It has been a real adjustment coming to the Nature Center these last few months, with only the sounds of our live animals and no visitors. The ‘business’ of Marshy Point has temporarily changed—from trying to bring groups together in nature to having to keep people apart.
Instead of a frenzy of field trips, special events, and other programs, the days involve caring for our animals, checking on various parts of Marshy Point Park, and maintaining our trail system. The trails have seen a fair amount of use lately.
This new daily pace has given me more opportunities to really observe and appreciate my surroundings. When checking trails, I often bring along a camera to take some photos of the changing seasons.
Late Winter saw some of our last public programming before the Nature Center closed as part of Baltimore County’s effort to minimize crowds and public gatherings due to COVID-19. Maple Sugar Time took place in late February, as Winter was beginning to give way to Spring. The nights were below freezing and the days were warm enough to get the sap flowing. This was also ‘mud season’ when there is sometimes snow, but not this year. At that same time, wood frogs and spring peepers were beginning to migrate to wetlands to call their mates and lay eggs.
In early March, the spotted salamanders joined them. Amphibian activity continued to increase through the month, and by the end of March, pairs of wood ducks were also a frequent sight on Dundee Creek. Around that same time, an osprey pair—including at least one of the same birds from last year—claimed the Dundee Creek osprey platform.
Skunk cabbage has also pushed its way up through the mud and fanned out its enormous leaves. Jack in the pulpit, may apples, and different kinds of ferns have made their appearances as well. Tree swallows returned and bluebirds selected the nest boxes that suited them just so. Caspian terns passed through on migration and least terns returned for the Summer. And I just heard about an oriole sighting on the other side of the park.
So, take things as they come, slow down, and watch the seasons. Nature tends to find a way, and no matter how much we might think otherwise, we are part of nature too.