Saturday, September 29, 2007

Odd Construction at the Brick Works

Newly built huts on Quarry Ponds patio

I was passing by the Brick Works the other day when I came across this odd scene on the patio next to the quarry ponds. Someone had built little huts and placed them on blocks. Underneath the main canopy where most of the main events are held, there were obvious signs of some sort of movie or TV show in the progress of being filmed.

I found out later that the production was Holmes on Homes, a Canadian home improvement show. The little buildings were only temporary as they were removed after a couple of days. Yet the scene of them beside the ponds just made for a lesson in incongruity.

One of the huts framed against the backdrop of the ponds and the forest.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Adopt a Street Tree

This tree died this year. Yonge Street just north of Davisville.

Recent articles in the Globe & Mail and Eye Magazine have highlighted the plight of Toronto street trees. While the summer was warm, sunny and not too humid, this has also meant that there hasn't been much rain. In fact this has been the driest summer in more than 50 years. While the trees in the valley have fared pretty well, I can't say as much for our street trees. Garbage, dog pee, constricted roots, winter salt, and now lack of water have all taken their toll on our street trees. The average life span of a street tree is 5-7 years while trees in the Don can last ten times longer. We seem to take their pleasant shade for granted, and tsk, tsk, if one should die. But this summer they are dying in droves.

So what can we do about it except lament about the city's laissez-faire attitude to maintenance and watering? How about adopting a nearby city street tree. Every day this summer on my way home, I stopped and dumped the contents of my water bottle on a street tree. While this may not be much (my water bottle is only about 600 ml) it may represent the only water this tree gets this year. But if more people did it then our street trees might last longer.

So how about it? Choose a tree, then once per day as you walk by empty your water bottle on the roots of your adopted tree. If it's convenient, say you live on a main street or you have a business with a tree outside fill a bucket of water in the morning and water your tree. It may be enough to keep that tree alive for another year.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

CBC Reports on Evergreen's Plans

I found this video on the CBC website. Mary Ito a community reporter talks to Geoff Cape about Evergreen's plan to transform the Don Valley Brick Works into an interpretive education centre. The video is pretty good although it's a bit of a puff piece for Evergreen - not real journalism. It doesn't address any of the challenges of the site nor any of the concerns that have been expressed by local groups about the make-over plans. Nevertheless it does showcase the Brick Works park nicely. Worth a look.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bird Watching at the Brick Works

Cedar Waxwing at the Brick Works

If you're into bird watching, spring and fall are the best times to be out looking for birds. That's because many species that migrate are passing through on their way to breeding grounds or winter resting places. If you can't get out of the city to known bird watching places such as Long Point or Point Pelee then the Don Valley Brick Works is not a bad alternative. The quarry ponds are a good place to find birds that are looking for a rest stop.

My camera isn't the best for taking bird photos but there are several examples around of birders who have better cameras and know how to take bird photographs. I found this website called Canada Bird Photography and they have a recent entry about the Brick Works.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Fall Planting Season has Started

The city has posted a schedule for tree planting this fall. There are 12 events including 10 tree plantings, one bird banding, and one trail building workshop. Eight of the events are located in the Don River watershed, one in the Highland Creek watershed, one in the Rouge River watershed and two on the Toronto Islands.

I hope to get out to a few of the events and take some pictures. If you come out to a tree planting you may be featured in an upcoming Don Watcher post!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Trail Work Pictures

Last weekend the city, together with a few stalwart members of the mountain biking community did some more trail work in Crothers' Woods. This job meant to reroute trail around a degrade section was partially completed. Jason Murray, the Durham IMBA rep, posted some pictures of the work on Flickr. You can also follow the discussion of the event on the biker forum Drop Machine.

The work was only partially completed. Another work event is scheduled for Oct. 14 so if you missed your chance, book your calendar now to help out.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Another Brush Fire

I've been out of town for a few days so I missed this fire which was reported on Torontoist. While they don't say where it was it looks like a section of the DVP embankment just north of Pottery Road. While Toronto always experiences a dry period in August, this summer has been the driest in 50 years (2005 wasn't much better - see comments by Toronto forester Richard Ubbens). So incidents like this should be expected.

Interestingly, I started this blog over two years ago with a blog post about a brush fire (with pictures and also followup a year later) .

Sunday, September 09, 2007

News story on Taylor-Massey Creek

An outfall in Pine Hills Cemetery - known to be one of the worst pollution sources on Taylor-Massey Creek

This story appeared in the Scarborough Mirror. Environmentalists have known for years that Taylor-Massey Creek was little more than an open sewer. But this knowledge hasn't percolated down to local media until recently. The story hits all the major creek highlights: ecoli levels are sky-high in some places; it's not an easy fix; and it's not going to be cheap or quick.

On the bright side, education about the creek's troubles is starting to get the public asking questions. Councillors are also getting on the bandwagon and this is moving city staff to focus more resources on some short term fixes. A long term fix is still several years down the road.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

FODE's Fall Fundraiser

Friends of the Don East (FODE) are holding their fall fundraising dinner on Monday Sept. 10, 7 PM at Allan's Restaurant on Danforth just west of Broadview. Tickets can be had by calling 416-657-2800. I was there last year and dinner was pretty good. There are also some prizes to be won. $65 may seem like a lot but it includes a three course meal with beer or wine. The gratuity for the the wait staff is also included. A pretty good deal!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Chicken of the Woods

Laetiporous sulphureous

I am not a mycologist by any stretch of the imagination but I do know what fungi looks like. I came across this one near the Beechwood Wetland. It is about 50 cm long and 30 cm high so it occupies a fair amount of volume. It is one of the larger ones I have seen. A couple of years ago I picked up an identification book called Mushrooms of Ontario. I figured it would make identification easier. However I am continually frustrated in my attempts to match up what I find with pictures in this book. So I just went to Google Images and typed in "Yellow bracket fungi". Eventually I found a similar one so that is how I determined this one to be Laetiporous sulphureous or Chicken of the Woods, so called because parts of it are edible.

I am not about to try it because mis-identification of fungi is a common method of killing yourself by mistakenly eating a poisonous mushroom that you thought was an edible variety. I suppose if I were lost in the woods and starving... although this is unlikely to happen in the Don Valley, not with a Tim Hortons always within walking distance.

Maybe it's called Chicken of the Woods because you can see the face of a chicken on the underside :)