer. Bonnie and Clyde are safely home now with three sweet babies as a reminder of their "summer of love". ;-) I've got lots of zoo pictures (including some of the Capybabies) to share next time, so be sure to check back. Meanwhile, happy spring!

stillpoint... blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

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