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Projects

Turtle Monitoring

Our inaugural Turtle Monitoring Project has been a success! This was our first season protecting Snapping Turtle nests and eggs around the North Creek Wetland and recruiting eager and interested volunteers to help observe each of the nest locations and report any progress to the organizers (Terry Smith, Duncan Farnan, Bruce Wilkinson, Nancy Barrett, Jasmin Patel, and all the other dedicated monitors who signed on for the season).

About 90 Snapping Turtle hatchlings from nests #3 and #4 have to date been successfully "escorted" to the water by FOSS turtle monitors. It looks like all of the eggs in nest #2 along the asphalt path were likely predated, probably by the skunks living close to that location who were able to dig under the frame. The nest protector that disappeared from nest #3 has turned up. It was retrieved November 3rd from the shore of the wetland pond island. How it got there is anyone's guess! That leaves nest #1. No turtle hatch was ever observed. We have removed the vegetation from the inside of the protector so that we can more easily observe. We are advised by the High Park Turtle Protectors that Snapping Turtle eggs, unlike Midland Painted, cannot survive the winter. They freeze solid and become unviable. Painted Turtle eggs, on the other hand, can freeze without cell damage and hatchlings can emerge the following spring.  We are very much looking forward to a new season and our upcoming collaboration with the High Park Turtle Protection group!

        Here are some stats from a 2018 survey that included Sam Smith​:

  • the highest density of painted turtles amongst the Lake's coastal wetlands is Sam Smith. Not bad for a 5 ha - hectare park 

  • we don't have an estimate for the Park snapping turtle population; the researchers were only able to trap 2 but we know of at least 4!

Winter Bird Feeder Project

The FOSS Winter Bird Feeder Project started in 2015, and has continued every year since then.  Its purpose is to make life a little easier for the birds in the winter, and let park visitors see the local birds more easily.  FOSS volunteers set up 5 bird feeding stations around the Colonel Sam Skating Trail in early December, and the project continues till the Skating Trail shuts down in mid March.

Each feeding station consists of a black oil sunflower feeder and a suet feeder.  Urban Nature Store very generously donates to FOSS a large bag of black oil sunflower seed for every bag we purchase from them.  This is a great help to this project- thank you Urban Nature Store!

Then we recruit 7 FOSS volunteers- one for each day of the week- to check on and fill the feeders from December to March.  Sometimes a whole family takes on a day.  Some of our volunteers have been with us for several years!

Right now we are urgently seeking volunteers to help with this project. If you are interested in volunteering for FOSS in this way, please contact Barbara.keaveney@sympatico.ca.

Click on images for captions. 

Planting

Over the years the Friends of Sam Smith Park, with the help of  volunteers from the public,  has been involved in several plantings of native species in different areas of the park. These are always done with the help and supervision of The Parks department of the City of Toronto or the TRCA.


One of the ongoing projects is  the planting of pollinators on the east side of the park. The other is of growing  native bushes at Whimbrel Point to replace the invasive Common Burdock that had been removed.  


We are  looking forward to more plantings in order to reclaim some of the overused areas.

 

If you'd like to help with planting, please reach out to us! 

 

Whimbrel Watch

May 20th to 30th, annually

 

Come join us in a celebration of these rare magnificent migrants as thousands journey to their breeding grounds on Hudson’s Bay and beyond.

 

Whimbrels are mega-shorebirds that have been known to pass Sam Smith Park in flocks totaling 10,000 birds. They are often heard before seen and their cry is haunting and unforgettable. Whimbrel Point, at the south-east corner of the spit, is one of the best spots in Canada to view their passage and birders and photographers gather to keep count of the population and hope for an occasional group to land. Whimbrels are only part of the magic. Many other gangs of shorebirds and water birds are on record passing the Point, including rarely seen white pelicans, black terns and Pacific loons.

This eastern population of whimbrels were recorded during the Civil War to number in the millions on the Carolina seashore. The group now numbers around 40,000 birds and is at risk. Our flocks fly from feasting on crabs in Virginia, travel nine hours through the night, and arrive on Lake Ontario in the morning. Sam Smith Park is one of the only places in the East to be situated on their pathway to the north. Not to be missed, this is one of nature’s spectacles.

To participate in the Whimbrel Watch reach out to us!  

Click on images for captions. 

                    

           

        

 

Tree Swallows arrive early from their winter vacation in the southern states and Central America.  They start turning up in the last week of March and are present in the park in large numbers by the middle of April. 

The best place to see them in spring is in the Swallow Field.  It is located south of the waterfront trail that runs through the park and immediately east of the yacht club.  Friends of Sam Smith Park has been installing Tree Swallow nest boxes there over the past ten years.  There are now more than sixty in the park.  Every spring, volunteers prepare the boxes for the swallows by cleaning them out, repairing and sterilizing them against parasites.

Tree Swallows are declining in number because of increasing insect scarcity caused by the overuse of pesticides, climate change and pollution.  Their preferred natural nesting spot is a cavity in an old tree, like a woodpecker hole, but, because of the removal of old trees and wetland drainage where old snags are commonly found, those spots are getting scarcer.  So, the nesting boxes definitely help fill a need.

 

To date, FOSS estimates that well over a thousand young swallows have been raised in that field over the years and that could explain why we see ever increasing numbers each breeding season.

To help volunteer with the upkeep of the Swallow Field please contact us!

Click on images for captions.

 

 

The Swallow Field