Special Report - Ice Storm Hits Rosetta Hard.

Probably not the smartest idea but Cori and I did a walk around Rosetta on Saturday afternoon.  It wasn't pretty, it wasn't pretty at all!  Our little park got hit hard.  It's still extremely dangerous there.  As we walked, ice and small branches were still falling all around.  Large broken-off branches will fall from the trees when either gravity or the wind takes over.  The parking lot is now closed at both ends and the park will likely be closed for quite some time.  I'll let the photos speak for themselves...

The Northeast section...


 





The Southeast section...











The Southwest section...


 


Frank's bench

 
 
The Northwest section...





The old 'Driveway'...


Walter

Very Special Post - Thankyou Everyone!

Well it’s all over for another season.  The birds have been counted and the party has been celebrated.

Yesterday’s year-end lunch party at East Side Mario’s was our most successful to date (thanks to Lee).  With nineteen of us in attendance we shared some fond memories of our past four month’s together and enjoyed some wonderful food and drink.  (Hopefully we’ll get a few photos to share on the blog)

Although we didn’t have quite as many birds as in the last few previous years, we certainly had a fantastic time seeing and counting what did come our way.  It’s these variations from year to year that make hawk-watching so fun and interesting.  And although numbers may have been lower on most species, I personally am not going to be too upset about seeing one hundred and nine Bald Eagles and a Gyrfalcon!  We also counted bird number 50,000!

A big ‘shout-out’ to the staff of Rosetta McClain Gardens and the City of Toronto Parks Department for allowing us to continue our Hawk Watch at the park.  Their help and understanding is always much appreciated.  I’d also like to thank all of you for making new hawk-watchers and park goers feel so welcomed and thanks for sharing what you could with them.  People are always commenting on what a friendly and knowledgeable group we have.  Thank you to John for joining us this year and collecting and entering our daily counts into the HMANA database.  Thank you to Murray for bringing his Meetup group to the Watch again this year, what a great day that was for everyone!  As always, my thanks to all those who brought scopes and cameras to the Watch, again your equipment helped to identify so many of the birds that were way up there and others that tried to fly by at lightning speed.  Thanks to those who shared their photos on the blog.  It’s the photos that tell the real story of the Hawk Watch!  Now that a few of us, including myself have tossed down the plastic and bought better cameras, the photos are only going to get more spectacular…..if that’s even possible!  And lastly I’d like to thank every one of you for all your endless help with finding and identifying the birds.  It wasn’t an easy task by any means this year with day after day of nothing but blue sky!  Again, your friendship, many kindnesses and camaraderie are what really make the Hawk Watch the success that it is.
The following list I took from a nice email that our hawk watch friend Kris sent…
10 Things I learned at the Rosetta McClain Raptor Watch:
1.  Just show up.  Your odds of seeing a raptor in Toronto increase significantly when you enter the park.
2.  It’s always colder than you expect; wear extra everything.
3.  North West winds good.  South East winds bad.
4.  Raptors possess a magical ability to disappear into the blue – right before your eyes!
5.  When everyone else is looking South, look to the North.  And vice versa.
6.  When you call an airplane or a pigeon (and you will), just smile and carry-on.  You’re not the first and you won’t be the last.
7.  You never know what else you might see.  Bluebirds, Snow Buntings and Horned Larks.  Tundra Swans, a Red-headed Woodpecker, and cute little Foxes.  Oh my!
8.  It’s never ever a good time to go home.  Because as soon as you leave, 27 Bald Eagles will arrive.
9.  Raptor watching is good therapy.  It’s amazing how a big kettle of Turkey Vultures, 4 Golden Eagles, or even just a little Sharpie can melt all your troubles away.
10.  New friends can be found in the most unlikely places.
Kris also wanted to thank everyone for making her feel so welcome this year and wishes everyone a Happy Christmas and Good Winter Birding.
In closing, as everyone knows, we lost our good friend Frank earlier this year and the Hawk Watch was just not the same without him.  If I could speak on behalf of the group… Frank, this one was for you, we hope that we did you proud!
Walter

Special Post - Our Rosetta Bird List

I've just added a link entitled 'Our Rosetta Bird List' in the right-hand column under the heading 'Rosetta McClain Gardens'.  At present there are 199 birds on the list that we as a group have seen and identified over the last 10 years or so.  Happy birding everyone!

Walter

Don't leave it too late folks...

...as there are only a few days left to reserve your seats for the 2013 Christmas Dinner at East Side Mario's.  Please 'click here' for all the details.

Here's is a list of attendees and others who have expressed interest:

Lee
Walter
Pat, Nancy and Mike
Rob and Angie
Anne
Patty
Cori
Murray and Debbie
Gunnar and Vivian
Dave
John
Phil
Peter
Berle
Bill B.

Hope to see you there!

Walter

Special Post - Updated Stats

Down the right-hand column under 'Statistics' you'll find several updated links which reflect our 2013 Hawk Watch year.  Also added is a link to all creatures big and small (Species Survey) that we saw during our time at the park.  Sorry, no Dragonflies!  I had set a goal of 125 birds 'to be identified' for the group and we only missed it by 10.  Twenty-five butterflies was 10 over what I had set at 15 for the fall.  There were a few good mammals too!

Thankyou everyone for all your work in finding, photographing, and identifying everything that moved!  Always fun when there are no hawks flying.

Walter

November 30th - One Final Bird!

Actually it was from yesterday, I just forgot to report it!  It was everybody's favourite little Accipiter, a Sharpie!

Today, I ventured down to the park one last time knowing that there would probably be no migrating hawks and likely no visitors.  I did however meet up with Betty who also was at the park just because it was the last day and we walked over to check out the new bench.  We didn't last long at the park though as the air was cold and damp.

Final Count:
Turkey Vulture - 1665 (3rd highest count!)
Osprey - 117 (3rd highest count!)
Bald Eagle - 109 (new record!)
Northern Harrier - 141
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 1610
Cooper's Hawk - 53
Northern Goshawk - 6
Red-shouldered Hawk - 26
Broad-winged Hawk - 139
Red-tailed Hawk - 645
Rough-legged Hawk - 15
Golden Eagle - 7
American Kestrel - 470
Merlin - 64
Peregrine Falcon - 56
Gyrfalcon - 1 (first ever!)
Total - 5124

Records:
The Bald Eagle count of 109 beat our previous record by 36 birds!  The date of September 16th will not soon be forgotten by those who were present as we watched in amazement as 27 Baldies flew over Rosetta.  And quietly we tallied up an impressive 85 Bald Eagles in the month of September.  I guess we could also add 1 Gyrfalcon as a record as we've never counted one before.

Walter

Special Post - Frank's Memorial Bench!

It's been a long wait but the city has finally installed Frank's bench.  For those of you who don't know, it's location is in the south-west corner of the park (see the map below).  It's going to be a great spot to sit and chat and an even better place to sit and watch all the spring birdies arrive in to the park.

If I can speak for the rest of the Rosetta gang, I'd like to extend a huge THANKYOU to everyone locally and around the world who kindly donated money towards the bench and the plaque in memory of Frank.  We invite you all to please come and sit for a while!  We are also very thankful to the park employees and the City of Toronto Parks Department for allowing us this memorial bench in Rosetta McClain Gardens...Frank's beloved backyard.

Here are some great photos that both Cori and Pat sent along...

The bench

The plaque

The view

Carol and Pat already enjoying the bench!

Map

At this time it has been decided that we will wait until next spring before we have a get-together and celebration at the park in memory of Frank.  The paths around the park are covered in snow and ice now.  We will announce the date and time early next year so please check the blog periodically thru the winter month's.

Walter

Special Post - 2013 Christmas Get-together!

Hi Everyone,

Just wanted to announce and invite everyone to our annual End-of-the-Season/Christmas Get-together.  Lee has been kind enough to reserve a room/space for up to 25 people at East Side Mario's on Lebovic Ave. for our party.  These events have been great fun in the past and always lots of delicious food to be eaten.

Details:
Where: East Side Mario's
Address: 12 Lebovic Avenue (Warden & Eglinton)
Date: Sunday December 8th, 2013
Time: 1:00 PM - ????

Menu: Click here
Map: Click here

Please contact Lee or myself and let us know if you can make it.

We look forward to spending the afternoon sharing so many wonderful memories of this year's Hawk Watch with everyone.  Hope to see you there!

Lee/Walter

November 28th - 7 Birds, 5 Species!

Today, under mostly blue sky and light wind we watched and counted a few more of our last raptors of the season.  Slowly but surely the end is coming.  Actually there are only 2 days left!

Today:
Northern Harrier - 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 1
Cooper's Hawk - 3
Red-tailed Hawk - 1
Merlin - 1
Total - 7

To Date:
Turkey Vulture - 1665
Osprey - 117
Bald Eagle - 109
Northern Harrier - 141
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 1609
Cooper's Hawk - 53
Northern Goshawk - 6
Red-shouldered Hawk - 26
Broad-winged Hawk - 139
Red-tailed Hawk - 645
Rough-legged Hawk - 15
Golden Eagle - 7
American Kestrel - 470
Merlin - 64
Peregrine Falcon - 56
Gyrfalcon - 1
Total - 5123

At the park today were: Kris, Betty, Carol, Terry, Hugh, Cori, and a nice surprise guest was Leon.  Haven't seen him since mid-August.  He was out scouting the park for the upcoming Winter Bird Count, his favourite event of the year.  What a trouper!

Leon and my-scruffy-self
 
I will try to get down to the park tomorrow and Saturday for at least a few hours mid-day just in case there are anymore birds left.  Hope to see you out.
 
Walter
 

November 27th - A Couple More!

Well, today I got more caught-up in the weather forecasting instead of just looking outside and going for it.  So I didn't get down to park this afternoon as I left it too late.  A few good people did however make it to Rosetta, some had no luck in seeing birds but luckily, one did.  Peter reported seeing a Sharpie flying just over the tree-tops and a little while later a Peregrine came along the bluffs.  He was at the park between 1:30 and 2:00 PM.  Also, Lee reported seeing a possible Harrier out at Guildwood Park but not sure if it ever flew by Rosetta.

Today:
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 1
Peregrine Falcon - 1
Total - 2

Thankyou to those who challenged the weather forecasters today.

I'll be at the park tomorrow for sure in hopes of at least one or two more birds.

Walter

Special Post - A Bit of History on the Park

In the right-hand column under the heading Rosetta McClain Gardens, I've posted a link to a letter that was written by Mr. Bill West, Rosetta's nephew.  He gives us an accurate bit of history about his family and the park.

I'm sure we all understand now why Mr. McClain, Rosetta's husband felt so strongly about sharing his piece of property with the people of Toronto...it's paradise!

Walter

November 24th - Cold and Beautiful!

Today started off fairly early with our first bird being seen as I was tying my clipboard to the fence.  Mike 4 spotted it rising up over the bluffs just out in front of us, it was a young Bald Eagle, number 109 for the season.  With today's blue sky and decent northwest wind, almost all birds were seen low over the park or just out along the bluffs.  Of interest, the crows seemed to be in the mood to harass every Red-shouldered Hawk that came along.  I don't recall ever seeing them focus on just one species like that before.  Also of note today we had 3 adult male Harriers out of the 6 counted.  This year seems to be bringing more males over Rosetta then in previous years.

Today:
Bald Eagle - 1
Northern Harrier - 6
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 1
Red-shouldered Hawk - 4
Red-tailed Hawk - 9
Peregrine Falcon - 1
Total - 22

To Date:
Turkey Vulture - 1665
Osprey - 117
Bald Eagle - 109
Northern Harrier - 140
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 1607
Cooper's Hawk - 50
Northern Goshawk - 6
Red-shouldered Hawk - 26
Broad-winged Hawk - 139
Red-tailed Hawk - 644
Rough-legged Hawk - 15
Golden Eagle - 7
American Kestrel - 470
Merlin - 63
Peregrine Falcon - 55
Gyrfalcon - 1
Total - 5114

Eagle Time (EST):
09:38 AM - BE immature (non-adult)

Here are some great photos that Patty sent along...

This Red-tailed Hawk with it's dark markings was striking looking
against the bright blue sky.

A Red-shouldered Hawk and a not-so welcoming Crow.

Two not-so welcoming Crows!
 
The park was expectedly quiet today but we did have a nice visit from one of the foxes this afternoon.  Also today, we had two flocks of Sandhill Cranes fly over the north end of the park.  The two, consisting of 12 and then 11 individuals, were hours apart but almost flying the exact same flight line.  This was a big day for Sandhill Crane movement as many sightings were reported from several different places.

Braving the cold wind today were: Mike 4, Mark, Pat & Nancy (thanks for the hot chocolate!), Mike 3, Dave, John, Bruce, Patty, Betty (thanks for the peanut butter cookies!), and Phil (thanks for the lift home!)

Here kitty kitty, want a peanut butter cookie?
 
Walter
 

November 23rd - Cold, Snow Squalls, and a Huge Rarity!

Well, today my first attempt at walking to the park was cut short when I reached the end of the block as the first of several snow squalls move in quickly.  My second attempt went much better as the sun was out keeping things reasonable comfortable.  Anyway, over our four hour period at the Watch today we experienced one squall after another, quickly followed by sunny break after sunny break.

Our first bird, a Sharpie, arrived over the park just as the snow started coming down.  Not sure how far the little fella got before he found himself in a world of trouble with the white-out conditions.  Not too long after 1:00 PM, we had a Red-tail out over the lake spooking the Gulls, a Northern Harrier then flew overhead, and a Turkey Vulture was seen next flying low along the bluffs trying to stay out of the wind.  And then a bird came along near eye-level height just out beyond the bluffs.  It was quickly identified as a falcon.  As it approached, two of us, Bruce (Ferry) and myself called it out as a "Peregrine!"  As it flew by, Ron (Pittaway) excitedly said "Oh, I think it's a Gyrfalcon!"  During a lengthy discussion which followed our sighting Ron explained to Bruce and I everything that he had observed about the bird which lead him to his conclusion.  Ron has seen a number of Gyrfalcons during his many years of bird watching, Bruce and I on the other hand have had zero sightings.  I can't even really count the 'escapee' that was at the Golden Mile Plaza because there was suggestion that it may have been a hybridized bird!  Anyway, Ron suggested to Bruce and myself that when we got home to go through our bird books or whatever other means and email him what we felt we saw.  The findings were quite amazing as both Bruce and I sent Ron photos taken off of the internet of almost the exact same bird!  They were of a young Gyrfalcon with fairly heavy streaking on the breast and belly.  To find my 'bird of choice' I did a search using Google Images and typed in 'Peregrine Falcon Gyrfalcon'.  The results gave me a real mix of photos of both birds without any names or titles.  I searched over several pages and then searched them again until I found the photo which I thought best fit the bird I observed at the park.  I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the photo that Bruce sent along!  Crazy!  I then thought to myself, "Wow, I guess we really did see a Gyrfalcon today!"  Very cool!!!  Thankyou Ron for lending your experience and expertise once again!

Another Sharpie was seen flying over the north end of the park a little after 2:00 PM.

Today:
Turkey Vulture - 1
Northern Harrier - 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 2
Red-tailed Hawk - 1
Gyrfalcon - 1
Total - 6

To Date:
Turkey Vulture - 1665
Osprey - 117
Bald Eagle - 108
Northern Harrier - 134
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 1606
Cooper's Hawk - 50
Northern Goshawk - 6
Red-shouldered Hawk - 22
Broad-winged Hawk - 139
Red-tailed Hawk - 635
Rough-legged Hawk - 15
Golden Eagle - 7
American Kestrel - 470
Merlin - 63
Peregrine Falcon - 54
Gyrfalcon - 1
Total - 5092

Our Turkey Vulture sighting today set a new 'latest date observed' record by 2 days.

Other sightings today included 4 more Loons heading south up high over the park and a new bird species for the Fall List was a Great Black-backed Gull.  Of course the Gyrfalcon is a new addition to all of my lists.

On-hand today for at least some of the cold wind, snow squalls, and other excitement were: Betty, Terry 1 and his granddaughter Ann-Marie, Ann and her grandson Reid, Ron, John, and Bruce.  My thanks to everyone for lasting as long as you could today.  Your friendship and laughs help to keep me going on days like this.

Sunday's predicted weather forecast from wunderground.com reads, "Partly cloudy in the morning, then overcast with a chance of snow. High of -5C with a windchill as low as -16C. Windy. Winds from the NW at 20 to 30 km/h. Chance of snow 40%."  Hope to see you out tomorrow!

Walter

November 22nd - The Weekend

At present the weekend weather is looking good for whatever raptors are still left.  Saturday I'll likely play it hour by hour as there may be rain or snow mid-day but Sunday I'll be at the Watch as long as I can stand the -18C wind!  That temperature is from wunderground.com.  Hope to see you at the park as there are not many days left.

My creative side!
 
Walter
 

November 19th - 50,000 Raptors Counted!!!

With good NW wind blowing all day today it was only a matter of time before our 50,000th raptor of all-time flew overhead.  At 1:40 PM this afternoon it happened as a beautiful adult Red-tailed Hawk appeared in the sky above us.  I found it to be really fitting as the Red-tailed Hawk is what the area is known to be the home of.  Local 'Tails' have always put on spectacular displays at the Watch over the years, as everyone knows.

My thanks to everyone involved over the years and especially to our friend Frank.  As I had mentioned about a month ago in the blog, Frank spoke with great passion and excitement knowing that this unimagined figure was in sight.  What a milestone for his little hawk watch in the park he affectionately called his backyard!

The 50,000th raptor counted at Rosetta!

(with Ann)

(with Phil)
 
How we got there:
Turkey Vulture - 11452
Osprey - 1059
Bald Eagle - 500
Northern Harrier - 2190
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 18746
Cooper's Hawk - 891
Northern Goshawk - 156
Red-shouldered Hawk - 237
Broad-winged Hawk - 2084
Red-tailed Hawk - 6526
Rough-legged Hawk - 91
Golden Eagle - 88
American Kestrel - 4772
Merlin - 610
Peregrine Falcon - 598
Total - 50000

At the end of the day as I was putting everything in to my backpack I looked up just in time to see a young Peregrine Falcon fly by just out over the bluffs!  Nice way to cap-off the day!

Today:
Turkey Vulture - 1
Bald Eagle - 1
Northern Harrier - 6
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 10
Cooper's Hawk - 3
Red-shouldered Hawk - 6
Red-tailed Hawk - 46
Peregrine Falcon - 1
Total - 74

To Date:
Turkey Vulture - 1664
Osprey - 117
Bald Eagle - 108
Northern Harrier - 133
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 1604
Cooper's Hawk - 50
Northern Goshawk - 6
Red-shouldered Hawk - 22
Broad-winged Hawk - 139
Red-tailed Hawk - 634
Rough-legged Hawk - 15
Golden Eagle - 7
American Kestrel - 470
Merlin - 63
Peregrine Falcon - 54
Total - 5086

Eagle Time (EST):
11:11 AM - BE immature (non-adult)

Here are some photos from the day courtesy of Ann...

A young Bald Eagle high up

An adult Red-shouldered Hawk

A young Sharp-shinned Hawk

Another adult Red-shouldered Hawk

A dark Red-tailed Hawk

An adult Sharp-shinned Hawk

Other sightings today included; 4 Loons flying south, a few small flocks of Snow Buntings heading westward as well as a small flock of Eastern Bluebirds, an American Tree Sparrow and 3 Tundra Swans out over the lake.  My thanks to Terry for getting his scope on the swans for identification.

Eastern Bluebird

Pretty Kitty
 
Taking part in today's excitement were; Kris, Ron, Theresa, Ann, Peter, Hugh, Carol, Terry, Tim, Bruce, Berle, Jim & Petra, Phil, and Bill.  My apologies if I missed writing anyone's name down today as it was a strange day for me personally - was lacking lots of sleep!  I'm okay now though as you can probably guess by this late post!  Thankyou Marion for the coffee!  I'd like to thank everyone for another fun-filled day at the park.  And again, Happy Birthday Ann.  We couldn't have celebrated your birthday on a better day!  Birthday muffins were provided by Theresa.

Terry was in it for the long haul today!  Thank goodness number
50,000 came this afternoon or Terry might have stayed the night!

See you all on the next good wind day!

Walter

November 18th - Tomorrow's Weather

At present the weather forecast still looks great for tomorrow.  Let's hope and pray that the birds feel the same way.

From wunderground.com "Clear in the morning, then partly cloudy. High of 5C with a windchill as low as -5C. Windy. Winds from the NW at 25 to 30 km/h."

Walter

November 16th - Another Bird!

Several birders took advantage of the gorgeous weather and spent time at the Watch today even though the likelihood of any kind of migration was slim to none.  Beautiful days like today are not going to last much longer.  Between the hours of 10:00AM and 2:00PM our lone hawk was a Merlin.  We now need just 44 more birds to reach 50,000 raptors ever counted at Rosetta.

Here are a couple of photos that Ann and I took...

(Ann)
 
(Walter)

(Walter)

(Ann)
 
Walter