With the weather finally starting to turn nice, we found ourselves looking for a good excuse to get out of the house last weekend. Although the west end of Toronto has no shortage of parks, rivers, or trails, we settled on Rattray Marsh.

Rattray Marsh is one of our favourite walks, and perhaps one of Toronto's best-kept secrets (although perhaps not for long after I publish this). It consists of 94 acres of environmentally-protected parkland crisscrossed with pedestrian paths and elevated boardwalks (but no cycling allowed!). At the east end of the park, where the marsh meets Lake Ontario, there is a "shingle bar", a coastline of water-worn stones and pebbles many of which harbour excellent fossil specimens. More importantly, though, wildlife absolutely abounds throughout the entire marsh.

This walk was also the first major outing for my new telephoto zoom lens, the AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR. This lens is incredibly affordable for what it is, and I've already managed to get some great shots with it. To justify that price, however, sacrifices have to be made somewhere. Notably, its autofocus is relatively slow, which makes bird-in-flight shots challenging. Luckily the marsh is the perfect place to catch birds resting on cattails and roosting in trees.

Walking through the marsh, you're bound to cross paths with all manner of nature enthusiasts, birders, photographers, and joggers. "We're so lucky to live right by all of this!" one such woods-walker remarked to me as we crossed paths on a boardwalk. I could tell by the tone in her voice that I was included in that "we"–or at least so she thought. As I mentioned before, Rattray Marsh is one of the city's best-kept secrets, so it's only natural for the locals to think that only locals would be there. There is no designated parking area for the park, and the nearby neighbourhood of Glen Leven appear to have secured the exclusiveness of their gaudy, McMansion-lined streets by instituting an exhaustive ban on roadside parking. We've found a convenient suburban street-parking spot that we frequently take advantage of, but I'm sorry to say that I won't be making that a part of this post πŸ˜‰