Monday, April 30, 2018

WASHED UP ZEBRA MUSSELS


That tropical-looking "sandy" beach near the east side park entrance at Lake Shore Drive is not actually sand at all! 

It is made up of  Zebra Mussel shells that have been ground down over time by wave action

The recent storm washed up large numbers of mussels on to that beach.  The flesh inside the shells is now rotting and giving off a foul smell but, with the heat, the shells will soon dry out and, eventually, form more "sand".



BEAVER ACTIVITY

Photographer:  Brian Bailey

The Parks Department of the City of Toronto’s approach with beaver in parks is to try to strike a balance between maintaining some habitat for beavers, especially in natural areas, and protecting some trees (mature trees, significant species, trees near trails that could become hazardous etc.). Trees that are to be protected are wrapped with a heavy wire mesh, and monitored on a regular basis to ensure that they do not girdle the tree as it grows. 

To address concerns park users may have about beaver activity, the process is that reports are sent to 311, and then referred to the appropriate staff. When 311 receives this information, it is tracked.

Friends of Sam Smith Park has already sent in a request to have staff visit the park and assess the damage based on our own observations and those of others.  There do appear to be more felled trees this year than in the past and we are particularly concerned about the loss of cover along the banks of the large pond.

It is important to remember that the willow species and others that are their main source of food were originally planted in the wetland areas to support wildlife. 

Trapping is rarely effective. No matter how many are trapped and removed, others will generally take their place.  Some nuisance and damage should be tolerated.

Beaver feed on the bark of fast growing trees and they often gnaw on living trees just to grind down and sharpen their continuously growing incisor teeth.

Before Europeans arrived in Canada, it’s estimated there were six million beavers in Canada. By the mid-1800s, nearly all of them had been killed for their fur. We are lucky to have them back along our waterfront, taking up residence in Sam Smith Park and delighting visitors.

LAST SATURDAY'S PARK CLEAN-UP (SECOND ATTEMPT!)





Tuesday, April 24, 2018

NEW SAM SMITH PARK SPRING CLEAN-UP DATE - SATURDAY, APRIL 28TH, 9 A.M.


This spring’s first cleanup at Colonel Samuel Smith Park was held in the middle of a wild late winter storm. Hopefully April 28th will be snow-free!


Friday, April 20, 2018

"FIVE MYTHS ABOUT COYOTES DISPELLED" - ARTICLE BY CYNTHIA REASON, ETOBICOKE GUARDIAN, APRIL 19TH, 2018


There have been recent reports of coyotes in Sam Smith Park.  Two days ago a coyote was observed being chased by two unleashed dogs.  This article may be useful for park users as well as following the link at the bottom for more information.

Coyote Watch Canada director Lesley Sampson was among the presenters during a city-hosted coyote information session at the Etobicoke Olympium on Thursday, April 12

From a reputation for stalking and luring, to inflated reports of attacks — guest speakers at last week’s city-hosted coyote information session in Etobicoke helped dispel some of the myths about the ofttimes misunderstood canid.
“With public education, we’re trying to teach people how to peacefully coexist with their wild neighbours — especially coyotes, which get a bad rap,” Sara Bowman, a public educator with the Toronto Wildlife Centre, told a packed crowd at the Etobicoke Olympium last Thursday, April 12.
Among the coyote misconceptions that Bowman and her fellow speakers disputed were that:
1) Coyotes “stalk” people as prey.
Not so, said Lesley Sampson, director of Coyote Watch Canada. If a coyote appears to be following you, it’s not because it sees you as food so much as it thinks you might feed it.
“If someone else has been feeding them, coyotes will sometimes follow you expecting you to feed them, too,” she said. “That’s why we always tell people to never, ever feed coyotes.”
2) Toronto is home to “coywolves” — a larger hybrid descended from coyotes and grey wolves.
Despite popular opinion, this one is also false, said Bowman.
“First of all, I don’t like the term ‘coywolf’ — it makes it seem like they’re sneaky like a coyote and strong and aggressive like a wolf,” she said, noting that, regardless, all coyotes found in the Toronto area are eastern coyotes.
“They may look big (like coywolves), but they’re just really, really fluffy, and they have real tall legs, which makes them look a lot bigger than they are. In reality, they’re, like, 30 pounds soaking wet.”
3) Only sick coyotes are seen during the day.
“This is absolutely not the case,” said Sampson, noting that while most coyotes hunker down between dawn and dusk, their daylight slumber is often impacted by food availability and habitat disruption.
“I once had a coyote family with five pups that we were researching, and the father would go out hunting during the day. He had five hungry mouths to feed, so he would cross a busy road every day to hunt,” she said. “He was not sick, he did not have mange — he was just feeding his family, because he was a dedicated father.”
4) Coyote attacks on humans are common.
“You’re more likely to die of a lightning strike, drown in your bathtub, or get hit in the head with a golf ball than you are to be scratched, let alone bitten, by a coyote,” Bowman disputed.
In fact, while the city receives between 1,000 and 1,400 reports of dog bites every year, Bowman said there has been only one instance of a reported coyote bite in Toronto in recent history — stemming from a "very unique" situation back in 2003.
As is so often the case with emboldened coyotes approaching humans, she added, the animal in question was being fed by a well-meaning, yet ill-advised local resident.
“The coyote was injured and hobbling around on three legs, so this person began feeding it a boiled chicken every day,” she said, noting that, soon after the feeding began, the coyote reportedly began "nipping" at joggers in the park.
5) Coyotes “lure” domestic dogs back to their dens.
“Does it make sense to you that a family-oriented coyote is going to offer up their partner or their pups to attract your dog? No,” said Sampson.
Instead, what’s most often happening in these reported cases of dog “luring,” she explained, is that domestic dogs — many of whom are illegally off-leash — are giving chase to coyotes, and the coyotes are simply running back home to safety.
“Just like my daughter would run home to find protection if she was being chased, that coyote is going to run back to its family — and then an interaction might occur,” Sampson said.
“But coyotes do not lure dogs. If your dog is off-leash and chasing wildlife, your dog is misbehaving and breaking the Fish and Wildlife Act.”

For more information about coyotes, go to https://bit.ly/2DFsDyu

PLANT EXCHANGE - SATURDAY, MAY 5TH


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

SAM SMITH BIRD FESTIVAL - MAY 26TH, 2018


The City of Toronto is hosting the ninth annual Spring Bird Festival at Colonel Samuel Smith Park on May 26th, 2018 as part of the Toronto Bird Celebration Week. The event provides people with an opportunity to learn more about Toronto's diverse population of birds during their peak spring migration. The fun, family-oriented day offers hourly guided bird tours, live bird and reptile exhibits, fun workshops and crafts, and a variety of educational displays.

Located where two of the great North American migratory routes meet, the Atlantic and Mississippi flyways, Toronto is known as a migratory superhighway for birds. It is estimated that 50 million birds will fly over, or through, Toronto as they travel north to the Arctic and Boreal forest regions. Many will have flown thousands of kilometers during migration stopping for rest in Toronto. Several million of these birds will rely on the city's ravines, parks, gardens, and wetlands each year.

This Festival is in partnership with Concerned Citizens About the Future of the Etobicoke Waterfront, Friends of Samuel Smith Park, Humber Arboretum, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, and Birds and Beans.

"TORONTO BIRD CELEBRATION" - MAY 12 - 27TH, 2018


Check out Bird Studies Canada's "Toronto Bird Celebration" web page for resources, links and event listings for May 12 - 27th.  Some of the many events will take place in Colonel Samuel Smith Park.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

A CHALLENGING CLEAN-UP DAY!

Alan and Terry
In spite of the ongoing ice storm, the stalwart Alan Roy installed his clean-up station in the park this morning at 0.900 hours and bravely awaited volunteers. 

Not many answered the call.  Not surprising.  

It was virtually impossible to detect garbage and, when something did poke out above the snow, it was typically frozen to the ground and impossible to remove.  Although the park looked pristine with its glistening snow covering, there is a lot of litter in the park lurking underneath, ready to emerge in all its ugliness as the week progresses.

Joanne Yano
However, some larger items were found along the shoreline as well as some "furniture" pieces in the Dogwood Thicket.

Thanks to those few brave souls who did venture out!

Hanna and Iyabo

Suggestion:  Go visit the park this week and take a garbage bag with you.  Find a littered spot, make it your own, take responsibility for it, clean it up and pop the bag in or, if full, next to the large garbage receptacles.  
Next Sunday, April 22nd, is Earth Day.  Make it a family outing.  Take the kids.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

E-BIRDS AND A "FRIENDLY" VIRGINIA RAIL

Yesterday, Own Strickland reported on E-Birds the sighting of a Virginia Rail in the park.  He also posted a couple of terrific images of this often elusive marsh dweller.

One image shows the rail and a muskrat appearing to be very friendly (if you ignore the conventions of forced perspective and scaled objects - thanks, Wikipedia!).

For daily reports of birds being seen in Sam Smith, check out E-Birds (Col. Samuel Smith Park).




Saturday, April 7, 2018

SAD DAY IN THE PARK - SNOWY OWL FOUND DEAD

Today, Garth Riley discovered the remains of a Snowy Owl in the park.  It looks as though it could be the bird that has been seen by many park visitors roosting on the yacht club dock over the last few weeks.

How it was killed and by what predator is a mystery.  The head was gone and the body stripped clean - all that remained was one wing, two large feathered claws and a pile of feathers.  The claws, legs and rib cage were hanging five feet from the ground in the cleft of a small tree.

If anyone has a possible explanation for or prior experience of such a kill, please contact FOSS at friendsofsamsmithpark@gmail.ca

Many people will be upset by this unfortunate news.