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Île Bizard's Bois de l'Île Bizard: The Trails
Bois de l'Île Bizard: Escape the City Without Actually Leaving the City
Cheaper and arguably as rejuvenating as a day at the spa, there's no Montreal park quite like Bois de l'Île Bizard, a striking 201 hectares (497 acres) of woods, beach, and wetlands located on Île Bizard, an island northwest of Montreal just above the West Island.
Visitors can easily spend a whole day discovering the park's nooks and crannies: start the morning birdwatching while exploring Bois de l'Île Bizard's marshes, swamps and woods before retiring to the beachfront for an afternoon of picnicking, sunbathing, canoeing and swimming in Lac des Deux Montagnes (a.k.a., Lake of Two Mountains). In the winter, the star-shaped park turns into a picturesque cross-country skiing destination.Continue to 2 of 14 below.
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Île Bizard's Bois de l'Île Bizard: The Boardwalk
Bois de l'Île Bizard has a beach, wood trails and a comely marsh which visitors can explore on the park's boardwalk, one nearly half a kilometer long.Continue to 3 of 14 below.
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Île Bizard's Bois de l'Île Bizard: The Marsh
Contrary to some sources, Bois de l'Île Bizard's wetlands are for the most part marshes, not swamps, though there's evidence of swampland in certain areas.
The difference between marsh and swamp is determined by two main indicators: the presence or absence of live trees and the year-round versus seasonal presence of water. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, swamps "are wetlands characterized by the presence of trees growing on silty to organic muck soils" whereas marshes "are treeless wetland where lush growths of herbaceous plants (e.g., grasses, sedges, reeds, and cattails) predominate."
In the case of Bois de l'Île Bizard, all of the wetlands in the section contained by the boardwalk are marshes, evident by a marked absence of live trees and a year-round abundance of water. However, visitors may notice, depending on the time of year, what appears to be flooded woods by the trails leading to the boardwalk area. Those patches are effectively swamps.Continue to 4 of 14 below.
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Île Bizard's Bois de l'Île Bizard: The Swamp
This section of Bois de l'Île Bizard leads up to the park's sizable marsh but it's not actual marshland. As the water is not present year-round and this wetland is characterized by an abundance of trees, it's classified as a swamp.Continue to 5 of 14 below.
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Île Bizard's Bois de l'Île Bizard: The Wildlife
"As with all wetlands, marshes are extremely sensitive and bursting with various species that use it as a shelter and a food source. Birds in particular often visit this environment. You can spot tree swallows, American black ducks, green-backed herons and many other species."
"Other species living in the marsh often remain unseen because of their more low profile lifestyle, i.e., amphibians and reptiles. More than 16 species of amphibians and reptiles live in this marsh, such as spring peppers, leopard frogs, newts and the snapping turtle." -Text courtesy of Bois de l'Île Bizard.Continue to 6 of 14 below.
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Île Bizard's Bois de l'Île Bizard: Cycling
Île Bizard's Bois de l'Île Bizard offers 10km (over 6 miles) of scenic trails ideal for cycling as well as hiking.Continue to 7 of 14 below.
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Île Bizard's Bois de l'Île Bizard: The Blackbird Attack
Some birds at Bois de l'Île Bizard seem used to close encounters with humans.
This red-wing blackbird, for example, was just inches from me after making a bee-line for my face. He remained in close proximity as I snapped his mugshot for well over three minutes.
However, he—who would have been a "she" if his black coat had been a dull shade of brown—swooped in a little too close for comfort, suggesting this reputably aggressive male was more interested in attacking your humble guide than engaging in a heart-warming moment of interspecies bonding. Find out more about Bois de l'Île Bizard's activities and facilities or continue to the next image.Continue to 8 of 14 below.
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Île Bizard's Bois de l'Île Bizard: The Tree Swallow
Bois de l'Île Bizard ranks high in birdwatching appeal, with its marsh attracting everything from ducks to herons to owls. Bois de l'Île Bizard is also home to the tree swallow, a small songbird recognizable by its streamlined shape, shiny blue upper body, and white underside. Females tend to have a lackluster, brownish/blue tint.
Park management rents out binoculars for birdwatching purposes.Continue to 9 of 14 below.
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Île Bizard's Bois de l'Île Bizard: Leave it to Beaver
"The beaver plays an essential role in the life of this marsh. Thanks to its work, the water level increased and remained at that level, creating a habitat even richer in wildlife species. However, the beaver also has an impact on terrestrial vegetation since it loves eating poplars and other trees. In fact, one beaver can chop down about 216 trees and shrubs a year to build dikes and lodges and to feed itself, quickly decimating the surrounding forest."
"A beaver management program is in place to preserve the fragile balance necessary to the conservation of the natural environment. Since beavers are required to maintain the habitat's water level and wildlife diversity, a beaver colony was protected. The male was castrated in order to stop population growth and to ensure a better balance between wildlife and flora. Studies seem to indicate that this operation has no impact on the integrity of family ties, on their health or on their behavior." -Text courtesy of Bois de l'Île Bizard.Continue to 10 of 14 below.
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Île Bizard's Bois de l'Île Bizard: The Beach
Well it's not exactly spectacular, but one, the view of Lac des Deux Montagnes (a.k.a., Lake of Two Mountains) is unusually calming and two, the beach itself is less frequented than its popular counterparts, Cap St. Jacques and Plage du Parc Jean-Drapeau, a breath of fresh air for any urbanite yearning for rest and relaxation.Continue to 11 of 14 below.
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Île Bizard's Bois de l'Île Bizard: Pointe-aux-Carrières
To the right of the Bois de l'Île Bizard's sandy beachfront is the remains of an old quarry, active from the early to mid 19th century, hence the beach name Pointe-aux-Carrières, French for "quarry point."Continue to 12 of 14 below.
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Île Bizard's Bois de l'Île Bizard: Lac des Deux Montagnes
Bois de l'Île Bizard's beach, Pointe-aux-Carrières, is located on Lac des Deux Montagnes (Lake of Two Mountains), a small body of water 150 km² in size (43 km long and 10 km wide), located northeast of the island of Montreal.Continue to 13 of 14 below.
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Île Bizard's Bois de l'Île Bizard: Lac des Deux MontagnesContinue to 14 of 14 below.
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Île Bizard's Bois de l'Île Bizard: Lac des Deux Montagnes