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High Park Nature Walk

What a beautiful day for a nature walk! One of the participants told us today’s walk was 4.5 km. Sunny day – comfortable temperatures. As a bonus there were lots of birds.

I was early (what else is knew) and went for a half hour pre-walk. In the trees just south of the Grenadier Restaurant, I spotted a red-tailed hawk, shopping for lunch. I watched as he checked out the buffet from various trees. He made one dramatic swoop while I was there, narrowly missing a squirrel. I’m sure it didn’t take long for this bird to score a meal.

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Red-tailed hawk

Later we spotted 2 more red tailed hawks further north in the park.


This was a great day for birds. Our nature walk leader, Miles Hearn, identified 29 species. Here’s his list: double-crested cormorant, great blue heron, mute swan, Canada goose, mallard, gadwall, wood duck, northern shoveler, red-tailed hawk, rock pigeon, northern flicker, downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, blue jay, black-capped chickadee, red-breasted nuthatch, white-breasted nuthatch, house wren, American robin, hermit thrush, ruby-crowned kinglet, red-eyed vireo, house sparrow, common grackle, northern cardinal, house finch, American goldfinch, white-throated sparrow, song sparrow.


Northern shovelers

I think today was the first day I saw Norther shovelers. That is, I may have seen them before but didn’t know what these ducks were. There are plenty of them in Grenadier Pond in the fall. They gather in groups to feed in the pond. Their bills seem oversized compared to the other ducks around. We also saw some beautiful wood ducks.

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male wood duck

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female wood duck

There are still quite a few asters of various varieties in bloom in the park. Here are some Sky blue asters.

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Sky blue aster

In case you were wondering why butterfly bush got its name…..

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butterfly bush with monarch

A note on poison ivy. This plant does not always look the same. Sometimes the leaves are somewhat toothed, other times not. This time of year, much of the poison ivy growing in the shade has turned yellow. In sunny areas though, much of it has turned red. It grows to various heights and the leaves can be small or quite large. It always has 3 leaves, hence the saying: leaflets three, quickly flee. In all cases, avoid touching the stuff and if you do happen to touch it, avoid scratching and wash the exposed skin as soon as possible.

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Poison ivy

This time of year, the sassafras in the park, and there is a lot of it, is turning yellow and orange and it is striking and beautiful.




Here’s a selection of other plants we learned about on today’s nature walk.

By the way, these nature walks are facilitated by the Toronto District School Board and led by a superb naturalist, Miles Hearn.



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