Cedarvale gets 7 additional sakuras

21st May:  By pure luck, I happened to be walking through the park on 16th May, the very day Parks decided to have 7 new sakuras (Japanese cherry trees) planted beside the other ones. This guy was just about to plop the tree into the hole when I snapped this shot:


He told me there were 7 new trees altogether. Here is one of the others (you can see the newly built house in the background):


These 3 are along the north side of the tennis courts:


This one is round the corner on the west side:


This one is right next to the path and the contractor’s vehicles:


Brinkman & Associates Reforestation Ltd were the contractors:


Finally, some of the trees beside the cat-tail wetland are finally leafing out nicely, but the cat-tails are still the old ones from last year:


I will now be away until 22nd June, but, as mentioned before, Cait Cuthbert will be in charge of the website and e-mail list during my absence.

Our next event will be on Monday 27th May at 7 pm at the Pollinator Garden (next to the Community Garden and across from the tennis courts and Leo Baeck School). It will be a workshop about pollinator plants given by Patricia Landry of Parks and a planting of native pollinator plants from Native Plants in Claremont nursery.

John Cummings

Sakuras and spring ephemerals blooming; bird report

14th May: Our sakuras (Japanese cherry trees) were out before those in High Park, but few people know about them so they are not much visited. In the background you can see the bright mural on the shed at the Community Garden:


Here are the ones along the path, several of them recently mulched by our Adopt-a-Park-Tree adopters, including our young Beaver troop:


Unfortunately, one sakura has had a branch broken:


Earlier, I had observed these bloodroots (sanguinaria canadensis). I tried to find them a week later and could not: apparently they bloom for an extremely short time. The red root (hence Latin name) was apparently used for medicinal purposes by the indigenous peoples:


Another spring ephemeral is trout lily. These flowers seem to last a little longer than bloodroot but only about two weeks. These examples are already past their prime:


This year they were much more widespread than I remembered from previous years. Even so, garlic mustard is much more prevalent and is everywhere.


A few flowers have already emerged in the Pollinator Garden, where many more will be added in a planting on 27th May (see below):


Bird sightings

Our “bird man”, Ken Morin, sends this report:

8th May: Did a long overdue walk through the ravine today. I have been busy birding elsewhere. It started slow, just the usual denizens of Cedarvale until I came upon some sparrows – a pair of White-throated Sparrows:

Birds white-throated sparrow

and later in a branch pile a Swamp Sparrow:

Birds swamp sparrow

Nothing else as I walked along the length of the park until the walk was nearly finished.

I heard a song note in the wetlands and traced it to its source: Baltimore Oriole. Not a song, just one lovely note repeated. Even the school children remarked on it.

At the very north end of the woods a bird popped up along the fences, a member of the thrush family- the Veery:

Birds veery

Faint markings and light colouration. At the final bend a silhouette caught my eye and it turned out to be a warbler, a Black-throated blue Warbler:

Birds black-throated blue warbler

showing its white ‘handkerchief’ on the wing. As I stood observing a Rose breasted Grosbeak landed on a branch:

Birds rose-breasted grosbeak

These final appearances made me feel spring has arrived in Cedarvale.

9th May: Today’s walk yielded all the sightings of yesterday, with the Veery singing. Today was better; more migrants have found the ravine.

I came down the Glen Cedar footbridge stairs and within a few steps found a lovely Blackburnian Warbler:

Birds blackburnian warbler

In the field above the dog park, a pair of Chipping Sparrows. Into the woods next, and at the start of the path along the creek a Gray Catbird.

Returning back along the walk found a Blue-headed Vireo:

Birds blue-headed vireo

just south of the off-leash area and later a Flycatcher (Least?). The Empidonax flycatchers:

Birds empidonax flycatcher

are virtually identical and are distinguished by song. This bird wasn’t singing, but Least have been reported in the GTA.

So with the four previously seen, it was a good outing.

Next event

Our next event will be a planting in the Pollinator Garden (next to the Community Garden and across from the tennis courts) on Monday 27th May at 7 pm. Please join us to help planting!

John Cummings

Poor weather for CleanUp Day

30th April: It was 2 degrees with a biting wind as we unloaded Ivor’s car and hauled our table, fold-out display, materials, cookies and drinks down the new metal stairs beside the Glen Cedar footbridge on Saturday morning 27th April. Councillor Josh Matlow and the Hon Carolyn Bennett helped carry stuff down below the bridge.  No sooner did we get set up than a strong gust of wind blew over our display, scattering our photos and papers far and wide! You can see what the weather was like from the slight mist in this photo, taken by Josh’s assistant, Denise McMullin, and the way we are dressed:


From left, we are Susan Aaron, me, Cait Cuthbert, Carolyn Bennett, Josh Matlow with daughter Molly, 4 participants including two children, and Ivor Simmons. More people arrived over the course of the morning, and all set to work on the cleanup. As usual some unexpected items were found, including an office chair retrieved from the murky pond behind the bridge, and a perfectly good broom that someone took home (probably left behind by the construction crew that worked on the bridge):


Someone else took this sign for his sign collection:


This couple seemed to be enjoying themselves as they cleared up under the bridge:


Keenan produced two well-filled bags of garbage from under the Bathurst St bridge and helped us carry the stuff back up the steps to the car. Here he is with the final pile (not as large and impressive as in previous years when the weather was better and more people came out):


Later, I e-mailed park supervisor Paul Orichefsky to say the pile was ready for pickup. He e-mailed back (at 7 am Monday!) to say it would be picked up that day. And indeed, it was gone by lunch-time, when I walked by.

Our next event is Carolyn Bennett’s Summit on the Environment and Climate Change, at which we will have our table (indoors, so it cannot blow over). It is next Sunday 5th May  3-5 pm at Timothy Eaton Memorial Church, Flora Mcrae Auditorium, 230 St Clair Ave West.

John Cummings

Bench repaired, mulch arrived, snake sighting, coltsfoot flowering

19th April: The damaged bench I noted in my last post has been repaired rather than replaced. This photo was taken on 12th April (compare with the first photo in my last post):


I had e-mailed Paul Orichefsky, the park supervisor, soon after I noticed the damage. He got right on it and the broken slat was quickly replaced. Sometimes the system works!

The mulch has arrived!

On 18th April the mulch for our Adopt-a-Park-Tree program arrived. Keith Chorlton, our Parks liaison (on left), is talking to the truck driver:


We have 44 trees in the program at 5 different locations in the park, including the Japanese sakuras between the tennis courts and the Community Garden; they will soon be in bloom. The first activity of the season is mulching the trees. The adopters will soon be hard at work moving the mulch from the pile near the “Crossroads” to their trees. The contractor’s truck is about to move away:


Snake sighting

On the same day as the mulch delivery, I was lucky enough to spot a small snake crossing the path:


It was most likely a juvenile garter snake. It was moving very slowly, probably having just emerged from its winter hibernation. I watched it get to the safety of the other side of the path.

Coltsfoot in profusion

Seemingly from one day to the next, the coltsfoot (tussilago farfara) is here. It is always one of the first spring flowers to arrive. It is a non-native plant, apparently introduced to Ontario in the 1920s from Europe. These plants are beside the little wooden bridge just north of the newly repaired Glen Cedar footbridge:


There were more on the other side of the footbridge. The site where the largest amount of it is visible is next to the Bathurst St bridge:


These are directly below the bridge:


Today was rainy, windy and cold. You could hardly notice the coltsfoot, as the flowers had folded right in on themselves. There was enough water flowing that a pair of mallard ducks were paddling along in one of the rivulets!

As usual, I have been assiduously picking up the winter’s accumulated garbage; but there will still be plenty left for Cleanup Day which is fast approaching. It is next Saturday 27th April, starting at 10.30 am under the Glen Cedar footbridge. We will have our table and provide drinks and cookies. Councillor Josh Matlow will provide gloves and garbage bags. Hope to see you there!

John Cummings


Damaged bench to be replaced; spring flowers; new bird arrivals

10th April: On a recent patrol, I noticed this dispiriting sight:


The bench is tucked away at the west edge of the park next to the small parkette that connects the park to Arlington (apparently the parkette is provincially owned: don’t let Mr Ford know, or he may come up with one of his “good ideas” for it). I reported the damaged bench to park supervisor Paul Orichefsky, who promptly put in a work order for its replacement. So watch out for a new bench here!

The first spring flowers are popping out:


These garden escapees are always the first to appear:


They are behind the houses on Ava Rd, near the entrance at Ava and Everden. Soon we will also be seeing trout lilies, coltsfoot and other early arrivals.

Another hopeful sign that spring is imminent: more migratory birds arriving. Our resident birder, Ken Morin, sends this report:

8th April 2019: Today’s afternoon walk produced some new first-of-the-year birds. In addition to Cardinals, Song Sparrows and Red winged Blackbirds, in voice from one end of the ravine to the other, here are some new arriving migrants:

Eastern Phoebe – a conspicuous tail wagger, sooty cap and pale belly:

Birds Eastern Phoebe

Yellow Bellied Sapsucker – like a Downy Woodpecker with a red throat:

Birds Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Brown Creeper – tiny, winds its way up the tree:

Birds Brown Creeper

Hermit Thrush – white eye ring and red tail, spotted breast:

Birds Hermit Thrush

Golden crowned Kinglet – a gold stripe on the crown, hyperactive:

Birds Golden-crowned Kinglet

The last three species were found in the woods, almost immediately at the entry point for the main trail. Maybe pause before starting to walk, as numerous American Robins and Dark- eyed Juncos are along the main path in the branch and limb piles and woodpeckers above in the trees.

Likewise at the Heath St entry I encountered six species including the Phoebe in the first 50 yards. The warmth and southerly airflow will spur migration, so keep your eyes and ears pealed.

Ken Morin

“Walk-through” with park officials

On 9th April Susan Aaron, Ivor Simmons and I met three park staff for a “walking meeting” in the park. They were Mike Halferty, Keith Chorlton and Patrick Cole. We looked at the state of previous community plantings and discussed possible events for this year (Keith is taking over from Mike as our contact on these); also looked at the trees in our Adopt-a-Park-Tree program and the larger (“caliper”) trees that have been planted by the city (this is Patrick’s domain). We got considerably muddy on the informal path parallel to Strathearn. Ivor spotted two golden-crowned kinglets. It was useful to get together on site with the people we normally deal with via e-mail.

Stewardship group in Nordheimer

If you are interested in some “hands-on” work in the Nordheimer this season, here are the details from Susan:

The City of Toronto Community Stewardship Program

The City of Toronto Community Stewardship Program has a site in the Nordheimer. The program begins on April 29th but anyone can join during the season and then attend regularly. The team meets at Roycroft Park at 150 Boulton Drive, Tuesdays at 6 p.m. and works together until 8 p.m. They work on a city agreed-upon plan to assist the naturalization of the site by clearing invasive plants, doing plantings, and monitoring vegetation. Free workshops with experts are offered. Volunteers are assisted on site each week by experienced volunteers and staff work with them, often every other week.


John Cummings


Red-winged blackbirds arrive in Cedarvale

25th March: When the migratory birds start arriving, we can hope that spring will not be far behind. Because of the ice, I had not been in the ravine since 27th February. But on 19th March I finally ventured forth. In the cat-tail wetland below the Bathurst St bridge, I first heard the characteristic “konkaree”, then saw my first red-winged blackbird of the season:


I zoomed in a bit for a slightly better picture of the characteristic red and yellow flash on its side from which the bird gets its name:


Here is a better (stock) photo:

Birds Red-winged blackbird

The American robins are also back in force (and no doubt others). Soon the ravine will once again be alive with birdsong.

22nd March: On a rather more sour note, I was appalled to see this wanton damage to a tree next to the dog park:


Why do people have to vandalize poor unsuspecting trees in this way?

Our next event will be our annual Cleanup Day on Saturday 27th April starting at 10.30 am under the Glen Cedar footbridge. Our new councillor, Josh Matlow, will provide gloves and garbage bags; we will bring drinks and cookies. This and later events are up on the “About Us/Upcoming events” section of this web site.

Tree For Me: Last year we helped distribute free trees and shrubs to homeowners from the Wychwood Barns under this program, run by the Toronto Parks & Trees Foundation. This year’s spring event is now open for registrations at:


Sign up at this web site in order to get your tree. We will likely be assisting in the fall Tree For Me event.

Lastly, if you want to volunteer for one of the city’s tree-planting events, go to this web site:


With Parks, we will be having a burdock removal event on the slope down from Strathearn sometime over the summer.

John Cummings


Bird sightings in Cedarvale; Cleanup Day 27th April

12th March: Our “bird man” Ken Morin has managed to get into the ravine despite the icy conditions and sends this report:

8th March 2019: At last something to be cheerful about! Ravens on Rushton Road, Red Tailed Hawks nesting in Wychwood Park and birds singing in the ravine.

Today’s walk in Cedarvale produced a half dozen Northern Cardinals singing and Woodpeckers hammering away up and down the park:

Birds Cardinal

A few Juncos at the feeders. This is the dark-eyed junco:

Birds Junco, dark-eyed

and a Hairy Woodpecker rounded out the activity:

Birds Woodpecker, hairy

So nice to hear and see the birds returning.

As I left the house two Ravens were on a rooftop jawing away; one flew off with the prize in its beak while the other cried, hopping from tree to tree.

Birds Raven

Also, this week in Wychwood Park a Red tailed Hawk swooped overhead and landed in a nest, soon to be followed by its partner.

Birds Hawk, red-tailed

With any luck we will have hawklets in the near future. I realize these two locations aren’t in Cedarvale proper but I was so chuffed about the sightings I had to report them. Good birding to all.

Ken Morin

Date set for Cleanup Day

In conjunction with Councillor Josh Matlow, we have set the date and time for Cleanup Day in Cedarvale as Saturday 27th April at 10.30 am. Meet under the Glen Cedar footbridge. As usual, the Councillor will supply gloves and garbage bags and we will lay on drinks and cookies. I have posted the date on the web site. Hope to see some of you there!

John Cummings