Most days after work I wander to one of Toronto’s waterfront areas: the Scarborough Bluffs, Ashbridges Bay, the Beaches or the Leslie Street Spit. When friends and co-workers ask me ‘why?’, the answer is simple: I want a breath of fresh air and to be surrounded by nature. My almost-daily park visits allow me to see what is new in the parks, get a little bit of exercise, and enjoy the wonderful bonus of all the birds and wildlife.
At the beach in the winter I love watching the waves when there is a thin layer of ice on the water. I especially enjoy viewing the ducks, gulls and geese trying, and often comically failing, to gracefully walk on this ice. The peaceful soundtrack to this show is provided by the various sounds of the park around me: the wind in the trees, the songs of birds returning early for the spring, and the occasional honk from a goose that’s lost his footing on the ice and wants everyone around to know how unhappy he is about it.
On a recent Monday I went down to Bluffers Park after work. The sun was still shinning, there was a cool breeze, and plenty of wildlife to see. I spied trumpeter swans, mute swans, mallard, black, and bufflehead ducks, and plenty of Canada geese. I also found a new friend sitting among the rocks. As I sat on the dock enjoying the birds, I noticed a little face looking up at me. I was excited to realize it was a mink, and quickly started taking photos. According to some polite strangers at the dock, it turns out he has been around for quite some time. As we watched, the mink ventured out of the rocks to get some food left behind by ducks. He did not seem afraid of people, but kept a constant eye on us. Such a wonderful and unexpected sighting!
The mink (Mustela Vison) is a member of the weasel family. They are avid hunters skilled at catching frogs, fish, crayfish and even small mammals. They are dark brown to black with a white patch under the chin, belly and chest. In the photo below the white patch on the chin is quite clear. The mink’s size ranges from 45 to 60cm in length, and three-quarters to 1.5kg in weight. They aren’t big, so you’ll have to keep a watchful eye if you want to see one. A little-known, but I think interesting, fact about the mink is that they are known for their foul smell. When threatened they can release a skunk-like odour, so don’t get too close!
Where can you find them? Anywhere there is water, rocks and fish, and in Toronto you might spot them at Bluffers Park, Ashbridges Bay Park or Leslie Street Spit. Check the city’s website for directions to Bluffers Park at toronto.ca/parks/featured-parks/ bluffers-park/.
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Thank You again Ann for another interesting article.
I have followed your nature columns for some time,our nature companions are lucky to have you on the wild side.
Recently I was walking near North York General Hospital in Willowdale in the evening & due to thermal conditions spotted some Migrating Ospreys Aloft! I was inspired to write the following Poem, which I would like to share with You & Your BMN Readers.
19 Singer Court,
Wild Friends Dropping By;
Soaring Gliding in the dying sunlight as the day fades away
Riding Thermals way up high
Before roosting for the evening
A squad of Wild Side Aerialists Gliding By
Flying Over Hog Town as Spring calls.
Venturing towards Aireys in Far Northern Ontario
Sharing Aerial Acrobatics with young and old alike below on terra firma
Migrating over millenia aerial trails pulsating to renew the web of life once again
Readying Outdoor Condo Style Nests for nestlings 1 ,2 or more
Mystery Fish beware!
You may become lunch on the morrow!!
Thank you Osprey friends for delighting me at eventide,
Long may you glide upon updraft winds way up overhead!
p.s. let me know Ann, whenever you receive this. Happy outdoor trails,Thanks! LM
Thank you for the beautiful peom. I love it.
The poem is perfect timing as this weekend I went for a drive to see if the ospreys had arrived. YES they are here. Between Rice Lake, Barrie, Innisfil, Keswick I saw a total of 31 ospreys. All of them were hanging around their nests – looked like they had been there a few days. I understand that they are just starting to arrive in North Eastern Ontario.
Again thank you Lou.
I saw two mink on the Leslie St Spit today! One ran along the road bravely, the other one ducked back into the brush– SO shiny and pretty!