After commenting in my last post about the increase in wildlife in Toronto during the Covid-19 lockdown, I got a couple of messages relating similar stories. One of my friends Lucie Sparham, a visual arts teacher, sent me some beautiful photos of wildlife on Leslie Spit, a long, narrow, landfill spit stretching out into Lake Ontario. With her exercise routines disrupted by the pandemic, she and her husband Mark started biking to the Spit where they are surrounded by the lake. As she said “there are migrating birds, wildflowers and views across the waves to the distant shore”. She described it as “a soothing escape from confinement”. I decided to invite her to share her observations so this is her story and her photos. Thank you Lucie….
In Toronto’s east end, where downtown meets the lake along the Leslie Spit, the Toronto and Region Conservation Foundation (TRCF) has constructed three gigantic “cells” to enclose toxic materials dredged from the Keating Channel. Uniquely, the TCRF buried these giant dumpsters under both water and earth, instead of earth only, to recreate a wetland ecosystem and park on the lakefront. The project has been ongoing since 2014.
This massive project is so successful that beavers have moved in. We found their lodge in a secluded pond and were lucky enough to glimpse one swimming home. Painted turtles also sun themselves in rows; wood ducks paddle and red-winged blackbirds flash among the reeds.
A Canada goose nested on top of the beavers den like an oversized fascinator. Her mate floated alongside. We saw them there on a subsequent visits, but after a wind storm a few of days ago the beaver’s den was hatless, the geese gone. (This comment of Lucie’s brings to mind the streets of Toronto at present. Where there was a certain beauty in seeing the sights of Rome devoid of tourists for a change, the streets of Toronto just look bare and sad. The few people in the streets are wearing masks and avoiding each other like the proverbial plague except that now it’s a reality!)
In another part of the spit a birdblind overlooks a marsh area still under construction. Swallows have built their nests inside it at appropriately socially distanced intervals.
Thanks to the Toronto and Region Conservation Foundation and their supporters for transforming a contaminated dump into wetland habitat and recreation area.
I join Lucie in being grateful for having the Leslie Spit. I can see it from my balcony and I enjoy biking there when the weather is nice.