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!