Tommy Thompson Park will always be known as the Leslie Street Spit to me.
The Spit is the old name but as a teen who watched copious amounts of MuchMusic ( aka Canada's MTV ), I remember seeing videos of the Leslie Street Spit Trio almost daily ( Yay Canadian Content !!! ).
When I actually visited "The Spit" for the first time, I was blown away by the life of the place. Terns and ducks and passerines and coyotes ( ! ) and nesting night-herons and gulls and cormorants. All on a base of construction site fill. Even today, the park only operates on weekends. During the week, dump trucks haul waste material out to the tips of remote penninsulas and essentially grow the park bit by bit. Tommy Thompson Park is probably as good an example of ecological succession that exists on this planet. It is also one of my favourite birding sites; the site of my first Snowy Owl, Long-Tailed Duck and others. Unfortunately, it is NOT very kid-friendly; the walk to get into the park is long and their is precious little in the way of facilities. So when I brought my children to the Spring Birding Festival on Saturday, I braced myself...this could get ugly.
However, it was great. Well, actually the weather was a downer but our morning was mainly fog, not rain. The Toronto Region Conservation Authority had shuttles dropping people off at several sites around the park. There were vendors at the park entrance and lots of kid-friendly activities.
- Watching THE DAUGHTER build a nesting box that would be used in the park
- Taking a pleasant guided bird walk
- Getting a card with a free birdseed coupon from the Urban Nature Store ( Received on Saturday; Redeemed on Sunday )
- Watching a palm warbler get banded and released
- Coming away with free swag from the Conservation Authority
- THE DAUGHTER rolled a seed ball of native wildflowers that we got to take home and plant in the garden
- Picking up a few prairie smoke plants for my natural garden
- Seeing birds ! No lifers but a solid assortment of warblers and vireos ( MAGNOLIA, TENNESSEE, NASHVILLE, NORTHERN PARULA, AMERICAN REDSTART, WARBLING VIREO ), COMMON TERN, LINCOLN'S, WHITE-THROATED and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS plus nice looks at NORTHERN ORIOLES. And only one meltdown, to boot !
In honesty, the day was a re-introduction to one of my favourite natural places in the city. I believe it had been about five years since I visited "The Spit" ( March 2006 ? ), before the first child. I always intended to visit "The Spit" but it is daunting for a parent; even someone who is used to taking kids into settings beyond the playground.
I only saw a small portion of the park on this visit. The park was a bit different; Some areas that were only mud on my last visit, were covered with vegetation. I am tempted to go back and explore some more. I want to bring the kids back to show them the ducks in the fall or the nesting night-herons, maybe even the cormorant nesting grounds. Tommy Thompson Park suddenly seems less intimidating to me. The staff and volunteers deserve a lot of credit for making the atmosphere of the festival friendly, inviting and warm ( even on a less than ideal day ). There were a lot of families with small children enjoying themselves. So now, I can't wait to go back...to the festival next year and to "The Spit" hopefully well before that !
Things I am Thinking About Right Now...
- 1. Finally Updated; A busy ( and not-so-birdy fall ) fall
- 2. A smew in Ontario ??? And I got to see it !
- 3. Thinking about summer vacation...
- 4. And Sping trips too !
- 5. Quite a few Winter rarities around. May try to add a few more to the list
- 6. Still no snow on the ground...
- 7. Project FeederWatch is going strong. Two eports submitted...
- 8. I think I have convinced my wife to visit Cape May next summer !
- 9. The Elephant Pepper Development Trust ( Check out their site ! )
- 10. Tying to decide how to spend my remaining gift certificates !