German Mills Cleanup Report

As mentioned in our recent Celebrate Earth Day post, TFN member Theresa Moore, creator of the recently-released Fauna, Photographs, led her annual Nature Walk and Litter Pick-up along German Mills Creek on April 20th. Special thanks to Theresa for her ongoing dedication to this remarkable area, and for providing the update that follows.


Prior to the April 20th clean up of the area in and around German Mills Settlers’ Park, the Town of Markham was contacted to request removal of several large items left behind by city/town workers, including sandbags and fencing material. As always, they responded promptly to the request. By prior arrangement they also make a special trip on the next business day to pick up the garbage collected.

TFN Members at the 2019 German Mills Cleanup On the day of the nature walk and clean up, four dedicated volunteers joined the leader for three hours in the rain for a nature walk and garbage clean up in the area of German Mills Settlers’ Park. We collected material left behind by electioneers, real estate agents, city workers and others along Leslie Street as well as 7 bags of trash and/or recycling. Materials collected included signs, plywood, a large piece of blue pipe, a shovel, a large laundry tub, a man’s belt, and an ornament of a bird.

We stopped along the way to look and listen for the sounds of Spring and discuss the history of the area as well as the conservation efforts resulting from the collaboration between the Town of Markham, Settlers’ Park Residents Association, and Theresa Moore on behalf of the Toronto Field Naturalists.

TFN Member at the German Mills Cleanup One participant from the Settlers’ Park Residents Association left the walk early to erect the ‘Keep Dogs on Leash’ signs in the meadow. These are on display each year from April to September to protect ground nesting birds, such as the Eastern Meadowlark, which is a species-at-risk.

Another major threat to these ground nesters is Dog Strangling Vine. The Town of Markham hopes that the Settlers’ Park will be one of the first, if not the first, to commercially use a Ukrainian moth (Hypena opulenta) that feeds on this invasive plant.

Birds observed on the walk included small groups of Northern Flickers and Brown Creepers, as well as European Starlings, Red Winged Blackbirds, American Robins, Canada Geese, Mallard Ducks, and an American Crow performing aerial acrobatics as it tried to evade smaller birds giving chase.

Bloodroot, Pussy Willow, and Coltsfoot were in bloom while Trout Lily and Stinging Nettle Leaves were emerging.

The Toronto Field Naturalists wish to acknowledge this land through which we walk. For thousands of years it has been the traditional land of the Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississauga of the Credit River. Today it is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to be on this land.