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West Woodbine Beach, Dune and Meadow Habitat, Biodiversity report Summer 2022-3.

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

Last updated: September 5, 2023

Report prepared by:

Noam Markus

Clyde Robinson

Reviewed by:

Autumn Jordan - Urban Nature Organizer, Nature Canada

Ann Purvis - Toronto Nature Stewards

Jean Iron - Former President - Ontario Field Ornithologists

Ron Pittaway - Biologist, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, retired.

Bob Kortright - Former President - Toronto Field Naturalists

Owen Strickland - Citizen Scientist. Toronto,Ward 19.

John Nishikawa - Former President - Toronto Ornithological Club, co-chair of Nature Canada's Bird Friendly City - Toronto Team.

David Beadle - Entomologist, co-author and illustrator - "Peterson Field Guide To Moths Of Northeastern North America".


This report documents the rich biodiversity found within the habitat at West Woodbine Beach in Toronto, Ontario. The observations have been by citizen scientists, confirmed by local experts and through iNaturalist. It is hoped that this report will help the public and Toronto City Hall officials, be more aware of the rich biodiversity within the habitat as there is no current, official plant inventory by Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA).

To date over 827 species of flora and fauna have been documented.


The habitat is located at the west end of the largest beach in Toronto. Nestled between Ashbridge's Bay Park and Woodbine Beach. Ward 19, Toronto.

It is a flood zone.

Size: approximately 3.2 hectares.

Soil: sand and organic material from floods.

Photos: Google Earth

The habitat is a natural feature, part of the Natural Heritage System. The land is owned by TRCA and managed by the City of Toronto.

Since 2017 the City of Toronto has encouraged this habitat to naturalize.

2019 - TRCA treated the habitat with Phragmites control. Unfortunately, the Phragmites is back and we hope TRCA will take steps to control it again.

2020 - TRCA planted trees on the south/east corner of the habitat.

Since 2017 the habitat has evolved into a type of Vegetation Community that is rare in Toronto.

Ranking is based on TRCA data:

L2 -L3 = Species of Regional Conservation Concern.

L4 = Species of Urban Concern.

L5 = species that are considered secure throughout the region.

To date, 167 species of flora have been documented:

2 species ranked L2

Umbrella Flatsedge (Cyperus diandrus). This rare plant species, thought to have been extirpated from the region, was documented in the habitat in 2020 and will be

upgraded to L2 ranking. First regional observation in over 100 years, from this habitat!

Schweinitz's umbrella-sedge (Cyperus schweinitzii) - L2

10 species ranked L3:

Fen Orchid (Liparis loeselii) - L3

Shining Flatsedge (Cyperus bipartitus) - L3

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) - L3

Hardstem Bulrush (Schoenoplectus acutes) - L3

Small's Spike-rush (Eleocharis palustris) -L3

Slender False Foxglove (Agalinis tenuifolia) - L3

Bushy Cinquefoil (Potentilla supina)- L3

Smooth Blue Aster (Symphyotrichum laeve) - L3

False Dragonhead - Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana) -L3

Sphinx Ladies’ Tresses (Spiranthes incurva) -L3

15 species ranked L4:

Three-square Bulrush (Schoenoplectus pungent) - L4

Square-stemmed (Allegheny) Monkey-flower ( Mimulus ringens ) -L4

Torrey's rush (Juncus torreyi) -L4

Common Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) -L4

Baltic Rush (Juncus balticus) - L4

Knotted Rush (Juncus nodosus) - L4

Variegated Horsetail (Equisetum variegatum) - L4

Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) -L4

Common Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia)- L4

Broad-leaved Cattail (Typha latifolia) -L4

Soft Rush (Juncus effusus) -L4

Bottlebrush (Porcupine) Sedge (Carex hystericina) -L4

Virginia Pepper-grass (Lepidium virginicum) - L4

Soft-stemmed Bulrush (Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani) - L4

River Wild Rye (Elymus riparius) - L4

Umbrella Flatsedge, L2. Photo by Owen Strickland Fen Orchid, L3. Photo by Anne Purvis Allegheny Monkeyflower, L4. Photo by Brian Stahls

To date, 651 species of fauna have been documented:

Confirmed nesting birds:

Killdeer (L4). Ground nester.

Savannah Sparrow (L4). Ground nester.

Song Sparrow (L5). Ground nester.

Red-winged Blackbird (L5).

Yellow Warbler (L5).

Killdeer - L4 Savannah Sparrow - L4

36 species of sandpipers, plovers and gulls have been documented feeding on the habitat.

Shorebirds suffer globally from loss of breeding and migration stop-over, feeding habitat.

487 species of insects including over 200 species of pollinators.

Of special note is the endangered Monarch.

The habitat is a breeding, feeding and an important migration stopover location for the Monarch, many other insects and birds.

Please see the Mayor's pledge to protect the Monarch and The David Suzuki Foundation Monarch Pledge.


Coyote - L4

Red Fox- L4

Virginia Opossum- L4

American Mink - L4

Striped Skunk- L5

Bats (Big Brown Bat -L4)

Common Racoon- L5

Eastern Gray Squirrel -L5

Public Usage

This area is utilized year-round by hundreds of nature lovers from all walks of life who enjoy this wild patch of urban nature in an otherwise, well manicured park.

The report will continue to be updated throughout the seasons. There are always new discoveries.

*All photos by Noam Markus unless stated otherwise

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