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  • Sydney Daniels

hot summer nights

While a quarter of my summer is being spent out east, here is what I got up to the rest of the time!

While it might have been my busiest summer to date, it was also the most eventful and rewarding. I got to visit so many cool, natural places around the region home to plenty of birds, flowers, and massive trees. Here is my collection of photos from the first three months of summer, August needs its own post!


Thanks to my job, I've learned much about environmental groups, initiatives, and buildings in Waterloo Region. One of the coolest buildings by far has to be evolv1. This is where huge milestones of energy efficiency have been reached. The evolv1 multi-office building is the first net-positive building in North America, producing more renewable energy than it uses. The building features several large solar panels over the parking lot, EV charging stations, and a two-story living wall, amongst many others.

Right next to the building is this cute little pond where I found this gorgeous Great Blue Heron. Usually, when I visit evolv1 I bike there, not normally with my camera but I always see a heron and it's so annoying because I could never get a good picture with my phone. However, one day I finally had both and I went to town. Had a few other ducks and geese show up too for some fun shots.

Legacy Trees

While the Waterloo Region may be full of large, busy cities, there are plenty of natural, historic beauties scattered around the area. Legacy trees are so important especially in an urban setting since they take in incredible amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. They are hundreds of years old and dozens of feet tall, yet these monster trees live right in the middle of the city.

In Uptown Waterloo, next to the Waterloo Public Library, there is a 130-year-old Bur Oak standing at roughly 80 feet tall. This tree is an absolute beast in the city, with a diameter of around 50 inches. If you travel slightly south-east to Kitchener, you can find another legacy tree tucked away in Rockway Gardens. This 100-year-old Weeping Willow is 55 feet tall and has a trunk 47 wide. This tree looks so magical and dreamy with its massive trunk contrasted by its gentle flowing leaves and branches. She is absolutely gorgeous.

I highly encourage you to go visit these trees to truly take in their size and volume. If you want to learn more about them, Reep Green Solutions and Tree Trust are currently running a campaign to crown the region's 'Tree of the Year'. There are excellent blogs and stories written about the history of these trees, and how the landscape has evolved around them.

Kitchener pt. 1

Living in a new city at a new point in the year means new parks and new wildlife to explore! Rockway Gardens was one location on my list for a variety of reasons, namely the massive willow tree. Apart from that beast of a plant, I knew there were plenty of smaller plants to poke around with a few water features scattered in between.

While this wasn't my favourite spot this summer since the gardens were mostly non-native, annual flowers rather than luscious gardens full of native plants. Nonetheless, it was still very scenic and pretty and was home to a few notable creatures. Stumbled across a few cardinals, a few bluejays, and a chipmunk that was absolutely modeling its acorn for me.

As much as I love my songbirds, there was one creature that won my heart more than the birds: Bob. Not sure how Bob found us, but he would not leave us alone and frankly, I wouldn't let him. He was such a sweet cat and took every chance he could to get scratches. After spending a good twenty minutes with our new friend, we started walking further through the park, and Bob felt like he wanted to join us, until he was rudely chased away by an angry terrier.

For those of you wondering, Bob was not lost. I checked his collar and he lived right around the street and did not seem stressed at all with us. I figured this wasn't the first time he's visited this park :)

Kitchener pt. 2

While I do have my list of parks I need to visit at some point, there is always more I don't know than what's on my current list. Kolb Park was one of them. This park is located on the Grand River and has an impressive amount and collection of bird species. My first recommendation when visiting this park is to bring a pair of binoculars and charged camera batteries. Since the weather was not ideal and my camera kept dying, I could not get nearly as many good photos as I would have liked to, but I still managed to take a few decent ones.

The reason we visited this park was because of the large and crowded osprey nest next to the highway. Seeing that, we knew this place had potential and it did not disappoint. I managed to find nine new bird species at this park, nine maybe an hour or two. Some species like cedar waxwings, orioles, or house finches I had seen or heard of before, but there were plenty of brand new species to both my life list and my own bird knowledge. Some of the coolest birds we saw were about three ospreys, four great blue herons, a few Caspian terns (the white angular bird shown above), and a yellow-bellied sapsucker, yet again another strange bird name (seriously, who picks these names they're so bonkers).

Guelph Arboretum

Summer calls for cool plants and cool birds with cool people. Hosting a friend for a weekend is just an excuse to bring them birding with you, so that's exactly what I did. On yet another rainy day (not my best work), the boys and I went to visit the Guelph Arboretum to find more birds, shocker. Not sure while I always decide to go in the rain when the birds aren't out as much, but I like a good challenge (will get upset at any minor inconvenience).

The Arboretum wasn't a complete washout thankfully. With an incoming thunderstorm, we didn't get to stay long but of the places we did see, it was a very cool park to visit. Couldn't get many bird photos, but I did manage to see some cool-looking leaves, flowers, and a rabbit! I will definitely need to come back and visit the bird feeder for the good birds, so I still have that to look forward to from this place.

Very pleased with the amount of adventures I went on this summer. I can't wait until you see the east coast photos drop!

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