The (Urban) Birds of Palm Springs 2018

Mourning Dove at Palm Springs Resort Wild Here Urban Nature
-- Mourning Dove at Palm Springs Resort --

Canadian Geese and Coots in Palm Springs Resort Palm Birding in the South
 -- Canadian Geese and Coots at Resort --

Birding in the Western Flyway Palm Springs Winter 2018
 -- Egret at Resort (Note: Grass is kept green with a recycled watering system.) --

Flamingos and Coots in Resort Pond Winter 2018
 -- Flamingos and Coots at Resort --

Flamingo Detail Up close Birding in Palm Springs
-- Tagged Flamingos at Resort -- 

Urban Birding at Palm Springs Coachella Valley Winter 2018
-- Duck (Pintail?) at Resort -- 

Possible Pintail Duck in Coachella Valley Winter 2018
-- Another Image of Duck at Resort --

Coots at Palm Springs Resort Wild Here Urban Nature
-- Close-up of Coots - love these guys - saw them in Vancouver too! -- 

Identification of Migrating Birds in Coachella Valley
 -- Flycatcher at Sunnylands --

Bird Identification for Palm Springs Urban Bird Tour
 -- Unidentified Bird at Sunnylands --

Detail of Hummingbird at Moorten Botanical Garden
 -- Hummingbird at Moorten - saw quite a few during the week we were here! --

Another Bird in Urban Palm Springs Winter 2018
-- Bird at City Hall --

These are many of the birds we saw while in the Palm Springs urban region.  We saw more hummingbirds (that were too quick to photograph) and some other birds while we were out but weren't able to capture.  It's the movement and sounds of birds that help you detect their presence - love hearing the sound of Morning Doves!  We weren't intentionally seeking out birds and it was quite pleasant just to notice them as we visited different tourist spots.  Read more about our vacation here:  Seeking Winter Desert Warmth in Palm Springs.

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Seeking Winter Desert Warmth in Palm Springs

Urban Nature Design with Floral Water Fountain Palm Springs

This winter we went to Palm Springs to warm up in the desert sun.  I hadn't done much research, the location was chosen by Viliam, but I was interested to see that there were some gardens that I'd like to explore in the city and a wildlife reserve that offered a variety of habitats just 30 minutes outside of Palm Springs.  We chose to do a mixture of visiting tourist sites both within the Palm Springs area (Sunnylands, Moorten Botanical Gardens, Downtown) and just outside (Pioneertown, Joshua Tree Park, Big Morongo Reserve) and were thrilled with what we discovered.  We also lucked out with the weather!
BIRDING TIP:  Although we didn't specifically go to see the migrating birds (this area is part of the Pacific Flyway migratory route), we managed to discover some birding opportunities, that, if we went again, we might sign up for: 
- Big Morongo Reserve offers a free Bird Walk early Wednesday mornings.  (While this is a free tour and admission is free to the reserve also, I'd recommend a generous donation as the volunteers work hard to make this a great place to visit!) 
- Sunnylands offers an Estate Bird Tour to small groups on Thursday mornings - check their website for the cost.  (We overheard a bit of the bird tour as they walked by and I was impressed with all the information the guide shared!) 
- Living Desert Bridge has some great bird features including a walk-through aviary. (We didn't go to this spot as we had read that it can be very hot with little shelter from the sun)
It was amazing to see the desert landscape with mountains surrounding the area (Palm Springs is in Coachella Valley) and to see different types of plants used for landscaping along the streets.  There were so many Palms (some trimmed and some left natural), so many Cacti (lots of shapes, sizes and colours) and so many flowers (even in the winter).  Many drought-tolerant plants were used in the landscaping but we also did see a proliferation of lawn.  Our resort, which included a golf course, had signs letting visitors know that the lawns were maintained with a recycled water system.

For those who like plants, Moorton's species were well-labelled, while Sunnylands provided some details on their free brochure/map (and there is also a Plant Tour similar to the Bird Tour) but nothing was labelled in the garden itself.  We also went for lunch at an outdoor shopping mall called Gardens on El Paseo (with parking in the back) that had a lovely botanical display - look for a brochure that offers a map and details on each plant.  (They also have concerts on the lawn here!)

So here's some of what we saw in the urban Palm Springs area:

Outdoor Airport was Such a Delight Wild Here
 -- Palm Springs Airport had an open air design! --

Beautiful Colours in Palm Springs Desert Urban Nature
-- Some of the beautiful colours along the street -- 

Pollinators Insects Birds Seek Colourful Flowers
 -- More colours on the resort --

Palm Springs with Lawn using Recycled Water
 -- Great walking paths within the resort --

Urban Birds Take a Drink in Palm Springs Fountain Wild Here
 -- Brown-headed Cowbirds hanging out at the mall and our restaurant patio! --

El Paseo has a Drought Resistant Garden Landscape
 -- The El Paseo open air shopping mall --

Golden Barrel Cactus and her pups
-- Golden Barrel Cactus and "her" pups! -- 

Lawn and Drought Resistant Landscaping on the Streets of Palm Springs
 -- More landscaping along the streets of Palm Springs --

Flowering Shrub Attracts Many Pollinators in Palm Springs
-- This seemed like a non-descript shrub --

Palm Springs Pollinator in Red Flower January 2018
 -- But the pollinators loved it (top right corner) --

Sycamore at City Hall Palm Springs
 -- Beautiful tree beside City Hall - across from the airport --

Amazing Urban Tree at City Hall Palm Springs January 2018
-- Another interesting tree at City Hall --

  • Pay attention to the days that certain tourist sites are closed.  We found some places were closed on Wednesdays and others only open four days of the week so it took a bit of planning to coordinate our week's schedule.
  • By eating at a restaurant that is part of a resort, you can also walk around their property!  A few I wish we had had time for were: Norma's at The Parker Palm Springs (4200 E. Palm Canyon Drive) and the Essence restaurant at Two Bunch Palms Resort and Spa (67425 Two Bunch Palms Trail).
  • Keep in mind costs when planning the tourist sites you want to visit:
FREE: Sunnylands, Downtown, Pioneertown, Big Morongo Reserve (donations encouraged) 
COST: Moorten Botanical Gardens,  Joshua Tree State Park, Aerial Tramway to Mt San Jacinto


The (Urban) Birds of Palm Springs 2018
- Two Gardens of Palm Springs: Cacti & Drought Resistant Plants
- The Flora & Fauna outside (and above) the Palm Springs area!

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ABC's of Tree I.D. in Winter

Winter Tree Identification Urban Nature Wild Here

When I went back to school, as part of our ecology education, we had to learn identification skills of different types of flora and fauna.  This included tracking, bird songs, trees, lichen, vascular plants and other fascinating species.  (This was one of the reasons I wanted to specifically take ecology and not just an environment focused program.   I wanted to be outdoors learning about the species around me.)  I had no idea however that we would be learning about tree identification skills in the middle of winter.  This seemed so counter-intuitive to me - without the leaves, how could you i.d. the tree?

But this class really turned me around in terms of what winter had to offer and how much detail there is out there even in these quiet, seemingly sleepy months.  We learned that tree i.d. could actually be easier in the winter, when the showier, green canopy was absent and when we could focus on very specific things.  There are clues everywhere!  What we learned was to approach it with a systematic method - using an acronym as an mnemonic:

Arrangement (this refers to how the leaves and branches are arranged).  First of all note whether the tree is a conifer (evergreen) or deciduous (broadleaved) and then look at the branching pattern which follows the same pattern as leafs, leaf buds and leaf scars.  They can be opposite (side-by-side), alternate (staggered on the branch) or whorled (three or more circling the branch in the same spot).  (More Here)
Buds/Bark (winter leaf buds and the colour and patterns of bark are another determining factor). Leaf buds have many specific characteristics from shape, colour, length, texture and bark can have the same - different textures, colours, lines and patterns to help you identify the tree.  However - young trees and mature trees can have very different bark - keep this in mind! 
Characteristics (other details such as: leaves on or off, shape of tree, branching pattern, seeds (keys, catkins, etc), resins, lenticles, etc.) So many other details can help you determine the species of tree.  Although I mentioned that leaves aren't needed, if there are leaves on the ground, they can be used as clues.  The location of the tree can also be a clue if you know what types of trees grow in swamps or ones that like lowlands (if you are in a natural area).  The overall tree can take on a distinct shape (get to know the different tree tops of various conifer species), branching patterns can help, along with seeds that linger in the winter.  Get to know some helpful characteristics that can help narrow down the species!
Nature Appreciation with Winter Identification for Trees

-- Deciduous Tree in Winter --

General Identification Tips:

Don't take on too much all at once.  Trying to learn too many tree characteristics at once can be overwhelming.  Give yourself 10 or 20 of them and revisit them over a few weeks.  When we were at school our list was about 40 different species no matter what we were studying (trees, plants, etc.).

Check out your local Arboretum or a Historic Site. See what parks in your city have identification signs to help you learn your trees.  In Ottawa we are lucky to have the Arboretum and also the Governor General's estate that provides signs to help identify trees.  There are also signs at the National Cemetery (Beechwood) and at the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority Office Building in Manotick.  Check to see if similar organizations offer tree signage in your location.  These planted trees also offer you the opportunity to learn a greater mix of trees in close proximity.

Learn families first.  Some families of trees have similar characteristics, so you can first use some of the family characteristics to help determine what the plant is or is not.  For example Pine (Pinus) trees - all have clustered needles or Maple (Acer) - all have opposite branching.  However this needs to be matched up with other characteristics to make any final confirmation.  This tip CAN help but sometimes there are anomalies in plant families so this doesn't always work!

Winter Tree Identification with ABC Tree Buds
-- Tree leaf buds in late winter --

Learn Latin names.  There are clues in Latin names (Rubrum = Red, Grandidentata = Big Tooth and refers to the "toothed edge" of a leaf) that can help with identification.  Also by using the Latin name you can start knowing how families relate.  Common names are not always the same when you are in a different region - use a Latin name to confirm that the species you know as "Cottonwood" is the same species in another area of the country.

Note when characteristics are similar.  When there are two trees that are stumping you (you confuse them quite a bit) take a bit more time to learn about them in detail so that you can see what similarities are mixing you up.  This type of detailed study will pay dividends as you continue to learn more species and can more easily detect "tells" that help with classification.

Keep up with the studies over a period of time.  Make this new effort of tree identification a regular activity for a handful of weeks or a few months.  Spend some time reading tree species books when you are not out in the field.  Let it all sink in and keep it up.  It's not by going out once that you will learn to be able to identify tree species (or any species) over the long period.

Go out with local naturalists.  Your local naturalist club will organize various outings and even if "Trees" are not the specific topic, you can probably get some tips.  Check with your local college or university to see if they offer any public classes or help with some tree planting.  Any opportunities you get to be out with others in the field will provide you with a chance to learn more!

Refresh your I.D. skills from time to time.  Even knowledgeable naturalists have to do some refreshment of species once a year or so if they haven't been using their identification skills.  It's natural to get rusty if you aren't seeing the species and using your skills regularly.  Have fun with opportunities to refresh and get out there and check out your favourite spot that offers a variety of trees to study.

Green Cedar Trees in Winter Urban Nature Wild Here
-- Coniferous (Evergreen) Tree in Winter --

**This is just an introduction on how to start working on your identification skills.

Seek out local learning opportunities that will help you with identifying specific trees in your area!  As mentioned above, see where you might find local parks that have tree labels available.  Check with local Field Naturalist clubs, Hiking clubs and other Outdoor Clubs that offer opportunities to get outside.  Ask local colleges and universities to see if they have any public classes and check with local tree organizations and associations to see what they offer.

For those in Ontario - stay tuned for a post on some suggestion of species to start with.

Enjoy Your Urban Wilding!

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Favorite Snowshoeing spots in the City + 100th POST!!

The parks and fields are white with snow and sometimes I just want to hibernate away these cold months but as the days start get longer I am reminded that snowshoeing is a fun activity that can easily be done after work, in the evening or on the weekends.  It's a super winter activity that doesn't require as much skill as cross-country skiing and gets you out enjoying the white outdoors close to home - you can easily do it in any park or familiar natural area.  Breaking your own path in freshly fallen snow is an activity that can't be beat!  And if you get tired, as long as there are dog walkers in the area, you can also follow along in one of their paths that has already been carved in the snow for you!

Snow shoeing for the most part is a slower activity so you can bulk up your clothes a bit more than if you were going out to do x-c skiing.  Read here for some tips in terms of getting ready for your first outdoor adventure.  Approach it as if you were going winter hiking or walking (although there are some groups that look at it as an opportunity for a winter jog on snow!  And also, as a slower activity, you can take in your surrounds and check things out at your own pace.

And the other great thing about snowshoeing, if you go a slower pace, is that you can easily enjoy a visit to a coffee shop afterwards to enjoy a warm drink.  No sweaty shirts or being out of breath.  :  ) Snowshoes are also easier to tuck away if you do stop at a restaurant or cafe afterwards and if you are enjoying your winter activities through transit trips - they don't take up much room on the bus.

Yes, if you don't have a car - snowshoeing could be just the winter activity you are looking for!  They are easy to transport on the bus and you won't be as cold afterwards waiting for your return trip.  Also, with snowshoeing you will have more flexibility and agility as you follow along water paths or through forests.  Some groomed trails will have a section for snowshoeing, just check with the park or organization before you go.  The Wild. Here. Ottawa urban cross country ski locations all offer options for snowshoes.  (Just remember while you are out, not to snowshoe over any ski paths as a courtesy to skiers.)

Here are five favourite spots for snowshoeing in Ottawa
(which also can include some perfect spots for a warm up drink afterwards):

(And keep in mind snowshoeing can be especially good after a new snowfall of the powdery white stuff!)

1. Rideau River Loop in Sandy Hill / Overbrook (for those near Ottawa U)

Now that the Adawe bridge provides a new connection in this spot, snowshoeing across this new bridge and coming back around on the pedestrian crossing (just South of the highway crossing) provides a nice forty minute outing through parks (on both sides) and a narrow wooded area.

And if you want to go further south along the Rideau River pathway to the Hurdman area you can enjoy a nice outing with friends in a quieter greenspace that might include checking out the crows' roosts and/or possibly sighting an owl.  (A friend said she used to have an owl following her when she went cross-country skiing at night.)
Enjoy a drink and/or snack afterwards at: 
Sandy Hill Lounge and Grill (321 Somerset St E.) - this neighbourhood pub is three blocks west of Strathcona Park
The Guild Room at allsaints (10 Blackburn Ave) - a licenced café (which means you can enjoy wine here until 9 pm each night) 
Also the Rideau Sports Centre (previously known as the Rideau Tennis Club) has a restaurant that is open to the public. It's open until 11 pm (Mon - Fri) - more details on their website.

2. Moffatt Farm Veterans Park (for those near Carleton U)

Where the heck is Moffatt Farm you ask?  It's the green space across from Mooney's Bay beach and park - on the west side of the Rideau River just before the Hog's Back lock station.  It's the quieter side of Mooney's Bay and offers great views across the water and some fun wildlife sightings even in the winter.  You can start at Melfa Crescent at one end or you can start at Kochar at the other end.  Most of the fun is through the more natural spaces surrounding the park along the river - you can see in many online maps that there are plenty of trails (and you'll find many accessible in the winter even without snowshoes thanks to dog walkers here!)  You can spend an afternoon exploring here if you want!  We saw diving ducks south of the park where the river narrows (learn about winter ducks here).

This is the only location that doesn't offer anything close where you can warm up afterwards, other than a Tim Horton's or McDonalds but they both offer good spots for an inexpensive drink and a rest stop if needed!

3. Val Tetreau River Paths and Behind UQO (on the Quebec side)

There's a lot to explore around here - from Parc Moussette on the west side of Val Tetreau all the way around Baie Squaw up to Parc des Portageurs.  Here again you may find trails carved along the river by dog walkers and you will also be able to enjoy sunsets (shown here - third photo) along the Quebec side with westerly views across the water towards Aylmer.  This is a super spot to explore with varied terrain and lots of twists and turns.
Enjoy a drink and/or snack afterwards at:  
Chez Edgar (60 Rue Bégin) WEBSITE LINK - a very popular brunch spot.
Café Cinq Sens (399 Alexandre-Taché Blvd) WEBSITE LINK - looks like a simple diner/café where you can get something to eat/drink.  They serve Bridgehead coffee.

4. Alta Vista Greenspace "Corridor"

I really like this unique greenspace in the city as it provides such a lovely natural area to the suburban neighbours surrounding it.  The main wooded area is north of Grasshopper Hill Park (you can spot this in the aerial view of online maps) but there are also some great open natural spaces south of Kilborne also.  Truly this area abounds with greenspace that includes the Kilborne Allotment gardens, Featherstone Park and Lynda Lane Park (where much of the reforestation efforts are going on after many of the dying Ash trees had to be removed).  It's also worth taking a peek at Cunningham Park, a hidden city park in the middle of a block of houses - and I'd suggest going back again in spring when the Trilliums are in bloom!
Enjoy a drink and/or snack afterwards at:   
Mandy's Cafe (1791 Kilborn) WEBSITE LINK - small and cozy spot that offers all day breakfast and includes gluten-free and vegan options in their bakery.
Three Sisters Bakery (2211 Arch St) WEBSITE LINK - I just love this bakery and it recently moved to this larger location so as to have more tables for customers.

5. Lac Leamy (Great for a Night Snowshoe)

Last but certainly not least - Lac Leamy is a great spot for a snowshoe especially in the evening.  We went out for a full moon snowshoe here last winter and found that there was enough auxiliary light* (being cast from buildings, streetlights and even some pathway lights) that we could have done this on any evening, rather than wait for the extra illumination from a bright celestial orb.  There is an easy groomed path around the lake that takes about 30 - 45 minutes or you can explore off trail through the full park on the east side of the lake, south of Gatineau River. (To do this, follow Promenade du Lac Leamy under Highway 50.)

The best part about this location is Saint-Eloi Café Bistro (100 Rue Atawe in Gatineau) as it has an amazing view of the lake for an après-snowshoe and you can order a hot chocolate spiked with Irish Cream and topped with whip cream.  Take that winter!  (Read more about Ottawa full moon outings here.)

* Also known as urban light pollution.

* * *

And if you don't have snowshoes - don't despair there are renting options in the city!


Mountain Equipment Co-Op (Westboro)
366 Richmond Road
Open Sat. at 9 am, Sun. at 11 am
$15/day or $75/week
- please confirm at website as details may change

Dow's Lake Pavilion (Carling near the Arboretum)
1001 Queen Elizabeth Drive
Open Sat/Sun at 9:00 am
$12/hour plus $8/additional hour
- please confirm at website as details may change

*Wild North Gear Trade (Vanier/New Edinborough)
121 Beechwood Avenue
Open Sat at 11:00 am
No prices for rentals on website
- please confirm by phone or online as details may change

*Sadly, I just found out that this east end snowshoe rental location is no longer available.
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The Best of Nature Online (when you can't go out!)

Oh yes, the weather outside is frightful and this year (here in Ottawa at least) it seems so unpredictable also - rain, sub zero temps, wind chills and freezing all adds up to the desire to hibernate!  How has winter been for you in your area?  Spring still feels like a long way off.  If you are wondering yourself, when you will be able to get out again, don't despair, you can still get the positive effects of nature even at home!  Studies suggest that looking at green flora or other green scenes and watching nature tv programming can still provide benefits.  The immersion of both the visual and auditory senses in this way provides the same experience as if you were actually outside.  You could even give yourself an extra boost if you add a natural scent like pine or spruce.  Watching birds outside can also be a great mini-nature dose.

Here are some online places to go when you want a dose of nature but can't go out.  Some are educational and others provide the realism you may be craving.  Other more artistic links may not give you the same exact reality immersion, but connecting to delightful, peaceful images that provide interaction, immersion and the feeling of connection along with a sense of awe, whimsy or fun is another type of boost that many may need during these darker, colder months.  So check out the list below and see what awakens a sense of curiosity or draws you for some online pursuits!

In the Tallgrass (vimeo video) 

This is a delightful three and a half minute artistic video by Erin Anfinson showcasing the flora and fauna that you can find in tallgrass prairies.  The beautiful animation follows the path of insects, flying around beautiful flowers and also other many legged bugs that climb up stalks and visit the variety of blooms.  It also provides a condensed experience of a full day to highlight both day and night visuals.  It's a charming creation that allows you to experience the sensations of walking in a meadow ecosystem in full summer.  Just what we need while we are immersed in the depths of winter!

* * *

Nature 365 

This YouTube channel (link) has been providing its viewers short glimpses of nature (some wilder than others!) for a full year. While it seems that the project is completed, the 365 mini videos are still available online.  Some are set to relaxing music, others provide crisp, clear natural sounds, that make you feel like you are right there!  Viewers are able to experience small moments of contemplation whether up close on a feather or tracking birds through the sky and also take in the more visceral active experiences of survival in the wild.  You'll get to see not only a large variety of flora and fauna but also different weather, seasons and natural phenomenon.

* * *

Aniscense (online app)

This delightfully designed interactive educational game is a joy to view and makes learning familiar flora and fauna species names fun and appealing for all ages!  It's main character, Little Mouse, can be directed to different terrain and those playing can explore what she sees with the available magnifying glass.  It does have a U.K. focus - so not all species identified will be familiar to Canadian or American viewers but it's still a lovely way to spend your time during transit or while waiting in line.  It's first version brought visitors underground, through a field and to a pond and now there is the opportunity to explore a forested area!  It's truly a beautiful and serene interactive story that is a delight to play.  You can add this to your smart phone (Android, iphone), tablet or computer.

* * *

Official Canadian Bird Quiz

How about spending a few minutes trying out your birding identification skills with the "Official Canadian Birds Quiz".  While I don't know how "official" it really is, it does provide some great mental stimulation compared to the passive activities that can become prevalent at this time of year.  Written and designed by Bird Protection Quebec, I noticed that this was a very popular quiz with birders when it was released earlier in 2017 and even if you are not a birder, it's fun to go through it and see what you know about your provincial birds.  The website has a few other quizzes also such as the Black Friday Bird Quiz and one to test your Owl IQ.  Large detailed photos and other trivia facts make these quizzes a great way to spend your time online.  Check it out and learn some new bird species - some of which may be very nearby!

* * *

Chirming (graphic design project)

Something a bit more abstract but visually stunning is a incredibly well conceived design project by Sukgo at the Sejong University.  Taking into account the frequency of the bird's singing, the bird's vocal range, foliage density, time of year and layering the various birds vocal mandalas, the end result is something so lovely and textured and colourful that it almost seems alive itself.  Above is just one of a group of visual representations and if you check out the details of the project (on the pdf) you can also understand the logic behind these designs.

If this is the type of stuff that excites you - look through more of the design projects here at Design Awards.

* * *

Never Alone (video game)

Finally, if winter is your thing but you can't always get out, this video game could be a welcome distraction from being indoors.  The video game received much well-deserved press when it was released in 2015 (A friend shared with me the link a few years ago - thanks Carla!) and its main character is a girl!  Here is a quote directly from the website providing inspiring details on how it was developed:
"Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) is the first game developed in collaboration with the Iñupiat, an Alaska Native people. Nearly 40 Alaska Native elders, storytellers and community members contributed to the development of the game. Play as a young Iñupiat girl and an arctic fox as they set out to find the source of the eternal blizzard which threatens the survival of everything they have ever known."
Check out the Never Alone trailer here on Vimeo.
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Finding Natural Areas for Dog Walking in Your City (both off leash and on leash)

Best Dog Walking Spots in the City

This post is an extension from the winter dog walking trails in Ottawa post last month.

I was trying to think about how I found out about the Hunt Club - Uplands corridor (and that it was a great spot for dogs) - so here's how it happened:


I had been noticing it as a wild space as we drove by this spot frequently and knew it was a hydro corridor as well.  So I decided to check it out on Google Maps and it was shown as a taupe/grey "unclassified" space.  Not green (showing parks, golf clubs and other more formal green spaces such as the Arboretum) and not mid-grey that shows residential areas).  Zooming in, I noticed that at a very low scale (1:200 or so) informal trails were marked out in the area.  Google Satellite showed shrubby and grassy areas and even with Satellite I could see some of the more popular trails carved out into the landscape.  And by looking at where the trails connected with more formal pathways and roads, I noted some good places to park my car.


I don't own a dog, so if it's really hard to tell whether you can take a dog there, I'd suggest driving by and seeing if there are any signs.  We went (sans dog) for the first time in the fall and ran into some dog owners which helped confirm what was sanctioned (in terms of off leash or on leash).

On Leash and Off Leash Locations for Dogs


Another thought on how to find out if you can bring your furry friend is that you could check out your Municipality or City's policy in terms of informal green spaces like this.  While you will find that specific parks have a Leashed Dogs or Unleashed Dogs policy (and some even have a "No Dogs" policy) these wilder spaces might not have one and a quick phone call or email may easily clear this up.

Finding Great Dog Walking in Your City


Check to see if you can find out who owns the property.  Here in Ottawa, we have to consider whether the space is under the jurisdiction of the National Capital Commission along with other institutional property owners (such as university or government campus).  Within and outside the city you may find other conservation organizations and authorities might be in charge of these spaces and some may even be wildlife refuge areas and have very specific policies about allowing pets or not.


Best Method of Finding Spots that Allow Dogs



Some cities have great information online or in other forms.  While we were visiting London Ontario this summer, I found this great map (above) that was installed in a local park that provided information on some of the other greenspaces that we might want to visit.  (If there is an indication (on the map) of the jurisdiction, contact the organization directly to confirm if it's a potential dog walking spot!)


Some cities have great dog park websites, either put together by the local government or perhaps by a local dog lover!  The City of Ottawa has finally published a great map - before they only provided a list of parks and restrictions.  Ottawa was lucky though to have the "Ottawa Dog Blog" for many years but unfortunately it was closed recently for personal reasons.  Reddit can be a wonderful resource and of course other dog owners are an IRL resource.  I have been offered a few great "lovely nature spots to visit" tips when outdoors from friendly dog owners even though we weren't out walking a dog!  Check out this full page of resources to find great nature spots.


And as always respect signs and keep control of your furry friend when out in nature and take full advantage of the off leash areas!  Know exactly where to take your dogs so that they too can enjoy being out in nature as much as you do.  And then you can respect the areas that do prohibit dogs and know that some areas allow wildlife to flourish just as the other areas are there specifically for the benefit of your favourite pooch!

And check out my other Urban Nature Exploring pages for other ideas on how to find nature spots in your city!

Let us know the best ways that you find new places to take your pup!

Happy trails!

Winter Dog Trail Wild. Here.

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