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