There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.

– Lord George Gordon Byron, 1813

Although few of the woods I visit are truly pathless, I much prefer the solitude and the wildness found in forests, fields and wetlands to the bustling, artificial glass and concrete city that I inhabit five days a week.  Nature soothes my spirit and restores my inner peace; the ordinary world and all of its burdens fall away when I am surrounded by nature, alone.

Colour alone can inspire me…the shade of a lilac blossom, or the colour of a butterfly’s wings can influence my mood and lighten my heart. Nothing gives me more pleasure than walking the nature trails close to my home, listening to the birdsong, smelling the moist woodland earth, and feeling the sunlight on my face.

This journal is dedicated to the observation and exploration of nature in all its forms. It is a place to share my discoveries and experiences, update the progress of my garden, document wildlife I have seen, nature trails I have visited, and post new photos I have taken.  I hope it conveys some the joy and pleasure I experience in my wanderings, and encourages others to take an interest in exploring the wild places around them to see what they, too, can find.


I currently live in Ottawa, Ontario, my home for the past 20 years by way of Edmonton and Toronto. Although I work as an legal assistant, I have a B.Sc. degree in biology, and enjoy pondering on the mysteries of life and death, physics and God, and space and time. I love to read (primarily historical fiction, suspense, horror and fantasy), writing stories, photographing nature, gardening and spending time outdoors.

I live with my fiancé and our two cats, Lacey and Lily, whom we dote on. These sisters were adopted from the Lanark Animal Welfare Society after our previous two cats, Phaedra and Jango, passed at the ripe ages of 19 and 20. I am definitely a cat person and like to joke that I’ll be one of those crazy cat ladies at the age of 80 with 12 cats.  All of my cats are indoor cats and never go out in the backyard unless one of us is with them, as I have a birdfeeder in my backyard which attracts birds, squirrels, chipmunks and other wildlife from time to time, and want to ensure they have a safe environment in which to feed.

I am a lover of nature whose primary interests are birds, butterflies, and dragonflies. Although I have been birdwatching since 2004, my fascination with the natural world really began in 2006 when I first started taking my camera on my walks with me. I found that when viewed through the lens of a camera, the world became a much more beautiful and fascinating place. I found I was able to capture details not readily apparent in the fleeting glimpses often granted to me, and that sometimes what I thought was one species was actually quite another!  The more I saw, the more I wanted to see. I became an avid birder, and to this day it is the birds that hold the first place in my heart. Mammals, reptiles, and amphibians also captured my attention, but butterflies became my next real interest, followed by the odonata (dragonflies and damselflies). While I enjoy photographing them, my main interest is in observing and learning about the species I see through my lens.  For those of you who are interested in seeing the best of my nature photos, please feel free to check out my gallery on Pbase.

What will future interests include? While I don’t have the answer to that right now, I do love learning new things, and I’m sure there will be a new interest or hobby just over the horizon.

I do welcome comments on my journal entries; for those visitors who are not LJ or WordPress users, please let me know who you are and how you found me! For those of you who wish to contact me without leaving a comment on my blog, please fill out the contact form below.

Gillian Mastromatteo


26 thoughts on “About

    • Thanks Dan! Glad you found my blog interesting. I see you’re in New Jersey….have never been there, but really hope to go one day. (Cape May….need I say more?) If you’re ever in Ontario and need info about local birds & wildlife, don’t hesitate to ask!

  1. Hi Gillian. Thanks for following my blog (backyardblogger.com). You’re right we do have some similarities in what we like to write about. I like the layout of your blog too. I’m haven’t had a lot of time to finesse mine but there are some aspect I’d like to improve for sure and you’re giving me ideas after looking at yours – thanks! Here’s hoping the words flow easily …. Tracey

  2. Hi Gilian,
    I am not all that familiar with reading blogs, and had yours brought to my attention by my wife. I am glad to make your acquaintance. Your writing is clear, and flows nicely. The bird photographs I’ve seen on your most recent entry are excellent. I look forward to reading your previous posts and look forward to new ones.

  3. Found your site while looking on the net to I’d a dragonfly I saw at my cottage this morning. I am not the dragonfly enthusiast — that is my sister who lives in Winnipeg but visits occasionally. Perhaps she/we will get in touch next time she is here!

    The DF I saw was small — maybe 2 inches long, and quite reddish. The top pair of wings were transparent with a reddish cast; the bottom pair had some reddish embroidery about in the centre at the back. Didn’t get a chance to look at the abdomen, any ideas?

    • Hi Mary,

      I’m not sure where your cottage is located, but the possibilities that come to mind are Band-winged Meadowhawk and Calico Pennant if you are in eastern Canada. Red Saddlebags and Carolina Saddlebags also have red markings but occur in mainly the States. A picture and description of what it was doing would help – some dragonflies spend most of their time flying, such as the Saddlebags, while others like to perch and wait for food to come to them – such as the Calico Pennant and Band-winged Meadowhawk.

      Hope this gives you a place to start!

  4. Hi Gillian I came across your website when I was doing research on wildlife in Canada. Hoping to visit Jasper National Park and Banff in the summer next year (they sound like great places for photographing wildlife in Canada). I enjoyed reading your blog on the ground squirrels in Jasper. Look forward to reading more of your blogs.

    • Thanks Natasha! Jasper was a great place to see wildlife; we didn’t try any trails in Banff, so I can’t speak to the wildlife there. However, the scenery in both parks was gorgeous, so there is always something to photograph!


  5. Hi Gillian, thanks for visiting my blog (bybio.wordpress.com), and for hints on how to track down a beaver! It looks like we have much in common, and I look forward to learning more about Canadian wildlife/nature from your blog.

    • Hi Sue,

      Thanks for visiting! I love the photography on your blog, and being a “northerner” also, it looks as though we see many of the same species around (like the Ring-necked Ducks you photographed – very lovely!). Best of luck trying to catch sight of those beavers!


  6. Stumbled on your website while searching for conservation areas in Ontario offering educational field trips for students. Great resource for schoolshows.ca !
    Thank you.

    • Thanks kwickert! One of the reasons I blog is to record my memories of different places that I’ve visited and wildlife I’ve seen there. I’m glad others find these blog posts useful and informative, too!

  7. I followed a link from Reuven Martin’s blog here and now I check for your updates regularly. It’s interesting how “northern” Ottawa seems to be compared to close to Toronto. I’ll enjoying following your winter prowls.

    • Thanks Bet! Yes, we get a lot of northern birds here, but often miss out on the “southern specialties”. Hopefully we’ll get some interesting northern species this winter to keep things interesting!


  8. Gillian – I would like to have permission to use your information written on baiting and abetting great gray owls in Ottawa for a presentation I am giving to the Florida Master Naturalists through the University of Florida of “The Ethics of Nature Photography.” There is a great need for this education, and your article is phenomenal!! – Mary White, Florida Master Naturalist and Chapter President

    • Hi Mary,

      Thanks for commenting, and for your kind words! You have my permission to use the information presented in the blog post on baiting. I think it’s very important to let people know that baiting owls can have negative consequences, and that no photo is worth killing a mouse, habituating an owl to people, or risking the owl’s life when done close to the roadside. Please let me know how your presentation goes!


  9. Hello Gillian, I love your blog! I find your writing to be well thought out, clear and concise, I expect that comes from the professional work that you do. I found your blog though the Alberta Birds group on Facebook. David Lilly added your Blog post on the feeding of owls in the Ottawa area and the ethics surrounding the practice. I have passed your link on to several of my “outing” friends. While I am far more of a mammal guy, I have been expanding my knowledge of birds here in Alberta.
    Please keep the great posts coming.


    • Hi Turbo,

      Thanks for the kind words! I was wondering where all the hits on my blog were coming from; now I know! 😀 I’m glad that other people find my post on baiting owls informative. I believe that the more people speak out against this practice, the sooner it will stop as new photographers learn that this is not acceptable and not condoned by other birders/photographers/naturalists. (I saw your comment on that post and will reply when later today, when I have more time).

      I used to live in Alberta when I was a teenager, though I wasn’t interested in nature then. However, I returned for a wedding in 2012; you may be interested in some of those posts from my trip. There are lots of mammal photos from Jasper!

      Thanks for reading,

  10. My teabag had the first line of the pathless woods poem on it, and I wanted to find out more about it. A search on the internet landed me here. Looks like a nice place to be. 🙂

  11. Love your blog and I learn so much. Just want to be sure I don’t have to rely on my memory to check on new posts. As you know my interests on outdoor adventures have become more diverse thanks to you.

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