The World Outdoors: Nature in the City presenters showcase London's natural world

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Working with a small team, Nature London’s Pat Tripp has engaged a diverse slate of Nature in the City presenters to inform and inspire Londoners on dark winter evenings.

“As ever, we are eager to share with Londoners special aspects of the natural world in and around our city,” Tripp said. “Climate change issues have focused us on what we can do for our world. A big thing we can do is to appreciate it, so that we will work to protect it.”

The group’s partnership with the London Public Library remains strong. Tripp and Nature London committee members Leslie Rockwell, Mike Boucher, and Carolyn Doyle worked with the library’s Joanna Kerr to put together the 15th annual six-week program.

The series kicks off at 7 p.m. Tuesday with Mike Burrell discussing Southwestern Ontario birding. With his brother, Ken, Burrell has written the book on birding across the province; their Best Places to Bird in Ontario was published by Greystone Press last year.


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Mike’s depth of experience as a field biologist, professional birding guide and member of the Ontario bird records committee will shape his presentation. He always has fresh insights about our birds and the eBird platform, plus other insider’s tips. Books will be on sale after the presentation.

The series continues Jan. 21 with Ben Porchuk speaking about the many benefits of hiking. Porchuck is a forest therapy guide and trainer. This theme dovetails with the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing.

Rob Huber is passionate about the Thames River. The Thames River Anglers president has been in the news in recent years, advocating for a healthier, naturalized river. On Jan. 28, he’ll speak about the river’s biodiversity. Most life in the Thames is in and underwater, so it’s largely unseen, but still vitally important.

On Feb. 4, Gabor Sass, a Western University science prof, will look at pollinator habitats in and around London. If we can think past manicured lawns, front and back yards can be wonderful spaces for butterflies and other intriguing insects.

Researcher Liana Zanette will share information about predator-prey interactions on Feb. 11. Can an animal literally die of fright? Her fascinating work has shown that fear alone can reduce birth and survival rates in some songbird populations and that fear of large carnivores affects biodiversity.

The speaker series wraps up Feb. 18 with a look at one of London’s Environmentally Significant Areas. Linda McDougall, London’s Ecologist, and Patrick Donnelly, the city’s watershed program manager, will describe the successes of community-led conservation work at the Coves.


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The Coves is special both for its natural elements and for the Friends of the Coves’ community stewardship and support, Donnelly says: “The grassroots group remains one of the few in Ontario and possibly Canada that managed and funded a subwatershed project entirely on its own. That is what sets it apart and speaks to the ongoing community desire for environmental stewardship.”

“I hope the series will inspire residents to explore London’s Environmentally Significant Areas,” McDougall added. “(It’s) a great way to recharge and connect with nature.”

I frequenty visit this natural area near the city centre. If you’d like to visit the Coves or any London ESA before the talk, maps are available at

Each of the free Nature in the City presentations runs from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Wolf Performance Hall in downtown London; get there early to make sure you get a seat. Free parking is available on the streets or in the Citi Plaza underground lot with a validated ticket. For details, visit

Nature note

  • Snowy owls are being seen across Southwestern Ontario. Adult females are larger than adult males and have dark barring on their otherwise white bodies and wings.

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