Westwood Hills Nature Center

Some times life passes you by so fast. Here we are already in winter experiencing wind chills/feels like temps of 2F/-17C. I hope this brings warm thoughts in the chill of the next few days.

I will start off saying that I enjoyed this place despite the mosquito bites. Mental note: remember the bug spray next time. The nature center had different areas/habitats in such a small location. Our walk was not ages long but good. If you have a jogging stroller the trails should be good in most places but there are are stairs present. There was also that factor of the rain causing a more damp green smell that brought me back to my childhood and also running along the River Don ages ago. It was good to visit.

Seeing as it has been around a decade since our last visit, it was nice to see the major upgrade. They built a new main building with sustainability in mind. The learning area in what could be called the lobby was really nice. Baby Willow was very interested in the snake. Unfortunately I was so interested in the young turkey family walking into one of the massive rain catchment gardens that I forgot to take a picture of the building.

The parking lot was next to the playground. It was a fairly quiet day with visitors so Baby Willow enjoyed the playground on their own with C.

Under the larger tree was a friendly little garter snake. Clearly we didn’t fuss with it but just noted that it was there. For those unfamiliar they are not poisonous and prefer to eat small prey. Leave it alone and you’ll be good.

The path on the other side of the nature center was much more about the birds. We heard many birds, but as usual they were mostly elusive. I tried several times to take a picture of a small yellow-throated vireo, but the green heron was not bothered too much. It was nice to hear mourning doves in the tall trees and see the ducklings having lunch with their mom. I will say that we were able to get more bird sightings than usual. Although not a bird, I did have a butterfly flutter around me for a minute before flying away. It was a species I had never seen before.

The woodland area was fairly peaceful and up a small hill and some stairs. We saw more wild turkeys. The trees really were more rich in color than my camera shows. The trails are wood-chip. So with the rain it felt like a soft cushion underneath.

We debated on walking around the lake on the boardwalk path. We went for it and pleasantly surprised that the floating boardwalk surrounded by cattails was at least 6 feet/around 2 meters wide and fairly stable. Some boardwalks in other places are not so nice. While there we saw birds and a small turtle taking breaks to watch us while in the algae. We looked at it and when Baby Willow arrived it looked at the kiddo. Unfortunately the hummingbird was not so still.

We turned the bend to another area and made our way back to the main building. There was a aviary but it was dedicated to bees. There were many beehive boxes nearby.

Shortly after Baby Willow was interested in the homemade fairy garden exhibit. It appears to have been a bit of a competition or an afternoon event. There were definitely different skill levels and materials used.

We discovered how nice and helpful the staff was at the end of our visit. Great “customer” service. I am very glad that we took the time to see this park again.

By for now.

Extra: I returned later with more of my family during a drought. It was still very green, but due to lack of rain the bugs were not apparent. All that visited seemed to really enjoy the second visit as well.