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Monday, May 31, 2010



At the planting last Friday, 200 native trees and shrubs were planted by community volunteers to enhance the dogwood thicket.  This area provides spectacular cover for migrating songbirds and is fast becoming the birding hotspot in the park.  Members of Friends of Sam Smith and CCFEW, local students from Lanor Middle School, volunteers from Southern Graphics Systems Canada and City staff all helped to get the job done.   
Along with the planting, Justin DiCiano from One Village Care and Councillor Grimes presented Purple Martin houses, built by local youth, to Friends of Sam Smith and CCFEW for the park.  The beautiful birdhouses were hand made and “donated to honour the work and the effort that both organizations put into helping to maintain our parkland.”

The two birdhouses will be installed later on in the year.  Toronto Region Conservation Authority will assess how best to install them in the right locations and in such a way that they can be cleaned out each September.


As a follow-up to the very successful first Sam Smith Spring Bird Festival last Saturday, it's an opportune time to consider the fact that Canada needs an official representative national bird.  The Red-Tailed Hawk and the Canada Goose have been suggested, but there are many other species that might well fill the bill.

If you wish to participate in a national survey/petition to be delivered to the government, click here.  But first, read this to consider criteria you might use to make your choice.

(Red-Tailed Hawks are occasionally observed in Sam Smith Park)

Thursday, May 27, 2010


CCFEW (Citizens Concerned for the Future of the Etobicoke Waterfront) has created a bird checklist (2009) which lists all the birds that have been seen on the bird walks that they have run over the years in Sam Smith Park and Humber Bay. 

Many thanks to Brian and Barbara Keaveney, Brian Bailey and Dave Hallet for producing this valuable resource.

For a PDF version, go to their website to download it.

There will be CCFEW organized bird walks starting at 8 a.m. at Saturday's Bird Festival.


EYE WEEKLY article


8 a.m. to 12 p.m.


This amazing photograph was recently taken at Leslie Street Spit (Tommy Thompson Park).  It shows migrating whimbrels flying overhead in the mist, on their way, no doubt, towards Sam Smith and, later, James Bay.  Note the radio transmitter on the bird at bottom centre(Double click on photograph for better view)
It is hard to believe that it does not impede flying.  For more information on the tracking program , click here.  To follow the 28 000 km journey of a whimbrel named Hope, click here.
See previous FOSS blog post also.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


The City has now installed new interpretive signage in the park.  Thanks go out to Janette Harvey for making this happen.  Janette is a Natural Environment Specialist with the City of Toronto - Parks, Recreation and Forestry.  To come up with the signs' content, she consulted with an energetic group of students from Sir Sandford Fleming College, members of Friends of Sam Smith Park and CCFEW.
Anything that draws visitors' attention to wildlife and habitat in the park helps to cement in peoples' minds the fact that Sam Smith is a nature park and awakens a strong interest in preserving it as such.  There was a guy in the park this morning who bragged about going home to his wife and impressing her with the actual names of birds he had seen and throwing out a few facts!
Come and check them all out.


On Victoria Day, third bay looked like the French Riviera!  It is wonderful to see the park so well used by families as the community and the City get to hear more about it.
But ..... it is surely time that the City Parks Department started opening the Power House washrooms, especially on weekends and holidays.  It is not rocket science to figure out what "facilities' are being used right now!


Monday, May 24, 2010


In this morning's mist, the two Red-necked Grebes were observed diving under one of the nesting platforms for weeds and arranging the material on the nesting platform. 

Things are looking very good for this year.


At 5.30 a.m. this morning, members of the Toronto Ornithological Club (TOC) were at their post in Sam Smith for the annual “Whimbrel Watch” project. In the photograph are Jean Irons, Wayne Renaud and Don Barnett.  (Jean Irons' "famous" photo of whimbrels flying past Toronto adorns the front cover of the City's book "Birds of Toronto" which has been available free of charge at Toronto libraries).  The T.O.C. coordinates observers and observation points to estimate the number of birds passing through the greater Toronto area during the period of peak passage.  The most important point is in Sam Smith at the tip of the outer, eastern headland.  Observers will be there all this week counting the groups of birds as they pass over.   

Everyone is welcome to come down and take part in the observation and learn about this fascinating bird.   
To date this year, about 700 have passed through from a group of about 6 000 that has wintered in the coastal marshes of Virginia.  There, they have gorged on fiddler crabs using their specially adapted curved bills to extricate them from their hiding holes in the sandy shores.  This year, 6 have been fitted with transmitters to monitor their non-stop migration from Virginia to their breeding grounds in the James Bay lowlands, a trip of 11 000 km in just about 24 hours.  There is a receiver on the roof of the Lakeshore Yacht Club in the park to pick up signals.  Go to this website to learn more about this tracking system used last year.  Observers in Virginia tell the TOC how many set off at dusk from there and observers here in Toronto know how many to expect 10 hours later at dawn here.  Most of the birds leaving Virginia are recorded passing through Toronto.  At the Sam Smith Spring Bird Festival this coming Saturday (May 29th), Toronto Region Conservation Authority will have a display to explain this interesting work.
Check out this website to monitor their progress (Note how the whimbrel named "Hope" joined the western group last year in the McKenzie Delta in the Yukon and later rejoined the eastern group)
Better still, come and join the observers.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


One of the areas in the park that has become over time a magnet for migrating songbirds is the dogwood thicket located east of the oval.  The Toronto Ornithological Society, after a recent visit to the park in order to make recommendations for improving bird habitat, suggested that it would be a good idea to expand this area by planting further to the east.  (Other recommendations include replacing ground cover and shrubs in the tree plantation north of the Power House and around the “bowl”).  FOSS has long been an advocate for these types of habitat enhancement. 
Natural environment specialists at City Parks have been able to secure funding for a volunteer planting event in this area. 
The G20 organizing committee is donating money to the City of Toronto for tree planting, and they requested a site for a community planting event.  One of the sites proposed to them was Sam Smith Park and our park has been selected. 
The planting will take place on Friday, May 28th from 10 a.m. to 12 noon and about 40 volunteers are neededVolunteers must wear close-toed shoes.
Please make an effort to support this. The press will be there and it, along with the Spring Bird Festival the next day, will offer a great opportunity to promote Sam Smith as the nature park that it truly is.
Please e-mail FOSS if you are able to come.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010



Red Necked Grebe on one of the Conservation Authority's TRCA's experimental nesting platforms in marina.


Wayne Renaud, a local birder, posted this report from Sam Smith last Saturday. It indicates the variety of birds that pass through this birding hotspot during migration.

I birded the park and adjacent Humber College Campus from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm for a big part of day.  The 'bowl area' was the big ticket item today, but other areas surprisingly had much more warbler activity in the afternoon.  There seemed to be a complete turnover of warblers in the 'bowl area' between 9:00 and 10:00 am when the wind picked up and it clouded over then cooled off and brightened up.  Overall the winds were quite light all day. 
The highlight was a male Blue-winged Warbler off the north end of Bowl in a Horse Chestnut Tree just behind the brick house near Lakeshore.  The warblers today were dominated by four species: Yellow-rumped, Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Green and Palm Warblers.  These are the total numbers for each species (lowest to highest).  Wilson's Warbler:1; Canada Warbler: 1; Mourning Warbler: 1; Pine Warbler: 1; Blue-winged Warbler: 1; Common Yellowthroat: 3; Tennessee Warbler: 3: Nashville Warbler: 3; Cape May Warbler: 6; Blackburnian Warbler: 13; Magnolia Warbler: 13; Yellow Warbler: 15; Northern Parula: 16; Black-throated Blue Warbler: 20; Black-and-white Warbler: 24; American Redstart; 31; Palm Warbler: 41; Black-throated Green Warbler: 45; Chestnut-sided Warbler; 65; Yellow-rumped Warbler: 86.  About 80% of Magnolia and American Redstarts were males suggesting that at least with these species, there are a lot more to arrive in next week for so.  The other common warblers were about equally mixed.  Other notable finds today were 2 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, a Grey-check Thrush, 3 Scarlet Tanagers, an Eastern Bluebird and a Spotted Sandpiper nest with four eggs.

Birds shown are the Scarlet Tanager and the Blue-Winged Warbler

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


"I spent the weekend out in the country looking for wildlife, didn't see much of anything.  I come home to Sam Smith and this morning I met our new neighbour.

It was a bit too close for my comfort but didn't seem too worried about me.  It worked it's way around the pond, the geese grouped together to make a protective cover for the goslings, and kept up the warnings the whole time the coyote was on the island of the pond.  I think it was eating goose eggs and it did get something else, but I couldn't figure out what that was.  Probably best that I don't know."
Photos and observations from Heather Jack 

The coyote has been observed a number of times galloping along Lake Shore Drive east from the park.