My kayaking career began not with a paddle, but with a hike, through the splintering trails and crumbling buildings of the York Redoubt National Historic Site, from whose lookouts I admired the entirety of Halifax Harbour. One visit became many as this was the destination of my daily jog, nurturing, over time, my curiosity of a park visible from its peaks, quietly occupying the waters below – McNabs Island.
The concept of biodiversity is relatively new to the mainstream, proposing that ecosystems can be appraised, so to speak, based on the variety of organisms they support. It states simply that a healthy forest cannot contain solely Balsam fir, nor a healthy river exclusively Atlantic salmon.
A keystone species is one which supports a significant sum of its home ecosystem, not unlike a load-bearing wall in you house. Remove any old wall and the structure will survive, but destroy that which bears load, and collapse ensues.
The Prothonotary warbler ranks among the rarest birds in Canada, but then, it probably always has. Showing a clear preference for the warmth of the United States, its only foray into Canada occurs in the Carolinian Forests of southern Ontario, a region I visited just last month.
They told me I wouldn’t see one. The sun was fast setting over the rolling hills and prairie vistas of Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, and I’d already failed to spot one earlier that day. But given this park’s openness, where great distances and colossal skies are always within view, I was overcome with the possibilities inherent to this place. It was worth a try.