Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Walk for Wildlife, April 10 to 16

National Wildlife Week

Did you hear the songbird's melody coming from that tall pine on the corner of your street?

Did you see the squirrel running along the neighbor's fence?

Did you notice the small toad jumping on the sidewalk, or the robin looking for worms on your front lawn?

I am a nature lover.  I cherish the trees and flowers that grow in my environment.  And I am amazed by all the animals that I meet, from the smallest ladybug in flower beds to the giant moose hiding in the forest.

This week we're all invited to go for a walk and look at the life around us.  We often forget all those creatures who share the territory with us and we don't realize how much our actions on the land impact them.

Official walks are organized all over the country, but I invite you to make it on a more personal level.  You don't need to go deep in the woods to be aware of the wildlife.  A simple stroll around your neighborhood will let you see plenty of animals, and will reconnect you with nature, if you just open your eyes and your ears and take time to observe.

I am not just talking about this, I believe in the necessity to reconnect with nature.  My boyfriend and I started the week on Sunday with a visit to one of our favorite places, a protected area including a small marsh, a wood and an access to the St.Lawrence River

The marsh was still frozen and pretty much deserted at this time of the year, but in summer
it is a marvellous place to observe birds:  herons and egrets, kingfishers and kingbirds, and a great number of ducks

We went down the trail to the woods where the snow had begun to melt and where robins were actively looking for juicy worms.  Black-capped chickadees and squirrels were begging us to give them seeds and nuts and were following us from branch to branch.  A wood-pecker was hard at work in the dead trees a little further, and water was streaming down the hill in a soft ringing melody.

And just as we were going through the apple orchard and wondering about the faded prints in the snow, Patrick spotted a deer lying under the trees about 30 feet from us.  We knew then whose prints we'd been looking at on the trail.  She looked at us unalarmed and let me take pictures of her for a long time, even when she got up and walked slowly towards a clearing.

A second deer was going her own way a little further, we watched silently as they gracefully entered another wooden area and disappeared.

Our walk took us down to the river side where we were able to observe a large flock of Canada geese feeding and chatting gaily.  We also spotted a couple of mallards sliding on the calm water and far away some sea ducks were visible through our binoculars, though we could not identify them at that distance.  We watched them dive and resurface a few yards from their starting point.

This was a walk filled with pure delight, and we still talk about it two days later as if we had just come home.  We could have made it a very different experience, we could have walked through the woods and never stopped one minute, talking about our problems or about the movie we had seen the night before.  The deers would have watched us walk by unnoticed.  We would have never seen the sea ducks.  We would have been annoyed by the insistence of the chickadees.
We would have forgotten that we share a land with so many other species, all of them worth at least as much interest as ourselves.

Take some time this week and go for a walk, open your eyes and your ears and your heart, and who knows what new furry or feathered friend you could meet.

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