August 2021

View online




Ecosystems rebound following the removal of invasive Phragmites


Myrah Graham removing invasive common reed, Intern at Gault in 2018

Photo credit Alex Tran


The invasive common reed (Phragmites australis), or European common reed, is an invasive plant originating from Eurasia that has extended its roots across North America since its introduction in the early 20th century. It may be familiar to you as tall grasses that often grow along roads. While the native species of common reed (Phragmites americanus) is an important component of a healthy wetland, its invasive relative can be devastating to local ecosystems. It is estimated that up to 95% of common reeds in Quebec are invasive.

While completely eradicating the invasive common reed once it is established is very difficult, we can help prevent its spread and in turn facilitate the growth of native species. Reed-filled areas can be “reclaimed” through proper de-rooting of dense growth, which helps the ecosystem to rebound. Repetition of these control methods year after year is the key to success. One of our tasks, as interns, is to de-root phragmites surrounding lake Hertel and other areas of the Gault Nature Reserve. The results from such efforts are visible at the Welcome Center.

All about ants

Photo credit Daniel Jauvin


The Northern flicker is called the “pic flamboyant” in French, and flamboyantly fashionable they certainly are! Northern flickers have rich coffee-brown backs and creamy buff bellies (both stippled with black spots), grey caps and necks, black throats and a red crescent at the nape of the neck. The male of the species has a dark mustache, to boot. Males and females mate for life, with both parents taking care of the chicks. These large flickers can’t get enough of ants, which make up 50% of their diet, and they can often be spotted on the ground looking for a feast. When they find the jackpot, they’ll lap it up with their long, sticky tongues.


By Johanne Ménard from the Société d’ornithologie de la Vallée du Richelieu. To learn more about the SOVDR and become a member: (This text appeared in issue 8 of Nature Sauvage)


REMINDER: Fall schedule


Photo Credit Alex Tran


The early morning trail access will end on September 17, 2021. This service will return on May 1, 2022.


Please note that trails will close at 6 p.m. as of September 1, 2021. All cars must leave the parking lot by 6:30 p.m.

New signage on trails


First row: signage from the 1960s; signage from the 1990s

Second row: New design in 2021; Trail marker with the Martlet, McGill's beloved icon


Over the next few weeks, you’ll see new signboards gradually appearing along the green trail. The Reserve team worked closely with McGill University’s Facilities Management department to design these new signs, and in the coming years they’ll replace the current signage throughout the whole trail network.

The new aluminum signs are made in Quebec and are highly resistant to weathering. This marks the third generation of signage on our trails. The colours and names on the new signs have been standardized to match those on the trail map.

Plus, we’ve added a visibility boost. Reflective trail markers, colour coded for each trail, have been installed along all the trails. These markers mean you can be sure you’re on the right path, even in winter when the trail is hidden beneath the snow. Since they’re reflective, visitors will be able to find their way easily even when dusk is falling.

Previously, each trail was marked on a signboard with the colour of its martlet. The martlet is the small bird you’ve no doubt seen on McGill’s coat of arms, and has been one of McGill University’s symbols since 1850.

Learning about medicinal plants from Michel Durand Nolett


Photo credit Alex Tran


On July 9th, we had the chance to receive Mr Michel Durand Nolett, member of the w8banaki community of Odanak.

Mr Durand Nolett has a wealth of knowledge about medicinal plants found on the Ndakina, the ancestral territory of the W8banaki Nation on which the Gault Nature Reserve stands today. As part of his knowledge transmission work, Mr Durand Nolett kindly agreed to share with us the uses and history of some medicinal plants found on the mountain and beyond. These teachings will be available as a series of short video capsules, starting in September, as part of 11th Annual Indigenous Awareness Weeks.

This project was created in partnership with McGill’s office of Indigenous Initiatives and the Grand Conseil de la Nation Waban-Aki. More information can be found here:


More information can be found here :

McGill Indigenous Initiatives
Grand Conseil de la Nation Waban-Aki
Partnership agreement between mcgill university’s gault nature reserve and the grand conseil de la nation waban-aki


Mont Saint Hilaire Biosphere Reserve’s 2021 photography contest
Entry deadline: September 30, 2021


Le mont Saint-Hilaire offre des points de vue magnifiques

Photo credit Rose-Anne Bouthillier, concours 2018


From the hidden elegance of an insect to the vast expanse of the starry sky, from a child’s gaze to the river’s stately flow, let your eye (and camera!) be captivated by the Mont Saint Hilaire Biosphere Reserve’s diversity and beauty. We want you to photograph the people, landscapes and nature of this area where nature, agriculture, heritage and city life meet and mingle.


Contest rules (Available in French only)

Entry form (Available in French only)


Blast from the past

Lake Hertel 1910


Photo credit McCord Museum Archives, MP-0000.100.B.11


In the past, Lake Hertel played host to all kinds of recreational activities: boat tours, swimming, fishing and more. Later, however, these activities were prohibited to protect the lake, which was also used as the region’s reservoir of drinking water. Since 2005, Lake Hertel has been reserved exclusively for research work.

About our Blasts from the Past
As owner and guardian of the Gault Nature Reserve, we plan to celebrate the university’s bicentennial by publishing a monthly photo in InfoGault. Each photo will capture a moment from the history of this beautiful site.


General public – Free online lecture series


To mark McGill University’s bicentennial anniversary, the Faculty of Science is putting on the Bicentennial Mini-Science lecture series, a monthly series of online lectures open to the public. All events are livestreamed, and there is no need to register to attend.


Upcoming lecture:
September 9, 2021 from 18:00 to 19:00 - Charting a Course to Global Sustainability in the 21st Century, avec Andrew Gonzalez, Professor, Dept. of Biology, McGill University.


The erosion of biological diversity and global climate change are the two great environmental crises of our time. They threaten the sustainability of human society in the coming century.


In this talk, Prof. Gonzalez will present our current understanding of these threats, but will also discuss the opportunities we have to steer a course to a sustainable human society without irreversibly degrading the Earth's biosphere.


Prof. Gonzalez is well known at Gault where he frequently teaches field courses to undergraduate students. He also directs the Large Experimental Array of Ponds (LEAP) research facility, where aquatic communities from lake Hertel are studied to better understand the impact of environmental stressors on freshwater ecosystems.



Andy Gonzalez and students looking at plankton

Photo credit Gonzalez Lab



Faculty of Science Bicentennial Events

McGill Bicentennial





422, chemin des Moulins

Mont-Saint-Hilaire (Québec) J3G 4S6


Telephone : 450 467-4010


Cette infolettre est envoyée à votre demande par la Réserve naturelle Gault. Mettre à jour vos préférences ou vous désabonner.


This message was sent to you by Gault Nature Reserve. Change your preferences or unsubscribe at any time.