Early spring on the Spit

The Leslie Spit is one of my favorite places to bike: I can watch birds, see what is growing, and sometimes, when its foggy, feel like I’m nowhere near Toronto, just out on a country road somewhere.

Sunday was clear and warm. There was a fairly strong wind from the southwest, which meant working on the way out to the lighthouse and almost (not quite) coasting home.

Here are some photos I took on Sunday. It was definitely the earliest in the year that I’ve gone out there.

Nice view from about half-way out: the red osier dogwood provides some foreground colour. There have really been huge changes to the Toronto skyline since I moved here in ’87:

Spitting distance of downtown

I liked this view of the cormorant nests. After a few years of them nesting in the trees, the trees die because of the bird lime. They look ghostly and out of place in the summer. In winter, before trees have started leafing out, they don’t seem quite as unusual. They almost look like stalks of broom, except the scale is four to six times greater.

Cormorant nests

 One of my favourite winter-time ducks in Toronto is the long-tailed duck. Soon they’ll be leaving, heading north and east. Unlike mallards, they’re relatively fearful of people and keep their distance. Very cute little diving ducks — they’ll suddenly disappear, and reappear on the surface 10 or 15 feet away after a minute.

Long tailed ducks

 I was really surprised to see a few woolly bear caterpillars on the move, but I guess the soil has warmed up enough that it woke them up. Hope they survived the onslaught of cyclists and joggers! If they make it, they’ll grow up to be Isabella tiger moths, and they’re not considered pests in either form, so don’t kill them, please.

Wooly bear caterpillar

But some wildlife seems more of a pest than other types. Some of the gulls are back, and setting up house on the spit, preparatory to mating and laying eggs and rearing their young. There are three or four different types that nest out here (and some terns, too). It’s why UNESCO has declared it a significant bird sanctuary.


There was one fellow off to the left of my picture with a big wooly microphone, recording the raucous keening of them.

Continuing my meander out to the lighthouse, I came across a woman feeding a pair of mute swans:

Mute swans

Within sight of the lighthouse, I heard an early spring territorial call. A male red wing blackbird had set himself a guard tower in a tree. This is definitely the earliest I can recall hearing one.

Male Red Wing Blacbird

Out at the end, I saw a para-surfer (para-sailor?) wrestling with his sail in the strong wind.

Para surfing

 For the bike ride home, I rode along the eastern path. Although rougher and more pot-holed, it doesn’t have all the speedbumps they’ve felt necessary to install on the harbour-side path. Oh, I’m sure they’ll get there.

I stopped to look at the beaver dam to see if there was any action. I didn’t see any beavers, but I did watch three robins flitting about.

First robin I've seen

I also saw some canvasback ducks in another of the internal ponds, but they were too far away to photograph.

Sure, I’ll get myself a 500mm prime to do that. I’ll get right on it.

Well, maybe I’ll rent one for a bit. My 120-400mm zoom is a bit of a soft focus.




This entry was posted in City life, Photography - documentary, Urban nature by pat. Bookmark the permalink.

About pat

Visual thinker, first got interested in digital imagery in the early days of Omni magazine, back when it used to review what had happened at SIGGraph. I worked in the 3D software field for 23 years. Lifelong enjoyment of gardening grew over time; I was a Master Gardener (briefly) and had a vegetable and herb allotment garden in Toronto to grow vegetables, as well as perennial gardens at home. Gardening and enjoying fresh produce also raised my interest in cooking with really good local food. As more restaurants in Toronto are offering local fare, I enjoy dining out and sampling the visions the different chefs have.

6 thoughts on “Early spring on the Spit

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