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A Blustery Morning at Ashbridges Bay

Female Red-breasted Merganser unphased by the size of the waves

I met up with naturalist Miles Hearn’s Monday morning group for a walk at Ashbridges Bay. This location is east of downtown Toronto – the entrance to the park is from Lake Shore at Coxwell. It was sunny this morning, but chilly, with gusty winds.

Ring-billed Gulls
Female Long-tailed duck

There were quite a few winter ducks around. In particular there were many female long-tailed ducks, an occasional male, as well as some buffleheads, mergansers and gadwalls.

Russian Olive
Jackpine cones
Not all sailboats have been removed for the winter – some are wrapped for cold-weather use
Sea Buckthorn

There are several examples of Sea Buckthorn at Ashbridges Bay. These berries are edible. I tasted a few. They are tart and citrus-like but not unpleasant. They would be good in baking or made into a condiment similar to what you might do with cranberries. There are plenty of recipes on the internet.

Sea Buckthorn
Sea Buckthorn

Don’t confuse Sea Buckthorn with Buckthorn, which has black berries. Whatever you do, avoid consuming Buckthorn berries. The Latin name for Buckthorn is Rhamnus cathartica, and eating those black Buckthorn berries would be a cathartic experience indeed.

Lake Ontario was showing off its power this morning.

We have one more walk in this session – next week at Marie Curtis Park and the Arsenal Lands. For braver souls, there is also an upcoming winter session. I’ve done the winter walks in the past and really enjoyed them, but these days – since I ripped my quad tendon off my knee cap after slipping on ice a couple years back, I’ve been doing my best to avoid slipping opportunities. I’ll sign up again for the spring walks, which are spectacular for all the migrating songbirds.

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