Weekend Expedition 68: A frozen High Park outing


Catherine and I were on our way to see a talk on environmental restoration by Dr. Dawn Bazely, York U prof and prolific scientist, author and SciComm advocate, held Sunday at the Howard Park Tennis Club. This talk was not only interesting, but for Catherine and myself it was a great way to get introduced to the High Park Stewards, a local conservation group focused on the large western Toronto park.

Before the talk, we had a couple hours to wander around the frozen landscape, seeing what we could rustle up. It turns out, not much was active on this cold and cloudy Sunday. Perhaps best exemplifying this is the hibernating Carabus (either granulatus or maeander) that we found under a log. These large carabids are a familiar sight in logs in wintertime, but unlike the ones we see in coastal BC, this one was not going anywhere fast!


If only all carabids were so docile!

After wandering up a hill, we stopped by a section of the park where people leave seeds for the birds, and saw what are probably Toronto’s most common winter songbirds, House Sparrows, Cardinals, Black-capped Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches and Downy Woodpeckers vying for the free meal. I concentrated on shooting the woodpeckers, because they were not as shy.


Because it was so dark, I engaged the stabilizer on my 300 for all of these shots. Not too shabby!


Just love the little mustaches on these bold woodpeckers!


Here you can see the specialized foot morphology that woodpeckers have for clinging to vertical surfaces.


Although these were taking seeds from the piles on the ground, they would also peck at various branches nearby for insects.


These lovely birds added a splash of colour to an otherwise gloomy day in the park.


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