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Friday, April 30, 2010


This week, the Toronto Region Conservation Authority placed two redesigned Red Necked Grebe nesting platforms in the bay near the old burnt-out observation deck.  The platforms are constructed in a different way from each other - one has a ledge around it with a mesh floor and the other has a simple wooden surface.  Both float lower in the water than last year's design and are supported on styrofoam.  We understand that there is very little literature on this subject to use as a reference and we applaud the TRCA for being on the cutting edge of this kind of research.  Red Necked Grebes nest on floating vegetation, in most cases on the reed piles made by muskrats that float free with the spring melt.  There has been a serious decline in muskrat populations, so, fewer natural nesting opportunities for the grebes.  But, the Sam Smith grebes are tenacious and as determined as the TRCA to eventually make Sam Smith their nursery!
Please forward any observations and photographs of events around the nesting platforms to Terry Smith.  The TRCA biologists will use them in their research.  If you want to learn more, come to the Sam Smith Bird Festival on May 29th to talk to them directly.
One of the platforms has moved from its original position.  The swans were checking them out for nesting possibilities and may have dislodged it.  Hopefully, they'll come to understand the size limitations!  Thanks to George Raikou for the photo.
Birders and photographers were delighted by our very rare visitor last week.  An elegant, swan-like Western Grebe dropped in to the bay for two days and mixed it up with the Red Necks.  It was finally scared off by an unsuspecting kayaker who got a little too close.  Thanks to Henry Fulott for that photograph.

Monday, April 26, 2010


A Toronto Water staff person will attend Lakeshore Planning Council's meeting on May 13 to provide an overview of the options that are under consideration for the Etobicoke Stormwater Management Project and answer any additional questions.
This project is likely to have a significant impact on Sam Smith Park.  Use this blog's search box above to see previous posts on this issue.
Lakeshore Planning Council meets at LAMP, 185 Fifth Street. (Near Islington and Lakeshore) at 7.00 p.m.


Remember to mark May 29th in your calendar for the Spring Bird Festival being held in Colonel Samuel Smith Park.  There will be a variety of events, displays and activities from 9.00 a.m. until noon.
These include:
  • 1 hour guided bird walks on the hour starting at 8.00 a.m.
  • Bird Box Building
  • Live animal displays
  • Whimbrel watch
  • Children's activities
  • Nature photography
  • Grebe nesting platform display
It is hoped that this will be the first of what will become an annual event.  Participating groups and organizations include the City of Toronto, the Toronto Region Conservation Authority, CCFEW, FOSS, Toronto Field Naturalists and Birds and Beans Cafe.
More details to follow.


Karen will be discussing, amongst other things, the monitoring of the whimbrel migration and the nesting platforms for the red-necked grebes.  Both projects are in Sam Smith Park.


It was a wet, blustery day on Saturday for the Annual Sam Smith Clean-up organized by Alan Roy, but that didn’t stop the hardy from coming out to do their part - FOSS and CCFEW members, Police College Rovers, Laurel Broten (MPP Etobicoke - Lakeshore), reps from Michael Ignatieff’s and Councillor Grimes’ offices, local families, birders, dog walkers and, of course, the indomitable Alan Roy in his waders hauling out the big stuff from North Creek.  The park is now spotless.  The job was a little easier this year, probably due to the new high-capacity litter bins that were installed last year and the work done during the week by city staff, local schools and Earth Day volunteers.
Friends of Sam Smith Park set up a tent this year and invited families to build tree swallow nesting boxes using kits supplied by the Toronto Region Conservation Authority.  There are now approximately twenty-three boxes set up in the park, mostly all claimed, due to FOSS’s efforts.  As these have become a big draw for park visitors, there will be another opportunity to build a box at the upcoming Bird Festival on May 29th.  Look for the FOSS table.
The photographs show Daniel and his dad, Liam, Abhelin and their dad and Laurel Broten and her son Ryan working on boxes. Jennifer, an Ignatieff staffer, made one on behalf of her boss too!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Lakeshore Planning Council is hosting a community planning conference on Saturday, May 1st.  One of the discussion groups will directly focus on neighbourhood parks.  It is important that a strong defense for creating, preserving and enhancing natural areas in our parks be made by those in the community who consider it important.  As we know, allocation of public park space is a hot topic when it comes to determining that fine balance between recreation and nature.  For more information and to register, call 416 252 9701 ext 795 or go to

Monday, April 12, 2010



Over the weekend, FOSS members cleaned out, repaired and re-installed tree swallow nesting boxes while early arrivals swooped overhead ready to claim their new homes.  Many have been destroyed by vandals and need to be completely replaced.  This is currently in progress.  Some new boxes made by FOSS members, based on a plan previously posted on this blog, have already been wired to some posts.
Everyone is invited to take on the construction of a box as a family project.  They need to be installed correctly - contact Terry Smith for help with that.
The Toronto Region Conservation Authority will provide some nest box kits for the upcoming Clean-up day (April 25th) and the Bird Festival (May 29th).  If you and your family want to assemble and install a box at one of those events, look for the FOSS table.

Did you know that four species of swallow breed in or around the park?  Aside from the cavity-nesting tree swallows, barn swallows nest under the observation deck over the pond, rough-winged swallows nest in small outlet pipes along the sea wall along the south side of the marina and cliff swallows build mud nests under the overhang of the Filtration Plant's southernmost building.