4/24/2015

School Field Trips at Tommy Thompson Park!

The education programs at Tommy Thompson Park provide unique opportunities to experience the phenomenon of migration or explore Toronto’s urban wildlife habitats. We currently offer a series of captivating education programs for students.

For more information, visit www.tommythompsonpark.ca or visit trca.on.ca.


Join TTPBRS for the Great Canadian Birdathon!


The Great Canadian Birdathon (formerly the Baillie Birdathon) is a nation-wide sponsored bird count run by Bird Studies Canada to raise critical funds for bird conservation efforts. It is the oldest sponsored bird count in North America!
How does it work?
Registered Birdathoners go out on one day in May to count as many bird species as they can. Birdathoners collect sponsors at a flat rate or on a per-species basis. Anyone can participate! The Birdathon is a great way to lean about birds and improve your skills!
What Happens to the Data and Money?
The species counts are used by researchers to identify significant population change and to help direct conservation planning.
The Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station (TTPBRS) will receive up to 75% of the funds raised on behalf of the station. TTPBRS relies heavily on these funds to continue its important work. The remainder of the funds go toward Bird Studies Canada for their national and international bird conservation efforts. 
Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station
TTPBRS was established in 2003 to aid in the understanding, protection and awareness of birds in Toronto. It is one of 25 Canadian Migration Monitoring Network stations that collect data for use at local, regional, national and international levels. Migration monitoring methods include bird banding, standard surveys and casual observations. By joining our team, the money you raise go directly to the station to support our various monitoring programs.
Interested in Doing a Birdathon for TTPBRS?
IT'S EASY!
Collect sponsorships from co-workers, friends and family.
Pick one day during the month of May to go our birding. You have 24 hours to find as many species as you can! Try to visit a variety of habitats to increase the number of species you'll find.
Tell your sponsors about how your birding day went. Mention the notable species you saw!
Are You a New Birder Who Needs Help?
Participate in one of our birding hikes during the Spring Bird Festival on Saturday, May 9th, 2015! Expert birders will help you learn how to identify species and give you tips on where to look to find them!
Benefits of Participation
Sponsors
Contributions greater than $10 are tax-credible. For contributions greater than $35 sponsors will receive 4 issues of Bird Studies Canada's BirdWatch Canada.
PARTICIPANTS
Will receive a one-year membership to TTPBRS and will automatically be entered in draws to win great prizes from Bird Studies Canada and TTPRBS.

4/22/2015

Calling all young birders!


A birding hike series just for kids!

The Young Birders' Club is an opportunity for youth, aged 9-12, to go on introductory birding hikes specifically geared for young people. Our goal is to look for birds at Tommy Thompson Park through the spring migration season, and to develop our birding skills. In addition to hiking, other age appropriate activities will take place to complement the birding. The club will meet on four occasions (see dates below), and with every meeting, our bird observation and identification skills will improve. On our fourth and final meeting this season, families are invited to come along on our birding hike to learn from our Young Birders!

Please note that meetings will involve a significant amount of walking. Binoculars and field guides are provided for the meetings. Delivered by a certified teacher.
 
Meeting dates are on April 26, May 3, May 24 and May 31 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. We encourage Young Birders to attend all four meetings, if possible.

Register at YoungBirderTTP.Eventbrite.ca

Please contact Raja Raudsepp with any questions at rraudsepp@trca.on.ca or 647-505-9960.

3/18/2015

Guest Post: Toronto’s Winter Waterfowl By Deborah M. Buehler

The pedestrian bridge spanning the junction between Embayment C and Cell 3 in Tommy ThompsonPark (TTP) swayed slightly in the brisk winter breeze.  On the bridge, people chattered with excitement about how to tell a Greater Scaup from a Common Goldeneye (or for the hardcore birders, from a Lesser Scaup) and speculated about whether the swans with their head’s tucked under their wings were Trumpeter or Mute. 

Enjoying Winter Waterfowl at the pedestrian bridge viewing station. Photo: Don Johnston


Then someone called out, “Mink!” 

The mink’s would be prey (a Red-breasted Merganser) narrowly escaped, to the collective “Oh!” of myself, and about 20 others, who had piled onto the bridge as part of the Toronto Region and Conservation Authority’s (TRCA) Winter Waterfowl Event on March 7th, 2015. We were further delighted when the mink scampered across the open ice of Embayment C with the Toronto skyline as a backdrop. 

Toronto skyline from Tommy Thompson Park – now picture it with a mink running across the ice. Photo: Debbie Buehler.
The pedestrian bridge provided an ideal viewing platform, not only for mink, but also for a variety of ducks and swans. I had volunteered to staff the bridge with long time TTP volunteer naturalist Don Johnston. As part of the event, TRCA had interpretive stations and walks at various places within the park, but I thought the bridge would be the best place to see the waterfowl. I was not disappointed! We had Greater and Lesser Scaup, Common Goldeneye, Common and Red-breasted Mergansers, Mallards, American Black Ducks, a White-winged Scoter, and a Canvasback with it’s longer neck and wedge shaped head in direct contrast to the similarly colored Redheads. The ducks were gathered in the small stretches of open water on either side of the bridge, taking advantage of easily accessible food, mainly zebra mussels, according to Don.

Ducks and Trumpeter Swans in Embayment C. Photo: Debbie Buehler
A few days earlier it was doubtful that we’d be able to see anything at all from the bridge. The deep cold of winter had frozen the water around the bridge solid. But a few warmer and sunny days, coupled with winds that caused the water to flow quickly between the two bodies of water, provided just enough ice break-up to attract the birds. 

Ducks in Cell 3. Photo: Debbie Buehler
Freeze up on the Great Lakes, is a much bigger problem for ducks than it is for human duck watchers. These past two winters have been brutal. When the lakes freeze, and especially when sheltered inlets and bays freeze, it becomes much harder for ducks to reach their winter foods. Last winter proved lethal for many of Toronto’s winter ducks, and this winter has also been very hard.  

Ducks in Embayment C. Photo Debbie Buehler
Although some of Toronto’s winter ducks – like the Mallards and American Black Ducks – will stay to breed in the area, many will migrate north to lakes and ponds in the boreal forest. And some, like the Long-tailed ducks, will carry on all the way up to the high Arctic. Indeed, some of the ducks were already feeling amorous. A few Common Goldeneye drakes even provided a few moments of display

Common Goldeneye with head back mating display. Photo: Debbie Buehler
Over the course of the morning I spoke to many people on the bridge, from hardy winter regulars, to people out of their first event. I even had the pleasure of meeting one of the TRCA’s restoration staff. We chatted about the work he’d done in Embayment A – now one of my favorite places in the park. 

I looked around at the snow-covered landscape and commented: “You have one of the best offices in the world!”

A smiled and nod indicated that he agreed. More proof was that he was back “at the office” on the weekend, his time off, eager to show his 4-year old son the wonders of his workplace and Tommy Thompson Park.  

About the author:

Deborah Buehler is an ecologist, a writer, a devoted mother and a TTPBRS volunteer extraordinaire. She has a passion for critical thinking and muses about how humans are adapting to and changing our environment in the context of culture, ecology, evolution and sustainability. Read more about Deborah on her blog.