Holiday Hours at Tommy Thompson Park

Don't be left out in the cold! Plan your winter visit to Tommy Thompson Park carefully.  
TTP is a wonderful destination during the winter. The heavy snow weighing down the bows of Pine trees on Peninsula B, the bright morning sun glistening off the ice of Cell Two and the crisp cold air from across Lake Ontario certainly create the ideal winter experience. Yet there are some hazards to keep in mind during your visit to the park. The weather can change suddenly and ice forms quickly and unevenly. For your safety, do not walk on frozen bodies of water. Also keep in mind that very strong and cold winter winds blow off the lake, so be sure to dress warmly before venturing out to the lighthouse.

2014 Migration Monitoring Summary

The 2014 Monitoring season has come to a close. This year, we were surprised by new species visiting the station. Scroll through the list below to see how many of your favourite birds frequent Tommy Thompson Park.

Happy Holidays!

Celebrate the season with a gift that goes beyond the holiday season. Adoption Certificates are perfect unique gifts for the nature lover on your list and proceeds go directly to the Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station. Visit Gifts of a Local Nature to get your certificate today!


Thanksgiving Weekend Hours

A visit to TTP is a great way to spend time with family over the long weekend! This time of year is ideal for bird watching. With fall migration well underway, you're sure to see a variety of bird species - from the smallest warblers to the largest raptors. For the butterfly enthusiast in the group, lingering Monarchs can still be spotted throughout. Explore the park on your own or join the Sunday Morning Bird Walk for an intimate guided tour of the best birding spots at the park. So pack a lunch, bring your binoculars and get outside!

Don't forget that the Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station is open to visitors every morning this weekend. If you're lucky, you may get a close look of the bird banding effort happening at the station. Bird banding is part of our Migratory Monitoring Program, which is sustained by a committed team of volunteers and generous donations from members of the public. If you would like to contribute to this essential program, please click here.

Happy birding!


Grey skies over TTP

The varying fall weather greatly influenced migration monitoring efforts at the station last week.  Inclement weather not only limits migration activity but also impacts how our monitoring protocols are applied.  The Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station Migration Monitoring Protocol is a comprehensive guiding document that describes practices and protocols implemented at the station, ensuring the health and safety of birds over all else.  TTPBRS follows the Bander's Code of Ethics in all its operations.

Anticipating and responding to deteriorating weather is the responsibility of the station’s coordinator and volunteers.  Weather information such as wind direction and strength, temperature, precipitation, cloud cover and visibility are recorded three times daily (at opening, census and closing) and the local weather forecast is closely monitored. Being acutely aware of current and imminent weather follows the Bander’s Code of Ethics and allows for migration monitoring data to be standardized.  When weather is marginally inclement nets are evaluated on an individual basis and at the first sign of unfavorable weather, monitoring activities are postponed and nets are closed.  The daily census takes place regardless of weather, with the exception of thunderstorms.

Luckily, the weather forecast calls for improved conditions this week.  We can hopefully expect good numbers of fall migrants these next few days.


Sora at Cell One

TTP naturalists were delighted late last week when a Sora (Porzana carolina) was flushed near Cell One.  The Sora is a small waterbird that breeds in wetlands.  It was recognized by its slate gray body, short, yellow bill, short tail (often held upright showing white underneath) and black face.

This demure waterbird is contrasted by its distinct vocalizations. Soras are a ground foraging species, rummaging for seeds, insects and snails. Although soras are more often heard than seen, they are sometimes spotted walking near open water.  These photos, captured by TTP naturalist Ann Gray (Sept 2011), show how this small timid bird can walk on dense vegetation on the water.

Like for many other marsh birds, important threats to this species are pollution and destruction of wetlands required for breeding, migration and wintering.  To support the restoration of wetland habitats, please contribute to the habitat work implemented at Tommy Thompson Park.  Discover the many ways your can make a donation here.


Osprey sightings at TTP

Ospreys are fierce hunters.  They are fully equipped with sharp eyes (eight times sharper than that of humans),  reversible outer toes, sharp spicules (needle like barbs) on the underside of the talons to get a good grip on slippery prey and nostrils that close to keep out water during dives.  It's no wonder that fish swimming in Cell One scatter as the shadow of a soaring Osprey falls on the shallow waters of the wetland.

Sightings of a patrolling Osprey have been recorded by TRCA staff and visitors at Tommy Thompson Park for the past few weeks.  Fortunate observers have spotted this highly specialized fish eater lunging feet first over the embayments and wetlands or even flying over with prey locked tightly in its talons.

Share your great Osprey pictures with us!
Twitter:  @TRCA_REM


Secretive bird makes an appearance

Although the beginning of fall migration monitoring at the station has been slow, there have been some notable highlights.  Those of you who benefit from migration updates from Nigel Shaw, the station's expert birder and coordinator, already know about the great species and station firsts that have been recorded to date.  This one was too good not to blog about!

A Northern Waterthrush, a usually secretive bird, made itself highly visible and even posed for the paparazzi this weekend.  A bird of northern forests, the Northern Waterthrush sings its loud, ringing song from wooded swamps and bogs.  This ground foraging bird closely resembles the Louisiana Waterthrush, but can be distinguished by it's whitish or yellowish eyestripe and heavier streaking on the breast and flanks.  Like other warbler species, the Northern Waterthrush exhibits a fondness for water, making TTP an ideal spot to stop and refuel on the way to wintering grounds in Central America.

Want to stay up to date on the latest migrants coming through Tommy Thompson Park?  Become a TTPBRS member today!


2014 Fall Migration Monitoring begins!

It is great to be back for fall monitoring!  The nets were opened for the first time on Tuesday August 5th.
August is typically slow at a migration station, but we have lots of local breeders at TTP to keep us busy until the migrants arrive in droves.  With a high system sitting over us, the weather has allowed for a few migrant passerines to trickle through.  Here are some of the species recently banded:

Adult male Cedar Waxwing
Hatch year Killdeer 
Hatch year Lesser Yellowlegs
Hatch year male Belted Kingfisher
Hatch year Yellow Warbler
Least Sandpiper
The Bird Research Station is now open on weekends so please feel free to drop by and see what we are catching and seeing.

Remember Leslie St is closed south of Commissioner's, so you will have to take Cherry St to Unwin, and Unwin over to the Park gates.

If you would like to learn more about what happens at the Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research station, and receive email updates including more pictures and species numbers, consider becoming at TTPBRS member.  Sign up here and take advantage of the many benefits!


Full registration open today!

Visit the website to learn about the many activities planned for this year's Butterfly Festival and to register for guided tours and workshops.


Advanced Registration for Butterfly Festival

If you are a Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station member, don't forget to take advantage of advanced registration for Butterfly Festival hikes and workshops!  
Advanced registration ends Tuesday 9:00 a.m. 
Visit and use the password from your email invitation.  
Didn't get your invitation?  Email


Bird Locally

Eastern Pheobe
photo by Ian Sturdee
As an avid birder, every spring people ask if I am going to Point Pelee or Long Point during the spring migration. More and more often my response is; a special trip to these wonderful birding areas may be on the agenda but a lot of time during spring is spent in my neighbourhood observing birds that stop by on their way north. Fortunately, my backyard is Heart Lake CA but it could be anywhere habitat such as trees, shrubs, brush, water or a wild meadow are present. If you are patient and observant you will be richly rewarded for staying close to home.

Etobicoke and Mimico Creeks provide opportunities for observing migration locally. Colonel Sam Smith Park located at Kipling Avenue and Lakeshore Boulevard, is a stop-over for a wide variety of migrant birds and a great place to obtain help from experienced birders who are sure to be where "the action is." On the other hand, you don't have to travel down to the shores of Lake Ontario to view migratory birds. There are plenty of spots along creeks to view these migrants as they travel north. Etobicoke Creek north of Burnamthorpe is one good spot and the Etobicoke Trail provides easy access to this area. Some additional hot-spots are:

The creek valley between Kennedy Road and the 410, Loafer's Lake to north of Mayfield Road, and even in the heart of Brampton you can see warblers and other migrants along the valley north of Church Street. Golf courses also provide opportunities for birders, especially if your game isn't going too well. Peel Village and Markland Woods have a variety of birds, as these areas provide habitat necessary for migration rest spots. Professor's Lake and Heart Lake are great areas to view water birds like the Horned Grebe in the picture. Heart Lake is a particularly good location for songbirds and species such as the American Bittern.

No matter where you choose to view birds, there are a few things to keep in mind and help you be prepared. Wear comfortable shoes, bring binoculars, and have a camera to take pictures and small notebook to write down key features. If you are unable to identify a particular bird, having a description or image will allow you to consult a field guide or ask an experienced birder to help determine species. The best time to observe is early in the morning or later in the evening. Birds are most active during these times making them easier to view. Pay attention to forest edges and low vegetation as in many cases, birds will be feeding lower to the ground making them easier to spot. Don't forget to use your ears and eyes to find them. Even if you can't identify birds by their songs, if you hear a call that is unfamiliar it should help you find the performer. You should also keep an eye out for Chickadees feeding in the lower branches of shrubs and trees. Many times they will be part of a mixed group of migrants that could include many different species of warblers, vireos and other songbirds. If you are fortunate enough to be witness to one of these large flocks, identification can be challenging. If it becomes overwhelming, simply stand back and enjoy the spectacle.

So don't worry if you can't get to one of Ontario's hotspots to see the birds. You can stay close to home, view this wonderful event and get to know your own backyard the way the birds do. The thing that makes me happy staying local is that I get to be surprised by what I do see rather than by what I've missed.

Written by: Bob Noble, Brampton Resident, Etobicoke-Mimico Watersheds Coalition member
Apr 11, 2014

see more at: Etobicoke Mimico Creek Watersheds Creektime Newsletter


Winter Waterfowl Event

Save the date for the Tommy Thompson Park Winter Waterfowl Event.  Register at