Early Spring in High Park

High Park is a natural oasis in the hustle and bustle of Toronto. Almost 400 acres, it’s the largest park entirely within the city proper. The Grenadier Pond on the western boundary of the park spans 35 acres and a key resource for the teeming variety of wildlife.

Its urban setting reminds me of Central Park in NYC which is twice as large. Unlike the entirely manmade Central Park, however, High Park is the remaining sandy soil of retreated glaciers with a long natural history dating back to 12,800 years ago.

Here’s a lookout from Grenadier Pond:

Grenadier Pond in High Park, Toronto

About three weeks ago I visited High Park for the first time. It was early spring. Leaves had just started budding on trees and paths were still wet from winter, but I was able to capture some of the vibes:

Can you ID them all? I’m most curious to know what kind of tree buds are those on the upper right corner above. They look velvety and utterly exquisite.

As a birder, of course I was on the lookout for avian sightings, especially those I couldn’t find here at my own small Pond. But it was the trees that stood out for me that day. First the budding willows by the south end of Grenadier Pond:

A budding willow tree

I also came by a grove of cherry trees that were yet to bloom. And as I walked to the Nature Centre in the north side, I found this glorious oak tree. Still bare without leaves, its form was magnificent… I’ve read that the predominant oak in the savannah of High Park is the black oak. I think this is one of them. Not sure if it would look better with fully bloomed foliage. Because, right now, it looks magical:

A Black Oak in High Park

Here’s an image from the webpage The Oaks of High Park, the illustration taken from the book Who Goes to the Park by Warab´é Aska, 1984:

“Spreading Oak”

I can imagine this spreading oak being a character in an animated movie just from this picture… and I can see how versatile it can be.


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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

14 thoughts on “Early Spring in High Park”

  1. Beautiful photos as usual Arti! Any news about an owl family yet? Also, has the HPAI bird flu reached you? It’s bad in MN we had a couple owls die at the lake near my house, and I just heard that one of a pair of nesting bald eagles may have died from it. Really sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reminding me, Stefanie. I just came back from Toronto a few days ago and didn’t have the chance to visit the Owl family. But upon reading your comment I headed out to find them. Lo and behold, Mama and Papa were both on another tree looking at their nest. Other birders told me the babies were inside that nest maybe not big enough to fly out. I’ll keep checking on them in the next weeks.
      The bird flu doesn’t have an impact here, at least not that I’ve heard. Maybe coming but I sure hope it will stay away from here.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m envious of your robin! and that ‘Spreading Oak’ illustration is wonderful. Its title reminds me of the opening line of a Longfellow poem I learned in school: “Under the spreading chestnut tree, the village smithy stands…”

    Your buds look rather like pussy willow catkins, but not quite. I took a photo of your photo with my Picture This app, and it tells me that you found the buds of a Yulan magnolia (Magnolia denudata). After looking at this page devoted to it, it might be worth a return visit. The flowers are glorious.


    1. Thank you for the info and link. I must go some days during the summer or maybe late spring to see it in full bloom! The Cherry blossoms too. Here above the 49th it’s usually later for everything to bloom.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a sleeping mute swan, ID by the black and orange beak. That was the closest I’d ever get to a swan. I could pet it if I wanted. But I didn’t want to disturb her sweet dream. 😉


  3. What a gorgeous park! I’m very bad at tree ID though I wonder if those are pussy willow buds? Probably not — never go by me and a tree. I know gingko, oak and maple. Maybe elm! But it looks like the perfect spot for you to explore.

    Liked by 2 people

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