We’re passionate about birds and nature. That’s why we opened a Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in our community.
5468 Dundas Street West
Toronto (Etobicoke), ON M9B 6E3
Phone: (416) 233-3558
Fax: (416) 233-3293
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Mon - Fri: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sun: 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Lynda and I have often visited High Park in the spring to check out the duck pond to take pictures of the wood ducks. In the past we have heard the reports and seen the posted pictures of a Pileated Woodpecker in the park, we haven’t had the good fortune of this sighting ourselves. We weren’t planning an article on High Park for this column but an enticing opportunity presented itself at the beginning of January.
First a little history. In 2010 we sponsored some very successful photography and birding hikes with one of Toronto’s premier photographers, Max Skwarna (http://www.maxskwarna.com/). A number of customers participated in these hikes and found them enjoyable and informative. Max is a great teacher. Many of you have commented on how much you like the framed bird prints behind our counter and others have purchased the matted prints we sell, these are examples of Max’s work.
Max called us at the start of January very excited about a couple of locations he had found in High Park for bird photography. His enthusiasm was contagious and we thought, "Wow, we need to check this out". We now had a great opportunity to do some further exploration of High Park for bird watching and nature photography accompanied by a renowned Toronto photographer.
We met Max on a clear weekday morning at around 9:00 am in the Grenadier Restaurant parking lot. We thought we were walking from there, but this was just the meeting place and from there we drove to the location. We then drove down to the parking lot which is adjacent to the zoo.
If you are not familiar with High Park, this is how I would get to the zoo parking lot. Enter High Park from the Bloor Street entrance which is east of Runnymede and west of Keele/Parkside and located on the south side of Bloor. You follow this main road until it ends. Now you will turn left and the Grenadier Restaurant is on your left side but you are going to take the first road on your right and follow this road all the way until it curves to the right, this takes you into the zoo parking lot where you will park.
About half way down the parking lot from the zoo, on the same side as the zoo, there is a path (two garbage cans are at the entrance) that leads into a small wooded area and to the left of this area is a clearing with picnic tables. In this small wooded area the birding activity was excellent. There were cardinals, chickadees, downy and hairy woodpeckers, juncos, goldfinch, red and white breasted nuthtaches and a red-tailed hawk. The beauty of this location is the number of birds, their comfort with having people around them (making them excellent photographic subjects) and the excellent natural backgrounds for great photos. We also saw a local mink running along the frozen creek.
To encourage the birds into good photographic locations, we placed bird seed on logs, stumps, in tree crevices and then let the birds fly in to enjoy. And they sure did and we really had a lot of fun photographing these birds.
Max then took us to the second location which is located a short walk north and east. It is at the edge of the leash free dog park and at one time was the location used in the park for bird banding. Using the same method, we placed seed in strategic locations to entice the birds into good photographic settings. And again the birds were very cooperative.
If you enjoy the opportunity to photograph birds in a natural setting, these are two great locations. In fact a week later, we took a group of six camera carrying nature lovers to photograph the birds in this setting. Max provided excellent tips on camera settings, lighting and composition. We all had a lot of fun and learned a little more about photographing wildlife. You can view some photos at www.maxskwarna.com/, click on Portfolio and then WildBirds Jan. 9, 2011. Or go to our website at http://toronto.wbu.com/ to view some additional photos.
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