Lambton Woods is one of my favourite places to walk. There are trails both through the woods and along the Humber River. It’s a great place to observe plant life, birds, and mushrooms, right in the GTA.
Access to Lambton Woods is from a parking lot on Edenbridge, between Scarlett Rd and Royal York Rd. At the same spot you can also find James Gardens, quite lovely in season.
There is a duck pond beside the parking lot, which remains at least partially open all year. It’s the home of many mallards. Occasionally you can also see a black duck in the pond, or a bib duck, the mallard/black duck cross. Today I just observed mallards and lots of them.
Walking into the woods, I saw some starlings high in the trees, and in the smaller trees around me, and on the ground near some running water, many robins.
In season, I’ve observed quite a variety of mushrooms in the woods here. Now in winter, the only mushrooms I saw were some birch polypores.
Along the trail through the woods, you might see a bird feeder, and also bird feed along a wooden fence rail near the river, as well as some suet slathered into cavities in trees. This food attracts a lot of birds to the area.
For the first time I saw the person who provides the feed for the birds. He carries a big bag of supplies and as he walks around, he replenishes the feeding areas. I spoke to him today. He told me he’s been feeding the birds in this place for 40 years. This fellow is very knowledgeable, not so much in a technical sense, but in an observational sense. He knows the behaviour of the birds and the animals very well. Come at dusk, he told me, if you want to have a chance at seeing the deer – sometimes they leave shit near the feeders. And, the sandbar in the river there has been growing every year. One year it will split the river in two. I see a gull that says all winter there. And last week, I saw a great blue heron that hasn’t gone south.
I usually see the dark-eyed juncos feeding on the ground, but here they seem happy to feed off the fence rail. When people come to close they fly off, but not too far. Stand quietly off to the side for a while and they’ll be back.
I was standing beside the trail, photographing a mourning dove who was settled down on a tree branch, when a young teen came by with his parents. What are you doing? Are you delivering mail? What a curious thing to say, even more so when you consider I worked for Canada Post for 30 years.
There were several downy woodpeckers around, enjoying the suet. I think these are our most common woodpecker. They’re quite small, perhaps 15 cm or about 6 inches.
The hairy woodpeckers look similar to the downys, but they are much larger, about 23 cm or 9 inches tip to tail. I saw one hairy today. This bird was quite used to humans being around and stayed in the same spot for about 5 minutes as I watched and several people on foot and bicycles passed by.
I’d say this hairy woodpecker was the bird highlight of my walk. I also saw quite a few chickadees, birds which normally have little fear of humans – but today they were staying quite high in the trees. I heard some cardinals, but didn’t see them, though I know they weren’t far away.
Lambton Woods is a perfect spot for a 2 or 3 hour hike. I usually turn around at the rail bridge and make a loop back to the parking lot, but if you like, you can cross the bridge and continue downstream for miles.