Tuesday, January 24, 2023

To Walk a Duck (repost)

By chance, I happened upon this post from my PrincetonNatureNotes.org blog, in which my younger daughter and I took one of our pet ducks for a walk in Herrontown Woods exactly ten years ago, on January 24, 2013. That would prove to be a momentous year, for the Friends of Herrontown Woods would come into being that summer. When ducks are young, they will follow you anywhere, and can walk great distances. This is one of a whole raft of posts I wrote about the ducks we had in our backyard.

January 24, 2013:
Ducks made a surprise entry into our lives this past fall (2012), when our younger daughter began asking to get ducklings. We made what seemed like compelling arguments against. Winters are cold, ducks are messy, and then there's the question of longterm care. To all these concerns she offered answers gleaned from the internet. She broke down our resistance with her persistence, passion, and finally a sophisticated powerpoint presentation that seemed to come out of nowhere.

Youtube's surprisingly rich offering of poultry videos may also have inspired the request to take one of the ducks, which had grown quickly after emerging from the box they arrived in from California, on a nature walk.

This fleet-footed "runner duck" had no problem keeping up with us, and appreciated the occasional puddle we encountered in Herrontown Woods. I didn't even try to teach it the subtleties of winter-time tree identification. It seemed content just to explore on its own.
Happiness is a duck in the lap and a cell phone in the hand.
Despite having scaled the Princeton Ridge and scurried under and over countless fallen trees, the runner duck led the way back past the Veblen farmstead towards our car. Molly, as this runner duck is called, can be described as liking to take long walks in the woods, frolic in the backyard minipond when it's not frozen, and is considering a career in egg laying. Hopefully we didn't violate any leash laws.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Advocating for Safe Bike and Pedestrian Access Up Snowden Lane

The Friends of Herrontown Woods has for many years been advocating for better bicycle and pedestrian access to Herrontown Woods and Smoyer Park. This past week, the last stretch up from town along Snowden Lane got a little safer.

A strip of asphalt was laid down for bikes and pedestrians in front of the Windy Top development at the top of the hill. Though in the original plans finalized years ago, the walkway was only added after the last of seven houses was finally built. 

The portion at the very top of the hill is especially welcomed, since a pedestrian was hit and badly injured there some years back, perhaps due to the limited sight lines at the crest. 

The walkway deadends at either end, however, at the edge of the Windy Top property. Extension to the entrances to Herrontown Woods and Smoyer Park will likely be the town's responsibility. 

And extension of the walkway down to Van Dyke will likely need to wait until the housing development being built on the larger corner property there is completed. 

Even when that happens, there will still be what we call "the gauntlet" that extends from Van Dyke down across the bridge to Overbrook Drive. Building a walkway along that stretch is critical for anyone in the Littlebrook neighborhood wanting to access Smoyer Park and Herrontown Woods in anything other than a car. 

Long ago, Snowden Lane was a charming country road with a little stone-arch bridge over the stream. With all the houses going in, the charm of the narrow road with steep ditches on either side is giving way to a need for safe access to the preserved public recreational lands at the top of the hill.   

One remnant of that distant rural era that we'd like to see preserved and repurposed is the old stone bridge over the stream. FOHW has alerted the town to the existence of the bridge, and is advocating for finding a way to utilize it for bike and pedestrian access up Snowden Lane.