April 26, 2017
Cootes Paradise was established in 1927 and is the Royal Botanical Gardens largest and most diverse sanctuary at over 600 hectares. There are three major access points which you can enter the sanctuary from – Princess Point, the Arboretum and Burlington Heights. Princess Point is a trail hub which includes a canoe launch and access to over 6 kilometres of trails. The Arboretum leads to 10 kilometres of trails and viewing of several collections of flowers and trees species. Burlington Heights is at the most eastern edge of the sanctuary overlooking the water and it provides excellent viewing of the area.
The Cootes Paradise marsh is a 320 hectare river-mouth wetland that supports a wide variety of plants and animals including rare and threatened species. This nature sanctuary contains an astonishing 877 species of plants making it an excellent example of biodiversity in Canada. Due to its location and size, the wetland is an important migratory waterfowl habitat and migratory bird stopover.
During my visit to the sanctuary, I began my hike at the Arboretum entrance making my way towards the marsh walk trail. After passing some of the gardens at the edge of the Arboretum I entered the trail system and began to discover the incredible diversity of the area. Once I reached the lookout point on the marsh walk trail I walked along the boardwalk out to the platform where you can view Rat Island.
I then headed back out onto the trail and kept walking until I reached Bull’s Point. There I entered a clearing away from the main forested area where there were several nesting boxes. As I got closer to where many of the boxes were situated I noticed that tree swallows had made their home here and it was amazing to watch them fly so effortlessly as they travelled to and from the boxes.
The last stop on my hike was Hopkin’s Loop before I began to make my way back to the Arboretum. On my way back I decided to take another opportunity to walk the boardwalk and sit on the platform looking out at Rat Island. While I was relaxing and taking in the scenery, a swan decided to swim up to the platform allowing me to take some photographs.
As I was finally making my way back to the entrance, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye that was moving up the trunk of a tree. When I stopped and took a closer look I realized that it was a woodpecker. Although I wasn’t able to get great photographs of it, it was really awesome to finally see one of these birds in person.
Below are the photographs that I took during my visit to Cootes Paradise – Royal Botanical Gardens.