Edmonton Nature Club
Photo by Janice Hurlburt
BY BRIAN STEPHENS
The Edmonton Nature Club (a.k.a. ENC or Nature Edmonton) was formed in 2004 by the merger of the Edmonton Natural History Club (founded 1959) and the Edmonton Bird Club (founded 1949).
We offer programs covering birds, bugs and spiders, butterflies, and plants. Historically, our activities have ranged quite far around the Edmonton area with driving trips. More recently we have focused on local walks that make use of the extensive habitats of the North Saskatchewan River valley and the adjacent ravines. We host weekly walks along trails such as Strathcona Riverside Trail, Hermitage Park, Rundle Park, Gold Bar Park, Kinsmen-Emily Murphy Park, Hawrelak Park, and Whitemud Nature Reserve. These are open to anyone. The club hopes to soon get back to driving trips to more distant locations.
Even in the city, these locations serve as ideal places to introduce people to nature because of their accessibility, the excellent trail systems, and the flexibility of distance and time. For example, in Hawrelak Park, the lake provides good views of a diversity of waterfowl, a variety of adjacent forest habitats, and views of the river itself. This offers opportunities for learning about waterfowl identification and the habitat relationships between different species of forest birds. In 2022, members were able to access Nature Calgary’s Birding 101 presentations, which were followed with four outings with new birders.
The river valley also provides excellent sites to catch the spring and fall bird migrations into and out of the boreal forest to the north. Depending on weather conditions in the spring, river valley habitats provide feeding and resting areas for migrating birds, with several locations becoming real birding “hotspots” through the season.
Our ongoing commitment to the study of the natural environment is reflected in the activities of members who, for example, have recently identified plant species previously unknown in the area. A survey of birds in Whitemud Ravine at the time the Whitemud Nature Reserve was created listed 128 species with 60 breeding in the ravine. By 2020, ENC members had increased the total to over 170 observed species and 82 breeding.
ENC participated in the Bird Friendly Cities initiative that saw Edmonton receive entry-level certification. The club successfully conducted its first May Species Count this year using an 80-km radius circle. We sponsor the annual Edmonton Christmas Bird Count. ENC maintains a local forum – ENC Nature Talk (groups.io/g/ENCnaturetalk) – for discussion and reports. You can become a member and join in any of our activities by visiting our website: edmontonnatureclub.org.
Brian Stephens is the President of the Edmonton Nature Club and the lead Edmonton Bird Friendly City Team Member.
This article originally ran in Nature Alberta Magazine - Fall 2022.