Monday, July 15, 2013

American Chestnut Land Trust and Greenbelt Park

We had friends in town from Georgia this weekend. They are as enthusiastic about getting outdoors as we are, so we made a quick trip to Greenbelt Park on Saturday and a longer trip to the north section of the American Chestnut Land Trust's trails in Calvert County, Maryland. Our friends are birders, which means that we always learn a lot when we hike with them, since we don't know birds very well at all.

Our short walk in Greenbelt Park was definitely a high-reward adventure, considering we were out for less than an hour.  

 We saw a bunch of Green Frogs (Rana clamitans) in a wetland on the west side of the park.
Michael spotted this juvenile Barn Owl (Tyto alba) Barred Owl (Strix varia) in the trees (Thanks to a friend for the correction).  

On Sunday, we drove down to Calvert County for a four mile hike on the north side of the American Chestnut Land Trust. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was an area I wanted to visit. The Parker's Creek (which is, apparently, the last undeveloped stream on the west side of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland) wetlands also promised birds, which it definitely delivered. The trails are overgrown and wet since it has been raining so much. Wineberries and Paw Paws lined the Turkey Trail, which took us down to the creek. Once at the creek, we saw a Bald Eagle! It was too far away for pictures, but not for our friends' binoculars. 

After lunch, we hiked west on the Parkers Creek Trail. Our friends' one-year-old fell asleep in her kid carrier, allowing us to do the whole four mile loop (We were all prepared to turn back when she got tired of the hike). The trail meandered along the creek, past smaller wetlands and little bogs. At the west end of the trail, a little spur goes out to a place where there was an old bridge across the creek. We returned to the car by climbing the Old Parkers Road Trail. It was a really interesting hike through an area that is really different than our usual hiking spots. We didn't see any other hikers, but we did see lots of biting flies and ticks (oh, and today I have evidence of chiggers).
 Wineberries (Rubus phoenicolasius) on the Turkey Trail. These didn't survive our visit.
An unripe Paw Paw (Asimina triloba) on the Turkey Trail. I have seen the flowers of these trees before, but I had never actually seen the fruit.
Geum canadense (White Avens) on the Turkey Trail.
 A spider just starting to encase a fly. Click to enlarge to see it better.
Bog boards on the Parkers Creek Trail. Most of this trail was this overgrown.
Leaf-Legged Bug (Acanthocephala terminalis). One of the great things about hiking with our friends is that she seems to see every bug under every leaf.  We see so many more interesting insects when we are out with them than we would otherwise.
A copperhead on a log on the Parkers Creek Trail. This snake watched us carefully, but never moved to a more defensive posture (I have a zoom lens. We didn't approach it). It was fairly large for a copperhead.
 Parkers Creek at the bridge spur.
 Verbena urticifolia (White Vervain). The flowers on this plant are tiny - about 1/8th of an inch across.
The grain on a beautiful downed tree.

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