Summer Week 5: A Grand Day Out

Kayaks at Trout Pond

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Summer week 5, from July 19 to 25 inclusive, was mostly sunny and warm. The high temperatures ranged from 26C to 31C. With humidity, it felt like 30C to 36C (86F to 97F). We had severe thunderstorm and lightning on Sunday afternoon and intermittent showers on Wednesday. The rain water turned the grass in the parks from yellow to green again.

Kayaking to and within Toronto Islands

On a hot and sunny day of the week, I had a grand day out kayaking with my small social bubble. We paddled from the city side towards Hanlan’s Point (lower right on the map) and weaved our kayaks to Trout Pond (top right).

Source: City of Toronto, Toronto Island Park map

We explored the aquatic plants and bird life in and around Trout Pond and Lighthouse Pond. I saw white water lilies, baby turtles, small fish, ducks and ducklings, geese, swans, dragonflies, terns, and many other birds. We kayaked and swam in the ponds for a while as the water was so nice.

White water lily on Toronto Islands

Around 1 PM, we left our kayaks by the shore and had a nice picnic lunch on a grassy area under a few big trees. There was a lovely light breeze all afternoon. After lunch, we walked to Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, Gibraltar Point Beach, and Gibraltar Point Sand Dune.

Gibraltar Point Lighthouse

The Gibraltar Point lighthouse, which now stands inland because of shifting land masses, was built in 1808 to protect ships coming into Toronto harbour from washing ashore during storms. It’s the oldest landmark in Toronto, the oldest surviving lighthouse on the Great Lakes, and the second oldest surviving lighthouse in Canada.

Gibraltar Point Lighthouse

It is said that the Gibraltar Point lighthouse is haunted. Its first lighthouse keeper J.P. Radan Muller, was murdered by two soldiers from Fort York. The ghost of of J.P. Radan Muller returns every summer, and on hot summer nights, his howls can be heard from one end of the island to the other.

Gibraltar Point Beach

With a blue sky and a sandy beach, it’s hard to believe we’re only 15 minutes from downtown Toronto. Gibraltar Point Beach is perfect for taking a swim during the hot summer. The City of Toronto has advised people to practice physical distancing at a beach or park (or can receive a $1,000 ticket).

Path to Gibraltar Point Beach
Path to Gibraltar Point Beach. The water was clear and felt great on a hot summer day.

Gibraltar Point Sand Dune

The Toronto Island Sand Dunes are home to several rare plant species and have been classified as an Environmentally Significant Area by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. Dunes are fragile so visitors must stay on designated trails and boardwalks, and respect vegetated areas.

Boardwalk at Gibraltar Point Sand Dune.
Boardwalk at Gibraltar Point Sand Dune

Egrets and Herons

Late afternoon, we got back to our kayaks and paddled to Long Pond, then towards Centre Island and Ward’s Island before heading back from Royal Canadian Yacht Club marina to the city side.

I spotted two snowy egrets and two great blue herons in various areas of the islands. Click on the photos below to enlarge them. Can you see the egrets and herons?

Snowy egret on Toronto Islands
Snowy egret on Toronto Islands
Great blue heron on a tree trunk on Toronto Islands
Great blue heron on a tree trunk on Toronto Islands

It was tricky to paddle quietly to get as close to the birds as possible, then got my phone out from the pocket of my life jacket, and balanced myself in my kayak to take some photos before they flew away.

The egret and heron sightings filled me with a sense of awe and ended my grand day out with a big smile.

Snow egret on Toronto Islands
Snowy egret on Toronto Islands
Grey heron on Toronto Islands
Great blue heron on Toronto Islands

Conclusion

Summer week 5 was fantastic. I got all my outdoor and indoor activities done. I broke my own ‘personal best’ record of the number of books I read in a month in 2020. Eleven books so far with five days left in July. The weather forecast predicts sunny and warm days for this coming week. I look forward to making the most of summer week 6.

How did your week go? What made you smile? I’d love to hear your comments.

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