Thursday, October 15, 2020

REPORT ON PLANTING AT COLONEL SAMUEL SMITH PARK - OCTOBER 8TH, 2020

As a member and president of FOSS, I attended a planting at Whimbrel Point, Col Sam Smith Park.

All volunteers had to sign-in online for attendance control and COVID 19 clearance.


The planting started at 10 am. 15 volunteers had signed up to help. Many of them were members of FOSS Steering Committee plus members of FOSS and other locals who saw the request distributed by FOSS on social media. 14 listed volunteers showed. We all wore our masks.

This made a full complement of volunteers.

When we arrived at the Point, the TRCA leader and assistant were already present. They had ample signage placed on the approach to the Point saying what was going on and listing the COVID protocols. Other park users stayed clear of our planting.

They had placed all the shrubs and other plants we were going to use in the designated spots for each. These areas included two patches. One was mostly planted the year before but was now cleared of weeds. There was a large variety of plants. Tools were placed at the site for us. We used our own shovel for the planting and put it in a used pile at the end.

Before we started, Jacob Mokrzynski and his assistant welcomed us, gave background, checked us off his list and explained the COVID rules.

We were broken up into groups and brought over to the planting site where the work was described. We then had a sample planting done for each group so that plants were put in properly, giving them the best chance for success. The mulching for each type was also explained. There was a large pile of mulch placed at the site for us to gather in buckets for each plant.

Jake and assistant worked alongside each group to answer questions and assist with the planting. They had a tent set up as well but it was not used. The weather was cool and ideal for the work.

Mulch was used for each plant and the excess was used to coat the entire area to help prevent weeds from growing in the patches.

I took several photos of the operation as well as a group photo at the end. We were finished before noon, which was the planned end time. The photos were placed on the FOSS website and to other media.

Last year when we did the planting in the first patch by the point, we took a longer time-period. This was a problem for those of us who had cars in the south parking lot, as after two hours of parking, tickets could be given. I went back to the parking lot early to ask the parking authorities not to ticket us. They had chalked the tires and were about to ticket. They took my story and did not ticket there. A simple solution to this problem with volunteers being ticketed would be to provide a small sign on the registration site to those registered to be put in the windshield showing TRCA Volunteer Event with the date.

The process and execution of the planting was very well prepared and executed by the staff of the TRCA.

I thanked the TRCA staff present as well as all the volunteers for their work.

I also thank their boss Vince D’Elia for checking in near the end of the planting and for his part in getting staff and organizing the event.

Brian Keaveney

FOSS President

Thursday, October 8, 2020

PLANTING AT WHIMBREL POINT TODAY


Friends of Sam Smith Park thanks the 15 volunteers, including 5 steering committee members, who came out today for the planting of native shrubs on Whimbrel Point.

Friday, September 18, 2020

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8TH - PLANTING AT SAM SMITH PARK

Last fall, the TRCA and FOSS participated in a planting of shrubs at Whimbrel Point at Col. Sam Smith Park.  This planting replaced a large area of burdock.  Things are going well with the first planting, so TRCA is planning a second stage, right next to last year's.  They are looking for volunteers for this activity.  This event will be following strict COVID-19 guidelines.

Date:  Thursday, October 8

Time: 10 a.m.- 12 noon

Location:  Whimbrel Point at Col. Sam Smith Park

If you would like to help, please contact Barbara Keaveney (FOSS) at barbara.keaveney@sympatico.ca.  

 Information from TRCA-

"The plan would be to do planting infill with native shrubs and expand the area we planted last Fall at Whimbrel Point with the objective of outcompeting the existing burdock and enhancing the natural habitat at the site   

Both TRCA and City of Toronto have established very similar COVID19 Protocols and Guidelines for these type of community engagement activities and these modified program guidelines include limiting the number of participants to 25 at the event, and following strict health and safety protocols, including health screening, sanitization of tools and physical distancing. The health and safety of staff and volunteers is our main priority. If the situation evolves we will adapt our plans accordingly and keep you up to date with any changes that are made."


Thursday, September 17, 2020

LONG BRANCH VIRTUAL TREE FEST

 


"Sunday, Sept 20th from 12 – 2:45pm we are going to be distributing Children's Activity Kits in Sam Smith Park at our “Tree for Free” give away where we will be distributing – via safe, physical distancing drive-through- 450 native trees to be planted on private property in Toronto."


Click here for more information

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

BIRDS CANADA: BARRIER FREE BIRDING


"In our Statement on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion in Birding, Birds Canada committed to actively reaching out and welcoming communities that have been discriminated against, feel unsafe enjoying nature, and are underrepresented by nature organizations. We further committed to include and listen carefully to voices from minorities to better address their conservation and education objectives.

As a start, we’re offering 200 one-year free memberships to welcome Black People, Indigenous People, People of Colour, members of the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, and others who have experienced barriers to enjoying nature and joining Birds Canada."


IF INTERESTED, FOLLOW THIS LINK

Monday, June 8, 2020

TORONTO'S COOPER'S HAWKS



The Birding with Brian blog has documented a number of Cooper's hawk nests in the Toronto area this year, specifically starting on May 1st, 2020.  

This includes Cooper’s Hawk Nest (#11) in Sam Smith Park.

Here's the link.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

SATURDAY'S BIRD CELEBRATION PROGRAMME - 5.30 A.M. TO 8.30 P.M.


Here is the link to participate in the bird celebration on Saturday ...



5:45AM
Live Dawn Chorus at Sam Smith Park

Kelly-Sue O’Connor
FOSS Committee
8:00AM
Welcome from FOSS (Friends of Sam Smith Park)

Brian Keaveney
President of FOSS
8:30AM
Kid’s Activities and Craft Ideas

FOSS
9:00AM
Live Great Canandian Birdathon for Bird Canada – Toronto Ornithological Club

Justin Peter
President of the Toronto Ornithological Club
10:00AM
A Coffee Primer for Birds & People

Birds & Beans
10:30 AM
Nests & Eggs
Emily Rondel
Community Learning Coordinator for Toronto Regional Conservation Authority and Vice President of the Toronto Ornithological Club

11:00AM
Photography Slideshow

Nancy Barrett
FOSS Committee

11:30AM
Recommended Bird Related Reading

FOSS
12:00PM
Lakeshore Grounds:  Indigenous history and the Carrying Place Trail
Introduction to the Construction of the Park from Landfill
Introduction to Colonel Sam Smith Park- The first settler owner of the land and for whom the park is named.
Introduction to the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital on the grounds (including the power house and cricket pitch)

Nadine Finlay                                     Assistant Curator, Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre


12:30AM
FLAP- Fatal Light Awareness Program
Hitting The Streets with FLAP

FLAP
1:00PM
Birds Canada Materials for Kids

Birds Canada
1:30PM
Tour of the Swallow Field

Terry Smith
FOSS Committee

2:00PM
Shorebird Migration including Whimbrels
Mark Peck
Technician Ornithology Department at the Royal Ontario Museum and Manager of the SHAD Gallery of Biodiversity

2:30PM
Photography Slideshow         
Irene Cholewka
FOSS Committee

3:00PM
Wild Ontario- Stronger, Faster, Stealthier- Ontario’s Remarkable Raptors

Kyle Horner
Education Coordinator for Wild Ontario
3:30PM
All About Birds Postings-Learn about different birds in our park!

FOSS
4:00PM
Sketching Mallard Ducks Tutorial, How to Draw a Feather
Alan Li
LUNA Toronto – The Leagues of Urban Nature Artists

5:00PM
Recommended Bird Related Movies and Documentaries

FOSS
5:30PM
FLAP- Fatal Light Awareness Program
Canada Annual Migratory Bird Layout at The Royal Ontario Museum

FLAP
6:00PM
Toronto Bird Celebration Links

FOSS
8:15PM
Live Dusk Chorus
Kelly-Sue O’Connor
FOSS Committee


Monday, May 18, 2020

SATURDAY, MAY 23RD - FRIENDS OF SAM SMITH PARK ALL DAY ONLINE AND LIVE BIRD CELEBRATION


SATURDAY, MAY 23RD AT 5:30 AM – 7 PM

Friends of Sam Smith Park All Day Bird Celebration online and live on our Facebook page!

Join us as we celebrate the birds in our park online! We will have special speakers, trivia, children’s activities to try at home, photo slideshows, a tour of our famous swallow field and more!

More info to come .....

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

SUMMARY: MINUTES FOSS STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING - APRIL 27TH, 2020

Summary: FOSS Steering Committee Meeting
April 27th, 2020
7:00, Via Zoom Video Conferencing


  • NATURE’S SANCTUARY PHOTO EXHIBIT: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the exhibit is tentatively re-scheduled for 2021. A new date (when confirmed) will be posted on the FOSS blog and Facebook sites. Save your photos until then. 
  • FACEBOOK POSTINGS OF COL. SAM PARK’S BIRD SIGHTINGS: Many FOSS Facebook followers have expressed concern about crowded conditions at Col. Sam. Many believe that posting bird sightings serves to encourage ever more visitors. Some visitors are apparently not practising “social distancing”. To alleviate such problems, FOSS encourages birders to post only their back yard counts.
  • BEAVER-CUT TREES: Beavers have cut down several larger trees in Col. Sam. FOSS has learned that the city’s plans to place mesh around the trees have been tentatively delayed until fall 2020. FOSS plans to inquire if this task could be completed by volunteers before then.
  • LONG BRANCH TREE FESTIVAL: Tentatively scheduled for Sunday, September 20. Check the blog for updates.
  • NEW TORONTO HOLIDAY MARKET: FOSS has been asked to participate again in December 2020 (COVID-19 dependent). FOSS hopes to expand the activities on offer. Adults particularly enjoyed making Christmas “swags”. FOSS plans to make them available in 2020.
  • ON-GOING CONCERNS:
  • DRUG/GARBAGE/TREE PLATFORM PROBLEMS AT COL. SAM: Discarded drug paraphernalia and litter are on-going detriments in the park, particularly in the North Creek area. Visitors are asked to notify the police at 416 808-2200 for drug infractions and 311 for trash build-up. Any problems reported to 311 are greatly strengthened when accompanied with a photo.

Friday, May 1, 2020

TREE SWALLOW NEST BOX "EVICTIONS" OF HOUSE SPARROWS



You may have noticed the FOSS Tree Swallow crew tossing out nesting material from some boxes in the last week or so. As well as having kept the entrance holes covered until the swallows arrived this spring, we have also been evicting House Sparrows from boxes in order to deter them from taking over. Our efforts have produced some success ... there are more swallows than ever this year in the field.
 
House Sparrows are extremely determined and aggressive. They will kill adult swallows and nestlings in the boxes and even build their own nest on top of the dead birds!

Although the images posted here of dead swallows we have recently found are difficult to look at, they do illustrate how ruthless sparrows can be and why we need to continue with the "evictions".

House Sparrows are an "exotic", non-native, invasive species and as such are not protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Nestbox monitors are allowed to remove their nests,
particularly when they compete with protected birds like the Tree Swallow.



Tuesday, April 7, 2020

CANCELLED - 2020 SPRING BIRD FESTIVAL, SAM SMITH PARK


RECEIVED TODAY ....

"Hello everyone,

It's unfortunate that we have to make this announcement, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Toronto has cancelled all City-led mass events until June 30th. In light of this decision, Urban Forestry has cancelled volunteer events and programs until further notice.

This includes the 11th Annual Spring Bird Festival Saturday, May 23rd

Please sign up for our mailing list to receive an update when programming resumes. We will provide more information when it becomes available.  toronto.ca/greentoronto#mail

More information on the COVID-19 situation in Toronto and the City’s response is available at toronto.ca/covid-19.

We regret any inconvenience this may cause. Thank you for your patience as we work to maintain the health and safety of both the public and our staff during this rapidly evolving situation.

We hope everyone is well during this time. Please contact us at greentoronto@toronto.ca if you have any questions and thank you for your understanding.

Thank you,
City of Toronto Parks and Forestry"

Saturday, April 4, 2020

CANCELLED - ALAN ROY'S ANNUAL PARK CLEAN-UP, SUNDAY APRIL 19TH

To my friends around Colonel Sam Smith Park .....

It is with deep personal regret, not necessarily shared by many of my cherished volunteers (you know who you are), that I find myself, in light of the current health/safety precautions, deferring my 28th Annual park clean up scheduled for COVID19th of April.

I had all preparations in place and it was promising to be a GREAT year. How could it not after the year of the ice storm and a freezing rain, dreary day, that we moved back a week to allow us ANOTHER rainy, dreary day? We remember them all.

I was looking forward to my annual catch up with many of you as it seems my park clean-up is the only time I see you.

As much as I would like to be able to use the catchphrase “Rain, Shine, Ice storm or Pandemic, the event happens!”, this year we are unavoidably delayed.

I will be at the park on Sunday, 19 April as I have been for the last few weeks, collecting garbage and scrap metal. I would be happy to see those of you who are willing come out and, while keeping a safe distance from one another, collect what you can. I’ll be the one in the Bonnet and army boots. Shout “Hello” from a socially distanced acceptable standard!

It doesn’t need to be today, or even on Sunday the 19th . If you can spare ten minutes during your walks, the park and, by extension, ourselves, can only benefit.

I can’t offer you supplies or draw prizes this year (yet) but I can offer you the spirit and the camaraderie of like-minded neighbours and the knowledge that we are doing our best to help make the world a healthier place while we endeavour to keep ourselves and our friends, family and community healthy.

I look forward to our return to better times and to rescheduling a proper park clean up. You know, with only the miserable weather to complain about!

My thanks as always, for your ongoing support and my best wishes to all of you and your families.

Stay Healthy

Alan Roy
Colonel Samuel Smith Park Clean Up

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

FOSS WINTER BIRD FEEDER PROJECT




Last week, our "FOSS Winter Bird Feeder Project" by the Skating Trail at Sam Smith Park wrapped up for another year, as feeding stations were taken down, amid the protests of some noisy red-winged blackbirds!  



A big thank you to all of our faithful participants who filled the feeders each day since last December.  The birds (and the squirrels!) truly appreciated your dedication!

12 SIMPLE TRICKS TO ATTRACT CARDINALS TO YOUR BACKYARD



Garth Clifford has posted this terrific article on his website "World Birds".

Sunday, March 29, 2020

NATURE NERDS REJOICE!

Are you amateur naturalists looking for something to occupy yourself with at home?  Try out the Field Guides website for some great podcasts on North American wildlife.

If you've been out looking for Woodcocks recently (an activity called "timberdoodlin'" in some parts of the USA), podcast #37 might hold your interest.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

TAKE A MOMENT TO WELCOME BACK THE BIRDS - ESPECIALLY IN THESE DIFFICULT TIMES

The birds have started returning to the park.  Photographers and birders are once again on the move. The Swallow Field quietly waits for its cheerful occupants to noisily claim their nesting spots - the first one was spotted by Bruce this morning just off Whimbrel Point.   The miracle is happening once again.

The days are tough right now.  But the age old cycles of nature can help settle our troubled thoughts during this chaotic time. 

And the return of birds ... the best of all!

Try to get out and greet them ... but, remember to keep that safe distance from each other.

Not sure what you're looking for and how to identify them?

Birds Canada has come up with a bird guide tailored exactly to date and location based on Ebird records.  It will print a visual guide to the birds you might expect to see on any given day in Sam Smith Park (or any other location) - and it is surprisingly accurate.  Species on yesterday's list were actually there!

Here's the link and some screenshots from today's guide.  Take a break from the worries and quietly enjoy.

Also, take a moment to learn about the life histories of the species you see by visiting Cornell Labs Bird Guide.  Check out range maps to see just how far they have traveled from their wintering spots to greet you!






Monday, March 23, 2020

"NATURE'S SANCTUARY 2020" - FOSS PHOTO EXHIBIT


EARLY CALLOUT FOR ENTRIES: While you're staying safely at home and doing your part in social distancing, here's a project for you!

Start going through your nature photos that were taken in the park to enter into our contest this fall! 


Information for Exhibitors

Gallery Opening: September 10, 2020, 6-8 p.m.
Runs: September 9 through October 8, 2020

Entry Info:

  • Up to 5 images per photographer at $25 for non-FOSS members, $20 for FOSS members.
  • Submissions are due August 1, 2020 by sending JPEG files via email to samsmithfoto@gmail.com  
  • Photographs must be taken at Col. Sam Smith Park.  
  • No discernible photos of people or boats will be accepted.
  • Work can be listed for sale by the artist.
  • Specs:
  • Image size 8 x 10" or larger
  • Black frames with white mats

Note from the Assembly Hall Gallery:

Use secure wire hanging system with more than one hanging point and screw eyes placed no more than 6” down from top of frame. In hanging position, the centre of the wire should be 3” from the top of the frame.
Suitable frame styles and materials: While we recognize that custom framing can be very expensive, we caution that some styles of retail frames, meant for home use only, are not suitable. Any work deemed fragile will require an additional waiver signed by the artist. Insurance is provided against vandalism, theft, fire, smoke or water damage, but not against accidental breakage of glass or damage to fragile articles. 

Please contact Nancy at brrrdgrrrl99@gmail.com with any further inquiries. 

More details to come...now, GO!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

WORK ON WETLAND LOOKOUT TO START SOON


Toronto Parks has included work on the North Creek Wetland lookout in their 2020 budget.  Following suggestions from Friends of Sam Smith Park, the work this summer involves replacing the current metal grill with one that will make it easier for wheelchair access, walking devices and strollers etc.  The problem is that the grill spacing is too wide and small wheels get stuck.

We wish to thank our Parks partners for their quick response to the issue.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

TREE SWALLOW BOXES NOW READY FOR GUESTS! .... AND A CALL-OUT FOR T BAR FENCE POST DONATIONS


Today, FOSS volunteers Bruce, Stefan and Terry carried out the annual cleaning, sanitizing and repairing of the Tree Swallow boxes in the Swallow Field.

Some boxes “disappeared” this winter.  They will be replaced by the end of next week.  Some additional ones will be installed as well.

The birds will start arriving in the next couple of weeks.

Last year, we had a problem with non-native House Sparrows.  Box occupancy by HOSPs was higher than it had been in previous years so we employed some new strategies.  We put “scarers” (tinsel, fishing line etc.) around the entrance holes and we also numbered the boxes with yellow tags for easily shared identification when evictions were required.

We had some success, but, this year, our visit today showed that they are back in force.  Quite a large number of the boxes were already occupied and nest building had begun in some of them.

After cleaning out the boxes, we put cardboard covers over the entrance holes.
  
Given that HOSPs are larger, heavier and more aggressive that Tree Swallows, the thinking is that, as soon as the swallows arrive, and they arrive in large numbers at about the same time, we will remove the covers.  Hopefully, this will give the swallows a fighting chance against the sparrows who will not be defending already established nests with, quite probably, eggs in them.

It’s an experiment that may work.  We have researched this common problem extensively and discovered that there is no definitive answer.

We will monitor the situation daily.

If anyone has any T bar fence posts in
T BAR FENCE POST
their garage that they would like to donate to increase the capacity of the Swallow Field, please contact Terry at friendsofsamsmithpark@gmail.com


(By the way, the T bars in the field are almost all "wonky". The reason for this is that the soil is only a few inches deep with demolition rubble underneath.  This is a lake-fill site.  No matter how hard we try to put them in straight, metal and rock have their own way of doing things!)


Tuesday, March 10, 2020

PUT PARK CLEAN-UP DATE IN YOUR CALENDAR - SUNDAY APRIL 19TH

Alan Roy, who organizes the Sam Smith Park annual spring clean-up, has already been busy putting subtle hints around the park to remind people to turn up for the clean-up.

See you there!