64. Westmoor Park

Crying Fowl
West Hartford
(Google Maps Location)
Multiple Visits

64ff.jpgThey say: “Westmoor Park is an environmental, agricultural, and horticultural education center dedicated to generating awareness and appreciation for the natural world. The park encompasses 162 acres and includes a diversity of natural habitats.”

I say: Westmoor Park is three minutes away from my house (having the distinction of being the closest CTMQ attraction in the state to homebase) and there are a bunch of farm animals for Damian to look at. We actually visit this place every couple months just to walk around and give Mama a break. So this report is sort of a hodge podge of visits to Westmoor, and also to the other Westmoor property down Mountain Road, Spicebush Swamp.

64bb.jpgThey say: “A particularly popular attraction is the park’s demonstration farm, which is home to a variety of barnyard animals.”

I say: Isn’t that what I just said?

They say: “There is a large garden area devoted to seasonal flower beds, as well as herb and vegetable gardens, and three miles of nature trails (one-half mile of which is handicapped accessible) that encourage visitors to explore the park throughout the four seasons.”

I say: When there are goats and piglets, who needs an herb garden? But then they tell me:

64x.jpgThe Perennial Garden is located behind the main building and has a lovely canopy of dogwoods, crabapples and azaleas. This garden has a beautiful display from the spring season into the late fall. It is a nice place to sit and look at the combinations of trees, shrubs, and perennials.

The Hummingbird and Butterfly Garden was planted after we were awarded the Wildlife Habitat Project Grant in 2002. It is designed so that the public can enjoy the native pants which attract hummingbirds and numerous butterflies here in Connecticut.

64u.jpgOkay, so let’s go check that out. The pictures of Damian outside here were from mid-July on a 95 degree day. Yes, it was hot. But we didn’t mind as we ambled across the grass to check out the gardens. There are a few distinct gardens here, beyond the ones mentioned above.

There’s a “Toad Garden” which supposedly offers shade to toads. I have about 20 toads in my “gardens” at my house, perhaps they’d like a few more? There is also a “Five Senses Garden,” which is a pretty neat idea. It has things like plants with seed pods for sounds and lamb’s ear for touch. But enough lamb’s ear plants, let’s go touch a real lamb’s ear.

We skipped the trails and woods for this “picture day,” but I’ve walked the grounds before and they are pretty nice. Nothing spectacular, but a pretty cool little oasis of sorts right in town here.

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You can almost see the heat and humidity.

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Look closely at the back of his head. This was taken in the Japanese Beetle Garden, apparently.

The farmyard is open for all from 9-4 every day of the year except for holidays, which for us, again, is really handy. On hot summer days, like this one, there are plenty of high-powered fans blowing loudly in the barns. I do believe this may have been Damian’s favorite part of the day:

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This is a joyous expression, in case you were wondering.

The farmyard is pretty much the same as all the rest in the state, but it does have a bunch of informational signs hung all over the place. Some are done by the park staff, whereas others have been donated by kids which adds a unique touch.

Their website offers little tidbits about each animal on the farm, which I’ve taken for my captions:

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“Star” is another favorite at the farm, always hungry, and always looking for love! Star is pretty famous around these parts – she loves the camera! Star is a Jersey dairy breed of cow.

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Serafina is our all-white llama, who has a distaste for authority. Sera likes to babysit our baby animals in her spare time.

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Our horse Ginger is a breed called the Haflinger, a horse generally used for pulling carts or riding. At Westmoor, Ginger’s job involves being groomed by kids in our programs, and munching on pasture.

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Charlie, or “So Cute!” as he’s known to his moms at the park, is another kitten rescued with the help of West Hartford Animal Control. Born in June 2007, his favorite things to do are lounge in the sun, be cuddled, and follow the older cat around. (Seen here in summer and winter.)

These people also name each of their extensive collection of various ducks and geese and other poultry. While I can’t be sure, as it’s obscured in this shot by Damian’s big head, but I think it was “Tallulah” the Toulouse Goose who gave this entry its title, “Crying Fowl.” You see, right after this picture below was taken…

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The dang thing bit Damian’s finger. He cried and cried and thus ended our visit that day to the farm (we were pretty much done anyway), but he got over it once in the car.

64cc.jpgThey say: “The education center at Westmoor Park features an exhibit area, a nature discovery room, and a heated greenhouse. There is also a spacious meeting room available for classes and community use. Westmoor Park is maintained by experienced staff with backgrounds in biology, natural sciences, and agriculture. Their commitment to quality interpretation has helped the park achieve its reputation as one of the finest environmental education centers in the state.”

I say: Great! And Damian and I couldn’t be happier to have this resource so close to home. But what’s this about a “discovery room and a heated greenhouse?” Yes, though only open on weekdays, this place also has a little room filled with animals and some other stuff to see.

64-c.jpgI took my camera with me on a late fall day after Damian had some appointments. We were greeted by the cat who hopped up onto my lap much to Damian’s chagrin. There is a large room here called the Hunter Room which houses a really cool boa constrictor in the corner and a large glass-windowed wall for bird feeder viewing.

But the Discovery Room itself is a small affair, with maybe 10 animals in it. My pictures are, as always, awful because I didn’t feel like setting the flash on for my own dumb reasons. Despite all the cool live animals here, Damian seemed to enjoy the site of a stuffed raccoon in a fireplace the most. That’s my boy.

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There was an assortment of turtles including painted turtles, box turtles, spotted turtle, wood turtle, and also a Russian tortoise. The Discovery Room is also home to three Leopard Geckos, native species of the Middle East. These nocturnal lizards eat lots of crickets and mealworms, and have a very unique feel to their skin.

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This Australia native lizard has the coolest tongue around! The blue-tongued skink likes to eat lots of fruit and vegetables, and sometimes bugs. Ringo’s favorite food is, of course, the blueberry.

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Our hand-raised albino corn snake is a great addition to our educational programs. This friendly snake is native to the southern and central United States, and as a small constrictor, Corny eats only mice.

Aside from the reptiles, there is also a guinea pig and a beautiful little parrot.

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A type of small parrot, the Sun Conure is a very sociable and colorful bird native to Mexico and Venezuela. Penny eats a tropical seed mix, in addition to fresh fruit like grapes and melon. Although Penny cannot speak English as some parrots can, she entertains with a loud squawk as a greeting. She also enjoys dancing to country music.

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The Guinea Pig was originally native to South America, but is now a common house pet! Sundae is a long-hired breed of guinea pig, who is very ticklish! She eats guinea pig chow, fresh lettuce, and hay, and will sing her silly song for a carrot or grape.

In addition to the animals, this little room has some fun activities for little kids, including a wall with velcro stick-on vegetables which we both enjoyed a bit.

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Westmoor also has a little seasonal gift shop which happens to sell Westmoor’s own honey for a mere 12 bucks a pop, which is a bit steep. But at least it reminded me of a word I used to know: Apiary.

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We walked back outside through the little greenhouse which was just that – a little greenhouse. Damian did touch every plant on his way out the door for good measure.

Another visit:

On another visit during, I think, Westmoor’s Family Day, Damian and I got to see a few things we’d never seen before. Sure, giant chickens are one thing, but the antique farm tool room and another secret display of old tack equipment got us both pretty excited.

Excited enough to climb a fence!

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Spicebush Swamp

spicebush-swamp.jpgBut we’re not done! You see, about a mile and a half away down Mountain Road is a little park called Spicebush Swamp which is actually somehow also part of Westmoor Park. Who knew? Probably no one in town other than me. This little piece of land is really sort of lame. There is a nice little pond there which is open for fishing only to kids under 16 which is a nice concept. But the trails behind the pond are really poor and just INFESTED with mosquitos during mosquito season.

Also, this place (being a swamp) floods every time it rains more than a drizzle. It’s always muddy and soggy and, well, like I said – it’s just not a fun place to spend too much time in my opinion.

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So… shouldn’t it be “Spicebush Marsh?”

I just had to include that last bit for completeness; the ponds, trails, and creek at the closer Gledhill nursery are more fun anyway.

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Spicey Bushy Shadow Thumbs-Up!

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Cost: Free!
Hours: Barnyard: Yr-rnd, 9-dusk, Discovery Rm: M-F 9-4:30, Westmoor: Always
Food & Drink? Harry’s Bishops Corner – My local favorite!
Children? Of course
You’ll like it if: You name your poultry
You won’t like it if: You get bit by said poultry
Freebies: None

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For the Curious

Westmoor Park
Spicebush Swamp
Apiary
Gledhill Nursery

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2 responses to “64. Westmoor Park”

  1. Helen says:

    I love Westmoor Park so much! It is my favorite place to visit, such a great place to have here. FYI the goose in the picture is “Doc” (a Canada Goose) and there are plenty of signs discouraging children from petting the animals so as not to get bitten. “Doc” is not a domesticated bird so doesn’t know not to bite young children. They also have a new website which is so much better than the old one. http://www.westmoorpark.org

  2. Steve says:

    Haha – good point Helen. I guess I wasn’t clear that A) I was a derelict parent regarding “Doc” and B) Damian doesn’t exactly follow directions. He was fine though so I guess I could say no harm, ahem, no fowl.

    And thanks for the head’s up on the new site; a massive improvement for sure!

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