Thursday, August 02, 2007

Natural High Park

I made my first visit to High Park, Toronto on Monday of this week and was not disappointed. It was my first time actually getting out and birding in a while so I was bound to enjoy myself, but fortunately, the park has some good trails, a variety of habitats, and a great deal of areas that are good for nesting woodland species.

When I first entered the park, I was a bit concerned about the amount of people that were present as well as the playgrounds, soccer fields, and buildings that were constructed. There was also an overload of dog walkers in the vicinity, which left me apprehensive about how nature-friendly this park was. I was thankfully misguided though, as I happened to enter the area of the park set aside for the public (the center of the park). As I avoided the people and headed towards the trees, I found a few trails and realized that the park outskirts is where the action really is; a peripheral oasis to view birds, mammals and butterflies in abundance. Next time I visit (sooner than later), I will simply circumvent the park's core and explore the outer boundaries where there are less people, more wildlife, and a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of Toronto city life.

A few of the highlights from the day include Red-eyed Vireo, Indigo Buntings, Black-crowned Night-Heron, and Canadian Tiger Swallowtail (a new species of butterfly for my life list). There was also an abundance of juvenile birds, which I don't often get to study including Wood Duck, Downy Woodpecker, and a few other common species. Although seeing a new species is always exciting, equally intriguing is seeing a new behaviour by a familiar species. Another one of my highlights was watching a pair of Northern Flickers their juvenile young, already full-grown to adult size. I watched as they plucked delectable dishes for their offspring, who screeched wildly for its meal of insects.

Here is my list for the day (I've put notes by species of interest):

Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron (only 1 even though much of the park is wetland or ponds)
Black-crowned Night-Heron (1 adult flying)
Mute Swan (1)
Canada Goose (many; tamed by visitors)
Wood Duck (2 adults with 9 juveniles; tamed by visitors)
Mallard (yet another tamed by visitors, to the point of approaching people in search of food)
Ring-billed Gull (unavoidable in parks serving food)
Herring Gull
Rock Pigeon
Downy Woodpecker (a few including 1 juvenile)
Northern Flicker (many, plus 2 adults with 1's possible that Flickers outnumber Downy Woodpeckers right now at the park)
Eastern Wood-Pewee (heard)
Great Crested Flycatcher (1 - great to see as I missed them in spring as a result of my move to Toronto)
Eastern Kingbird (a few- obviously nesting)
Barn Swallow
Blue Jay
Black-capped Chickadee (anywhere north of Essex County seems to hold this species in abundance. You may see one or two at Point Pelee during spring but you can't walk a few steps without hearing them in High Park)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (heard)
American Robin (many)
Cedar Waxwing (flocks heard)
European Starling
Red-eyed Vireo (2)
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting (2)
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
American Goldfinch (many)
House Sparrow

Total Species: 30


European Skipper (3)
unidentified brown skipper (Dun?)
Canadian Tiger Swallowtail (this is a new species for me as I have only seen the Eastern Tiger swallowtail, which replaces this species to the south)
Cabbage White
Common Sulphur
Question Mark
Red Admiral (many; a few landed on my clothing and one on my binoculars)


Common Green Darner
Twelve-spotted Skimmer
Common Whitetail

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