Author Archives: Friends of Cedarvale

Canada 150 Community Service Award for Friends of Cedarvale; new benches arrive; birding notes.

5th December: On Sunday 26th November, I received a Canada 150 Community Service Award on behalf of Friends of Cedarvale. It was a pin, made from copper taken from the old roof of the Parliament building; and a certificate. Here I am with the Hon Carolyn Bennett after the ceremony at Christ Church Deer Park. Two members of our Steering Committee were in attendance to celebrate the award with me: Susan Aaron and Ivor Simmons, as well as my wife Ilene Cummings.

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New benches arrive in Cedarvale

After looking at empty concrete plinths for several months, I was glad to see three new benches arrive in the park recently. This one is near the tennis courts:

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I apologize for the blurry closeup of the inscription below. It is a Spanish quotation by Pedro Calderon de la Barca, and reads, “Toda la vida es sueno, y los suenos, suenos son” (all life is a dream, and dreams themselves are only dreams).

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This one is next to the small wetland area across from the tennis courts:

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Here is the inscription:

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This one is on the path down from Humewood:

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Here is the text:

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And this one is the last remaining empty plinth, still awaiting its bench. It is next to the dog park:

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There appears to be no news on when construction will resume in the dog park, or when it will begin on the Glen Cedar footbridge. By the way, there will be a celebration of the winter solstice on said bridge on the evening of Thursday 21st December. I will post more details when available.

Birding notes from Ken Morin

21st November

Today was a banner day for birds in the park. Warm weather and sunshine seem to have loosened those hiding away, or maybe it was just such a glorious day to be out and about. Here’s today’s tally from my morning walk.

Downy Woodpecker 3

Hairy Woodpecker 1 Both varieties entered holes in stumps, assume their nests

Brown Creeper 1 a surprise! haven’t seen one in ages

Goldfinch 5

House Finch 3

Chickadee 2

Red Tailed Hawk 1 seen swooping over the Bathurst Bridge

Ring billed Gull 1

White throated Sparrow 1

House Sparrow 6 with many chirping in the marsh

House Wren 1

Robin 12

Cardinal 2

Blue Jay 1 seen, several heard voicing their raucous call.

Again the Rocks seem to be a popular locale; stop and look over the cattails to the rear vegetation and up the conifers, probably 4 or 5 different types showed up.
Also, every once in a while – eyes to the sky for Hawks. They are migrating still and you never know what might fly by.

Keep looking for our feathered friends and listening too. Not much singing but chip, clacks and other sounds can indicate birds are present. A Black capped Chickadee is always a good sign; generally there are other species in the area when one of these are sighted. They are one of the few birds that let you know their presence with song and nearness of approach. I may take to feeding them this winter, which I heard was going to be cold and snow filled.

John Cummings


Bird sightings to be added to blog

20th November: I am starting a new section of the blog. It will chronicle bird sightings in the park by our resident birder, Ken Morin. Below are the first three postings:

1st November 2017

Today’s walk produced many Robins squawking about and jostling over food, a Song Sparrow, two female Downy Woodpeckers hammering away, Black capped Chickadee, Cardinals, Goldfinches, a Fox Sparrow, House Finches and a White throated Sparrow (see photo below) grooming itself on a log. Looks like the migrants are passing through and the winter residents starting to take up posts.

2nd November

Today’s trip through the ravine produced some new seasonal birds: a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk and several kinetic Golden crowned Kinglets.

The Hawk was perched in a bare tree just past the children’s garden as I was walking along the alley way. Nothing like the cold glare of a predator to send chills up one’s spine. The Kinglets jumped across my path just before the Bathurst Bridge, golden cap strips prominent. There were  three Fox Sparrows on the path at the Windley entrance.

When we spot sparrows it is normal to assume they are the House variety due to prevalence. The Fox Sparrow is larger with a streaky white breast and a long red tail, a bigger bird overall. Be on the lookout for migrating sparrows this time of year and also varieties that winter here reappearing, such as Chipping, and Tree Sparrows. The usual Cardinals and Chickadees respond to phishing.


14th November

After a disappointing day yesterday (12 Robins in an oak tree) this walk proved more fruitful. The Robins were heard in the background all along the path, finally found a pack of them at the little pond before the dog park. Seems to be their preserve. The “Rocks” (TTC entry door?) produced a good variety. First I was drawn to the spot by a drumming woodpecker, a Downy male hammering away. As I stood observing it, more birds came into view on both sides of the path. White throated Sparrow,

White crowned Sparrow and a Song Sparrow flew in; several Juncos flushed, their white outer tail feathers prominent, a Chickadee stopped to peck at some seeds and a White breasted Nuthatch got in on the act with its upside down search. Two Crows cawed by overhead, always check the sky when this sound is heard, it may be a warning for a hawk nearby. Finally, a pair of Golden crowned Kinglets appeared deep in the reeds low to the ground. foraging. Kinetic little guys, constantly on the go. As I left the park, Blue Jays were squawking. All in all an enjoyable time spent. As the daylight hours grow shorter all sightings are a joy.

Just a word on the White throated Sparrow. It appears in two morphs (hence Polymorphic) a black and white capped version and a black and cream capped type. The same bird with two different colourations! They interbreed also.

First walk of 2018 arranged

Miles Hearn will lead a nature walk for the Toronto Field Naturalists on Wednesday 31st January, starting at 10 am from the subway entrance on Heath St W. We are invited to join them. I have posted the walk on the web site.

John Cummings

Fall colours finally arrive

27th October: This year, summer seemed to arrive in October. Now that colder weather has finally arrived, the delayed autumn colours have appeared. Richard Gregory send me some photos he had taken, including this shot of sumacs:

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This brilliant red tree is another of his shots:

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I was also out with my  camera. Here a yellowing tree contrasts with the evergreen behind it:

Cedarvale autumn 2017 089

These trees are on the ravine slope between the Glen Cedar and Bathurst St bridges:

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This tree near the Ava Rd entrance is just beginning to turn:

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As usual, the cat-tails are acquiring their late-season fluffy look:

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Exit from park to Lower Village Gate to re-open

The cut-through from the park at the rear of the Heath St subway exit to Lower Village Gate was supposed to re-open by 28th October. It has been closed for about a year. On Wednesday I noticed work in progress and asked the guy next to the gate in the photo below when it would open. He said, “The end of this week”. Unfortunately, I checked again today and although the work appears to be finished, the gate is still not open.

Cedarvale autumn 2017 092

We will have a table at the Eco-Fair at the Wychwood Barns 11 am to 4 pm on Sunday 5th November. Please stop by for a chat.

John Cummings



Encounter with sick raccoon in Nordheimer

13th October 2017: On 9th October, Steering Committee member Susan Aaron noticed a raccoon behaving oddly in the Nordheimer Ravine. Here it is:

Cedarvale raccoon Nordheimer 9th Oct 2017

She said it was too friendly, and kept falling over in the middle of the path:

Cedarvale raccoon Nordheimer 9th Oct 20171008_170017

She called 311 and after about an hour City staff (probably Animal Services) came out in a van, bringing a cage, and took it away. They said it probably had distemper.

Apparently, raccoons are susceptible to both canine and feline distemper, each caused by a different virus; there is no treatment for it and it is therefore almost always fatal. In the final stages of the disease, a raccoon may wander aimlessly in a circle, disoriented and unaware of its surroundings. Distemper is the second leading cause of raccoon death, after humans.

Note: the word distemper has two other meanings. It can mean any sickness of the mind or body; and paint made by mixing the colour with eggs or glue instead of oil, as well as paintings done with distemper.

Table at Eco-Fair

We will have a table at the annual Eco-Fair at the Wychwood Barns, 11 am to 4 pm on Sunday 5th November. Come and visit us there!

John Cummings

Burning hot day for tree planting

29th September: We had not expected such hot weather for our planting with Parks on Saturday 23rd September. The day before, I went to the site, down the edge of the slope from Strathearn Rd  and saw that the mulch had been delivered:

Cedarvale planting Sept. 17 001

At first, I could not see the plants, but when I looked more closely, there they were, cleverly hidden in the undergrowth:

Cedarvale planting Sept. 17 002

Next morning, the Parks staff were extremely well organized. They arrived early and placed all 308 plants exactly where they wanted them planted:

Cedarvale planting Sept. 17 003

They also brought the spades, buckets and gloves. Here is Jessica Iraci, one of our leaders from Parks, giving a demonstration of the correct way to plant. Beside her, you can see the two pails of mulch, with the mulch pad on top:

Cedarvale planting Sept. 17 010

This is part of the crowd of volunteers watching her demonstration:

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Here is our other leader, Cheryl Post, giving a second demonstration to another group. There were also 3-4 Parks volunteers helping to supervize:

Cedarvale planting Sept. 17 008

There were some 60-80 volunteers, most of whom had found out about the planting from the city’s web site. Some of our members were also there. The largest group of 30-40 was from Molson Coors, out planting as part of their “sustainability” theme for the year. Other groups came from the College of Nurses, Martingrove School, Have-a-Heart-Day volunteer group, and an architectural firm. There were also several families such as this one:

Cedarvale planting Sept. 17 014

Of the 308 plants, the majority were bushes: 100 were alternate and grey dogwood, 49 were red and flowering raspberries, 45 were common blackberries, 34 were serviceberries, and 30 were pasture roses. There were 50 trees: 15 trembling aspens, 10 sugar maples, 10 Eastern white pines, 10 red oaks and 5 basswoods (Jessica sent me the complete list).

The scene below was the same up and down the slope:

Cedarvale planting Sept. 17 019

The temperature gradually rose to about 32 degrees and we were all out in full sunlight. The ground was extremely hard because of the lack of rain for several weeks, so it was hard work digging the holes. This volunteer looks happy though!

Cedarvale planting Sept. 17 020

And so does this one!

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However, it was a struggle to get all the plants in and the mulch all spread around them on the mulch pads. We finished around noon and everyone was glad to take off for a shower. Today I am relieved to see that it is raining. Those plants will need every drop they can get!

John Cummings

Exploding touch-me-not seed pod

23rd September: Last Sunday 17th September, Marilyn MacKellar and Glynn Richardson of the Toronto Bruce Trail Club led a “slow” plant identification walk in the ravine. If anyone has any photos, please send them to me. All I have is this short video posted on Facebook, showing Marilyn’s hand squeezing a touch-me-not/jewel weed seed pod and making it explode. You can see the flowers of the plant in the background:

I will be posting about the tree planting today sometime next week. It was extremely hot, but the volunteers persisted and got nearly all the plants in.

John Cummings

Celebration of Community Garden

19th September: It was billed as “Urban Agriculture Day” and took place on Saturday 16th September. Tours of the new Community Garden were offered and tasty snacks straight from the garden were consumed. Councillor Joe Mihevc was there to help celebrate. Here is the group of volunteers in the garden:

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You can see that the garden is flourishing under new leader Carol Krismer:

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Here is another view:

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There is a magnificent array of sunflowers:

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Monica Wickeler, a mural artist, has been hired to paint the concrete shed. Here she is (centre), talking to Carol and Joe:

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And here she is, hard at work:

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This is her van:

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The garden now has an official sign:

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Shelter in dog off-leash area under construction

The long-promised shelter in the dog park is at last under construction:

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Last week work appeared to be at a standstill. However, a sign posted there suggests that work will be done before snow falls!

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We look forward to seeing what the shelter is going to look like.

Our next event, with Parks, is a tree planting at 10 am on Saturday 23rd September on the slope opposite the dog park stretching down from Strathearn. Look forward to seeing you there!

John Cummings