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

Monday, November 02, 2009

Black, Gray, Red Squirrels, Lake Ontario Freighter on an Autumn Afternoon : This is Travel?

Squirrels in black, gray and red, a passing freighter on Lake Ontario and a sunny Autumn afternoon don't have a lot to do with travel, though an argument could be made for the freighter: Some Great Lakes boats will take paying passengers from Thunder Bay to Quebec City.  But really, I was so pleased to finally get a picture of a red squirrel, I just had to show you! But first, the black and the gray squirrels:

Gray Squirrel
There are lots of fluffy gray squirrels in Port Credit, especially in the city parks. They're pretty active all year round, burying and digging up peanuts that well meaning but misguided people feed them. Wildlife should be wild; we do them no favor by interfering.

Black Squirrel
Black squirrels, too, are abundant and active year round. Visitors from England were always delighted when they spotted one digging holes in my garden. I was not delighted at all.

Red Squirrel
But this red squirrel is another matter entirely. Red squirrels are not all that common. They move so fast, and they are so much smaller than the black and gray squirrels, that when you do spot one, half the time you cannot tell if it's a red squirrel or a chipmunk.

Red Squirrel - Nest in Tree
This old apple tree has a hollow center, a fact that doesn't prevent it from leafing  out each year, and bearing tiny fruit. It's also a perfect nesting place for squirrels. 

Baby Gray Squirrel in Nest in Tree
Early last spring, this nest was the home of a family of gray squirrels. In fact, I noticed new dried grasses tucked into the hole in this same tree today, which is why I went to have a closer look. The Gray Squirrel family moved out in early summer, and now the red squirrels have moved in.

Red Squirrel Close Up
I had my camera at the ready as soon as I noticed the red squirrel darting about the gardens. I wondered if it was using the same tree for a nest and sure enough, in it went. I focused on the opening, and when the red squirrel poked its head out, I took this picture. Actually I was able to take several pictures, as Red seemed transfixed. This is the longest I have ever seen this squirrel be still.

Old Apple Tree Condo
Something else may have taken up residence in one of the cherry trees in the park. Mississauga once was flush with orchards, and these Gardens are full of old apple and cherry trees.

Lake Ontario Freighter 
On the horizon, this freighter was moving fairly quickly eastward, towards Toronto, and beyond. I include it with the pictures of the squirrels because it's as rare to see a large ship passing by as it is to get a red squirrel to sit still for a photo.

But I didn't stop there. Why be satisfied with a picture of a red squirrel? Why not try for a video? And so I did. Here's the best I could do on the spur of the moment. Keep watch out for the second red squirrel caught on film! And the flash of gray squirrel who gets in their way.

Red Squirrel Romp on YouTube

Related: I took these pictures at Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens.
See Wildlife in Mississauga (City Mississauga) and Great Lakes Cruises to Thunder Bay