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:

Cedarvale Gregory 20171021_155709

This brilliant red tree is another of his shots:

Cedarvale Gregory 20171021_155423

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:

Cedarvale autumn 2017 088

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

Cedarvale autumn 2017 086

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

Cedarvale autumn 2017 091

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:

Cedarvale planting Sept. 17 011

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!

Cedarvale planting Sept. 17 021

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:

Cedarvale Sept. 16, 2017 060

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

Cedarvale Sept. 16, 2017 061

Here is another view:

Cedarvale Sept. 16, 2017 064

There is a magnificent array of sunflowers:

Cedarvale Sept. 16, 2017 065

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

Cedarvale Sept. 16, 2017 066

And here she is, hard at work:

Cedarvale Sept. 16, 2017 068

This is her van:

Cedarvale Sept. 16, 2017 069

The garden now has an official sign:

Cedarvale Sept. 16, 2017 067

Shelter in dog off-leash area under construction

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

Cedarvale Sept. 16, 2017 055

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

Cedarvale Sept. 16, 2017 056

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



New trees at Heath St; new bench in ravine

10th August: Two of the trees planted at the west side of the Heath St entrance to the park had died. Parks had promised to replace them. Well, not only did they replace them, they planted nine new trees in that area! They are mainly conifers, with a few deciduous trees. Here are two of them, just behind the bench looking over the exercise equipment:

Cedarvale August 8 2017 026

All of the trees have been very carefully mulched. There is one right in the corner, near the wall of the apartment building:

Cedarvale August 8 2017 027

Two more are in the middle of the shrub planting that we did with Parks several years ago (the shrubs are mainly flourishing):

Cedarvale August 8 2017 028

Another one is at the edge of the shrub planting and close to the wall:

Cedarvale August 8 2017 029

Three of them are further out:

Cedarvale August 8 2017 030

And one is right next to the path:

Cedarvale August 8 2017 031

I do not have photos of all of them, but there are nine in total. There are also six trees on the other side of the path among the exercise equipment. So in total we have 15 new trees on the west side. On the east side of this area next to the subway entrance, there are 4 new trees, all deciduous. These are replacing the ash trees that were cut down because of the emerald ash borer.

A new bench has recently appeared. It is between the Bathurst St and Glen Cedar bridges, and closer to Glen Cedar:

Cedarvale August 8 2017 036

Here is the dedication plaque. It was raining on the day I took the photo:

Cedarvale August 8 2017 037

A new bench has also gone in beside the dog park, and another on the path from the tennis courts to Markdale School. There are concrete pads ready for two more benches in different locations. So we are doing well in both tree and bench departments!

I will be away in Newfoundland for 3 weeks, so this will be my last post until September.

John Cummings