Monday, May 19, 2014

of sakuras, birds and water at High Park

Most cherry blossoms at High Park went into full bloom on Tuesday 13th, about a week later than last year.  And soon after there was rain, and wind.  And, on top of that, trees had about a half-half combination of flowers and green leaves, apparently an effect of the long winter, whereas in previous years many trees would be all flowers and no leaves.  Nevertheless, this being our last year here, I was not going to miss going for some cherry blossom watching.  

Well, the weather was cold: 8 ºC, with a feel of 6 ºC.  And the sky was cloudy, grey, without any sun.  Honestly, what a sorry spring this has been!   Anyhow, before we got to see any cherry blossoms we came across these very interesting flowers, heart-shaped with a funny bag-like thing hanging from them:

Farther down (we started at the north side of the park) we came across this beautiful duck!  Later I found out it's called a wood duck, and that this one was, on fact, a male (the clue: the colours).  I was getting excited now.  Funny flowers, a species of duck I'd never seen (yeah, yeah, it may not sound exciting to many, but these were beautiful things!).

Since I remembered last year there had been a gorgeous magnolia tree at the top of a hill, and having read that the cherry blossoms this year were not that nice, I definitely wanted to find that magnolia tree again.   And that was easy: it's huge, it's got hundreds of flowers, and instead of being surrounded by trees packed with cherry blossoms, it was surrounded by cherry trees with just a few flowers and lots of green leaves! (more on that later).   But the magnolia tree?  Ah... what a treat!

But we had supposedly come for the cherry blossoms, right?  Well, here's what happened.  The winter was so long, and so harsh, it caused a peculiar effect - instead of cherry trees being covered almost exclusively with cherry blossoms and basically no green leaves, like other years, this time they were covered with about half cherry blossoms and half green leaves.  So, yeah, there were flowers, but the visual effect of the flowers amongst the green leaves was incredibly different and, frankly, rather underwhelming.  Still, sometimes all it takes is looking at things slightly differently, right?  And so, instead of focusing on the whole trees and the paths, I focused more on individual flowers, on the trees against the water, and on the play of light through the trees (because, in the end, we got a few brief but precious rays of sun through the clouds! yay!): 

All that would have made for a very nice walk around the park.  Except that there was more!  Remember the wood duck?  Well, it seems that spring is indeed here, at least for birds, because we say more kinds than ever!  From Canadian geese with their chicks (they're hard to spot on the pic, they're in the bottom left corner, two of them):

To a yellow bird either drinking nectar from the cherry blossoms or eating insects inside them:

To quite a few of these fellows with the bring orange patch on their wings (by the way, these birds were strangely friendly, walking around and getting surprisingly close to you!)

To this super cute cardinal (a cardinal!) here:

To the pièce de résistance - at least experience-wise, because while it was amazing to see this bright red cardinal (yes! another one!), it was simply impossible for me to get a good photo of it (it kept moving around and there were too many branches).  Still, it was an incredible surprise and I'm willing to post a bad pic just because it was so nice.

All in all, a very good walk.  Happy.

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