Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Canada & New York Part 1

Date: 23rd January - 31st January 2019
Toronto, Niagara Falls, Montreal, Quebec City, New York City
Mixed but at its Coldest -37c
Species Highlights: 
Bald Eagle, Long Tailed Duck, Red Tailed Hawk, Tufted Titmouse, Northern Saw Whet Owl, Evening Grosbeak, Common Grackle, Mandarin Duck, Black Capped Chickadee, Northern Flicker


As we've done previous years for Lauren's birthday, we headed over to the States but this time taking in Canada, starting on the 23/01 with Toronto at a barmy 1c, a wind chill of -5c with rain this would change dramatically. Most of first day was travelling so after a sleep we headed out to explore Toronto. With views of the CN Tower from every angle.

We had planned on catching the ferry over to Toronto Islands and maybe seeing a few birds along the way, as we were waiting at the ferry port Lauren spotted our first top bird of the trip, a distant Bald Eagle feeding on the Ice. We had great views through binoculars and hoped to improve our record shots.

A short ferry ride breaking ice as we went and then arrived at Ward's Island, surrounded by Long Tailed Duck.

Around 100+ birds surrounding the islands.

Giving super close views.

Once we had got off ferry we walked across the Island towards open water and were surprised to see yet more Long Tailed Duck, Lesser Scaup, Buffleheads, Mute Swan, Goldeneye and our next top bird White Winged Scoter. Again a bit distant but another great looking bird.

Goldeneye & Lesser Scaup.

Along with Red Breasted Mergansers also we saw a American Mink hunting in the freezing waters.

Think this was his Den as he disappeared under the frozen rocks.

We walked around the island but there were few little birds to see so we did a few landscapes looking back to Toronto.
The small plane was flying into Billy Bishop airport, we'd be flying out from there on the 26th.

Heavy overcast skies made landscapes a challenge.

On the walk back to Ferry Port with small lens on, 2 Bald Eagles sored overhead and then disappeared, this is our best effort.

A single Black Duck arrived with a Quack.

But still the Long Tailed Duck outnumbered everything else.

With the ferry inbound the temperature seems to be dropping and my hands and face were frosting up.

I tried many shots to get a Long Tailed Duck and CN Tower in shot but a Goldeneye was all I could manage.

By pure fluke, I also sneaked past Lauren in our trip totals with a very distant shot of a Trumpeter swan, was very surprised as this was only Trumpeter we saw on the whole trip.

Once on Toronto mainland we walked along the waterfront keeping our eye peeled and spotted this Glaucous Gull scrapping with Ring Billed Gulls.

After a good but nippy day we headed back to hotel. After tea we walked the 2.5 miles through ice covered paths to Polson Pier for some night shots, the journey took forever and was freezing!!

A stunning view point but corr blimey it was cold.

The next morning we had a 80 mile bus tour planned to Niagara Falls, we had never been in the winter so we were looking forward to it.

The highlight for me and Lauren was Dufferin Island, another bus ride around 1.5 miles from the Falls but always worth the effort as its a real bird hotspot, even if the temperature was now -8 with a much lower wind chill and at least a foot of snow. Buses running and footpaths had all been cleared it was no problem getting around.
On entering the reserve we were surrounded by Northern Cardinal, Black Capped Chickadee, Downy Woodpeckers & Blue Jays.

Most of these images are not at 400mm birds are very friendly almost landing on the end of our lens!

White Breasted Nuthatch

Red Bellied Woodpecker.

On the whole trip Lauren had Black Capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, House Sparrow, White Throated Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Grey Squirrel, Black Squirrel.

We re-joined my wife and other daughter back at the the falls who'd be patiently waiting in Tim Hortons, best shop in Canada! 

After a Cheese Melt and Donuts we headed off to explore Niagara Falls.

The view from the Funicular Railway looking into Horseshoe Waterfall.

Full winter American Falls and Rainbow Bridge. (-8c)

September 2017 (20c)

American Falls, Niagara Falls is the combined name of both waterfalls.

Not advisable to waste 50 cents on getting your face stuck!

After Tea at Hard Rock Cafe, and falling snow covering 21cm we took the bus back to Toronto.
Next  morning was our last morning in Toronto so no visit would be complete without a visit to the CN Tower.

CN originally referred to Canadian National, the railway company that built the tower. 
The CN Tower held the record for the world's tallest free-standing structure for 32 years until 2007 and was the world's tallest tower until 2009. It is now the ninth tallest free-standing structure in the world and remains the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere. Its has quite a good view!

The greater Toronto population is close to 6 million 

After the CN tower we were due to fly out from Billy Bishop airport, this is the view from the airport you may notice the sun is shining!

After a 320 mile, 1.5 hour flight we landed in a much colder Montreal at -12.
The following day we headed up to Mont Royal  233 m (764 ft) it overlooks the city and is a popular destination for tourist and locals.

The only birds we saw were Black Capped Chickadee and American Crow.

Freezing, long johns and 8 layers on too!

After overlooking the city we headed to The old town of Montreal and it snowed with 20 mins at least 6 inches of snow fell, but buses and people carried on.

After seeing nothing around the waterfront area bird wise we headed back up to Mont Royal for a night visit, looked a bit more colourful.

Hilton Garden Inn, our hotel.

The next morning more travelling, a 3 hour bus ride to Quebec City, a good way to see the countryside without the hassle of driving. 160 miles we stared through the coach windows very little bird life seen American Crow and Canada Goose, maybe -18c with a wind chill of -37c, yes -37c!! it was painful!

We caught a local bus to Montmorency Falls a waterfall in beautiful scenery.
The waterfall was unsurprisingly almost totally frozen.

Tiny dots at base are people, the waterfall stands at 84 m (276 ft) compared to Niagara 51m (167 ft).

So much snow but the stunning blue skies took your mind of the temperature -37....Not!

Orleans Island Bridge.

Bus ride back to Quebec City, Quebec is beautiful and a highlight of Canada for us very pleasant place to wander around with lots of history and Beaver Tails !!

If you ever get the chance you gotta try, Banana and Nutella on fried pastry, mmmm!

So we leave Canada and despite not a lot of bird life, its gotta be worth a visit when its warmer a truly lovely place.

After a 3 hour bus journey back to Montreal sleep then morning heavy snow a mad rush to Airport New York here we come.

One of the bird highlight from Canada.

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1 comment:

  1. I have been skiing near Quebec and then visited Toronto and Niagara Falls and have never been so cold in all my life. The thought of birdwatching there in winter gives me shivers now.


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