Since we'd been indoors most of the day today, mainly doing a little housework and more reading, writing and relaxing, we decided to go for a little night ride from Bayfront Park. We live only a few minutes' cycling distance from Bayfront Park and make it a fairly regular place for evening rides.
One of the really neat things, aside from seeing all the people out and about cycling, walking, jogging or rollerblading, especially at and after sunset, is all the natural night life. During the day one may see Canada Geese, Mute or Trumpeter Swans, Mallards, Double-crested Cormorants, House and other sparrows, Redwing Blackbirds, American Goldfinches, Tree Swallows, the ubiquitous seagull, terns (not quite sure which kind) and sometimes a Great Blue Heron. Also to be seen in the water during the day -- and sometimes on the trail -- are frogs and turtles.
Night, when many of the above-mentioned critters rest in groups on the water some distance from the shore, other beings become more noticeable. The biggest difference is heard, not seen. The insect world, certainly at this time of year, becomes extremely active after dark. The whole ride tonight, especially along the Bayfront Trail and less so along the Cootes Drive Trail, had an insect soundtrack. Crickets especially were very loud. But sightings of other critters also differed from the usual. We saw at least half a dozen Eastern Cottontail rabbits, two Great Blue Herons, one of them so close to us to have made a great photograph, had a camera been present, and about half a dozen herons we only recently learned about -- the Black-crowned Night Heron.
While a country drive can be nice, cycling at night is so much more interesting, so much closer to the action! As much as I'd like to see the city develop much more urban cycling infrastructure -- true, dedicated bicycle lanes with traffic lights, bicycle boulevards with traffic calming zones, even painted bicycle lanes -- I am glad to have urban and interurban multi-use pathways available. The former are much needed to facilitate practical use of the bicycle for commuting and other transportation, while the latter are largely for recreational use. I do see, however, that some interurban rail trails, such as the Cootes Drive Trail connecting Hamilton to Dundas, or the planned multi-use path from the Kirkendall area, around the Chedoke Golf Course, across the 403, and out towards the Brantford rail trail, can be useful for commuting (think students, professors and medical personnel studying or working at McMaster University but living downtown).