Friday, May 30, 2014

"BUMBLEBEE SOCCER" FOR TOTS EVERY WEDNESDAY EVENING IN THE PARK

For two years, local parents have organized a wonderful soccer programme for kids in the park.  It starts around 5 p.m. every Wednesday evening and takes place in the field near the Lake Shore Drive entrance on the east side of the park.  We understand that they are always looking for new recruits.  Contact Brea or Blythe at the email addresses below.

Bumblebee Soccer

Bumblebee Soccer is a grassroots, parent organized, non-competitive soccer program for tots ages 2-6.  For many kids, this will be their first introduction to soccer, and as such, our aim is to build basic soccer skills through simple, fun and engaging games.  Children develop a foundation for soccer which will hopefully lead to a lifelong appreciation of the sport. 
Bumblebee soccer is held in Col. Sam Smith park every Wednesday
night for 30 min. during the spring. We have over 45 participants with four coaches who bring their passion and enthusiasm with them weekly. 
This is our second  season and we look forward to many more.
For more information contact Blythe Underys or Brea Hodge at 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

FOSS POSITION ON PROPOSED BILLY BISHOP AIRPPORT EXPANSION


Reply from No Jets Toronto .....
"Thanks so much this is a great endorsement to have...and eloquently written as well!  We will have it up on our web site in no time!
Best wishes,
Marjorie Nichol,
No Jets Toronto steering committee."

Check out the No Jets T.O. website for videos with more information.

CCFEW (Citizens Concerned for the Future of the Etobicoke Waterfront) has also taken a similar position.

NEW, FOSS-DESIGNED, "EDUCATIONAL" DOG SIGNS NOW INSTALLED IN PARK

There appear to be four …..
  • east entrance on Lake Shore Drive
  • south parking lot
  • main entrance from traffic circle
  • where you enter from the west near filtration plant
They are attached for the most part quite high up and on existing “dogs on leash” signs.
These signs were designed by the Friends of Sam Smith Park steering committee and we have been told by the City that they are considering using them in other Toronto parks as well.  See previous post (note how the City left out the word "please" on the last section in their version!) The FOSS logo can be seen in the bottom left corner.

SLIDESHOW - SOME PICS FROM THE BIRD FESTIVAL 2014

 

Marilyn Campbell recently offered some thoughts about the Spring Bird Festival on her blog.  She has been involved with the Etobicoke-Mimico Creeks Coalition and lives on 13th Street.

RUNNERS-UP - FOSS PHOTO COMPETITION SPRING 2014

Many thanks to those of you who submitted photos to the first ever Friends of Sam Smith Park photo competition 2014.

The theme we chose for our inaugural shot at this was one that best portrays Sam Smith Park as a place for people to quietly enjoy nature in any season.

The first and second prize winners were Rena Sherring and Ron Smith.  The winning pics were posted earlier. Rena won "Peterson's Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America" and Ron won a much coveted FOSS baseball cap (still available - $15 as are T-shirts - $15)

We hope to repeat this next year with broader and different themes.  Categories will include birds, mammals, plants (flowers, trees, shrubs), insects and butterflies, people and scenery/landscape.

So, keep on clicking and saving the best for next year!

These are this year's runners-up.

















Monday, May 26, 2014

SAM SMITH PARK COYOTE

Beautiful photograph from Heather Jack of our "now resident?" coyote Mis004 with the non-functioning radio transmitter.  FOSS has received numerous sighting reports in recent weeks and have forwarded them to the professor who is tracking it for the Ministry of Natural Resources.


LATEST WHIMBREL REPORT FROM "WHIMBREL POINT" - VERY INFORMATIVE AND AMUSING

SUNDAY, MAY 25TH - WHIMBREL (and other birds) REPORT BY TIM MCCARTHY

WHIMBREL
Hi to all Shorebirders and Whimbrellizers in particular.
Today at Colonel Sam Smith Park was so different from yesterday I don't know where to start. But isn't that just like nature?
The boys in Virginia reported 2,361 Whimbrels leaving their shore last night to make a total so far of 5,739 birds. Not exactly darkening the skies but at least we're learning about them. Maybe even in time to save them?  Remember last night when I asked if anybody out there could unravel the mystery of only 3 birds in Toronto when 1,548 left Virginia? It might have been Freddy Bodsworth but probably one of the reasons below.
DUNLIN

I was told  there are several different paths the Birds may take when they decide to leave their staging areas in Virginia take, with Toronto and CSS Park in particular  being but one of the birds' favourite fly-overs. Virginia says a bird tracked by satellite transmitter may take from 9 to 11 hours to get here. So if they say Wally Whimbrel with his radio transmitter left the beach between 5;45 and 6:15 last night we should expect to see Wally and his "Fling" (collective noun for Whimbrels - isn't scholarship wonderful?) by late afternoon unless they've gone via Rochester or whatever. You can actually follow some of the birds in real time on the website called Seaturtle.org - http://www.seaturtle.org/search.shtml?cx=partner-pub-9193338284454234%3A2zdd5d-zgk8&q=whimbrel&cof=FORID%3A9  and of course see bits of alternate routes through this report.
BLACK BELLIED PLOVER
So they reckon we in Toronto and you and me at Sam Smith may on an average day get around a third of the birds from Virginia if we're lucky. Thanks so much Virginia. All my birdgroupies are going to wanna have your babies.
Next time around I'm thinking of doing my PhD on factors affecting the migration of birds, Whimbrels in particular. (I don't actually have a PhD but I've thought about it before).
OK
This morning by the time Pryor and I got to Whimbrel Point Wayne Renaud already had 305 Whimbrels, 280 of them in a single flock.( Sorry, fling.)
By the time I got set up to watch for them the total was over 320. The rest came between 3 and 4 pm. so the total for today was 406, and the grand total from May 19 to date is now 1,210 birds.
SEMI PALMATED SANDPIPER

Wayne and I were both recording so furiously at some points that it may be better to let Wayne tell his own story but there were Blackbellied Plovers that flew through like arrows and one of my most favourite,  Dunlins. By the thousands I reckon. The Dunlins, accompanied by a few Semipalmated Sandpipers stuck around to entertain us (sorry, anthropormophification error but don't you think Dunlins are a candidate for Worlds' Cutest Bird?) Everybody who came out to the Park, all the casual users with kids and dogs and barbecues and Grandma,  was treated by the Dunlin display and, coupled with some inspiration provided by us, I'm sure emerged from the experience much improved human beings. Except for the dogs.
PEREGRINE FALCON
Late afternoon there was a heads-up event brought to you by Mr. Peregrine Falcon who swooped through an enormous but slightly  mixed up and complaining flock of little shorebirds and to emerge with a Dunlin in his grasp. Was he a resident Peregrine? And if so, from where?
Awards consisting of a Timbit for the sharpest eyes went to Kris Ito in the womens' category and were shared in the young mens' category by Henrique Pacheco and Adam Caparelli while the award for the most enthusiastic (and toughest young birder blackbelt did he say?) went to Ben Harrison. Seeing these young fellows be such keen birders makes me a little more comfortable about the future of the world. And I would almost, but not quite, trade my gold medal ears for their incredibly sharp young eyes, and my years of experience for their contagious enthusiasm. And thanks, Mom.
Folks who made the day so pleasant I wish they were on board every day were, in rough order of appearance, Wayne Renaud, Dave Pryor, Vivik Kumar, Jean Iron, Ron Pittaway, Huey Mcneil Bruce Wilkinson, Mark Cranford, Garth riley, Howard Shapiro, Herb Elliott, John Fitzsimmons, Lynn Pady, Debbie Pacheco, Moni Harrison, a lady named Adair whom I was so entraced by I forgot to ask her last name, a fellow named Mark, who I personally supervised the transition from a fairly ordinary bystander to a raving birdgeek in just 48 hours, and about a dozen other people who shall remain nameless for the moment through no fault of their own. I should have been recording but I got so excited I jumped up and hollered like everybody else!
Colonel Sam Smith Park. What a place. Located at the South end of Kipling Avenue in Toronto. There is free parking in the south lot but you should leave a note on the dashboard that you are birding. Eat at Timmies, use the facilities there, bird yourself crazy up in the Bowl and Dogwood Patch and then come down to see us at Whimbrel Point. What a day!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

EATING GARLIC MUSTARD IS A WIN-WIN!



Garlic mustard is a wild edible that has earned the title of being invasive in many geographical areas. This is especially so in Toronto parks like Sam Smith Park. The plant can completely take over.  
It's also a tasty, versatile, and nutritious vegetable. So, the obvious solution to this is for all of us to get out there and start gathering! It’s abundant and easy-to-identify, especially in May when it starts to flower.  Gathering as much of it as you want actually helps, rather than hurts, the environment.
Garlic mustard greens are very nutritious as they have substantial amounts of vitamins A, C, E and some of the B vitamins. In addition this wild weed contains potassium, calcium, magnesium, selenium, copper, iron and manganese as well as omega-3 fatty acids.
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) has European ‘roots’ and was
introduced to the U.S. and Canada by early settlers. This garlic-flavored plant was widely used in cooking and for medicinal purposes.  Check out the health benefits from eating this amazing wild edible:
  • Excellent for controlling weight
  • Improves the health of your heart
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Thins the blood
  • May help prevent cancer
  • Strengthens the immune system
The flowers do not usually appear until late May.  This year, because of all the spring rain, garlic mustard is everywhere!  Leaves in any season can be eaten but once the weather gets a bit hot they might taste somewhat bitter. The flavor overall is garlicky with a bit of a mustard bite. You know for sure it is garlic mustard when you detect the scent of garlic when crushing a leaf.
Here are some creative ideas to use this nutritious plant:
  • Toss some into a batch of mashed potatoes
  • Put some in any salad you enjoy
  • Add to stews or soups (beans, potatoes onion, carrots, chicken broth etc.)
  • Saute with pasta, onions etc.
ENJOY!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

FOSS PHOTO COMPETITION WINNERS!

We are pleased to announce first and second prize winners of Friends of Sam Smith Park's first ever photo competition.  All submissions were judged by the FOSS Steering Committee.

The theme we chose was one that best portrays Sam Smith Park as a place for people to quietly enjoy nature in any season.

The runners-up will be posted soon.

FIRST PRIZE - RENA SHERRING
SECOND PRIZE - RON SMITH "THREE ON A BENCH"

DAY 2: TORONTO ORNITHOLOGICAL CLUB WHIMBREL WATCH RESULTS FOR SAM SMITH PARK



Wayne Renaud reported yesterday  .....


"Today the watch lasted 9 hours form 5:30 am to 2:30 pm when the rain started.   One flock of 45 Whimbrels was seen at 2:15 pm just the rain was starting: they flew in low from sse, circled the point then landed somewhere down along the sw end of the peninsula.  There was no one there hiking or walking their dogs so they rested for a little while.
Also seen were two peep sandpipers; one small flock 6 Dunlin; one mixed flock of 24 Dunlin and 5 White-rumped Sandpiper.
Yesterday, four Whimbrels were counted in 11.5 hours of observation.  
Also recorded was a flock of 4 Ruddy Tunestone and two Lesser Yellowlegs.  The watch continues until 30 May.  

The Whimbrel has the narrowest window of spring migration than any other North American shorebird, with over 60% passing from 24 to 26 May in most years."

To read other FOSS posts on whimbrels, follow this link or type "whimbrels" in search bar at top right of header page. Daily reports can be monitored by subscribing to ONTBIRDS.
Fell free to visit the observers at the tip of the eastern peninsula to take part or for more information.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

SONGBIRD MIGRATION IN SAM SMITH PARK



BLUE WINGED WARBLER

Most Ontario songbirds are migratory, only spending the breeding season (spring through fall) in the province. They spend winters in the southern United States, the Caribbean, or in Central or South America. For the most part, they are primarily tropical or semi-tropical. 
 

SCARLET TANAGER
Some have undertaken journeys of 7,000 to 8,000 kilometres and will have depleted their reserves of fat. Some birds can use up those reserves in a single flight. They set off at dusk from staging areas on the other side of the lake and fly through the night several hundred metres in the sky.   

PROTHONOTORY WARBLER
Toronto is a strategically-located layover point on the "songbird superhighway" that the migrating birds follow.  Waterfront parks with a variety of habitats like Sam Smith Park are prime locations for birds (and bird watchers) and their position as the first dry land makes them a major magnet for exhausted birds seeking a place to feed and rest their wings.


BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER
Woodland warblers are the main attraction. They are tiny, colourful, insect-eating birds moving north from their winter nesting grounds to breed and feed on Ontario mosquitoes in the northern woods.  While passing through, songbirds will spend the day in our parks and neighbourhoods gorging on insects — those clouds of frantic midges — as well as moth and butterfly larvae.

INDIGO BUNTING
The warblers hop from branch to branch in trees and shrubs, peeking under leaves looking for bugs. In a lot of cases it's the only time people will have a chance to see a bird like that and to hear it sing because they breed in areas where people simply do not live. By the time the migration winds down, it’s estimated at least 50 million birds will have passed over Toronto.


GOLDEN WINGED WARBLER
Here are a few of the songbirds that have been reported by birders in Sam Smith Park over the last few weeks.  When binoculars are used, they cease to be just “little brown jobs” flitting by and the fantastic, vibrant display of colour that the males in particular take on becomes wonderfully visible.