November 27, 2022

Image of Jean canoeing on Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

What a delightful way to spend a day! Canoeing up Duffins Creek from Rotary Park on the edge of Lake Ontario to farm country far above Highway 401 really was our cup of tea.

Image of Bob launching canoe on Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

Bob and I began our paddle at the canoe and kayak launch at Rotary Park in the town of Ajax, Ontario, on the east side of the Greater Toronto Area.

Image of foot bridge over Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

The canoe/kayak boat ramp is on the east side of Duffins Creek where it flows directly into the Lake.  Bob and I headed north up the Creek to see how far we could go.  Overall, the paddle upstream and back to the boat ramp took 6 hours.

Image of canoe launch on Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

About 30 minutes was spent launching and loading the canoe with cameras, lunch, safety and emergency gear.  Then it was time to look for wildlife.

Image of Jean and Bob canoeing on Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

We were very excited to be undertaking this first-time canoe on Duffins Creek.  It was the following year that concerted efforts were necessary to protect and save portions of the Duffins Creek wetlands from destruction by planned development.

Image of Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

It was there along the creek that major plans had been made to destroy parts of the wetlands and build a large distribution centre and parking lot for a major North American store chain.

Image of Jean canoeing on Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

Fortunately, massive public outcry and the efforts of  environmental organisations like Ontario Nature, Environmental Defence, Ecojustice, and the Save Duffin’s Creek local citizens group helped convince the major store chain to abandon building the centre and stopped the governments plans on this provincially significant wetlands.  In the end, the Lower Duffins Creek Wetlands were finally protected.

Image of Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

During our maiden canoe on this waterway, it became evident to Bob and me that this creek and its wetlands are host to a good variety of birds and wildlife.

Image of marsh wren along Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

We barely got started when I heard a Marsh Wren singing in the bulrushes along the Creek.

Image of yellow warbler along Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

Yellow Warblers were weaving in and out of the cattails, too.

Image of Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

This photo sums up why we love paddling on a river or creek.

Image of Jean canoeing on Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

With close proximity to riverbanks and quiet waters, there is always a good chance of spotting movement in the overhanging trees and along the shore.

Image of Belted Kingfisher along Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

The usual rattling calls of Belted Kingfishers taunted us from hidden locations before they burst from the tree cover to fly further upstream.

Image of Gray Catbird on Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

A Gray Catbird popped into view.

Image of Northern Cardinal on Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

And not to be overlooked was a male Northern Cardinal in all his glory.

Image of Jean canoeing on Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

Bob and I are kept busy scanning our environs as we paddle.

Image of kayaker on Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

It was nice to see a couple of other people paddling along Duffin’s Creek below Highway 401.

Image of Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

The intriguing thing about canoeing on a river or creek is the fact that each bend promises a surprise as you round the corner.

Image of Great Blue Heron fishing on Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

This Great Blue Heron gives some indication of the depth of water.

Image of Great Blue Heron in flight over Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

Oops!  We were disturbing its prospects of catching a fish.

Image of common merganzers on Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

There was no shortage of waterfowl.  Common Mergansers were sharing the bounty of the Creek.

Image of canoeing on Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

This was just an idyllic way to spend a day!

Image of very old tree on Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

The passage of time is reflected in these tangled tree roots.

Image of common raven on Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

A sudden croak alerted us to a Common Raven nearby.

Image of Northern Rough-winged Swallow on Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

Northern Rough-winged Swallows seemed to be undeterred by our approaching canoe.

Image of Northern Rough-winged Swallows on Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

Many Northern Rough-winged Swallows were flitting about in the bare branches of this tree.

Image of sandbar along Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

As the depth of water in Duffins Creek grew more shallow, it required some effort to keep going further north.

Image of Bob portaging up Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

A couple of times, Bob had to walk the canoe through shallow sections.  Mindful of the potential for nails and broken bottles, we always wear swim shoes to protect our feet.

Image of Bob portaging up Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

The day was scorching hot, so the swirl of water around our legs was refreshing.

Image of Jean sitting in our canoe on Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

There was the occasional obstacle in the upper reaches of Duffins Creek.  Nothing that stopped us, though.

Image of American Goldfinches along Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

Patches of still water attracted a bevy of birds.

Image of American Goldfinches along Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

American Goldfinches having a bath.

Image of Jean sitting beside our canoe along Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

A sandy point was our chosen spot for a picnic.

Image of Jean sitting beside our canoe along Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

A better place to stretch our legs could not be found.

Image of 401 bridges along Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

Lots of bathing beauties entertained us while we ate.

Making our way south again, we soon passed under the Highway 401 bridges.

Image of spotted sandpiper along Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

Bob and I were able to add one more species to our list of sightings that day, a Spotted Sandpiper.

Image of spotted sandpiper along Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

Patrolling the sandy shore, the Spotted Sandpiper came up with lots of tidbits from amongst the rocks.

Image of spotted sandpiper along Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

Bob stealthily manipulated the canoe while I tried for photos of the constantly moving Sandpiper.

Image of Jean canoeing along Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

The pedestrian bridge at the mouth of Duffins Creek soon came back into view at the end of our canoe trip.

Image of canoe tip along Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

We are grateful that Duffins Creek and its wetlands were saved from destruction by the Save Duffins Creek Movement.  It makes for a great day of paddling close to home. For more information about the Duffins Creek Wetlands, checkout this link to a report from Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.

Related:

Canoeing Outlet River in Sandbanks Provincial Park

Canoeing The Madawaska River In Algonquin Provincial Park

Our Birding Trip In the Mangrove Swamp near San Blas

Our Canoe Into The Wilds of The Minesing Swamp

Guided Tour In Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge

Frame To Frame – Bob and Jean

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