Tuesday, April 20, 2021

SUNDAY'S "POP-UP" PARK CLEAN-UP

Well, we did it! ....SAFELY

Who could have predicted that the least-organized of all the Sam Smith Park Clean-Ups would have been so successful and enjoyable? And in THIS YEAR specifically!

Sadly, due to the COVID-19 restrictions, we weren’t able to keep track of every volunteer with a sign-in sheet. But what we do know is that we started with 100 bags and ended with less than twenty. And that doesn’t include those keen individuals who brought their own bags! So thank you, one and all, for coming out!

Upon final inspection, it was incredibly difficult to find any traces of garbage in the well-travelled areas where there had been just a few hours prior. If that isn’t considered a success, then I don’t know what is. 

Alongside the many, many bags of more traditional garbage, we also found over 140 pounds of metallic waste (including a 3 foot piece of I-beam and a loading dock truck bumper). I am very happy to say that the south beach is safer and more picturesque without it!

But in all seriousness, every person who decided to take a bag with them for their Sunday walk has my sincere thanks. It takes courage to decide to help out, and to do so despite all of the restrictions and difficulties present in this year is beyond commendable. So thank you all for your help and your dedication to our environment. Here’s to hoping that 2022 brings the clean up to even greater heights!

Stay healthy,

Alan Roy





POWER HOUSE WINDOW STRIKES - "SAVE OUR BIRDS" PETITION

 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

PLEASE, NO BIRD SEED IN THE SWALLOW FIELD!

This morning, I put this sign in the Swallow Field to hopefully persuade well-meaning people from putting bird seed on the nest boxes or on the large rock.  By educating, we can all do our part to discourage this practice when we observe it.  I know the message on the sign is blunt, but it is a fact.  That cute little invasive, non-native, non-protected House Sparrow can be a fearsome raider when it comes to claiming a nest box.  As we know, Tree Swallows are a declining species suffering the same realities as all other aerial insectivores and the boxes are for them.  I have added a couple of disturbing pics to make my point – sorry!  It is important to note that all monitors of Bluebird and Tree Swallow boxes are experiencing the same problem for which there are no robust proven solutions.  We always research and try different approaches. We want this project to always be worthwhile.  This year we blocked all entrance holes until the swallows arrived and, then, only opened up the field one section at a time … and, as I am sure you have noticed, this year proves to be the best ever! 

Terry Smith




GREBE PLATFORMS OUT!

Two of the three Red Necked Grebe nest platforms that FOSS's Brian Keaveney (and family) built this week are now out in the marina bay. The last one will be put in Wednesday. The total will be four.

Several pairs of Grebes immediately raced over to the nesting platforms!


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

THE SWALLOW FIELD - SPRING, 2021

FOSS volunteers have readied the Tree Swallow nest boxes in the Swallow Field for the expected arrivals in the next few weeks.  They are cleaned out, sterilized and repairs have been done.

Like last year, temporary covers have been put over the entrance holes to keep House Sparrows out and to give the swallows a, literally, fighting chance to prevail over which species will eventually get to use them.  The covers will hopefully prevent the sparrows from getting established before the arriving swallows have had a chance to feed, rest, pair off, take advantage of the growing insect supply and prepare to nest.  The field will be assessed daily for the right moment to remove the covers

House Sparrow predation has been an ongoing issue.  See previous blog posts on this issue  ....

http://www.friendsofsamsmithpark.ca/2019/04/tree-swallows-and-house-sparrow.html

http://www.friendsofsamsmithpark.ca/2020/05/tree-swallow-nest-box-evictions-of.html

http://www.friendsofsamsmithpark.ca/2020/03/tree-swallow-boxes-now-ready-for-guests.html

We have noticed that seeds (rice, different grains, corn, commercial bird seed etc.) are quite often placed on top of the nest boxes, presumably in the mistaken belief that the boxes are feeding stations.  This practice, along with putting bird seed on the large flat rock in the middle of the Swallow Field, draws in House Sparrows and is counter-productive to the Tree Swallow nesting project.  If you witness this, please inform the person(s) who is doing this or just sweep the seeds into the grass below.

Terry Smith has created a video which gives a detailed look at the Swallow Field programme.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

ALL WETLANDS ARE PRECIOUS!

Credit for the photo goes to the photographer (Mike McEvoy) and the Thickson's Woods Land Trust.

All wetlands are precious. They provide habitat for wildlife and green space for those who revel in the joys of nature. They also play a major role in filtering run-off water and providing flood control. Wetlands everywhere are under threat from development. 

Duffin's Creek Wetland in Pickering has recently been threatened with destruction. Marshes and wetlands everywhere face the same problem.  The one nearest you might be next! Here is some background information:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/amazon-warehouse-duffins-creek-wetland-pickering-1.5947252

https://www.tvo.org/article/poster-child-for-destruction-the-fight-to-save-the-duffins-creek-wetland-from-developers

Please call or write your MPP to express your concerns.

Friday, February 26, 2021

SAM SMITH PARK "VIRTUAL TREEWALK" VIDEO - LEARN HOW TO IDENTIFY PARK TREES

 


CLICK THIS LINK TO VIEW VIDEO

SUMMARY: MINUTES FOSS STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING - FEBRUARY 22ND, 2021

Summary: FOSS Steering Committee Meeting

February 22, 2021

7:04PM, Via Zoom Video Conferencing


FOSS WINTER PHOTO CONTEST: All photos must be submitted to the FOSS FACEBOOK SITE by 8:00PM, Sunday, February 28.  Refer to the FOSS blog for contest details.

Photos submitted must be taken in Col. Sam Smith Park during the winter.

The top three Facebook “likes” shall be deemed as the winners. Results will be posted 2 days after the closure of the contest.

Photos submitted (with permission of the photographers) will become part of an on-line video presentation titled: Colonel Sam Smith Park in Winter.

FOSS PARK PEOPLE GRANT: FOSS gratefully thanks Park People for their generous grant that makes possible the photo contest as well as a variety of other activities for visitors of all ages who appreciate the joys of nature that Col. Sam has to offer. Check FOSS website for details. Those activities include:

Virtual Bird Walk—Saturday, February 27th. 9:00 AM. Live on FOSS Facebook Group.

Kids’ Activities-a new activity presented every Friday. Activities will be archived on the blog for future access.

Wildlife Videos featuring Col. Sam Park: 1. Changing Seasons, 2. Colonel Sam Smith Park: A Sanctuary in the City and 3. Journey of Cooper’s Hawks.

Tree Walk Presentation: 17 minutes long. The video, with accompanying text, highlights a walk-through of Col. Sam Park and emphasizes tree identification.

COLONEL SAM’S BIRD FESTIVAL 2021: On February 19, several members of the FOSS Steering Committee held a video conference with the city’s Bird Festival organizers. Due to COVID-19, the festival will most likely be a virtual (on-line) event. The organizers were impressed with FOSS’s recent activities (i.e. those sponsored by the Park People grant) as well as with FOSS’s on-line sessions presented during last year’s festival. They also expressed interest in a FOSS suggestion about the possible use of QR codes for disseminating park information. 

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.

13. KID'S FRIDAY ACTIVITY CORNER - "SENSING NATURE - SCAVENGER HUNT"

 


Friday, February 12, 2021

FOSS WINTER PHOTO CONTEST ENDS IN TWO WEEKS

With just over two weeks to go until the winter photo contest ends, there is still time to add your images to the 60 or so already posted in the Winter Photo Contest album on our Facebook page.  

That album can be found under "more", "media" and then "albums". 

Take a moment to look at the beautiful photographs and, as hard as it may be to choose, please add your comments.  Remember, Facebook allows you to rethink any previous comment by simply clicking on it to remove it.  Any "like", "love" or "wow" emoji comment will be accepted as a positive vote for an image for the purpose of selecting the three winners.  

The contest will end at exactly 8 p.m., Sunday 28th. February, 2021.

11. KID'S FRIDAY ACTIVITY CORNER - "PEBBLE ART"





 

Monday, February 1, 2021

SUMMARY: MINUTES FOSS STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING - JANUARY 25TH, 2021

Summary: FOSS Steering Committee Meeting

January 25th, 2021

7:00PM, Via Zoom Video Conferencing


FOSS WINTER PHOTO CONTEST: All photos must be submitted to the FOSS FACEBOOK SITE by 8:00PM, Sunday, February 28.  Refer to the FOSS blog for contest details.

Photos submitted must be taken in Col. Sam Smith Park during the winter.

The top three Facebook “likes” shall be deemed as the winners. Results will be posted 2 days after the closure of the contest.

FOSS PARK PEOPLE GRANT: FOSS gratefully thanks Park People for their generous grant that makes possible the photo contest as well as a variety of other activities for visitors of all ages who appreciate the joys of nature that Col. Sam has to offer. Those activities include:

Winter Bird Feeder Project—Check out the five bird feeding stations that are located around the skating loop. This project is in its 6th season. Thank you to the Urban Nature Store on N. Queen Street for their donation of bird seed. Thanks also to the volunteers who tend to the feeders.

A Boxing Day Walk Around—Nature walk with park visitor interaction. 

Boxing Day Bird Count

Kids’ Friday Activity Corner—Check the blog for kids’ projects. A new one is posted each week.

Due to COVID-19 restraints, planned guided bird and tree identification walks were forced to go “virtual”. See the blog for more information. 

Check the blog for a revolving series of slide presentations about Col. Sam Park:

i) Journey of Cooper’s Hawks 

ii) Col. Sam Smith Park: A Sanctuary in the City

iii) Changing Seasons—Winter in Sam Smith Park

ON-GOING CONCERNS: Unsightly graffiti on the Australian Rules Football storage facility and the growth of numerous new winter trails that disturb/destroy natural vegetation. FOSS will attempt to resolve these concerns.

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.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

MYSTERY "GREEN CANOE" FINALLY REMOVED FROM WETLAND POND


For many years the crew at Alan Roy’s annual Sam Smith Park clean-up day have looked at the bow end of a “green canoe” sticking up from the water in the North Creek Wetland pond off the east point of the island and mused about one day removing the unsightly object once and for all.
  

Well, that day came today.

Alan Roy, Terry Smith, Bruce Wilkinson and Alan’s heroic son Alec, plus, of course, Alan’s dog Koa removed the object.  

It turned out not to be a canoe at all but a deflated tetrahedron, marker buoy from a sailboat race that must have come adrift during a storm and floated in to the pond from the lake through the culvert. 

Roped off, wearing chest waders and a life-jacket, the intrepid Alec, under the watchful eye of his dad and dog, ventured out on to the ice from the island and secured a line to the object.  

Then, using an axe, Alec cut a channel through the ice for the shore crew to haul it ashore while they marked the timing of each heave on the line by, of course, singing sea shanties.

As the buoy was dragged back along the shoreline for disposal, a lot of very sleepy looking crayfish tumbled out of it and were tossed back in to the water.

Done, finally! 

A very good day.