Welcome to the Lake!



Photo of Westtown Lake credited to Pamela Cloud

Good morning and welcome!

My name is Dexter Coen Gilbert, and as a current senior and Lifer at Westtown, I have always been drawn to the beauty of the Westtown Lake. That is why I decided to pursue an independent project where I would photograph and catalog as many species as I could (when I proposed the project I said I would catalog “all” the species, which I quickly realized would be impossible).

As a part of my independent seminar class, I will be posting on this blog roughly once every week. For this first post, I thought it best to outline what exactly the project is, how it is going to work, and what my goals for it are. So, without further ado, let’s dive in!

I, in consultation with T. Margaret Havilland, chose the Westtown Lake as the perfect place to do this project for two main reasons: 1) It has an abundant and diverse amount of wildlife, and; 2) The lake recently underwent a massive restoration project which would be interesting to document as both new and old wildlife return to the area. Once the project was decided upon, T. Margaret put me in touch with Tim Sterrett, a naturalist and former teacher at Westtown. After a few correspondences, he agreed to be my mentor for the project. His blog, Owl News contains fascinating monthly insights into the wildlife around the local area. He knows the campus better than almost anyone, and by the end of the project, I can only hope to know it half as well as he does.

Hopefully, at the end of the project, I will be able to turn over to the archives a completed catalog that contains an original photo and description (including location) of each species documented. That being said, it is a rather monumental task. I am going to focus on keeping two things balanced as they are both of equal interest and importance to me: the photos and the descriptions. For me, as someone who has a budding interest in wildlife and nature photography, the pictures are vital to the overall success of the project as quality is greater than quantity. I will hold each photo to a high standard because, in my opinion, the photos are what will make the catalog interesting to examine. And, if I am successful, the photos will demonstrate how beautiful this part of Westtown’s campus is and how important it is to be explored and cherished by our student body.

The descriptions of each species will be scientific and drawn from outside sources (Audubon Field Guides, Westtown Library resources, and the Internet). They will also include more personal touches, such as the location of where it was seen, and, if interesting, the story of how it was found and the photograph taken (this will apply more to animals rather than plants).

By the end of this project, I hope to have gained insight and knowledge as a naturalist around the Westtown campus and become a better wildlife photographer.

I will end this post now, as I do not want to bore you to death with words! Please tune back in for what will surely be more interesting posts that include my best pictures and any exciting stories I have to tell.

Signing off,


P.S- Here is one of my favorite photos I took at the lake of a red-tailed hawk with a rabbit in its talons. That bird flying by? A blue jay attacking the hawk because it is near its nest.




1 thought on “Welcome to the Lake!

  1. megannuggihalliwesttownedu

    I think it would be really interesting to see what you could capture by putting up an automatic camera that takes photos when there’s movement. It would be cool to see what you may capture!


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