Friday, April 30, 2010

SAM SMITH GREBES


This week, the Toronto Region Conservation Authority placed two redesigned Red Necked Grebe nesting platforms in the bay near the old burnt-out observation deck.  The platforms are constructed in a different way from each other - one has a ledge around it with a mesh floor and the other has a simple wooden surface.  Both float lower in the water than last year's design and are supported on styrofoam.  We understand that there is very little literature on this subject to use as a reference and we applaud the TRCA for being on the cutting edge of this kind of research.  Red Necked Grebes nest on floating vegetation, in most cases on the reed piles made by muskrats that float free with the spring melt.  There has been a serious decline in muskrat populations, so, fewer natural nesting opportunities for the grebes.  But, the Sam Smith grebes are tenacious and as determined as the TRCA to eventually make Sam Smith their nursery!
Please forward any observations and photographs of events around the nesting platforms to Terry Smith.  The TRCA biologists will use them in their research.  If you want to learn more, come to the Sam Smith Bird Festival on May 29th to talk to them directly.
One of the platforms has moved from its original position.  The swans were checking them out for nesting possibilities and may have dislodged it.  Hopefully, they'll come to understand the size limitations!  Thanks to George Raikou for the photo.
Birders and photographers were delighted by our very rare visitor last week.  An elegant, swan-like Western Grebe dropped in to the bay for two days and mixed it up with the Red Necks.  It was finally scared off by an unsuspecting kayaker who got a little too close.  Thanks to Henry Fulott for that photograph.

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