[Ontbirds]Toronto Islands - Eared Grebes and other stuff

Norman Murr normurr at sympatico.ca
Mon Apr 9 19:38:38 EDT 2007

Good evening.

 Today Margaret Liubavicius, Ed O'Conner and I decided to brave the near winter temperatures, snow flurries and cold wind to see if anything of interest was on The Islands and there was. We came up with 65 species for the day.

 In the morning on the lake off of Wards Island we found not one but two Eared Grebes with one of them being no more than 60 to 75 feet away from us for 20 minutes as it moved along with us. While watching this bird we found in the same area 17 Horned and 12 Red-necked Grebes as well as 2 Common Loons and a raft of White-winged Scoters. At one point an Eared and Horned Grebe kept company for great comparisons.

 Other birds of interest to some were 26 Waterfowl species including the above and 3 Pied-billed Grebes, Wood Ducks, Canvasbacks, 27 Ring-necked Ducks, 271 Bufflehead, American Wigeons, Redheads, both Scaup, and all 3 Mergansers. Great Blue and Black-crowned night-Herons and Belted Kingfishers.

 On the land bird front we found 8 Y-B Sapsuckers, 93 N. Flickers, Carolina Wren, 17 Winter Wrens, 5 Hermit Thrushes, 9 Sparrow species including 3 E. Towhees, Chipping, 4 Field, 24 Fox, 82 Song, White-throated, Swamp, and 126 Dark-eyed Juncos plus 19 N. Cardinals and Rusty Blackbirds

A good but cold day to be out there.


(Wards Island to Hanlans Point - without side trips is 5 km)

To get to the Toronto Islands from Queen and Yonge Streets on the TTC. If your on the subway southbound stay on it and get off at Union  Station, walk south about 1 km to the ferry docks at the foot of Bay Street at Queens Quay and you are there. If in an auto on the Gardener Expressway or on Lakeshore Blvd, then exit at Bay Street and drive south to Queens Quay, there are lots of parking lots nearby (fee).

There is a fee for using the island ferries ($6.00 adult / $3.50 for seniors & students) and to find out the sailing times you can phone (416) 392-8193. There are washrooms on the islands as well as the city side at the ferry docks and you can pick up a schedule at the docks or check on line.

The 1st boat to Wards Island (my preferred starting point) is 6:35 am and the 2nd is 7:00 am Monday to Friday. 

The 1st is at 6:35 am and the 2nd boat is at 7:15 am on Saturday, Sunday and Holidays.

The 1st boat to Hanlans Point is 9:00 am - Monday to Friday only.

There are no boats to Centre Island in the Winter

If arriving in early am you must obtain your ticket from a machine just inside the gate so be sure to have $1.00 and $2.00 and/or 25 cent coins before you arrive at the docks as there is no place to get change and the machine does not make change. (There is a change machine there if you want to chance it).

There are coffee shops across from the ferry docks in the building on the northwest corner and they are open early. food and beverages on The Islands when open are very expensive i.e. soft drink $3.00 plus.

For a detailed ferry schedule check the following web site. 


Norm Murr
Richmond Hill, ON
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