Thursday, December 31, 2009

No Fireworks in Mississauga New Year's Eve But Mayor's Levee New Year's Day

New Year's Eve 2013 Fireworks City Hall Celebration Square Details City Mississauga (weather permitting and it looks like it will!)

December 2009: Don't expect fireworks in Mississauga on New Year's Eve. In these parts, fireworks generally take place during the warmer months, like in Port Credit on Canada Day (July 1).

But Mississauga has a long tradition of marking New Year's Day, with the annual Mayor's Levee at City Hall from 2-4 p.m. And the Mayor's levee is the place to be if you'd like to wish the Mayor, assorted councillors and city staff and residents a Happy New Year.

Mississauga Civic Centre -- City Hall
Mississauga Civic Centre, location of the New Year's Day levee, is the obelisk shape (thin pointy thing) being dwarfed by new condos in the picture above. I took this photo from Port Credit. Note the lack of snow this year (so far, anyhow, though as I write this, flurries are forecast). Last year, it was minus 30 wind chill and heavy snow cover.

I've attended the Mayor's levee in years past, including January 1, 2009. As this annual celebration becomes ever more popular, with more and more Mississauga residents turning out, the main level at City Hall becomes more and more crowded.

Mayor McCallion ~ Mississauga Mayor's Levee

In years past, the receiving line was set up on the main level; last year, the Mayor and councillors receiving line was on the second level.

The main level at City Hall becomes a stage for community performers -- dancers, singers, choirs -- who showcase Missisissaugans' range of talents and cultural groups.

To escape the crowded first level, we took the stairs to the second level, where we could look over the balcony to see the entertainment below.

As you go along the receiving line to chat with Mayor McCallion and the councillors, it leads to a reception area, with staff serving up hot chocolate, coffee and sweets.

All of this is 'free', courtesy of Mississauga taxpayers, and I for one do not begrudge this use of tax dollars. This personal touch goes a long way to welcoming Mississauga's newcomers as well as visitors from other countries.

It's fun to stop and eavesdrop on receiving line conversations and realize where the people are visiting or emigrated from. Mayor McCallion and the Mayor's Levee are also a dependable media photo op, so keep an eye out for film crews and photographers.

Missisisauga Mayor's Levee (2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.)
Mississauga Civic Centre
300 City Centre Drive (googlemap)

Parking is available around City Hall, as well as at Square One Shopping Centre.

Mississauga Transit is free on New Year's Eve from 7:00 p.m. to 4 a.m. only - regular fares apply outside those hours. Check Schedule here.

GO Transit trains and buses free New Year's Eve from 7 p.m. to last  train/bus of the day about 1:00 a.m. Union See GO Schedule Here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Bird Count Port Credit Mississauga

The 46 annual Christmas Bird Count took place yesterday, Saturday, December 19. Last year, on this same day, there was a huge storm (see this blog post Lake Ontario storm).

This year, we saw perfect weather for counting birds in the morning, and in the afternoon, for cheering on the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay in Port Credit (Mississauga), Ontario.

Harlequin Duck with Mallard
South Peel Naturalist Club ( does most of the Christmas Bird Count on one day, but includes sightings of for three days before and three days after, especially if sighting are of unusual birds like the harlequin duck I spotted on the Thursday before.
Harlequin Duck Lake Ontario Mississauga
The male Harlequin was swimming, bobbing and diving for food, and generally appearing to have a great time, but doing so so far from shore I had trouble getting a clear picture. I aplogize for the focus but you'll get the general idea. 'Harley' the Harlequin is almost as colorful as 'Woody', the Wood Duck at Lake Aquitane.

Scaups Lake Ontario CBC Day South Peel
So on the morning of the Christmas Bird Count day, I bundled up and walked through the Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens on a sunny, windless morning just before 9 a.m.

As I approached Lake Ontario, I was a little surprised to see the large waves rolling from the south. A Nor'Easter was moving up the U.S. east coast, wreaking havoc with heavy snow and high winds, but thankfully, Mississauga only got this show of waves.

Lake Ontario CBC Day Mississauga
The picture above shows the view southwest towards Hamilton, Ontario. I was concerned that given the wave action, the usual swans, geese, scaups and ducks would have gone on to more temperate waters. But the chilly waters didn't seem to bother them.

Mallards Shoreline Lake Ontario Port Credit
This picture shows mallards on Cranberry Cove, the bay that fronts the Rhododendron Gardens in Port Credit.

Lake Ontario Sculpts Ice Forms Cranberry Cove
Waves formed ice sculptures along the shoreline, testament to the chilly temperatures of the past week. This day, the temps were about minus 6 C (21F).

Mallards Lake Ontario Shoreline
I left the Waterfront Trail where it passes the Petro Canada lands west of Saddington Park, and made my way closer to the breakwater so I could check for any birds close to shore. This is where I had spotted the Harlequin two days earlier.

It was also near this spot that I met my first and only Bird Counter, a man with a scope on a tripod, binoculars hung from his neck, making his way in stops and starts along the waterfront.

Peering through his binoculars into the morning sun glinting on the lake, he informed me that he spotted in the distance a group of Mergansers as well as the Mute Swans, then retraced his route to meet up with his bird-counting partner.

Mallard Ashore Lake Ontario
I retraced my route, too, back to Bruckner Rhododendron Gardens, this time leaving the Waterfront Trail to take a rough pateh through the scrub and shrub along the breakwater, where I was delighted to see this group of mallards on shore. What caught my eye was their lovely orange legs, so rarely seen when they are swimming, yet such a bright spot on a wintry day!

Shoreline Shrubs Decorated for Christmas
Another bonus for early morning, off trail walkers was the unexpected, cheery sign of the holiday season: Two scrubby junipers hung with red balls and tiny ornaments.

Two days earlier, the day of the Harlequin duck, I took a short video of Greater Scaups in Cranberry Cove.


Mark, CBC co-ordinator for South Peel Naturalists Club, told me that the first Christmas Bird Count took place in 1900! And that there are thousands of Christmas bird counts over three weeks across North America ( a Twitter Pal informs that one is taking place on Bowen Island near Vancouver).

In South Peel, which includes Mississauga and Oakville, the CBC comprises a 15 mile wide circle centered between Britannia Road and Lake Ontario. Counters work in teams, each responsible for one of 6 strips that cover this count circle.

How to count birds in motion, such as the scaups in the video?
"You do your best to eyeball the count," says Mark. "You count out a set number -- 50, 100 -- and then count the number of 50-bird groups."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Olympic Torch Relay Port Credit Mississauga Ontario

 The Olympic Torch Relay came to Mississauga today, and after ceremonies at City Centre, including runs by Mayor Hazel McCallion and olympian Kurt Browning, the torch relay headed south on Hurontario (Highway 10) to Lakeshore Road in Port Credit.

Here are a few pictures of the torch relay, and a short video to give some idea of the happy crowds that lined the relay route. Click on an image to enlarge, then click the Back button to return to this page.

Santa at the Lighthouse Port Credit ON

Santa handed out Canada flags and good cheer at the Lighthouse 'home' of the Port Credit BIA. The BIA handed out pizza, sandwiches, hot coffee and hot chocolate. The cup of hot coffee was a perfect antidote for my frozen fingers. Thanks, Ellen!

Olympic Torch Relay Bus Mississauga

The torch bearers did a good job keeping on schedule! Their ETA in Port Credit was 1:50 p.m., and they were punctual! All told, the torch relay will cover 45,000 kilometers or 28,000 miles.

Crowds Cheering Torch Bearers

Though crowds were sparse when I arrived around 1 p.m., within a half hour, the sidewalks were filling fast all along Lakeshore Road, and the Starbucks west of the Lighthouse had lines out the door!

Olympic Torch Relay Handover on Lakeshore Rd. Bridge

As flashing lights atop police cars heralded the approaching torch, crowds spilled from the sidewalks on either side of the Lakeshore Road bridge and filled the traffic lanes. Oddly enough, for as regimented and rule-ridden as Canadians usually are, the police did not block traffic lanes, other than at intersections.

I half - expected some excited, distracted relay watcher to come a cropper, but drivers slowed down and gave the right of way to jaywalkers.

Taking up the torch, Holding it high!

Now, as luck would have it, I lost my lovely vantage point from the terrace at the Lighthouse when an eastbound cube van got stuck in the relay crowd and blocked the view.

A fast run around the lighthouse, down the stairs and around the base brought me out onto Lakeshore Road in time to take a few fast pictures before the police cleared the roadway.

Torch Relay Port Credit

In the video below, you can hear what I heard as this torch bearer's name: I heard 'Laura', and checking online, the only Laura mentioned as torch bearer in Mississauga is 'Greer'. If I have incorrectly identified her, please correct me.

 Torch Heads West Through Port Credit

Here's a shot of the joyful- looking torch bearer jogging along Lakeshore Road West towards Clarke Hall.

Approaching Mississauga Road

Laura kept up a lively pace, and quite a few in the crowd tried to keep up with her as the relay neared the intersection at Mississauga Road.

Olympic Torch Shawnmarr and Lakeshore

And though I gave it my best, I couldn't catch up, let alone overtake the relay contingent. My plan was to take a picture as the torch passed the Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens near my house.

Here's a short video of the torch relay sights and sounds in Port Credit.



Friday, November 27, 2009

Lake Aquitane, Wabukayne Mississauga Park Walking Trails in the City

Lake Aquitane and Lake Wabukayne are small lakes in the Meadowvale area in northwest Mississauga. At first glance, they seem simply a picturesque addition to these city parks and a haven for urban wild life.

Lake Aquitane Sign Meadowvale Community Centre
But these two lakes serve another purpose: They collect and contain surface water runoff in this densely populated part ot the city. After heavy rains, lake waters can be cloudy with mud and silt; In winter, road salt may keep solid ice from forming.

Dock at Lake Aquitane Meadowvale 
This dock and viewing area is at the west end of Lake Aquitane. These lakes' utilitarian purpose doesn't keep them or their trails and paths from being a magnet for walkers, joggers and birders and an interesting outing for local dogs.

South Side Lake Aquitane
It had been several years since last I walked around either lake. Port Credit and the Waterfront Trail through Jack Darling Park and Rattray Marsh met all my walking needs. But then I got an email about the sighting of a Wood Duck at these lakes, and off I went.

Naturalization Shoreline Lake Aquitane
When the ducks had been amply watched, I headed off around Lake Aquitane as a glimmer of sunshine lighted the lake. Over the years, the naturalization of the lake shore had filled in, now looking as if it had always been there. How the grasses and shrubs had grown!

Dirt Trail Lake Aquitane Southeast Shore
Most pathways in the park are paved, but a few dirt trails remain, especially on the south to east side of the lake. How lucky the condo owners in this area! A lovely view that changes with the seasons. This part of Meadowvale is older, so condos tend to be much larger than modern, newer ones.

Dam at Lake Aquitane West Side
On the north side of the lake, the path runs between lakeshore and townhouse back yards until it reaches the Dam, and you realize this lake is not another pretty face. High chain link safety fencing prevents dogs and people from getting too close, and keeps the ducks cat-and-dog worry free.

Boardwalk Lake Aquitane - Mississauga Park Trail
On the west side of Lake Aquitane, behind the Meadowvale Community Centre, this boardwalk skirts the lake and runs to the dock area. When I was here, the dock was full of mallards dining on grain left by person(s) unknown. Signs in the park advise that feeding wildlife is prohibited.

A few years ago, Canada geese were a problem at Aquitane, until the coyotes moved in for a free meal. With the geese gone, so too have the coyotes moved on, though in any part of Mississauga where green belts are found, so may be coyotes.

Lake Wabukayne - Mississauga Park
From Lake Aquitane, I drove south on Glen Erin Drive to Windwood, and went left and parked on a side street close to Lake Wabukayne, the smaller of these two lakes. Rain clouds were again moving in fast, so I didn't walk the full trail around the lake. This is the view looking east to Erin Mills Parkway.

Boardwalk at south side Lake Wabukayne Park
The boardwalk and trails along the south side of Lake Wabukayne let you get fairly close to the lake. Mallards noted my arrival and began swimming towards me from the far shore in hopes of being fed. So much for obeying the Do Not Feed signs. These birds know the hands that feed them.

Leaf Motif -- Lake Wabukayne Natural Artwork
As the sky grew darker, and a few drops began to fall, I glanced down at the surface to this lovely picture: Such great natural colors and design, it would inspire an artist or textile designer.

Google map this area: See also Street View, and Walking Directions.

View Larger Map

Parking: Try Meadowvale Community Centre for Lake Aquitane. For Lake Wabukayne, try a side street close to the west end, or on weekends, try the school just north of Windwood on Glen Erin.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wood Duck~ Mississauga Wildlife Pictures ~ Sparrow, Squirrel, Mallards

Mallard ducks are commonly seen in Mississauga (Ontario, Canada), but wood ducks are a rare delight! When I saw my first one the other day, a male at Lake Aquitane, I took his picture as well as photos of other wildlife -- mallard ducks, a sparrow and a gray squirrel -- that were in and around the lake. Click on image to enlarge, then click the Back button to return to this page.

Mississauga Lake Aquitane
Jo-Anne lives in this area and emailed to tell me about the wood duck:
I just spent the past 1/2 hour in cold wind and rain, watching a male Wood Duck trying to mate with a female Mallard -- and having no luck! They are in the far NW corner of the lake, behind the community centre.

I grabbed my camera and drove to Meadowvale Community Centre, about a half-hour drive, where I parked near Lake Aquitane dock.

Male Wood Duck
I couldn't believe my luck! This male wood duck was still swimming around with the mallards, trying his best to woo a female mallard. His distinctive plumage made him easy to spot.
Says Jo-Anne:
The male Wood Duck was following her everywhere and making high pitch squeaky sounds.
He kept tilting his head back and showing off the beautiful bright white chin area. All of a sudden, he hopped right up out of the water and attempted to land on her back! She was having nothing to do with it!
He then started to follow her again, a male Mallard swam in front of him and they both had a hissing match. The male Wood Duck then decided to approach other female Mallards but they wanted nothing to do with him. They would quack at him then swim away. 

 Wood Duck Male with Female Mallard
The ducks swam around the dock area for about 20 minutes or so, the wood duck courting the mallard lady, with the male mallards in close pursuit, trying to protect their interests.

Male Wood Duck -- Female Mallard
Here's another shot of the ducks. The wind was fairly gusty, and the earlier rains seemed ready to return. The ducks were moving fairly quickly which made it a challenge to get a telephoto picture for a close up.
Two Males ~ Mallard and Wood Duck
This picture shows the male mallard swimming interference for his lady friend, as he tries to keep the wood duck at bay.
 Wood Duck and Mallards Swimming in Reeds
As the ducks left the dock area, they headed towards the naturalized grasses of the lake shore. For the next 15 minutes or so, the ducks continued to swim along the shoreline on the south side of the lake.

Almost as colorful as Woody the Wood Duck is Harley the Harlequin spotted the week of the Christmas Bird Count.

Male Female Mallards
With the wood duck heading along the lake shore, the remaining mallards -- male and female -- formed a group near the dock. Looks like there's safety in numbers! 

Sparrow in Red Wood Shrub
Also near the dock, closest to the community centre, the shoreline shrubbery was rustling with these little sparrows.
Gray Squirrel - Mississauga Lake Aquitane
The male wood duck and the mallards he was bothering had swum out of sight along the south shore. I continued along the trail that goes around Lake Aquitane, and came across this gray squirrel near the dam.
I feel sort of sorry for the male Wood Duck actually. He needs a female Wood Duck around.

So if anyone knows where 'Woody' can meet a female Wood Duck in the Meadowvale area of Mississauga, do leave a comment below telling me where, and I'll pass it along. I'm sure the mallards would appreciate his finding a lady of his own!

Here's the googlemap of the community centre. Scroll around, zoom out, to see lake and walking trails.

View Larger Map
Related: (On my website) Mississauga Wildlife pics

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Maple, Oak Leaves, Swans Lake Ontario - Playing With New Camera on a Gorgeous Fall Day!

Yesterday I walked along the Lake Ontario shoreline and the Waterfront Trail as it passes through Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens in Port Credit, and playing with my new camera, I tried out different shots of the lake, the birds, and the shadows and reflections cast by the swans. Here's the better of the pictures, including one lone oak leaf.

Today, the sun finally came out just after noon, and turned the yellow maple leaves golden, and the sky brilliant blue. Click on a picture to enlarge, then click the Back button to return to this page.

Golden Leaves On Tecumseh Creek
This is the view looking north from the bridge over Tecumseh Creek on the Waterfront Trail in Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens. Lake Ontario is directly behind you from this viewpoint.

Yellow Leaves Maple Tree
Again, along Tecumseh Creek and the Waterfront Trail, but close to Lakeshore Road and Shawmarr Road. The sun came out and the brilliant colors commanded attention.

Close Up Maple Tree Canopy
I lay on my back in the middle of the Waterfront Trail beneath this maple tree, and hoped no cyclist would run me over. Loved how blue the sky looked!

Single Yellow Maple Leaf Chain Link Fence
I loved this lone leaf wedged into the chain link fence that keeps Waterfront Trail walkers and cyclists from falling into Tecumseh Creek.

Rusty Red Oak Leaf on Wrought Iron Fence
A day earlier, with no sun, this red oak leaf was caught in a spider's web near the Godfrey's Lane entrance to the Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens (Gosh that's a lot to type! Let's call it the BRG!)

Lake Ontario Mid-Morning Light
Also at the BRG, but on the day before, the light was so unusual that gardens visitors were stopping and sitting on the benches near here, and just looking at Lake Ontario and all the birds - mallards, gulls, swans -- and how the sky reflected in nearly calm waters. From here, you're looking south towards St Catharine's.

Mute Swan Lake Ontario Port Credit
You can tell this is a Mute Swan by its orange beak. The Trumpeter Swans have a black beak, curved neck, and are banded.

Mute Swan - Reflections Lake Ontario
With the play of light and shadow, I tried several shots variously with gulls, mallards and swans, on the water or perched on exposed rocks. With the back lighting, and no real color -- all grays and gray blues -- it was fun to play with. This picture and the one above are my favourites.

Lake Ontario Low Water Levels Port Credit
Green strip between the lake and the beach is from algae that marks usual water line on Lake Ontario. Winds from the south bring the waves higher. The lake waters were so still this day, you can see how the water level has dropped.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Canoes, Rowers, Fishermen, Waterfront Trail, Fall Foliage ~ Fabulous Fall Port Credit on Lake Ontario

Such a fabulous, warm and sunny Fall day, it seemed everyone in Port Credit headed to the waterfront to walk the trail, to fish in Lake Ontario at the mouth of the Credit River, to canoe, cycle, row and kayak, and marvel at the last of the gorgeous colours of the fall leaves.

Here are a few pictures to show you how to celebrate the gift of a summer day in late Fall! Click on a picture to enlarge, then click the Back button to return to this page.

Snug Harbour Restaurant Port Credit
A bright red canoe heads down river past Snug Harbour restaurant (across from the landmark lighthouse) towards Lake Ontario.

Fisherman Lake Ontario Port Credit
One of many fishermen along the lower Credit River this fall afternoon, with a view of the CN Tower and Toronto skyline.

Driftwood Shore Lake Ontario Mississauga
Afternoon sun made this large piece of driftwood gleam, and the still Lake Ontario waters are testament to the calm winds. With no waves to stir the water, we had a rare glimpse of the lake's sandy bottom.

Rower Lake Ontario Port Credit
A man on a mission: this lone rower was skimming along so quickly west towards Hamilton, I had to move fast to snap this picture.

Walkers Along Mississauga Ontario Waterfront Trail
This stretch of the Waterfront Trail passes between Lake Ontario and the PetroCanada lands, a rolling, twisting path that's popular with cyclists, roller bladers, walkers and runners. Several cyclists were towing babes in wagons.

Copper Beach in Fall - BRG
The Waterfront Trail passes through the BRG - Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens in west Port Credit. The copper beeches were particularly lovely this afternoon along the east garden at the Godfrey's Lane entrance.

Tamarack - Larch Fall Colours BRG
Across the Waterfront Trail from the stand of copper beech trees is this stand of tamaracks (AKA larch) in their yellow fall foliage. See also this post for mor larch/tamarack pictures.

Red Crab Apples - Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail
Fall in Ontario is all about colour this year, and these red crab apples certainly did their part! While areas north of the city of Toronto had wet snow showers this past week, in sunny lakefront Port Credit, we were treated to a warm summer day; Temperatures reached 17C (63F). Most people wore only a light sweater or jacket, and several men were wearing only Tshirts and shorts.

The weather forecast for the next few days calls for temperatures nearly this warm, so if you're in the Toronto - Mississauga - Oakville area, do make a point of going out for a walk. We'll be into winter in Canada soon enough!

Related: Paddling and Hiking in Ontario's Southern Shield Country book