Monday, February 28, 2011

Saturday In The City - Part One: Humber Bay West

We haven't spent much time outside this winter aside from our 4 hours of delivering the mail out in Oro everyday. We decided that it was completely unacceptable to spend another weekend indoors so we got our stuff together and headed up to Toronto's Humber Bay Park West.
We were greeted by a large group of Sparrows, mostly House but also a few Songsters and Trees were scattered about the trees at the entrance.

Then it was ducking time!! We love to go out ducking and Humber Bay has proven to be a great place to explore. Within our first 10 minutes there we spotted a close to shore pair of Buffleheads and Greater Scaup!! What a great way to start the day. More to come on the Scaup a bit later ;)

As usual there were plenty of Mallards around and we would be remiss if we did not include a few shots of them in this post. Because they are so tame it's usually quite easy to get up close to them, unlike the majority of other ducks that fly away the instant they see you.

Mute Swans were scattered all about and appeared to be establishing mating territories - we witnessed a few altercations, it was fun to watch! :)

The overcast skies were a bit of a bummer. In fact, the skies were the only negative aspect of an otherwise perfect winter day of ducking in Toronto. The grayness was so thick at times that it even hid the CN Tower but the rocks and boulders that make up the shoreline were still covered in snow and ice which made for some interesting photography.

We were walking around the tip of the park when I noticed a male Red-breasted Merganser coming in closer and closer to us. My excitement level was sky high not only because I think they're freakin' cool but because I rarely get to experience them up close. So I grabbed Juliette from Nate and hunkered down behind some rocks along the shoreline and waited. Sure enough he came to within a decent distance of me and I was able to capture a few images. I was so incredibly happy!!

While I was working the above Merganser Nate was off working this Northern Mockingbird.

After a couple of hours we began to make our way back towards the car and this was when things started to get REALLY interesting!! It all started after I spotted a small group of White-winged Scoters quite a ways off shore. First Nate got close-up to a male Long-tailed Duck...

...then a female Long-tailed...

...then, as though destiny was guiding us, we made our way to an open peninsula where we both hunkered down and experienced our first close encouters with Greater Scaup...I mean REALLY close!! We positioned ourselves on either end of the peninsula and the ducks stayed between us. That's when I looked over at Nate and just had to take a shot of him :)

Here's what he was photographing while I was photographing him...a beauty female Greater Scaup...

...and a male Greater Scaup. There had to be upwards of 150-200 Scaup around us at one point!! Wow, what an amazing experience!! :)

After our time with the Scaup we were on cloud nine, filled to the brim with utter satisfaction. We continued to make our way towards the car when out of nowhere a Mute Swan flew in and landed right beside us. We couldn't pass the opportunity to capture some intimate close-ups.

While Nate was taking some shots of the swan, a Red-breasted Merganser came up from a long dive about ten feet out from where the swan was - I just about lost my mind with excitement!! I thought I had captured some great images of this duck earlier but Nate really rocked it out with this second even closer encounter. All the while, the swan remained positioned about 2 feet in front of him - scary and exhilarating all at the same time!!

Drenched in a Scaup and Merganser afterglow, we forced ourselves to leave Humber Bay West for High Park but not before seeing a Kestrel perched atop a small tree directly across from the bushes filled with House, Song and Tree Sparrows. What a nice little surprise!!
Join us tomorrow when we'll be posting the second part of our day at High Park!!

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