Lagoon Report XV

Liftoff of space shuttle Atlantis, STS-132, Cape Canaveral, Florida

Remote I Liftoff

While we don’t get too many space shuttles around these parts, it was the Island’s environment that let me build and test the remote camera enclosures that led to this photograph, the launch of space shuttle Atlantis (STS-132), from beside launch pad 39A. While launch is targeted for a specific date, things don’t always go […]

Liftoff of STS-132 space shuttle Atlantis, Cape Canaveral, Florida

VAB Liftoff

Shedding over 20,000lbs of propellant (both solid and liquid) every second, space shuttle Atlantis (STS-132) clears the tower as seen from NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building.

Sean Tamblyn focusing on space shuttle Atlantis, Cape Canaveral, Florida

VAB Focus

Checking focus on Canon’s 800mm f/5.6 L IS lens on the top of NASA’s VAB, in preparation for the ‘first final flight’ of space shuttle Atlantis. The final photographs from this setup can be seen here and here. Photo courtesy of Trent Smith, NASA Pad B Transition Project Lead. Lens courtesy of Lens Rentals Canada.

VAB Panorama, Cape Canaveral, Florida

VAB Panorama

Space shuttle Atlantis, STS-132, soars into a clear Florida sky on her ‘first final flight’.  This is a 180° panorama taken from the roof of NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building, showing the sprawling space complex and the myriad swampy waterways that crisscross the area. Click the image to view larger.

Cormorants, Inner Harbour, Toronto Islands

Cormorant Overload

A huge number of cormorants, seemingly all of the cormorants from the Leslie St. Spit, congregate in the inner harbour. I only had a telephoto lens with me at the time, this photograph really wanted a wideangle: there are literally thousands and thousands of birds in the inner harbour.

Black-crowned night heron flock, Doughnut Island, Toronto Islands

Baker’s Dozen

One of the lovely things about living on a major migratory route is seeing the migrations happen: large groups of birds travelling long distances together. When they first arrive here on the Islands, they often remain together for a week or two before splitting up to build their nests. Flocks of 50 blackbirds at a […]

Black-crowned night heron, Doughnut Island, Toronto Islands

Rude Awakening

Startled from its nap, an early black-crowned night heron waits for the photographer to leave so it can get back to some serious sleeping.

Canada goose goslings, Centre Island, Toronto Islands

April Darlings

Some of the first canada goose goslings of 2010, seen here in early April.

Canada goose on nest, Centre Island, Toronto Islands

Centre Mom VII

A Canada goose sets up shop in a planter on Centre Island’s boathouse dock.  Very possibly Lucy, her normal planter wasn’t available due to renovation work.

Wm. Lyon Mackenzie, Ward's Island, Toronto Islands

Rocky Exercises

City of Toronto preparations for the G20 meeting of 2010 brought us some strange scenes. Here, the William Lyon Mackenzie (the city’s fireboat) practices dingy drills in the still-frigid water just off of the Ward’s Beach breakwall.

Painted turtle, Doughnut Island, Toronto Islands


One of the first turtles to emerge in 2010, this little fellow basks on a log off of Doughnut Island, the background showing a still-total lack of green in the environment.

Beaver in moonlight silhouette, Ward's Island, Toronto Islands

Backlight Moon

Reflected light from the rising full moon frames a beaver in silhouette on Ward’s Beach.

Singing Blackbird, Ward's Island, Toronto Islands

Sing Your Heart Out

A blackbird, back on the Island for another season, sings its heart out in the Ward’s wet meadow.

Beaver walking upright, Algonquin Island, Toronto Islands

Missing Link

Walking upright out of the water, a Toronto Island beaver carries mud and vegetation in its arms to build a scent mound, territorial markers to let other beavers know that this area is verboten.

Equinox bonfire, Ward's Island, Toronto Islands

Conflagration III

Spring equinox, and the humans come out to perform their annual rituals on Ward’s Beach. Oddly, the trees had a different burning pattern this year: their thermal columns were much shorter. Compare to this tree at last year’s equinox bonfire (thanks Alice!).

Mallard duck reflection, Snug Harbour, Toronto Islands

Spring Colours

Some of the earliest colours of Spring, a mallard duck swims in the low sunlight of snug harbour.

Beaver reflection, Snake Island, Toronto Islands

Mirror Mirror

A beaver swims in an opening in the lagoon ice, still partially frozen in early March.

Garter snake, Ward's Island, Toronto Islands


An unlikely mating of a Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 macro lens to a full-frame Canon EOS 5DmkII (you’re not supposed to be able to use short-backfocus lenses on full-frame bodies) picks out a Dekay’s Brown snake amongst the dull browns of early spring.

Mink, Centre Island, Toronto Islands

Humpback of Notre Island

A mink scampers along the lagoon’s edge at the south side of the Manitou Bridge.

Great blue heron, Doughnut Island, Toronto Islands

Early for the Party

An early arrival in March of 2009: one of the first Great Blues to finish its long migration north.

Swans in moonlight, Outer Harbour, Toronto Islands

Moonrise Swans

Illuminated by the light of the rising full moon, mute swans sleep on black ice halfway across the outer harbour to the Leslie St. Spit.

Chickadee feathers, Centre Island, Toronto Islands


A chickadee shows off the wonderful details in its back feathers.

Sleeping pintails, Inner Harbour, Toronto Islands

Waking Nap

Mature pintails nap in the light of early morning reflected by the Queen’s Quay terminal building.

Sunrise through the Great Willow, Ward's Island, Toronto Islands

Willow Sunrise

At winter solstice, the sun rises directly between the main limbs of the Great Willow in the Ward’s soccer field.