It’s been a couple of months since we’ve seen our local muscovy duck in East Dodgeville, but he returned this week with a new companion. Emboldened by numbers, they proceeded to chase me around the yard:
The muscovy posse is gonna run you down.
They’re more or less fearless of people and given the way that they ran after me, they obviously thought that some tasty food was going to pop out of my camera. If I needed evidence that they’re farm escapees, that would be it. They settled for munching on a patch of garden instead.
They’re both about the same size so I can’t tell if they’re a male/female pair or just a couple of dudes out for an adventure. Either way, I’m pretty sure that the one on the right in the pictures is the same one that first visited us in the spring. I’m glad that he has a fellow fugitive to hang out with now. With luck, instinct will kick in soon and they’ll start heading south.
Best be careful, looking so plump this close to Thanksgiving.
At only about 180 metres of elevation, the peak of the hill at the former Beare Road Landfill isn’t even close to being the highest point in Toronto (that honour goes to the intersection of Keele & Steeles at 209 metres), but it is one of very few places in the city that offers an uninterrupted 360° panorama of the surroundings. The peak is in the far northeastern corner of the city but it’s not at all hard to get to: a few minutes’ walk from the Toronto Zoo parking lot or a few minutes’ bike ride from the end of the Gatineau hydro corridor trail will get you to the base with energy to spare for the quick climb up.
There’s an easier way to the top than the trail below, but I made it about halfway up this path before running out of steam and dismounting to carry my bike up the rest of the way:
This coyote was reading a big sign about habitat restoration in Rouge Park:
It was too hazy to see the 27 km-distant CN Tower (it would be on the horizon somewhere to the left of the road in the top picture), but the Pickering nuclear plant and wind turbine are just 7.5 km to the southeast and visible as the lumps on the horizon near the right side of this picture:
Here’s something you don’t see on your southern Ontario lawn every day: a muscovy duck. Wild muscovies are normally found in Central and South America but they’re domesticated throughout North America. The muscovy is bigger than the Canada geese that normally hang around East Dodgeville at this time of year. It appeared to be a solitary male with no mate in sight so my money is on it being an escapee from a nearby farm. The muscovy wandered around the lawn for a few minutes, coming up to within 20 feet of the house before waddling back down to the lake and paddling over to a couple of Canada goose families who were swimming nearby. They didn’t much appreciate his efforts to socialize and chased him away.
Given that they neither dive nor swim, I don’t normally think of crows as birds that catch fish. Yet as the lake ice was breaking up last week, there were three crows eating two relatively large fish that they’d caught from somewhere. I didn’t see them actually catch any of the fish and they looked a little large to fly with, so my best guess is that they were scavenging fish that had been dropped by other birds. There’s also a possibility that they’d stolen the fish away from a flock of seagulls that were at the edge of the open water farther out in the lake.
Although this was most likely just a case of opportunism, there is actually some evidence of crows catching fish on their own. Here’s a pretty straightforward video of a crow catching a fish in water shallow enough for it to stand in:
And here’s a video (with explanation) that seems to show a crow fishing in an artificial pond by using bread as bait:
Last seen in their native habitat in Y2K, the Toronto Moose continue to pop up in all kinds of unexpected places. This one guards the tiki huts, (fake) palm trees, and teak carvings of…Port Hope? Standing guard at the entrance to Primitive Designs in Port Hope, this moose migrated here by way of Pickering, where it resided for a number of years before being bought earlier this year by Primitive Designs owner Ron Dacey. Unfortunately, I can’t tell which moose this was; I can’t find a matching mug shot in the City of Toronto’s mooseum gallery. Either it’s one of the missing portraits or (more likely) it’s been repainted since leaving the big city.
Ron wasn’t around when I popped by for a visit this week, but staff were split 2-1 on whether the moose was even for sale, never mind the asking price. Majority opinion was that Ron likes it too much to sell it just yet. But everything has a price, especially in retail.
Related: A number of Toronto Moose still dot the city. I’ve written about two of them.
I frequently encounter joggers, walkers, cyclists, workers, rabbits, squirrels, and birds on my near-daily rides and walks through Mount Pleasant Cemetery, but this is the first time I’ve seen a deer. He was right near the Bayview entrance munching on some floral tributes before crossing the path to see what tasty treats await on the other side. I encounter deer often enough in the Don Valley that I’m not really surprised to see them in the city, but they usually bolt as soon as they see or hear you. This one walked almost straight toward me to get to the path—I moved twice to keep my distance—and didn’t seem fazed by any of the other people who passed no more than 15 metres away.
Also, I’m going to start carrying a real camera with me again; this phone camera just doesn’t cut it.
If you sign up for them, the TTC sends out service alerts as text messages or emails. They’re usually pretty humdrum: a bus diversion here, a subway alarm there. But one of this morning’s alerts was a little different:
A family of ducks on the SRT tracks has caused the TTC to hold service on the line temporarily while we humanely work to relocate them.
(Sent at 8:07 a.m.)
And then a little while later:
ALL CLEAR: The family of ducks have been safely relocated and regular service has resumed on the SRT Line
It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years since Toronto was overrun by Moose in the City. Why, I remember it like it was ten years ago…
There are still a few moose dotting the city in various states of disrepair, but you can almost see the sadness in this one’s eyes as he gazes back on his glory days as a tourist attraction from his current position as a Halloween prop near the corner of Bayview and Moore. Hang in there, buddy; Halloween’s here in a week and I’m sure you won’t have to wear any silly Christmas costumes afterward. Besides, this getup is much more dignified than the one Google Street View caught you in. They didn’t even have the courtesy to blur your face.
There seems to be a rather ambitious beaver at work in the Don Valley.
He still has some work to do before toppling this 30-footer at the forks of the Don, but he’s getting there.
I’m reminded of the fossilized giant beaver tooth found at the Brickworks. Whether this modern beaver eventually succeeds or not, I’m pretty sure this tree has seen its last leaf. I wonder if Parks and the TRCA would allow a beaver to dam up the West Don at the forks. Probably not, but it would be something to see.
(The tree is visible from the park bridge that runs under Don Mills Road near the entrance to Taylor Creek Park. From anywhere on the bridge, look across the river toward the forks. You could also approach the tree directly from the eastern end of the Crothers’ Woods trail in the Flats.)