Shortly after 6 AM yesterday morning, I came to Brightwood Park. The rising sun sprayed golden light into the pond. The sky and the clouds were like a kaleidoscope. You have to keep watching to appreciate the rapidly changing patterns.
A duck family had already woken up and started its morning exercise. The seven chicks are now down to five. I have reason to believe two along with other disappearing ducks were taken into the water by turtles. In the past few days I heard several times of ducks screaming followed by a sudden silence.
I was joined by Claudia Cuca for an adventure walk. While we passed the bridge and exchanged our concerns about the expanding green and oily film (of algae?) in the large pond (feeling like someone kept pouring greening paint into the water), a bright spot appeared. It was a beautiful bird standing on a tree branch a distance away, combing its feathers and showing off its beautiful tail. At first look we thought it was a blue jay. With Caludia using her binoculars and me zooming my camera, we concluded it was not a blue jay but a male belted kingfisher. A female one would have had a colored "belt" on the belly.
As I shared before, Brightwood Park is a place of many wonders. It is "like a box of chocolates". "You never know what you are going to get" (borrowing the line from the movie "Forrest Gump"). Everytime I come to the park, the box is never empty and the chocolates are always wonderful and tasty.
Saturday morning in the park... A jumbo MD-11 jet flew by around 8:30ish. In the old days it was one of the two largest passenger jets. Despite the safety problems of its predecessor, DC-10, MD-11 is still a major model used by FedEx and UPS and dominates the sky, whereas its Boeing counterpart 747 has almost completely retired and disappeared in the sky.
The butterfly weed flowers in Rob's garden are turning from juvenile stage to young adult, just in time for a pageant walk in a beauty contest.
It is always a pleasure to see a duck family with all the babies safe and happy from one day to the other. This morning the mallard duck family was having fun going around on a self-guided tour. It appears there are less predators in the park this year. The wood duck families were not as lucky, despite being more alert. Last week I heard a screaming noise of a wood duck by the shrub not far away from the dam, after which the count of the original 11 dropped from 8 to 7. I checked around and saw no signs of land animals. It remains a mystery where there can be an attacker in the water.
More and more spiders are opening stores for business in the park. The owners took full advantage of using morning sunlight to beautify their presentations. If I were a judge, it would not be an easy job for me to give a score to determine which one wins an award. I found that spiders are remarkable "web designers". Some of the webs appeared to have no specific pattern and looked more like a meteor shower. After I examined them carefully, behind the "random coils" I saw beautiful patterns hiding behind, which reminded me of "alpha-helices" or "beta-pleated sheets". Forgive a retired biochemist for using the terms of describing protein secondary structures.
Speaking of using (or abusing) my scientific vocab, the spider web pictures sometimes made me think of the images recorded by James Webb and Hubble telescopes. If you are an astrophysicist, I hope you will laugh at me rather than feeling insulted and getting mad. 😁
Everytime I took a walk around the large pond, I was prompted by the layer of trees in my sight to pause and take a few pictures. Like my silly analogy of comparing spider webs to stars and the universe, I sometimes said to myself, "Once you have discovered Brightwood Park, no need to covet going to famous national parks." My wife and I feel so blessed to live in Westfield and being close to Brightwood Park, and of course, Mindowaskin Park, too. Sometimes we joked to each other that the two parks can be treated as our front and backyards. In case you think we have a strange sense of humor, here is another one for you to either frown your eyebrows or to laugh. When we were first married, both of us were graduate students. We lived in an apartment near Santa Monica Beach. I told my wife that although we could not afford to have a single house and a spacious property, the Landlord actually generously provided us with a huge yard, Palisades Park, and a big swimming pool, the Pacific Ocean, with no extra charge to our rent. There was no need for us to be jealous of those who lived in Beverly Hills. 😊
Summer appears to be a time for many creatures to present their best appearance. On Wednesday when I had a break in the afternoon I took an adventure in Brightwood to check out how the plants and the animals are adapting to the heat wave. The first thing that caught my eye was the bright yellow flowers of partridge pea in the mini-garden opposite to Rob's Demonstration Garden. They looked like ducklings or little angels, dressed in yellow outfits and flapping their little wings.
Next, I came upon two turtles kissing each other. I tend to think they were a mother-child pair.
Frogs are usually shy and jump away or dive in water when people or animals approach. There were a few who did not move a bit even when I was within 3 feet. I felt special. I took pictures of several of them. The ear region of the first one reflected the sunlight and glowed in multiple colors Another one had a ghost face to the right of its own, likely a special effect as if in a scene in a fairy tale.
Chipmunks are my favorite models, too. When they are not busy, they can be curious and stare at me for a long time.. I just wish I had a way to show them how pretty they are in pictures.
If Shakespeare had composed a play of "Dream of a Summer Day", dragonflies would likely be all over the stage. One can see many different kinds of this family of insects in Brightwood Park. I saw a dark-colored one standing on the v-shaped tip of a branch, and looking like a ballet dancer. A red-colored dragonfly bowed at me on a leaf, then followed this act by dancing around. At one point the beautiful creature took a break to allow me to take its taking portrait photo.
A green heron apparently did not want to miss the beauty contest. For photographic session, the bird wanted to look cool and presented like a Ford Mustang or a jet fighter.
The sun rays and cloud pictures were taken on my way home. How can a contest run without stage lights!
I walked in the park early Thursday morning. When I was passing the meadow area, next to the pollinating patch I thought I saw a shoe left by someone. When I took a closer look, it turned out to be a turtle mom delivering her eggs. After finishing the delivery and covering the cave, the turtle headed for the pond. On the way the turtle took a peek over the fence of Rob's Demonstration Garden. The beautiful flowers of butterfly weed not only entertained human visitors but also were appreciated by the turtle. Seeing more people walking dogs nearby, fearing the dogs might go after the turtle, I held the turtle and took her to the shore. During the course I queried the turtle how she handles the situation of being in an upside-down position. The answer was "no sweat!" I marveled at the swiftness of the creature's maneuver. After saying farewell to each other, the turtle returned to the pond.
In this park I have seen turtles laying eggs before. This is the first time I saw one traveling a long-distance, all the way to the stone dust-covered trail and digging holes for laying eggs.
At the shore I found two more places where eggs were freshly laid and hidden by other turtles. Next to the additional delivery rooms, nature gave a celebration by decorating the place with purple loosestrife flowers.
The dryness caused tree leaves to turn yellow prematurely and fall into the pond, looking like a shower under the morning sun. Dragonflies did not seem to mind the weather as long as there was still water in the pond. Two of them flew together and made a brief touch-down on a love boat, and then took off for a honeymoon in an undisclosed place.
A mother mallard duck took her 7 newborn babies on a tour in the pond with a wood duck guide.
Spider webs are unfavored in homes. It is a different story in the woods. They not only help to reduce the number of mosquitoes and flies, but offer colorful 3-D art presentations. Watching them vibrating in the morning breeze sometimes keeps me standing still for quite a while.
For quite some time, cosmos dominated the mini-world garden in the parking lot. They are pretty, both from a distance away and at close-in. Everytime I went to the park, I could not help but staring at them, like a high school boy watching young girls walking by. 😊
July 4th was a holiday for both people and animals. The park was quiet in the early morning. Although there were little motion activities, the plants were celebrating on their own. The grasses presented a formation under stagelight provided by the beams of sunlight.
A short time ago, a Cosmos flower appeared in the pollinator garden. This morning I found that more wonders have surfaced in the mini-garden including common zinnia, sulfur cosmos, and cornflower, presenting a beautiful diversity of colors. I was suddenly reminded of the theme song of Walt Disney's "Wonderful World of Color" which I watched every week when I was in my middle school years: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiwfFNxH-rQ. This memory was thanks to the Friends of Brightwood Park volunteers who planted a Brightwood version of a wonderful world of color.
At 6 AM, many animals had already started their day. I saw a duck couple dating. On the side there were four other ducks. The way they lined up was like a sergeant accompanying three soldiers marching, as if serving as guards for a royal couple.
Two chipmunks appeared in front of me. The first one looked a little sad, and the other seemed to be ready to embrace a new day.
It is my hope that my photos will motivate people like you to take good care of the jewel of Westfield: Brightwood Park.
It was a hot day today. I took a walk in Brightwood Park early in the morning. I found a group of ghost pipes. I was amazed that watching them with some imagination I found many human faces with funny-looking expressions.
On my way toward the entrance of the park, a glowing object caught my attention. It was a baby turtle crawling on a log in the water. Its shell was as bright as a light bulb or like a glowing military helmet. It reminded me the days I received basic training as a newly recruited army private. That was exactly 50 years ago!