Five of us braved the possibility of rain yesterday morning to walk west to Humber Bay, but we were lucky and made it back to High Park just as it started to drizzle again. I will miss the Lakeshore walks when we switch back to Mount Pleasant, especially the lake birds – swans, egrets, cormorants, geese and ducks all swim and fly along that trail, and they make the walk seem shorter, somehow, as if we might fly too. Two weeks ago, we saw clouds of Monarch butterflies swirling around the newly planted gardens on our way east, and those too inspire us to walk just a little bit more quickly and lightly.
According to some new scientific studies, there are nearly 3 billion fewer birds in North America than there were in 1970. That means that fully a third of all species, both common and rare birds, have disappeared, mostly through habitat loss. There is some hope though, since some waterfowl species, including many of the kinds we see along the Lakeshore, such as mallard ducks and Canada Geese, are increasing in numbers due to targeted conservation efforts. Monarch butterflies are another species that has benefited from targeted conservation efforts that show us that we can help to preserve species in decline. Monarchs were considered to be a species of “special concern” in Ontario, and their numbers were declining for two decades before a resurgence this winter. The reason for this recovery is partly because people in Ontario have been planting more milkweed – the primary food for Monarch caterpillars.
Part of walking is experiencing the outdoors in all weathers, and the beauty of our city’s green spaces. We are very lucky to live in an area that offers so much diversity, and that our access to it is just a short walk away.