Hard-to-find butterfly can be seen in Cedarvale

Did you realize that Cedarvale Park is one of the few places in the GTA to see a butterfly called Arcadian Hairstreak (satyrium acadica)? Here it is:

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I was informed by  Antonia Guidotti, President of the Entomological Society of Ontario, that a count was conducted in the park on 8th July 2017 and 11 species were recorded:

Pieris rapae                       Cabbage White

Celastrina lucia                 Northern Azure

Cupido comyntas             Eastern Tailed-Blue

Satyrium acadica             Acadian Hairstreak

Danaus plexippus             Monarch

Nymphalis antiopa          Mourning Cloack

Polygonia comma            Eastern Comma

Polygonia interrogationis Question Mark

Vanessa atalanta             Red Admiral

Polites peckius                  Peck’s Skipper

Thymelicus lineola           European Skipper

Among them is the aforementioned Acadian Hairstreak. A note was attached to this species with the information that our park is one of the few places in the GTA where you can see it.

I have added the list to the web site under Cedarvale Park/Flora and Fauna/Butterflies (below trees and plants, and birds).

Antonia added that this year’s count will take place on 14th July 2018. They welcome new participants! I have added this event to the web site under About Us/Upcoming Events.

So if you are interested in butterflies, you now have a list of what to look for.

John Cummings

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Miles Hearn leads wintry walk

6th February 2018: Here is my belated posting about the winter walk last week.

On Wednesday 31st January, noted naturalist Miles Hearn led a winter walk in Cedarvale Ravine for the Toronto Field Naturalists. Some Friends of Cedarvale people also went along. There were 15 of us in total. Conditions were not ideal: it was snowing and cold. But at least the ice that had turned the path into a skating rink earlier in the month was now covered with a fresh layer of snow, making walking much safer. Miles demonstrated that even in winter you can identify trees from their bark and other plants from remaining vegetation. Here he is,  pointing out two different types of burdock.

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You can see how cold it was from the way everyone is dressed up:

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Here is a silver maple:

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The group trudging uphill near the dog park (with the construction sign for the bridge repairs in view):

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This is red ash:

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We spotted 9 bird species: cardinal, chickadee, Cooper’s hawk, goldfinch, house sparrow, nuthatch, robin and woodpecker (downy and hairy). Here we are looking up at one of them:

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Miles is leading the group through the cat-tail wetland below the Bathurst St bridge:

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You can also look at Miles’ own posting from his web site below. This was an invigorating and instructive walk. Many thanks to Miles for taking the time and braving the elements with us.

John Cummings

 

 

Scaffolding going up at Glen Cedar bridge – slowly!

22nd January 2018: The contractors are getting the scaffolding up under the Glen Cedar footbridge, in order to access the underside of the bridge and remove the old wooden surface. They are proceeding at what might be termed a “deliberate” pace. Today, for example, there was not a soul in sight (admittedly, the weather was foul).  Why did they elect to do the project in the depths of winter? Here is the scaffolding beside the stairs. These are to be replaced with a metal staircase.

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And here is the north-west side, seen behind the sumacs:

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Work began earlier on the south side:

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And here it is at a later stage:

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After the long icy period, we had above-freezing conditions, rain and considerable water flows. This is the improvised bridge connecting the main path near the exit to Forest Hill to the “desire” path over to Lonsdale:

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This is the greatly expanded creek just nearby:

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Somehow it seems strange to see last year’s sumacs still surviving among the winter snow:

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The old cat-tails are starting to go fluffy, while the yellow of the willows behind them is definitely a little bit brighter

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Our next event will be a winter walk led by Miles Hearn for the Toronto Field Naturalists, which we are invited to join. It will start at 10 am on Wednesday 31st January from the Heath St exit from the St Clair West subway station. Hope to see some of you there!

John Cummings

Glen Cedar bridge repairs begin

28th December: Some weeks ago, work began on the repairs to the Glen Cedar footbridge. Here is the scaffolding at an early stage:

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Here it is more recently, with the pedestrian tunnel completed (note red hat):

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The scaffolding is reaching up to the underside of the bridge:

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The group of people (including the red hat) has now passed through the tunnel:

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The work will last until about next June. The top wooden surfaces of both the roadway and sidewalks of the bridge will be replaced. The sides will be heightened. The stairs down the side will also be replaced by new ones. Finally, apparently the whole bridge will be repainted.

Two portable cabins have appeared to act as offices for the workers, together with a washroom:

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This is the other cabin:

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There is also heavy equipment:

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And this front-end loader:

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Everything has now been surrounded by a wire fence. A portable washroom outside the fence might come in handy if you feel a call of nature during work hours. But I note it is locked during the holidays, and probably also after work.

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Earlier, many trees were cut down under the bridge. All that was left was this pile of wood chips:

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On top of the bridge, a fence closes off one side, ready for work. Apparently, the repairs will proceed one side at a time. There will only be a short period during which the whole bridge will be closed.

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Let us hope the project proceeds smoothly, unlike the dog park shade structure, where construction seems to have stopped indefinitely, while the engineers try to figure out how to deal with the rubble and water down below.

Birding notes from Ken Morin

19th December

Sunday was the local club’s annual bird count. My colleague and I saw little of note, due we believe to the cold weather and overcast sky. Here is the tally for the Canada Bird Count :

1 Ring billed Gull

1 Downy Woodpecker

1 Blue Jay

4 Black capped Chickadees

3 American Robins

2 Song Sparrows

3 American Goldfinches

10 House Sparrows

2 Song Sparrows

All these birds I saw today (Tues) along with a White breasted Nuthatch and Northern Cardinals.

These are the main denizens of the ravine in the winter, hardy birds that manage through the cold. You may also see Kinglets and Hawks occasionally.

28th December

Yes, I’m crazy enough to walk the ravine in -12C : have to admit it wasn’t bad at all without a wind to rip your face off. Near the Glen Cedar Bridge there was a flurry of activity in the conifers and trees behind them. This small stand of evergreens seems to be a hive of activity, the seed eaters such as juncos and chickadees peck about and the nuthatches and woodpeckers hammer away looking for insects. Throw in the odd house sparrow, cardinals and robins checking out the scene and this is a spot worth a stop. The construction will likely drive everything away when it resumes.

Further along, at the “rocks” as I call the black collection housing a TTC door, I stopped when I observed movement in the bushes. Much to my delight the bird remained perched with only a little tail flick at the start. I knew it was something different than what I had previously seen. Stocky build, buffy clear breast and a pronounced white supercilium (eye line) – a Carolina Wren. This species is often heard but not easily seen. It was not calling or scolding or singing, which are the usual manner of identifying this bird. Another first for the Cedarvale Ravine List!

I wish everyone a Happy and Joyous New Year. All the best in 2018.

Fox sighting

Jerry Austin reported that on 18th December he and his son sighted a fox casually crossing the road on the north side of the Glen Cedar footbridge, and going into the driveway of the large house on the west side. He said it looked healthy.

John Cummings

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