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The Marsh Boardwalk at Presqu’ile

The last time I was at Presqu’ile Park it was a flood year and the Marsh Boardwalk, a kilometre long boardwalk and trail loop that winds its way through the extensive marsh and then back through a sandbar woods. It is a fantastically beautiful walk. I took a number of pictures, imagining a little suite of black and whites.

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Owl Theory, Tattoos and Meatloaf

The new episode of The Agency Podcast is up. Listen right here or find it in all the good places.

Everyone seems to be watching The Staircase and so are we. Are you enjoying it?

Also on this episode:
The Comfort Food Diner
East End Toronto
The Don
Owl Theory
The Staircase

If you have a wolf or rocket tattoo….we apologize in advance.

Email us to share your meatloaf recipe or coax Eugene into getting a tattoo.

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This morning, while drinking my morning coffee, I glimpsed an unusual bird in our big old apple tree out back. What I initially saw was a back view of a black bird with some white bits. It was around the same size or perhaps just a little smaller than the red-winged blackbirds also on the tree.

The bird flew away, and returned a moment later. This time I could clearly see the bright red breast and broad beak of the male Rose-breasted Grosbeak. I’ve seen these birds many times in our area but this was a first for our feeder.

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Nature Walk at Crothers Woods

My City from the Don Valley

Early this morning, I drove down a steep street called Beechwood in the Don Valley, past the place where they train police dogs, and parked at the bottom. I was meeting up with naturalist Miles Hearn and his crew of Saturday morning nature walkers.

For readers not from here, Toronto is a city which was built between two rivers, the Humber on the west side and the Don on the East, along the shores of Lake Ontario. If you are ever visiting Toronto during the nice weather months, I suggest renting a bike for day. You might start quite a way up on the Don, such as at Beechwood where we walked today. You could bicycle all the way down along the river to the Waterfront Trail and along Lake Ontario all the way to Port Credit and beyond. It is a fantastic way to see a different side of Toronto. You might like it so much you will want to take a bike out of the Toronto Islands and enjoy riding around there, or perhaps start along the Humber by Lambton Woods and cycle all the way down. For a big bustling city, we have plenty of natural areas and places to walk or cycle.

Main branch of the Don River

This section of the Don Valley was home to paper mills for 130 years until they finally closed shop in the 80s. The City demolished the old Domtar buildings and did a significant clean-up in an effort to renaturalize the area. Across the river is a woods known as Crothers Woods after the family that owned a company selling heavy equipment, headquartered at the top of the hill. My late father-in-law, George Gregory, worked at Crothers for many years. He had quite a success story with the company, starting at the bottom and working his way up to a VP role with the company. Crothers is now Toromont and now there is a Loblaws grocery story near where the Crothers building was.

Trout Lily
Rail bridge over the Don River

Since the paper mill days, this area has been transformed into parkland with many forest trails, and an area called Cottonwood flats, which contains a fenced off area to protect nesting birds. The Toronto Field Naturalists do plant and bird surveys in this area.

Poison Ivy

There is plenty of poison ivy (as well as loads of stinging nettle) through here so I would not recommend leaving the trail if you are in sandels and shorts. Poison ivy is a curious plant. Sometimes it is green, sometimes red, sometimes shiny, sometimes with leaves with jagged edges. Sometimes it grows low to the ground and at other times it can be a vigorous bush. Be wary if you see a plant that has sets of 3 leaves hanging down. “If you see 3 you’d better flee”. I think the proverb goes something like that, and “if the berries are white, better take flight”.

May Apple

May Apple grow knee-height. When there are 2 branches at the top, the plant produces a bud, or “apple”, which of course is not an apple at all. I’ve been told that black morels often fruit under May Apple. I’ve looked numerous times, though, and I can’t say I’ve found any there.

Pond near the Don River

There are a few ponds near the river. Logs strewn along the shore of the ponds are good habitat for a common flycatcher called an Eastern Phoebe.

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Pheobe

There were many yellow warblers around this morning. We could hear their calls on either side of the trail. Sweet-sweet….cherry cherry sweet. Each time, though, I would just catch a glimpse of one of them and didn’t get a chance at a good photo. Some days are like that.

Baltimore Oriole

This area is a good place to see Baltimore Orioles and also Orchard Orioles.

Manitoba Maple in flower

There are lots of Manitoba Maples along the river. They are quite pretty now in full flower. Manitoba Maples are also known as Box Elders. One of their most common characteristics is a tendency to grow in all directions. It’s quite common to see a large trunk growing almost parallel to the ground. In late summer, Manitoba Maples in our area are often a host for a good edible mushroom, the Hypsizygus ulmarius. This mushroom is known in some areas as the Elm Oyster, but I have never seen one growing on an elm tree. They like the soft maples best. These are very tasty mushrooms, by the way. They have a firmer texture than the super-tender Aspen Oysters (Pleurotus populinus), which we see way earlier in the season, at the beginning of June.

European Pussy Willow
American Robin

Both the Trout Lilies and the Trillium are in bloom now.


Teasel seed pods
Tree Swallow
Northern Cardinal

The Crothers Woods area of the Don Valley is a popular spot for nature hikers, bicyclists, including mountain bikers, dog walkers and runners. When I was a boy, my dad told me the Don was a very polluted river, and I can imagine with 130 years of paper mills, it was. I’m really happy to see it evolve into a place where people go to enjoy recreation in nature.

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Behavior Modification

This week:

Birds and Cars
Fatima to Graceland
Atlas of the Heart
Sweet Bitter
Arm of Gold
We Own this City

Listen to the new episode right here or find it at all the best podcast places. Email the agents anytime.

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Walking in Circles: Treading Water

Bruce Parsons blowing one of his shell-horns

Today we went to see Walking in Circles: Treading Water – Bruce Parsons/Art Projects 1971 – 2022. The show runs through May 7 at the Neilson Park Creative Centre in Etobicoke (at the western edge of the amalgamated Toronto). If you’ve never been to this unusual artspace tucked away in a residential neighbourhood, I recommend you check it out. Bruce Parsons latest exhibition in this space is excellent, well worth the trip west for those of you who usually consume your art downtown.

Bruce’s exhibition features recent work on the ground surrounded by what amounts to a mini-retrospective of his painting – plus an outdoor labyrinthian work.

I admire Bruce’s work because he has a strong personal vision and a wonderful ability to make work which can be at the same time serious and whimsical, and work which pulls me right into his world. It is very inspirational to me as a painter. There is so much going on in this work.

Bruce has enjoyed a long career. On the walls, you will discover a wonderful variety of work going back decades. I would love to see some of the large new floorpieces in one of our big art institutions like the National for people to enjoy for decades to come.

We went to the Arts Centre to see Bruce Parsons work, and that’s what I’m writing about here, but if you go, don’t neglect the fab exhibition of work by John Parsons (yes he’s Bruce’s brother) in the Park View Gallery.

The Neilson Park Creative Centre is located at 56 Neilson Drive, Etobicoke.

Filed under: Art
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An explosion of spring at Marie Curtis Park

Mouth of Etobicoke Creek

I met up with Miles Hearn’s Saturday morning nature walk group this morning at 8:00 at the east parking lot at Marie Curtis Park. What a perfect morning to wander about Marie Curtis park proper and the Arsenal Lands.

Mute Swan

There were many birds singing this morning both in the woods and the around the fields. It turned out to be a fabulous outing. Here are some of the plants and birds I photographed along the way.

Male Red-winged Blackbird
3 Hairy Woodpeckers in a tree
Hairy woodpecker in flight
Poison Ivy berries – better not touch
Yellow Warbler

The yellow warbler along with the pine warbler, nest in Southern Ontario. The others are just passing through.

Yellow Warbler
Hairy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker
Tree Swallows
Tree Swallows

Female Red-winged Blackbird
The old water tower – does Lloyd have a small penis?
Virginia Waterleaf
Trout Lily

May Apple
Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Ohio Buckeye – native in spite of its name
Sound Baffle in the Arsenal Lands

I’ve photographed the sound baffles in the Arsenal Lands countless times. Back in WWII there was a machine gun factory on this site. They tested the guns out back of the building, which made lots of noise, so they built wooden sound baffles to mute the noise some.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Find the Song Sparrow

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Adrenaline Shot

We’re back on our usual schedule, and I’m back in front of the microphone, co-hosting with the fabulous Candy Minx. I have to up my game now after hearing the excellent job Special Agent Sarah did helping out with the last episode!

Listen right here or find the episode at all the good places. For the omnivores out there, we’re looking for the best meatloaf recipes. Send us yours and tell us why it’s so yummy. If you’re a vegetarian, tell us about your fave plant-based comfort food recipes. The agents love their comfort food!

Early in the episode, I mentioned the phrase Death Don’t Have no Mercy in this Land, and associated it with the late Rev. Gary Davis. Death never takes a vacation in this land. He comes to the house and he don’t stay long. Look in the bed, find your brother gone. Here is the Reverend:

Thank you for joining us. Let us know if you have any requests for topics, guests, segments or anything really.

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Dream Hijackers

The latest episode of The Agency Podcast is now available. Listen right here or find it at all the good podcast places. Some listeners will especially enjoy this episode because they won’t have to listen to me. The wheel has been in spin in my world this week and I haven’t been able to participate in the podcast. The truth is I haven’t even had a chance to listen to the episode yet, but I know it will be fab.

This week Candy co-hosts with The Agency’s special correspondent Sarah Elliot. They talk about the uptick in documentaries about con artists, especially men, who prey on women – very successful women.

Candy also hangs out at The Peppermill in Las Vegas with stand up comic Kristeen Von Hagen. Kristeen is a long time colleague of Candy and she works with the troupe PUPPETRY OF THE PENIS.

Thank you for listening! If you like what you hear please tell your friends.

We would love to hear from you. Email the agents anytime.