The hike last week with summer campers at Howard County Conservancy’s Belmont location was about plants and animals of Maryland through history. I thought of using the barn whose walls are stones from the are to start off with geology but decided that opted to stay with plants and animals.
We talked about trees we see at Belmont today that were here when the Europeans arrived (like oaks and tulip poplars and beech and holly and white pine)…new ones (like gingkoes and English Elms and dawn redwoods that have been planted as landscaping trees). We also talked about trees that are missing like American Chestnuts and Elms; more recently the ashes have been cut down and the few remaining hemlocks are struggling.
We talked about animals like deer and fox and rabbits that we still sometimes see. We looked for signs of the overpopulation of deer – noticed that the deer don’t seem to like holly but that other trees tend to not have any branches within deer reach! We were looking for signs of things as we hiked – and feathers are always a favorite…evidence that birds are around. On one hike we found a dried mushroom with the gills still visible underneath the cap; some of the campers have observed mushrooms in their yard and shared their observations.
We saw a lot of dragonflies in the air over the meadow and talked about how the insects had gotten smaller over time…a hold over from last week’s camp theme: fossils.
It was a good morning hike!