On a recent drizzly, overcast weekday afternoon, retired social worker Earl Palansky was taking photographs of wildlife, in particular songbirds and water fowl, near the Witches Hut by Lord Selkirk Creek in Kildonan Park, just off North Main Street.
As he snapped away on his Panasonic Luminex digital camera, Palansky suddenly spotted a flash of light blue darting across his line of vision.
"Look a belted kingfisher," Palansky said excitedly after he had zoomed his camera lens onto the stocky, dart beaked bird.
It had alighted on a bare branch of an elm tree on the opposite side of the creek.
"That’s why I love coming to this park," Palansky said.
"There’s always something stimulating and different. I enjoy coming to Kildonan Park because nature has a spiritual quality for me. I’m here 12 months a year. The cold doesn’t deter me. I just dress for the elements."
During the spring and summer months, the park is a haven for birds, especially song birds and waterfowl such as the omnipresent Canada Geese and different duck species — in particular mallards and wood ducks.
"I was there with my kids just the other day and marvelling at the size of the cottonwoods, oak and elm trees right in and around the playground," said Rodney Penner, a naturalist with the City of Winnipeg.
"Kildonan Park is a great place to check out these mature canopy trees. Also earlier in the week I could see a lot of Nodding Trillium in the forest understory. They are a pretty little plant with a really interesting and beautiful form. They’re found in a few of the mature forested areas of the city."
Both painted and snapping turtles can sometimes be spotted in the park, as well as leopard frogs, Canadian toads, wood frogs, boreal chorus frogs, and perhaps even tree frogs, said local biologist Doug Collicutt, adding that sharp eyed observers should keep a close watch out for plains and red sided garter Snakes too.
You might even see a red fox trot through the park.
"But, the chances of seeing large mammals at this time of year are less than in winter because there are so many places to hide and so many people are around," naturalist Penner said.
"But keep your eyes alert along the river bank because animals like mink might be darting along the water’s edge and even in Lord Selkirk Creek."
It’s a park for all seasons.
Martin Zeilig is a community correspondent for the North End. You can contact him at email@example.com