Second Marsh (Waterfront Trail)

 It was quite the cold, rainy, blustery weekend, and wearing boots with a slow leak doesn't make it much better when you are in the middle of a trail...The Second Marsh is a 'Class 2' Provincially Significant Wetland that covers about 120 hectares (300 acres).  

Although it is said that there are about 250 species of migratory birds, I never saw one..probably because they... migrated.  You won't see any coho salmon or rainbow trout anymore at this time of year, as they spawn in the streams that feed the marsh in the early autumn.

The Second Marsh is rehabilitated, as habitat islands were built, and nesting boxes are set to encourage breeding.  The water circulation has improved after they removed the log jams.  If you stick on this trail you'll no doubt find the McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve which is owned and operated by General Motors of Canada.  This parcel of land covers  about 100 acres, and the reserve lies between the Second Marsh on the west and Darlington Provincial Park on the east.  
In the late 1980's General Motors planned their corporate headquarters, by inviting reps from the Second Marsh to discuss the concerns of migratory birds flying into windows, storm water management and other matters.  Once the discussions were over, an idea developed to create a buffer between the Second Marsh and the office complex.  

Today you will see  quite a few different trails; some are well groomed and have hard surfaces to allow access for bikes, while others are grass paths or wooden-chipped trails.  As you can see by some of the pictures I took, I preferred to get right into the grass, but unfortunately it wasn't long before I realized I should have stuck to the hardened walkways.  

If you are curious whatever happened to the 'First Marsh', it was filled and dredged out of existence to create Oshawa Harbour.  That was about thirty years ago, and it was feared the Second Marsh would have the same fate, and it almost did.  In 1964, the Oshawa Harbour Commission wanted to expand the harbour to acquire the Second Marsh, but there was strong opposition by the Oshawa Naturalist Club, Jim Richards (Manager of the McLaughlin Bay Wildlife reserve) and 11 other naturalist groups.  It took time, but by the early 1980's independent studies by the Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment Canada underlined the importance of the Marsh which proves that there is definitely strength in numbers.  If people could only realize the power they have to make change if there is a cause that they believe strongly in...

Now, I need to look at getting some new boots..

Highland Creek Watershed (Morningside Park)

The Highland Creek watershed consists of several neighbourhood greening projects.  

During a November frost, I wanted to take pictures of Morningside Park and the Main Highland Creek branch which is just northeast of the Hague and Cedarbrook parks (see blog).  This covered my two interests of both exploring the various park systems in Toronto as well as understanding more about how the watershed diverts the flow of storm/sewage run-off, which is so critical to our clean water supply. (ref: R.C. Harris Filtration Plant in this blog for more information on water filtration)

Morningside Park is as beautiful as I was told, and very large.  The University of Toronto campus (Scarborough) overlooks the park.  There are birdhouses in the park which contribute to the expansion of the bird habitat.  

The trail has some pretty amazing sights.  I saw a number of hawks in the area, but they were just a little too quick for me!  

Like most large cities, Toronto has our own spread of graffiti culture.  It's all around us, livening up Cabbagetown, drearily-coloured factories, the walls of old office buildings and through pedestrian tunnels like the Moccasin Trail.  Whereas other cities label them as 'art crimes' or 'vandalism', Toronto encourages our street artists.   Judge for yourself by these photographs that were taken from the base of the Kingston-Galloway-Orton Park Bridge.  While looking at them, all I kept thinking was, how could anyone call this graffiti? 

A couple of years ago, a  265 metres long bridge was put up joining two neighbourhoods together (Kingston-Galloway and Orton Park).  It was a success in every way including bringing the cultural and arts communities together.  The art work at the base of the bridge was actually done by 20 local youths which just humbled me that young people could be just so talented and here was a perfect opportunity for them to show it off forever.  

Further along the trail there were these cute smilies painted on sewage drains coming into and out of the parks.  The West Highland Branch was photographed recently (Hague/Cederbrook parks), but I completely messed up with my camera settings this time for the waterflow from the Main Highland Creek, but at least you will be able to see that both Scarborough and the watershed treatment projects in your neighbourhood not only create a practical purpose, but can be aesthetically beautiful as well.