Naturalist’s Notes

  • As Winter begins to give way to the mud season, the fluctuations between freezing nights and days in the 40s and 50s cause something magical to happen in the natural world. These conditions make maple sap begin to flow and trickle out of any natural or man-made hole in a maple tree. Native Americans took […]

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  • I was going to begin with writing about how anyone on a trip to a park, nature center, or natural area would encounter invasive plants. Then I realized that encounters with invasive plant species could be assured on any trip into the outdoors. In the end, however, I remembered that many of us keep invasive […]

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  • Among all life on earth, amphibians are unique in representing a bridge between aquatic and terrestrial organisms. The word amphibian itself is from the ancient Greek for “two lives.” The current thinking in biology is that amphibians were among the first animals to leave the water and live on land. However, all amphibians are tied […]

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  • February 2015 was the coldest February since 1934. The often-referenced “polar vortex” of last year doesn’t measure up to the cold of February 2015, which left most of the Chesapeake Bay north of the Bay Bridge covered in ice. Such an extent of ice on the Bay has not been seen since 1977! Marshy Point […]

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  • Marshy Point is home to a domestic turkey that wanders the area around the nature center with our chickens, but several dozen wild turkeys also roam our woods. Turkeys are native to the Americas and are one of the few animals domesticated by Native Americans in Central America and the Southern United States. Although wild […]

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  • The blue crab is Maryland’s state crustacean. Blue crabs are a traditional part of Summer for many Maryland residents, but these crustaceans are also an important part of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. These crabs belong to the swimming crab family, meaning that their specially-adapted, paddle-like last leg makes them highly mobile. Unlike many other crab […]

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  • For those of us that live close to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, there are few birds more recognizable than the osprey. Also known as fish hawks or sea hawks—and recognized scientifically as Pandion haliaetus—these large birds of prey are well-adapted to their piscivorous (fish-eating) lifestyle. Ospreys were one of the first birds I […]

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  • There are around 400 bee species in Maryland, but the most recognizable is the European Honey Bee (Apis mellifera). As their name suggests, honey bees are not native to the Americas—they come from Europe, Asia, and Africa. The first documented arrival of honey bees to North America was in 1622 when English colonists brought them […]

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  • Dandelions are starting to show themselves all over the park—a sure sign of Spring. This cheerful little plant has often been cast as public enemy number one by gardeners. However, it was originally brought here from Europe as a garden crop. Its name comes from the French dent de lion (lion’s tooth) and refers to […]

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  • After a long, cold Winter, Spring has begun to awaken the natural world. The loud choruses of some amphibians are a sure sign of a change in season. However, one of our largest and most striking amphibians arrived quietly with the first rainstorm of March. Spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) are members of the mole salamander […]

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