Last week we had some warmer days and on a sunny afternoon, Wednesday the 19th, I walked to Todmorden Mills Heritage Site just off the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto. I knew it was my chance to see the wooded wildflower preserve while the snow was still on the ground, ahead of predicted above-freezing temperatures and rain. As always, my mood improved greatly walking in this beautiful setting. I heard chickadees and, I believe, a cardinal above the traffic. And I loved seeing the late sunlight on the snow, trees and rail fences. Here’s some photos from that day.
I’m not following a chronological order in writing about my travels in Newfoundland. So, today I’ll take you to the town of Twillingate which we spent an afternoon in this past August. It’s on the edge of the Atlantic and has breathtaking views near the lighthouse.
We arrived at the lighthouse in late afternoon and saw that there were trails leading down along the coast. We only went a short way a short way along the trails because of the hour. Even so, we looked out over a sweep of hills, rock and ocean that were of extreme beauty. Here’s a few photos of my favourite view.
While in Newfoundland, we took two extremely beautiful hikes on the Bay Roberts Heritage Trail off of Conception Bay. This post shows photos from the hike we took on our first full day in Newfoundland. We were practically overwhelmed by the beauty, something we frequently felt on our travels. We walked over rolling land with sweeping views of ocean, rock, grasses and wild plants. Signs told of the history of the settlers on the land.
I’m back at the Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve in my mind. This photo shows Northern Gannets and Kittiwakes on tiered rock. The expanse of ocean, rock and huge numbers of birds created exuberance in many of us there. Indeed, while setting out for Bird Rock, we came upon 2 people from England returning from the walk. We talked for a few minutes, as people often do in natural settings. The man told us that he is a volcano watcher and has been to see some fantastic volcanoes. Nevertheless, he said, what he had just witnessed at the Cape had been the greatest natural experience of his life. Later, I would have the same feelings.
A week ago Sunday we went to the Brick Works which has been flooded twice this year from torrential rains. A little over a week after the last flood and a clean-up effort, the site had recovered quite a bit. On the way over, the wildflowers by the railroad were dense leaving only the tiniest of paths to stumble through.
Shortly after arriving at the Brick Works, we saw this black-crowned night heron in one of the ponds. He or she stood hunched and still for long periods, except when catching a meal. It is heartening to see wildlife in Toronto in this place where nature is being restored so close to a major highway.
While I was on the Bruce Peninsula, I saw many patches of lovely pink/white and yellow flowering Fleabane. The flowers are 1/2 – 1″ wide on a plant 6 – 36″ high. Fleabane is in the aster family. It got its name from the belief that the dried flower heads would get rid of fleas, according to the Audubon Field Guide to Wildflowers. This particular type is, I believe, Philadelphia Fleabane, Erigeron philadelphicus. A similar plant called Robin’s Plantain, Erigeron pulchellus seems to have fewer white/pink ray petals. If I’ve gotten this wrong, do let me know.
These shown above are at Singing Sands, on the alvar, the pitted rocks. I learned that alvars only exist in Estonia, Sweden and the Great Lakes Basin. Water from rain or melting snow collects in the rocks’ small depressions along with silt and sand. These provide growing places for plants that are able to live in harsh conditions.
On the boardwalk through the Dorcas Bay Fen on the Bruce Peninsula, I also came across tiny Blue-eyed Grass flowers. Lovely gems, blue-purple, growing near their larger showier Iris relatives. The flowers are around a half inch wide and the plant can grow from four to twenty inches high. Their Latin name is Sisyrinchium angustifolium.
Last week, black locust trees were in bloom in Toronto. Their sweet perfume filled the air at Todmorden Mills where I’d walked. I love their profuse, cascading blossoms.
I saw what I believe are ostrich ferns on a recent walk in the Wildflower Preserve at Todmorden Mills. If I’ve misidentified the ferns, do let me know. The day was moderate–around 18 degrees Celsius, with a mixture of sun and cloud. The ferns seem very much at home in this moist forested area in the Don Valley in Toronto. I find their shapes very beautiful.
The sansevieria, snake plant, that I’ve grown indoors for years has flowered for the first time. I hadn’t known what its flowers looked like and each night took many photos as the petals opened and the intense perfume filled the air. I love the contrast of delicate flowers with bold thick succulent leaves.