Montreal Nature (formerly Ottawa Nature

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Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

I grew up in Ontario and Nunavut, and went to university in New Brunswick. For two years I lived in Ottawa, on the green belt. While I was there I wrote about nature. Then I moved to Montreal and I wrote nothing for a year. We've got nature here too, so I'm going to write about it.

Friday, September 04, 2009


It's september now, as the obeservant will already have noted. It feels like summer today, but I can see the season's change coming on. I can see leaves that aren't actually turning yet, but are certainly thinking about it. Sometimes theres a bit of a chill in the air, a bit of a...change in the wind.

I like autumn. Autumn is a season that fills me with hope. The flowers die, it's true, and birds start flying south, but there's nothing like autumn chill to put me in good spirits. Every morning i wake up one day closer to getting my old barn jacket out of the closet and going for a walk through fallen leaves. Every day I'm that much closer to bringing in my plants for the winter, and to wearing my wool socks. Soon there will be pumpkins at the stores...maybe this year I'll buy one or two, boil them up and puree them and make some preserves. I always mean to. Who knows...maybe this will be the year.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


It's all squirrels in Montreal. Squirrels appear everywhere. They climb the sides of my building and the tree outside my window. Go to the park and there are squirrels. I once found a squirrel curled up asleep on the mat inside my building's door, and, indeed, squirrels make their way onto my third-floor balcony and make a meal of my tiny parsley, geraniums and morning-glory sprouts are apparently particularly tasty. And, in the planter that holds my herb garden, I keep finding stashes of the peanuts that my downstairs neighbour (who doesn't do any balcony gardening) feeds them.

I know where the squirrels go, I know that they like to hide peanuts, and that plants grown by Gaelan are particularly delicious. What I can't figure out, however, is what kind of squirrels they actually are. According to the newspaper, they're fox squirrels Sciurus niger. According to my Field Guide, they can't be, and are in point of fact Eastern Grey Squirrels Sciurus carolinensis.

They bloody well LOOK like fox squirrels but so, unfortunately, do grey squirrels. Personally, I think it more likely that they're grey squirrels...the field guide is pretty accurate with it's range maps, the paper probably doesn't keep zoologists on staff for times like this. Unfortunately, I don't keep a zoologist on staff either, and I can't exactly ask the squirrels.

on consideration, though, wouldn't that be fun? I could approach them with peace offerings of my flowers and the herbs that I wouldn't have minded eating for myself, but first I would have to learn the language of the squirrels. I imagine there's alot of chittering. I'm good at chittering.

If that works out for me, I'll be sure to write about it.

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Sunday, July 05, 2009


I'm in Montreal now. So I stopped writing. But there's nature here let's get this show on the road.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Alot in the news this week about Coyotes. Coyote was hit by a car not far from here. Probably one of mine.

People in Barrhaven were warned to be wary of coyotes. Apparently there have been a number of them sighted there.

Read a story last week about one of the smaller towns in the county. Apparently there have been alot of coyotes there too. One person set out poisoned food for them, and wound up poisoning the neighbour's dog instead.

West of Pembroke a woman killed a wolf that had eaten her beagle. She was in the habit of leaving the beagle chained outside for 12 or more hours a day, coming home from work midday to set out a plate of food. The wolf, it is thought, took to stealing the dog's food, and on the dog's last day, he woke up as it was happening. Three days later, the woman saw a wolf in her yard, and shot it.

There have been trappers hired to reduce the coyote population in carleton county. The news says that people should beware of coyotes. To hell with that. The coyotes should beware.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

On winter walks

As mentioned in my last post, there's been a warm spell lately, which was preceded by a tremendous amount of snow. it's made walking in the woods more difficult than it might otherwise be. This works for me. Nobody wants to walk there have the choice of rough, slippery or water. I spent my formative years walking on tundra. Those options don't frighten me. No birds sing, nobody speaks. All is still and silent around me. In a place like that, a man can think.

The coyotes have been at it again.

I was out for a walk this afternoon. the sun was setting, and there was a crust of ice and old snow beneath my feet. There's been a warm spell lately. Where there were once drifts over my knees (and I am not a short man), there is now a thin crust that doesn't reach the top of my boot. It isn't easy walking, but it's peaceful. Nobody else goes there when it's like this.

On the main trail, not far from where my path joins it. there was a tremendous mess. blood, fur, feces, and a deer carcass. There are no wolves here, that I know of. there are no vicious dogs. There are, however, coyotes. I've written about coyotes before. My admiration for them. that has't changed. Coyotes are not very big. Unless they crossbreed with dogs, the most they will typically weigh is 46 pounds, though the record is in the mid-70's. In other words, the animals that did this were probably about the size of a border collie. they don't normally prey on animals the size of deer, but they are adaptable, and there are an awful lot of deer in Ottawa these days. I can tell you that the innards, and one and a half legs were completely gone, and the carcass had been dragged some distance, as evidenced by the trail of blood and fur. I'm going to check back in the morning. it's supposed to snow tonight, and if they return to the kill, then maybe there will be some tracks, so I can see where they came from.

My admiration knows no bounds. I love coyotes, I really do. they are masters of their environment, and supremely adaptable.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"I'm sick, and I'm cold, and I'm bare bones said he, but I ain't quite dead yet so please don't bury me"

It's been a while since I fired my thoughts into the world. I've been riding my bike alot, as a result of which I've been seeing a whole lot of nature in general. So I'm back from the dead.

More to follow


Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I rather like spring. it's a season that's filled with promise. Late spring is particularly pleasent, as the lilacs are currently in full bloom, perfuming the air.

It being particularly lovely today, I decided on a walk. The promise of spring was more than fulfilled. The air was filled with birdsong, and with sunblock and a particularly favourite wide-brimmed fedora perched on my head, I was able to avoid sunburn.

There is a particular part of the trail, near where I have, on occasion seen porcupines that tends to become flooded if there is a light dew or somebody looks at them the wrong way. I came upon it, flooded, towards the end of my walk. On the logic that it was a particularly nice day, and that life is for the living, I waded on in, and I am happy that I did. in doing so I startled any number of leopard frogs Lithobates pipiens, all presumably under the impression that I was a new and particularly terrifying variety of heron. These were, previously, becoming a trifle scarce in these parts, and I am always happy to see them, and their relatives. A world without frogs might well not be a world in which I care to exist.

Shortly therafter I happened upon a particularly deceased example of the white tailed deer. The reader should herein offer up humble thanks to whichever deity they so choose that I didn't bring my camera with me. If I HAD, i probably would have taken pictures for further study. As is, I haven't got any, and going back out with my camera seems a trifle morbid. however, it WAS a particularly interesting carcass, as it had quite clearly been caused to become so, rather than dropping to the earth due to age or infirmity. there are, to my knowledge, no wolves in these woods, and I have never heard of any dogs that are allowed to run free. There is, as such, a fairly good chance of it having been coyotes which brought the beast to it's rather abrupt end. this does, on occasion, happen, particularly when there are no larger predators in the vicinity. They have, indeed, been known to hunt cooperatively on occasion. Given my fondness for coyotes, and my profound dislike of people who allow their dogs to terrorize the local wildlife, I suppose I might be a bit biased in my assumptions, but it IS clear that coyotes were at the kill, as there's only about 1/2 of the deer or less left, and many of it's ribs were bitten through. All in all, a very interesting sight.

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