Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Campus Pond

The literal center of the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) campus is the Campus Pond. This landmark is much more than I had expected when I saw it on the map, and it has quickly become my favorite place to spend my lunch hour.

What could have easily been landscaped with concrete on all sides and a spectacular fountain in the middle is instead a lush shoreline with periodic breaks where people can gaze across the water, feed the ever-present waterfowl, or just enjoy sunbathing. Yes, the trees and shrubs have been largely planted (and some large trees were removed at some point as evidenced by the stumps), but it provides great habitat for humans and wildlife alike.

A flock of cedar waxwings stole berries from a tree overhanging a bench where oblivious students lunched the other day, and I’ve seen an eastern kingbird and red-winged blackbirds as well. There are squirrels of course, and even chipmunks, like this discriminating fellow hanging out on the steps of the FAC (Fine Arts Center) that lies at one end of the pond.

Here is the view the chipmunk was enjoying.

Yesterday I spied this lovely tiger swallowtail butterfly sipping minerals from the mud at the shore of the pond.

Today I met this little cottontail rabbit as I made my way back to my lab.

I look forward to seeing the seasons change on the Campus Pond, and document the diversity of life that huddles around its shores and plays in the water. I will share my discoveries via this blog, of course!

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