Whitemud Ravine Nature Reserve is the jewel in the crown of Edmonton parks. With grandkids aged five through twenty, I have conducted my share of family nature walks in that valley. In every season, wild nature may be observed in the heart of Edmonton, mere steps away from a major freeway. Once you have crossed over the first bridge, you will find yourself in the forest with the noise of the traffic drifting away. Soon you will hear the scolding of the red squirrel and the raucous call of the blue jay. The kids love to stop and read the interpretive signs and spot the subjects if they can. Their favorite spot is a lookout where many animals come to see what humans have left for them. If you sit very still, first the squirrels come, then the chickadees. Who could ever forget the thrill, the first time a chickadee lights on them? The least chipmunks are shy, but in summer they are always part of the action. Two kinds of nuthatches will often arrive loudly calling as they come. Beyond is a staircase where we observe the beaver’s workings on a dam (that never quite gets built) and often spy deer prints in the mud. Next, we come to a cathedral of spruce where no understory grows. More squirrels scold us. A wee way up the path we have a nice view of the creek where we’ve even seen a kingfisher skimming the surface and calling loudly. My grandkids love these outings which bring us closer to nature and to each other.
Val Solash, Edmonton Master Naturalist 2015