Issues lurk beneath pastoral landscape

Despite some rain, the Harbingers of Spring nature walk went on all the same. The walk was along the Oxbow River, and with the Don Valley Parkway closed that day, city sounds were scarce. The day was chilly, too cold to see any snakes or turtles, but the paths were lined with purple violets, umbrella plants and white trilliums.

Elizabeth Novak led the 45-minute walk around the Todmorden Mills preserve in East York, taking a small group of people through meadow, swamp and forest landscapes, viewing nature as it bloomed for spring.

Novak said she worries about the effect the past winter is going to have on the Todmorden Mills preserve. There are 94 documented bird species frequenting the area, and with the unusual winter, their migratory pattern has been affected.

A second problem worrying Novak is increasing non-native, invasive species in the area. This affects not only animals in the preserve, but also the land.

“It’s important to be educated,” Novak said. “But sometimes there are species that are here to stay. Some interbreed with the native animals here but some simply stick to themselves.”

The heritage site also hosts other nature walks during summer, autumn and winter. Novak has had the opportunity to lead these as well.

“It’s amazing how much the habitats change each time around. Also, people don’t realize this, but there is a large amount of diversity in wildflowers on the preserve,” she said.

Aside from nature, Novak also enjoys being able to share her knowledge with new people she meets and learning from them in return.

One participant at the Harbingers of Spring walk, Manu, also attended Todmorden’s winter walk.

“It’s nice because you learn something new about nature with every new season that rolls around,” he said.

Manu is an avid hiker and plans to attend more nature walks in the future.