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12/15/2015

TTP Holiday hours


Tommy Thompson Park is a great place to visit during the holidays - but don't be left out in the cold!

Check out the park hours before heading down to the waterfront. Be sure to dress appropriately so that you can enjoy a beautiful day exploring TO's Urban Wilderness.

Christmas Bird Count for Kids

On Saturday, 9 January 2016 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. join us for a family-friendly birding event!

Whether you're new to birding or have been birding for several seasons, the Christmas Bird Count is a great way to sharpen your winter bird identification skills! Become a citizen scientist and help monitor birds at Tommy Thompson Park. Your observations contribute to scientific data collections across North America.

Register for the morning only or for a whole day of birding. Details and registration at CBC4Kids-TTP.Eventbrite.ca

12/01/2015

New Raptor Research Program at TTPBRS

The James L. Baillie Memorial Fund for Bird Research and Preservation honours a great Canadian naturalist, conservationist and educator. James Baillie truly was an ornithological icon. Coordinated by Bird Studies Canada, this fund supports research, monitoring, education and conservation projects. It is thanks to a generous grant from the Baillie Fund that TTPBRS's Raptor Research Project was able to take flight!



With great pleasure, we are happy to declare this pilot year for the Raptor Research Project a phenomenal success! We met our expectation for the Observation Station, and the Banding Station exceeded the numbers we had predicted. The project not only furthered raptor data at Tommy Thompson Park, but auxiliary benefits were also evident. Two of the banding station's volunteers were able to expanded their banding skills, and are now are capable of running the Raptor stations solo. The identification skills of our main counters were also fine tuned, with five others readily identifying species by themselves. Sharing information, learning new skills and creating excitement for birds embodies the spirit of the Baillie Fund. It has genuinely enriched the TTPBRS in many ways.

With continued interest and eager volunteers, a successful second year of the Raptor Research Project is a guarantee!

The team at Tommy Thompson Park sincerely thanks Bird Studies Canada for their continued support!



11/30/2015

2015 Migration Monitoring Year End Total

Yet another good year at the Bird Research Station!  We ended the year with a high of 122 species banded, and 6940 birds banded in total.

The major highlights are the four new species banded. Check them out in the list!

Every year, our main focus is the Migration Monitoring program, but the addition of qualified volunteer banders allowed for extra research to happen. Projects expand our understanding of how avian species use the park and informs the creation of habitats. This year's projects included the continuation of the Shorebird Banding project and the introduction of the Raptor Banding and Research project.

As you browse the list below, please consider the amount of hours required to collect this amount of information. The station's success is heavily dependent on support from the public... people like you who love birds and love Tommy Thompson Park. Please help keep our programs going by becoming a TTPBRS Member. Enjoy the perks of being a member and know that your donation is contributing to the success of local conservation efforts.



Gifts of a Local Nature



Gifts of a Local Nature are ideal for the nature lover on your shopping list! Whether it's through the symbolic purchase of a bird box, seedlings or the adoption of a bird, these gifts have double the gift giving power by also supporting real conservation work.

Check out The Living City Foundation for unique gift ideas!

9/30/2015

White-eyed Vireo

The staff and volunteers at the Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station (TTPBRS) were very excited earlier this week to have been able to band the second White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus) captured at Tommy Thompson Park (TTP). The first was in 2004!

This exceptional bird can be recognized by its olive green plumage, white throat and yellow-green spectacles around its unique white eyes. This is a very rare find for TTPBRS, as the bulk of the breeding population for this species is in the United States.

White-eyed Vireos prefer brushy habitats with a dense understory layer, and that are generally located near a water source. With its mosaic of habitats on the Toronto waterfront, TTP offers an ideal stopover spot to rest and refuel during the long migrations to Central America.

The White-eyed Vireo’s short stout bill is well adapted to catch and eat its favourite food – insects! Caterpillars are often on the menu, but during non-breeding season the diet of the White-eyed Vireo wanders. An assortment of wild fruits will satisfy this vireo during winter months.

Their distinctive call has been described sounding like the words "quick, take me to the railroad, quick!" Like many migratory songbirds, White-eyed Vireos serve as predators, prey, and seed dispersants within the ecosystems they inhabit. Long-term trends analyzed from the data collected through TTPBRS help guide bird conservation efforts at local, provincial, national and even international levels. As the park’s habitats continue to mature, we hope to catch more glimpes of unfamiliar birds like the White-eyed Vireo and regularly see species that more typically migrate through Toronto.

To support the continued operation of the Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station and bird conservation in Toronto and beyond please donate or become a member by visit the Living City Foundation page.

Thanksgiving weekend hours


Already looking forward to the Thanksgiving long weekend? So are we! The park will be open an extra day - perfect for fall migration birding.

8/24/2015

Young Birders' Club - A birding hike series, just for kids!


Young Birders' Club is into its second season at TTP!


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 fall migration season, and to develop our birding skills. In addition to hiking, we'll enjoy other age-appropriate activities to complement the birding. The club will meet on five occasions, starting August 30th, and with every meeting, our bird observation and identification skills will improve. On our fifth and final meeting this season, families are invited to come along on our birding hike to learn from our Young Birders

Young Birders will:



  • Learn how to use binoculars



  • Learn how to spot and identify birds



  • Visit the Bird Research Station



  • Meet other youth interested in birding


  • **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.

    Sunday mornings from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

    We will be cycling for two of the meetings. Participants are to bring their own bicycles and helmets.

    To register and for cost information, visit the registration page.

    Please contact Raja Raudsepp for more information.

    Butterfly Festival wraps up!


    We had such a beautiful day at the ‪#‎ButterflyFest‬ yesterday. Visit the Butterfly Festival Facebook page for a short video of the event.

    TRCA would like to acknowledge the many volunteers who made this event possible. Your dedication and energy are very much appreciated. Good job!

    Thank you to everyone who came out to enjoy the activities and celebrate the butterflies at ‪#‎TommyThompsonPark‬. Until next year!




    8/11/2015

    Sunday Morning Bird Walks



    Sunday morning bird walks are back! These bi-annual guided walks are linked with Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station's migration monitoring program. They offer the perfect opportunity for birders and naturalists to explore the park and learn more about fall migration. Starting at the entrance at 8:00 a.m., the group is guided through nature trails and to birding hot spots for a chance to catch glimpses of the latest fall migrants. The walk ends at the Bird Research Station, where live bird banding demonstrations are happening.

    Pack your water bottles and strap on your waterproof walking shoes for this early morning adventures. Participants are also encourage to bring field guides and binoculars to get the most from the tour. Beginers are always welcome!

    Please dress appropriately for the weather. Free parking on Leslie Street and Unwin Avenue.

    8/05/2015

    Ready for another season!


    Tommy Thompson Park's bird research coordinator, Nigel Shaw, has been busy these past few days. Broom in hand, he sweeps away dust and spider webs that have accumulated over the summer. Refilling supplies, repairing and setting up mist nest are also on his list of things to do. Being prepared for the upcoming fall migration monitoring season is essential for the station's success.

    Once the housekeeping is complete, Nigel organizes the volunteers. This dedicated group of birding enthusiasts are the cogs and gears that allow for the smooth operation of the research station. Up at the crack of dawn and at the park before sunrise, these volunteers have the unique experience of being in Toronto's Urban Wilderness at its most magical time of day. This year, a dozen volunteers will assist Nigel during the fall migration. While some are valuable, experienced volunteers, a few new eager volunteers have joined the roster. With training and by shadowing others, they will learn how to delicately extract birds from the mist nests, how to correctly identify and record avian features as well as how to safely handle and place bands on a variety of bird species.

    Only a few hours into the first day of monitoring, Nigel reports that mostly resident breeding birds have been banded. Resident species include flycatchers, chickadees and vireos. Migrant species like the Least Sandpiper and Cedar Waxwing have also been recorded and banded.

    The team at the Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station (TTPBRS) invites guests to stop in when visiting the park on weekends. The station is open till noon (whether dependent) and is located on Peninsula D on the west side of the park.

    As a volunteer bases monitoring station, TTPBRS needs ongoing donations from its supporters. To learn more about how to contribute to the station's success and to become a member, please visit The Living City Foundation to sign up.

    Registration is now open!

    Tommy Thompson Park's annual Butterfly Festival is all set for Saturday August 22nd. Join us from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for guided walks, presentations and a variety of vendors. This event is sure to be a great day spent in Toronto's Urban Wilderness!

    Registration for activities is now open. Visit www.butterflyfest.ca for more information on the activities and follow the links to register.

    For more information about the event, please email ttp@trca.on.ca.

    Share the love - share this post and tell your friends. Hope to see you there!

    6/29/2015

    Canada Day Hours

    What's more Canadian than exploring the wilderness on Canada Day. TTP - Toronto's Urban Wilderness will be open from 9:00 a.m to 6:00 p.m. for all who are looking to connect with nature.

    2015 Spring Migration Monitoring

    After a slow start, the Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station finally got it's banding numbers up. Here are the spring 2015 Migration Monitoring totals. Again 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.


    6/02/2015


    *NEW* Weekend guided walks at TommyThompsonPark! Just in time for the summer.  Guided walks focusing on nature interpretation, restoration work, TTP history and so much more. Check out the schedule on the Tommy Thompson Park website. For more information, email ttp@trca.on.ca

    Help us reach our fundraising goal by sponsoring Nigel Shaw, our bird bander and station coordinator extraordinaire. Funds go directly to support the stations operations and programs. Learn more about The Great Canadian Birdathon and sponsor Nigel's birdathon here.

    5/07/2015


    Only 12 tickets left for the ‪#‎SpringBirdFest‬! Didn't get a chance to register for your favourite guided tour? Don't worry! You can leave your name on the waiting list at the registration table or explore the park on your own. We have many other fun activities and exhibitors to visit.

    For more information and to register for the remaining guided activities, visit www.springbirdfestival.ca


    5/05/2015

    Like people who live in urban areas, some birds prefer to nest in large groups, very close to their neighbours. Tommy Thompson Park is home to six species of colonial waterbirds that nest in very large numbers - earning its Important Bird Area designation from Bird Studies Canada. Explore the various colonies including Common Tern, Black-crowned Night-Heron and Double-crested Cormorant and learn about these magnificent species and the management programs run by Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.

    For more information and to register for the Colonial Waterbird Walks, visit www.springbirdfestival.ca.

    5/04/2015

    This walk is for everyone and anyone interested in learning about the ecology of Tommy Thompson Park. Stroll along the trails of the park as you learn about the urban ecosystems at your doorstep. This guided tour will offer insight about the challenges plants and animals face in our concrete jungle through interactive games. After this walk, you're sure to view your urban landscape with a new appreciation.

    For more information and to register for the Walking Along with Nature guided hike, visit www.springbirdfestival.ca.

    A bike tour of Tommy Thompson Park (TTP) highlighting the various habitats and the birds they support is a great way to participate during the upcoming Spring Bird Festival. Stops include Cell One wetland and Embayment D, the Pedestrian Bridge to view Peninsula C waterbird colonies, the Shorebird Wetland and Embayment A.

    Guided by senior Toronto and Region Conservation Authority managers, these guided bike tours are also a great way to learn more about how TTP was created, its importance along the waterfront and discover new upcoming projects.

    For more information and to register for the Birding by Bike Tour or the Urban Wilderness Bike Tour , check out www.springbirdfestival.ca.

    5/01/2015

    Registration now open!!

    The much loved Tommy Thompson Park Spring Bird Festival is back! Register now for your favourite guided walking tours and activities.

    For more information about the festival, check out www.springbirdfestival.ca or email ttp@trca.on.ca.

    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.

    2/17/2015

    Annual Winter Waterfowl Special Event!



    TTP's Winter Waterfowl Event is set for Saturday March 7th!

    Many ducks spend the summer breeding in the Arctic and migrate south to Toronto for the milder winter. Come out to see and learn about these spectacular winter visitors at this one of a kind event!

    To register for one of the workshops or guided nature walks, follow this link -https://ttpwinterwaterfowl.eventbrite.ca/ Or explore the park on your own and stop at the viewing station at the pedestrian bridge.

    For more information, email ttp@trca.on.ca or call 416-661-6600 ext. 5770.