Updated Post / June 8, 2014:
“Water is the driving force of all nature.” —Leonardo da Vinci
Folks who visit May Watts Park this spring will find this family of geese with 13 goslings growing naturally on grasses and insects while their parents teach them to swim and fly. It’s entertaining to stand on the footbridge to watch the shoreline, inhabited by many other waterfowl including ducks, geese and herons right here in the center of Naperville, Illinois!
Note the goslings with their fluffy gray down have yet to show all the familiar markings of the adult Canada Goose with its black head and neck, white chinstrap, cream-colored breast and brown back.
In recent years, the local goose population has increased in the city’s local parks with retention ponds, just a decade or two after nature lovers intentionally introduced the protected “giant” Canada Geese to natural settings. The honkers can be aggressive during mating and nesting season, especially if you’re walking a small dog. (We know from experience. We’ve been chased by a hissing goose.) Today the waterfowl often are considered pests because of the messy droppings they leave behind on sidewalks.
To help the ecosystem, allow geese to find nutritious food without the help of humans. Thanks for never feeding geese and ducks bread crumbs of human snack treats. Respect them to find natural grasses and insects on their own. Watch them.
Original Post / June 1, 2014: School’s almost out for some! School’s out for others! Then what’s a young person to do all summer long?
For one thing, all that focus on lifelong learning can come into play in neighborhood parks.
Buddy up and discover that choices abound to explore the great outdoors right outside the front door. A casual walk around the block provides many opportunities to enjoy the beauty of nature from one neighbor’s bountiful flower garden to the next. Pay attention as seasonal flowers change, the days grow longer until the first day of summer on June 20, and then begin to become shorter again through the dog days of summer. Not only can you watch gardens grow, you can watch geese grow!
In Countryside and West Wind, May Watts Park provides a natural habitat for waterfowl and plantings. Nature lovers and wannabees can sit on the banks to observe wildlife at work and play, all thanks to a recent Shoreline Maintenance Project by the Naperville Park District.
Explore with magnifying glass & nature handbooks
For full enjoyment, perhaps purchase a large magnifying glass and handbooks with photos of Illinois wildlife, birds, plants, trees, wildflowers. Search to find the wide variety of plants and animals that grow freely in nature right here in Naperville. Investigate up close to see what other living things might be moving in a bright yellow flower or on the bark of a tree with a diamond or shaggy design.
Check off and/or record the different species of flowers, grasses, trees, insects and birds when you locate them. And look up toward the sky, too. It’s likely you’ll discover a Great Blue Heron standing tall on someone’s rooftop or flying overhead.
Learn the different types of trees by their distinguishing leaves and bark. Identify ash trees and try to determine their health in these days of the dreaded and pesky Emerald Ash Borer. A report recently noted that most Americans can identify dozens of logos for sneakers and other sports memorabilia, but they’re unable to name five species of trees. Think about it.
On June 1, a trek along the new May Watts Trail provided an hour of peace and quiet while watching young anglers fish and several families of geese feed, swim and meander through the high grasses. More than two dozen geese and their goslings found nourishment without needing any help from humankind. (Editor’s Note: If only well-meaning people would understand that feeding wildlife is harmful both to the very ducks and geese that are overfeed from every kindhearted person who tosses them bread and other snack foods as well as the environment. Feeding geese and ducks interferes with their migration, creating over population.)
Buddy up & clean up for safety
For public safety, remind young people always to be accompanied by an adult and/or to use the buddy system when they explore parks, streams and forest preserves. If a picnic is part of the plan, always clean up afterward and dispose of recyclables. Never feed leftovers to the waterfowl or leave foodstuffs behind for other critters.
Every season brings opportunities to teach youngsters and adults the beauty of nature right in their own neighborhood.
Many ponds and quarries have fishing piers such as ones at Lake Osborne. May Watts Park and the Riverwalk. Using a variety of bait (corn, worms and dandelions), these local fishermen said they’d caught and released bass, catfish, bluegills and sunfish—and they weren’t ready to quit after 2.5 hours when their mother thought they would be.
Day trips to the Riverwalk, Seager Park, Springbrook Prairie, West Street Garden Plots and Knoch Knolls Park also are free for discovery 365 days a year. From now through Labor Day, Centennial Beach also offers a unique experience to enjoy outdoors.
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Click on any photo to enlarge. Thanks for reading. Go with knowledge.