Category Archives: Uncategorized

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



Karen Sun leads instructive flower identification walk

1st August: On Thursday 27th July, Karen Sun of Parks, Forestry & Recreation led a wildflower recognition walk in the ravine, the third in our series of nature walks this year.  Unfortunately, I could not be there, as I had had dental surgery that afternoon. But Ivor Simmons sent me a brief report and Richard Gregory sent these photos. About 15 people showed up at the Heath St subway entrance at 6 pm. Here are some of them:

Cedarvale flower walk July 2

One of the plants Karen identified was the buttercup (ranunculus, probably ranunculus acris she says):

Cedarvale flower walk July 6

Here is Karen among the common cat-tails (typha latifolia), known as bulrushes in Europe:

Cedarvale flower walk July 3

She is holding a Joe-Pye weed plant (eutrochium purpureum). The next one is buttonbush (cephalanthus occidentalis):

Cedarvale flower walk July 7

And this is common jewelweed or spotted touch-me-not (impatiens capensis). It can be used to alleviate the itching caused by poison ivy, and often grows near that plant.

Cedarvale flower walk July 9

Here Karen is pointing out one of the many types of aster (we have several of them in the ravine):

Cedarvale flower walk July 12

Here is part of the group beside the dog park, looking at our first planting in the park in 2013: note how well the sumacs in particular are doing!

Cedarvale flower walk July 10

If you look back through the blog, you can find photos of this site completely bare, with the crowd planting the trees and shrubs, and just after the planting (used as one of the masthead photos).

Some of the other plants seen on the walk were: common milkweed (ascelpias syriaca), tansy (tanacetum vulgare), garlic mustard (alliaria petiolate), dog strangling vine (vincetoxicum rossicum), invasive phragmites  (phragmites Australis subsp. Australis), Queen Anne’s lace (daucus carota), common comfrey (symphylum officinale), tall sweet white clover (melilotus albus) and our old friend poison ivy (toxicodendron radicans).

Thanks to Karen for volunteering her evening time to take the group on this interesting walk and to Richard for taking the photos!

John Cummings

Yellow-billed Cuckoo sighted in Cedarvale!

23rd July: Our resident bird-watcher, Ken Morin, e-mailed me on 9th July to say he had recently seen a Yellow-billed Cuckoo in the park. This is what it looks like:

Yellow-billed Cuckoo Photo

Here is his report: “As I was walking south of the off leash area, I went into the tangle on the east side of the path to pick some mulberries.  After a brief feast of ripe fruit, I emerged through the side path through the shrubs.  Several strides along, a bird flew in front of me at a low height and I recognized an unusual tail and wing markings.  It went into the side thicket and landed on a tree branch a few yards deep.  I followed and was able to study the bird thoroughly, as it moved very little.  It picked a caterpillar from a leaf and had a bite.  As you can probably surmise, I am chuffed about this sighting of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, a bird that has been a non-visible one in my years of birding.  Cuckoos don’t tend to make themselves visible and will remain motionless in trees, making them hard to find.  Yes, there are two species in the GTA.  Now I have seen both this year so I’m very pleased”.
Here is a description of the bird from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology: “Yellow-billed Cuckoos are slender, long-tailed birds that manage to stay well hidden in deciduous woodlands. They usually sit stock still, even hunching their shoulders to conceal their crisp white underparts, as they hunt for large caterpillars. Bold white spots on the tail’s underside are often the most visible feature on a shaded perch. Fortunately, their drawn-out, knocking call is very distinctive”.
To hear what the bird sounds like, go to this link:
and click on the “typical voice” icon.
John Cummings