A forest in the city? Hmmm. Obviously someone is very optimistic here. But still, it has every quality of a forest. It represents 287 hectares of forest, prairie, pond and marsh. The forest was created in 1974 and officially opened to the public in 1980. There are more than 200 species of plants in here. Now that is a quality.

 Just grass? No, Prairie Grass Just grass? No, Prairie Grass

So let’s take a little walk in this forest, still mostly barren after the cold winter…

 

Barren, yes, perhaps, but now in the beginning of April already full of life. Forest life you wouldn’t expect inside the city limits. True, the soft noise of cars on the roads around the 287 hectares is always there, but it is not noisier than your average air conditioning on a quiet summer Sunday afternoon.

 Birds are already finding their places near the pond. Birds are already finding their places near the pond.

Also, frogs start to make themselves heard.

The water is now crystal clear, even if I wouldn’t think of trying it myself. The frogs will do that for me. Frogs have a “habit” of dying when water becomes polluted. They are still here, alive and kicking and croaking.

A nice mossy, watery place for the frogs A nice mossy, watery place for the frogs

The trees, many bur oaks and birches are still without leaves, but nor without life. The willows already start showing their new shoots and catkins.

Green, new willow catkins Green, new willow catkins

You would think a forest in the city limits has nothing more than a park. After all, Winnipeg is full of parks, one more or less… But the Assiniboine Forest is different. Every park in the city, including the nearby Assiniboine Park shows that it is being neatly kept, dead wood is taken away where necessary, everything is kept clean and accessible with paved trails. The Assiniboine Forest is kept in a natural state, meaning dead trees stay where they are, unless they form a hazard to people or other trees if they were sick.

The trails in the Assiniboine Forest Trail in the Assiniboine Forest

The Trails in the Assiniboine Forest are mostly made of all-weather logs and mulch. At least the trails that are interesting for the photographer. The more standard trails leading through the forest are a little hardened and can withstand the small trucks of the keepers.

The trails are easily spotted and spotlessly clean. As much as this is to be a “wild” forest, where much of the park-type maintenance is not being done, it is not wild in the sense that nobody takes care of it. Garbage cans (yep, the blue ones) are clearly visible, no reason to miss them and throw your garbage on the ground for others to appreciate. The same goes for the dogs, well for the owners, the dogs, I mean. Well, you understand what I’m saying. Plastic bags are available…

As expected As expected, no green leaves

What you expect in a forest like this at the end of the winter is nothing much. You expect barren trees, no grass and nothing living apparent. But there are deer in this forest, although I had no luck spotting them. A Sunday afternoon with all kinds of visitors and joggers is probably not the best time for that.

New life is coming with the poplars New life is coming with the poplars

The poplars already start showing signs of life. I guess that in a few weeks everything here will be green and lush, birds will be all over the place. As well as the mosquitoes. But let’s not spoil the day…

 

Fungi Fungi

When trees fall down from old age or other reasons, the fungi take over. The picture above has a little surprise inside the fungi, but I only noticed it when viewing the picture on my computer. It looks like two shiny little eyes…

In this forest the fungi are not categorised, in other words nobody knows how much of what there is. Well, whatever there is, it makes for nice colourful pictures. I leave it to you, dear reader, to identify them.

Lichen? Lichen?

The same goes for the mosses, there are many of them, all different kinds, and none of them identifiable, at least not by me. I’ve always been bad at biology in school. Even more, school and biology lessons are more than 35 years away now. I guess memory fades with age…

Prairie grasses Prairie grasses

Grass is also what is freely “available” here in the forest. In fact the Assiniboine “forest” is made out of four different biotopes: forest, prairie, pond and marsh. The only place I could not visit was the marsh, my shoes were not good enough (or too good) for that.

Whatever type of weather you get, the Assiniboine Forest is worth a trip. I think that the best time to visit here is early in the morning. Come by bicycle, all trails are cyclable. Don’t make noise. Perhaps you’ll take the picture I couldn’t get on a Sunday afternoon. On the other hand, I had them in the car a few months ago. I guess I can’t have them every time.