We are on a roll with parks, lately. If we were down in South Jersey we’d be on a Park-roll egg n cheese? Terrible, I know, but I just couldn’t resist.
Duke Island Park (located in Bridgewater, NJ) is another park that is near and dear to our hearts. The Duke is the perfect getaway when a lunch-time stroll through the lovely office-building parking lot just isn’t enough. It is quite urban; more urban than Natirar, with a different cast of characters. For instance, Natirar’s parking lots are filled with Mercedes and BMWs, while Duke’s lots are adorned with pickup trucks and various vehicles made in the 1990s with missing hubcaps. At Natirar, it is difficult to get a word out of folks, unless you pet their dog. In contrast, the other day at the Duke; a man wearing a Superman T-shirt approached me, wild-eyed, and warned that there is a buck in heat around the corner. A couple hundred yards away, a woman in a heavy sweatshirt rode her bike and rang her bike bell repeatedly, but there was no one near her. I love this park!
But, even in this urban setting, nature abounds! The Raritan River flows through the Duke as it does through Natirar Park. The river section of the park attracts waterfowl, raptors, song birds, and it is a great stop-over joint for other migrants. I remember doing a Citizen Scientist Bird Count for NJ Audubon; truly a great learning experience, despite the one time I almost didn’t make it to the bathroom. An urban setting does have its disadvantages: bathrooms are specific indoor locations. If I were to drop-trou while doing the bird count I may have ended up in Somerset County Jail.
We are lucky to have this place to enjoy and it is great to see people make use of it. Wanderings to the Duke have never let me down – a heck of a place to clear the mind, get a good laugh, hear birds sing, and surprisingly – watch for wildflowers. Spring is just around the corner and I am excited to see early bloomers like the Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica) pop up here as it has in other years.