Boyer Nature Preserve is wonderful, mini-wetland that sits in the middle of suburban Westerville, Ohio. The site’s main feature is its stream-fed pond. Although it may look like an ordinary pond, it’s actually very special due to the way that it was formed. During the last ice age, Westerville was beneath approximately one thousand feet of ice (305 m). As the climate warmed, a large fracture formed near the edge of the melting glacier. Once that fracture became large enough, a huge slab of ice separated from the main body of the glacier and landed with a great thud in what is now known as Boyer Nature Preserve. When huge chunks of ice break off a glacier like this, it’s called calving.
It turns out that the immense glacier over Ohio had eroded great quantities of land as it moved south from Canada, and this eroded material became frozen inside the glacier while it was still growing in size. However as the glacier melted and shrank, it released the sand and gravel that it had carried with it. Together this sand and gravel is called glacial sediment. So much glacial sediment was deposited in what’s now Westerville that it buried the calved-off chunk of ice under a thick layer of sediment, and this sediment kind of insulated the calved ice. When that calved chunk of ice eventually melted, the layer of glacial sediments that used to be on top of the ice sank lower and lower as the ice melted. This created a low area that filled with water from the melting ice. A body of water that’s formed in this way is called a glacial kettle.
Boyer Nature Preserve is a small park (11.43 acres) with a small pond (the glacial kettle). However many animal species and over 200 plant species have made Boyer Nature Preserve their home. Let’s start by looking at what’s living in the pond.
One of my first articles here, A Little Bit of Bayou in Central Ohio was about the bald-cypress swamp at Dawes Arboretum. I thought that it was unusual to have such cypress trees growing this far north. Imagine my surprise to discover them growing in the wild here at Boyer Nature Preserve.
In addition to the small trail around the pond, there is also a small trail into the adjoining woods. That’s where I took the photo of the honey locust pod that has ended up on an interpretive sign at Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden (described here). When you look at the photos above, it is easy to forget how small this park is, or the fact that it’s located right in the middle of suburbia. So let me show you a wider view of the pond that I photographed in the winter after the leaves had fallen.
Because this park is right in the middle of suburbia, many people in the neighborhood come here to go for a walk. I often see people walking their leashed dogs (there are no signs saying whether dogs are permitted or not). The dog owners do a good job of cleaning up after their pets. People jog around the pond. Kids also ride their bikes through here. Bird watchers show up with their binoculars. I’ve included photos of waterfowl in this post instead of songbirds because waterfowl are larger and easier to photograph with a point-and-shoot camera. Nonetheless the preserve contains many species of woodpeckers and songbirds.
I want to close out by posting a photo of a sign that used to be installed near the pond. Some of facts that were posted on this sign appear in this article. The sign actually had way more information about the park than the city’s official description of the park as found in this PDF. However one of the downsides of being in the middle of a suburb is that someone succumbed to the temptation to vandalize it, so the sign’s not there now. If you’d like to read the sign, clicking on the photo below will take you to where the photo was published on Flickr. Clicking on it again displays the photo on a page with a black background. On this page in the upper right you’ll see a link that says “View all sizes.” If you click this link there is a large resolution of the photo there that’s completely readable.
And here’s a map that shows where the park is located.