Today, Sunday March 21, 2010... we went birding to a location that is very new to us but is one of the oldest spots in Toronto. It is called "The Brickworks". I am just learning about the property now but I do remember it vividly from my days as a kid in the '70s and passing it often to and from my Grandparents' home in Riverdale or Cabbagetown (depending who you talk to of the area). It was a very large dusty site full of such old buildings and so much machinery, trucks, etc.
The Brickworks was a brick making factory. It first opened in 1889. The factory closed back in 1984 but those buildings still stand today. It is located at 550 Bayview Ave.
Now, as you look at the photo below, you would not think this would be much of anything. Old crumbling buildings... "woo hoo!" says the history buff. Behind those buildings is 16 hectares of land containing forests, trails, marshlands and a number of small ponds.
The main reason we went to The Brickworks is for this bird pictured below. I borrowed the shot from Google images as my shots were nowhere near as good, clear or close. This is a Belted Kingfisher. It kinda looks like a cross between a Blue Jay and a Woodpecker. We had heard about this location and some of these birds on a Toronto Birding message board we learned about from a friendly blog reader who we hope to meet up with this Spring... her name is Jo-Anne... everyone say "Hi Jo-Anne!"
Anyways, here is a couple shots of one of the Kingfishers we saw. Apparently this is the female... ID'd by the brown streaks on her chest. We watched her fly about the grounds, dive into the ponds for food, sit here and there around the ponds, chatter away and then zip off to the cliffs at the back of the area where it seemed her and the male were going into some holes (nest?) on the cliff. This bird is very new to me, as is the area, so there is much to learn.
Not sure which shot is the better. If you click on the image, it will enlarge for a better but grainy view. The cloudy skies and snow flurries didn't help the photos nor the 200 ft between us... good thing for binoculars!
We saw/heard quite a few other species of birds including Northern Cardinals, Black-Capped Chickadees, White Breasted Nuthatches, Blue Jays, Song Sparrows, American Gold Finches, Mallard Ducks, Common Grackles and lots of these guys pictured below, the Red Winged Blackbird. I wanted to try and get shots of the males while bellowing out their Spring calls. I thought with puffed feathers, mouth and wings open, it would look cool... better than a pose. I am happy with the few clear shots I got but I will try again on sunnier days wherever I see them.
Here is one of the half dozen or so ponds at the back of the grounds. You can see another Red Wing in the tree and the cliffs in the distance where the Kingfishers might actually nest.
Here is the back of the buildings, another pond to the left. A lot of money is going to be spent on the restoration of these buildings. I will post a link at the end of this blog for you to check out more on the restructuring of The Brickworks. It's all very exciting. Apparently they have a farmers' market here in the summer months!
This is the first pond you'd see upon entering the grounds.
This sign is posted for all to see right before entering the grounds... unfortunately very few dog owners follow the by-law. I've thought about blogging about why dogs should be on leash, and probably will at some point, but it you read the smaller print, you'll get the jist of the importance to control dogs out and about.
There is a leash free zone at The Brickworks. We only saw one woman and her dog in this area. The sign below I saw just before we went back to the car. This sign made me very sad. I just cannot go there in my head, thinking how people can do this... just go to parks and woods and toss their pets out, to fend for themselves and think nothing of it.
So, The Brickworks is full of history and it's full of nature. It holds a very promising *Green* future for all the city. Please copy/paste the link below to learn more about it and if you ever are feeling adventurous... go visit!