No more leaves. The cold has arrived and winter will officially be here in a week. There is no going back.
Even without the sun and a lot less colors, there is still a lot to see: lines and curves in the landscapes, and waves and reflections in the water. And I saw a few courageous mallard ducks on the river that are staying put for winter.
Nature is lethargic and resting. And the monochromatic landscapes allow my eyes to also rest from all the colors of this past fall and before the bright winter whites.
I can’t wait to see what the river and its surroundings will look like this winter – a whole new environnement.
The Île-de-la-Visitation nature park offers a network of paths ideal for strolling and observing species of shore birds. Together the nature parks form a vast network of protected natural areas on the Island of Montréal.
I was able to take these photos on the Île-de-la-Visitation nature park or along the Rivières-des-Prairies. These birds are all migrant species and can be observed during summer on all the shores of the Montréal island. They all left, by now, and are surely on their way or already down South.
The Great Blue Heron, one of our largest, most picturesque avian migrants, stands more than 3 feet tall and is very impressive when it takes flight [wingspan around 6 feet]. It often stands motionless as it scans for prey or wades belly deep with long, deliberate steps. It may moves slowly, but the Great Blue Heron can strike like lightning to grab a fish.
The Black-Crowned Night Heron is without a doubt the darling of the Île-de-la-Visitation nature park, from mid-April to mid-October. Although it is most active at night or at dusk, it is frequently observed in the open, perched on a low branch overlooking the river or keeping a lookout on the emerging rocks near the rapids during the day.
The Canada Geese are fairly easy to see swimming in open water, resting near shore, or grazing on lawns. When migrating, they fly in large V-shaped flocks and can travel more than 1 000 km in one day. More and more of these grassland-adapted birds are staying put in urban and suburban areas year-round.
This summer, I also witnessed groups of 4 to 10 large vulture-like birds gliding above my home everyday. I couldn’t identify them until I was able to take a photo. After enlarging the photo on my screen, analyzing the details and doing a lot of research, I recently figured out that they are turkey vultures (with small bald heads covered in red, wrinkly skin). They move so fast that all my photos are out of focus but still I was able to recognize the head and the beak [wingspan around 6 feet].
They are not vultures per se, but they play the same ecological role, i.e. they are carrion eaters. They are excellent gliders and can be seen gliding for hours with wings fully extended (no flapping required), which is exactly what I witnessed. They are majestic gliders!
I recently moved next to the Rivière-des-Prairies in Montréal, where there are parks almost all along the river (40 km). There are rapids and an electric power plant where the waters are turbulent and hynoptic. I am also close by the Parc nature de l’Ile-de-la-Visitation which is another magnificent park.
I decided to move before the pandemic and before we went into confinement. That is one of the best decisions I have made in my life. I have enjoyed walking by the river almost every day and am thankful to live in such an enchanting environment, especially during these trying times.
Yesterday was a surprisingly hot day for this time of the year – the sun was shining, there was a warm breeze, a lot of people were walking and cycling, laughing and smiling, and the smell was almost sweet. A perfect day!
Now is the best of fall – there is as much leaves on the ground as in the trees. I walked for at least 2 hours – I didn’t want it to end. It’s probably the last hot day for a long time because today it’s cold.
I will remember this day in those harsh cold days to come.