Three Water Birds at Centennial Park

Last week my husband wanted to try out some new camera gear and decided to do it at Centennial Park. I tagged along to do some photography myself.  The lake is settling into winter.

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I saw three birds on the water.

Canada geese were the most numerous although still a smaller number than I often see. The water was high in the lake and   the stone jetty near the boat launch (closed for the winter) was partially submerged. A goose stood on one – like a game of ‘king of the hill’ with the other geese.

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There was a female bufflehead was periodically visible. Buffleheads are diving ducks that are very hard to photograph while they are feeding.

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I managed to capture a sequence of the bird just after it surfaced…and then it dove again!

The third bird I saw on the water was a female common merganser. This bird was not feeding but quickly swam further away than I could follow with my zoomed lens.

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That was it – less that a dozen Canada geese and then two lone ducks!

Walking back toward the car, I photographed some old birds nest fungus. There were still some ‘eggs’ in some of them…but probably thoroughly dried out by now.

There was also a very robust lichen on a dogwood tree. With all the extra rain we have recently the lichens and mosses are bigger and brighter than usual.

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Mushrooms at Centennial Park

On the foggy morning I spent at Centennial Park last week, I found some tiny mushrooms in the raised bed across the pathway from the boat rentals. They were growing in the mulch and were ‘fruiting’ because of the very wet conditions we’ve had recently. Some were very hard to spot because their color’s were not that different form the mulch – and they were small. I stood far enough back so that I could use the zoom to photograph them without climbing into the mulch.

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There were some birds nest fungi that were mostly empty nests although a  few of the ‘eggs’ were still nearby.

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My favorites were brightly colored like these very small red mushrooms (note there is a centipede just to the left of the mushrooms).

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My favorites were some tiny orange mushrooms with yellow stalks and edges. They seemed to be glowing – standing out in their drab surroundings.

I walked over to some pine trees near the parking lot while I waited for my husband to finish his brisk walk around the lake. There were some larger mushrooms coming up through the pine needles.

Family BioBlitz at The Howard County Conservancy

The Howard County Conservancy hosted the Maryland Diversity Project last Saturday and I volunteered to help with the public part of the program that had families spending the morning photographing and recording the plants and animals at Mt. Pleasant.

Caterpillars seemed to dominate our finds: young milkweed tussock moth caterpillars as well as large Monarch, black swallowtail and orange striped oakworm moth caterpillars. There were also autumn tent worms.

We also saw a millipede, insects mating, a spider guarding a large egg sack…and a carpenter bee (male) that was lazing on a Joe Pye weed.

Near the end, I saw the birds nest fungus growing on mulch near the nature center. I was pleased that our group – which included a young child – all had fun and enjoyed our finds!

The slide show is in hike order….enjoy!