Belmont Field Trips

BioBlitz for middle schoolers and Nature Tales for pre-K – the Howard County Conservancy field trips at Belmont had quite an age range.

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Early in the month before a middle school BioBlitz, a red-tailed hawk sat on the Carriage House roof watching the flurry of preparation below. It stayed until the first groups of students arrived to fly away.

The last field trip of the season was a pre-K group. My station was all about trees. I took a picture of it before they arrived. I’d had pulled some tulip poplar seedlings to show since the nearby sycamore trees that I used to talk a lot about had been cut down (before they fell on a nearby building).  The was the calm before the 56 4-year-olds with their chaperones arrived on 4 buses. I was glad that they came to my station in 4 separate groups rather than all at once! The weather was near perfect…the children thrilled to be outdoors…and a good time was had by all…and maybe they learned a little about trees too. It was a good finale to the spring field trip season.

Mt Pleasant Field Trips

Schools didn’t end until June 21st in our area so the Howard County Conservancy spring field trips were still happening into mid-June! As usual, I volunteered for field trips at both Mt Pleasant and Belmont. Today I’ll share some pictures I gleaned from before the school buses arrive at Mt. Pleasant….tomorrow I’ll do the same for Belmont.

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In late May – I noticed how lush everything was looking: the sweetbay magnolias, the blue flags, peonies, the new plantings around the flower pot people, and the trees along the gravel road toward Montjoy Barn.

By early June the flowers in the Honors Garden, like the columbines, were blooming.

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But the big draw of the Honors Garden – for me and for the children on field trips – were the green frogs in the pool. I would talk to the students before we came near the garden about walking very quietly…not talking…as we approached the pool so that we would see frogs. And I challenged them to find more than 4 frogs (or however many had been seen with my previous group). One group claimed to see 7…but I only saw 6. The pictures in the slide slow below were taken over several mornings before the buses arrived. Green frogs sound a little like a rubber band being strummed. It was fun to share the sights and sounds of the frogs with my hiking groups!

Ten Little Celebrations – May 2019

May has been a busy month with travel and prep for more travel…lots of volunteer gigs and home maintenance too. As usual – it was easy to identify something to celebrate each and every day. Here are 10 that I’m highlighting for the month.

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Plantain chips. I made my own plantain chips using a plantain from the conservatory at Brookside Gardens. It was a spring celebration of Thanksgiving – good food from a local harvest.

Caterpillar on the hickory. I was hiking with second graders looking at habitats…and what lives in them (paricularly insects). When we came to a young hickory tree that had been planted on earth day, it had some holes in the leaves. It was a small enough tree that we could carefully look under the leaves…and we found a caterpillar! It was one of those serendipity momets…the children were pleased with their find and I celebrated sharing their experience.

Clean car mats. My husband and I both took the mats out of our cars and hosed them off – no more salt and mud that had accumulated over the winter! We picked a sunny day so they could mostly dry out in the driveway after we hosed them off. I am celebrating a cleaner car interior.

Good weather for 4th grade field trip. Earlier in May we were having a lot of rain…and I wondered how the back to back field trips were going to dodge the deluge. At this point I am celebrating not having a single rainy day field trip (even thouh I am prepared with a super rain poncho). The 4th grade field trip was a close call….it didn’t rain and we managed to step around the mud puddles.

A whole day at home. Between volunteer gigs and travel, there were very few days that I could just be at home. When it happened – I celebrated the day to recouperate.

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Horseshoe Crabs. I had never seen horse shoe crabs in action like I saw in Cape May. They are recovering after overharvesting….an ancient creature filling its niche in the web of life. Something to celebrate.

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Light on flowers. I missed most of the azaleas blooming this spring…but managed to get some spotlighted in the dappled light along the path near the stream at Brookside Gardens. I celebrated the photographic experience.

Pre-schoolers are Belmont. I’ve only managed to do one field trip with pre-schools so far this season. What fun they are! I talked to them about trees. We pretended to start out as seeds and grow into a forest…then have the breeze ruffle out leaves (fingers)…and then we talked about trees and wind. Some groups fell down in a heap when the really strong winds came! It’s easy to celebrate the outdoors with pre-schoolers.

Rainy day with butterflies – Mother’s Day. It rained on Mother’s Day and the morning started slow in the Wings of Fancy conservatory – the butterflies weren’t very active and there were not early visitors. I celebrated by taking some butterfly pictures with my phone. And then the ramp up of activity began. It became a busy morning.

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White morpho butterflies. The brilliant irridescent blue morphs are probably the most popluarl butterflies in the Wings of Fancy exhibit. I celebrated the butterflies that are new or not quite as common. The white morphos are one of the special ones I’m celebrating this year.

Belmont – April 2019

The Howard County Conservancy spring field trips at Belmont and Mt. Pleasant are into prime time. The two I volunteered for last week had beautiful weather for hiking – almost perfect temperature and dry. I always arrive more than 30 minutes before the students. It’s a short walk from parking to the Carriage House….long enough to get some pictures. Birds that are around: chipping sparrows, robins, and red winging blackbirds. There is at least one resident mockingbird which I heard but didn’t get a picture.

The warmer weather is also causing things to bloom and new spring green leaves to unfurl.

As I wait for the bus, I take pictures toward the manor house, down the entrance road, and down toward the pond. It’s the calm….before the students arrive.

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The students, teachers, and chaperones come on buses and there is a flurry of activity to get the groups sorted into hiking groups and activity groups.

The hikes are about an hour. There are forest and meadows…lot of opportunity for good observations. One of my hiking groups was making BioBlitz observations…documenting a common blue violet blooming in the middle of the mowed path!

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Signs of Spring

Last week, a kindergarten class was the first field trip of the ‘spring’ at Howard County Conservancy’s Mt. Pleasant Farm. The temperature was in the 30s and there was a little breeze – very wintery feeling. The children and I had our coats zipped, hoods up, and gloves on. We hiked and looked for signs of spring….and remnants of other seasons.

We saw daffodils coming up and snow drops blooming…signs of spring. We looked at holly with its shiny green leaves and red berries which is often symbolic of winter. One holly was leaning over the snow drop bed.

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We saw evidence of squirrels around: lots of opened black walnut shells which had been their food all during the winter. We searched the trees for squirrel nests but decided that the strong winds recently must have blown the nests away.

There were some trees that had been cut down recently. We noted that the centers had been rotting which was probably why they had been cut. The largest stump was near the farm house and the children crowded onto it for their teacher to take a field trip picture!

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The children were surprised to see the witch hazel in bloom and learning that it normally blooms in late winter. They saw the brown leaves on the ground and still clinging to the branches of the tree – correctly identifying them as the leaves from last summer/fall.

There was a winter jasmine with buds of all sizes – and a single flower. It was another sign of spring on the way. They were surprised at the different sizes of buds and identified the ones that were about ready to open.

In the old orchard, we looked at the buds on the apple trees and the pear tree – deciding that the pear tree would probably bloom first based on way the buds looked.

By the end of the hike – they were ready for a little warm up in the nature center then back outdoors for a focused lesson starting with looking for animal tracks in the muddy areas.

It was a good start to the ramp up of spring field trips!

Last Fall Field Trip

The last Howard County Conservancy fall field trip was a little later than usual this year – December 4th. It was cold…but not wet as so many of the field trips were this season. I bundled myself up in several layers and took a few pictures of Mt. Pleasant before the buses arrived. The flower pot people are dressed up for Christmas.

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The pines have delicate ‘flowers’ – some of which will eventually become cones.

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Dried seed pods and flowers are all that remains of the gardens…bright colors muted to almost parchment now.

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I like the seed pods that still hold a few seeds.

Most of the students came dressed for the cold and I modified the field trip, so we could all keep our gloves or mittens on. I had two very enthusiastic hiking groups and we kept moving to stay warm! It was a good ‘last field trip’ for the season.

December on the Trolley Trail

The Howard County Conservancy organized a winter hike for its volunteers last week on the Trolley Trail (Trolley Trail #9 near Ellicott City/Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum). We were celebrating the end of another fall field trip season. About 40 people met in the Banneker parking lot and headed out.

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The connecting trail from Banneker to the Trolley Trail was through the forest and very muddy. There was an Osage orange tree that had dropped its fruit recently. Most of the fruit look pristine. When I got home, I did some research and discovered that the fruit is not eaten except sometimes by squirrels. One theory is that the fruit was eaten by large mammals that are now extinct (ground sloth, mammoth, mastodon) and that these animals would have spread the seed. Now the tree is propagated by people for its wood and as windbreaks.

We headed north on the Trolley Trail first. I didn’t take many pictures because I was so busy trying to keep up with the group. It was the same the last time I was on the Trolley Trail in 2015 with my Master Naturalist class (posted about it here).

There was some stream restoration (and maybe something else since there is infrastructure like sewer lines in the streambed) that was active next to the trail.  The stream did look more scoured than the last time we were in the area.

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We reached the end of the trail at the north and retraced our steps…passing the trails to Banneker to continue south on the Trolley Trail.

We got to the part of the trail that was damaged in the last flood. Repair work was not complete, so we stopped before getting down to Ellicott City; I turned around and took a picture back along the trail. The asphalt of the trail was damaged by the flood; the asphalt edges were uneven, and pieces were missing.

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There were bright green Christmas fens on the cliff to the right

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A little further back up the hill, winter trees looked good against the sky. It’s easy to pick out the sycamores this time of year.

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A waterfall was scenic rather than roaring. I thought more about what it must have been like during the flood to sweep away asphalt a little further down.

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We’ve gotten so much rain this fall/early winter that the moss is thick and bright green – like a carpet.

We made the muddy trek back up to Banneker to retrieve our cars…and head for lunch with healthy appetites.

Cold and Blustery at Mt. Pleasant

Last week, the Howard County Conservancy hosted a Weather Conference for representative 6th grade students from 10 middle schools in the county….about 100 students with their teachers.

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It was sunny…but cold with wind gusts up to 50 mph. The plan to have students interact with tree experts while they worked on a large tulip poplar was nixed because of the potential of branches falling with the higher winds.

I was bundled up and outside for most of the conference – directing groups of students to their sessions and directing small groups to the County’s Emergency Services Command Unit. When all was quiet, I took a few pictures. I like the colors of the ferns as some fronds succumb to the cold.

There was a pine cone that seemed to be glowing from within because of the way the sun was shining on it.

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The tulip poplars are releasing their seeds.

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I am always surprised when I see the heron sculpture. I know it’s there but somehow forget.

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There were some small branches torn off by the buses making the tight turn after they let the students off close to the building.

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There were two things blooming: a witch hazel where most of the petals had already fallen (it will be forming seed pods) and some unknown flower that was in the flower bed near the flower pot people. The flower is probably warped by the cold but is still a welcome bit of color in the wintery landscape.

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By 1 PM the students were climbing on buses and the clean up of the big room was underway.

Field Trips in the Rain

Last week, I volunteered for two elementary school hiking field trips at Howard County Conservancy’s Mt Pleasant Farm….and it rained both days! On Monday it was kindergarteners and the ‘hike’ was shorted from 40 minutes to 20 minutes and accomplished in mostly the nature center. We started out on the terrace above the nature center looking out over the Honor Garden…talking about trees with leaves (and looked at leaves on the ground). Then we walked quickly around the front of the building to get to the nature center…and were wet enough already. Inside the nature center there were animal skulls and pelts…seeds and leaves…preserved insects…

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And tree cookies.

When I talk to kindergarteners about tree cookies, I take time to explain what they are…and that they are not to eat! We count the main rings on the Royal Paulownia and then note that the other trees grow more slowly. My favorite is the dogwood because the rings are not as regular the other samples. The children are always enjoy learning about sugar maples…and maple syrup.

The rest of the time that would have normally been hiking was spent observing and hearing about Ranger, the barred owl.

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On Friday, it only sprinkled a little on the first hike with second graders while we were out and about in the meadow. It was a very cloudy day.

During the second hike, it started raining. The children were dressed for the weather and more than half of them had umbrellas. We were in the meadow collecting and analyzing soil samples when it started raining. We decided we’d done enough samples and went to learn about the rocks by looking at an old stone wall. We started making our way back to the nature center by way of the goat and chicken enclosures…noting what the animals were doing (both enclosures have shelters and that’s where the animals were…out of the rain). We stopped briefly at the old stump in front of the farm house and discovered a snake skin fragment. Then we headed in to the nature center to see the living black rat snake (Onyx), a snake we see frequently at Mt Pleasant. They were ready for lunch too!

These were my last elementary field trips for the fall season. Even with the challenge of rain, they were good experiences…for me and for the students.

Hiking with 4th Graders at Belmont

Last week I spent a morning hiking with 4th graders at Howard County Conservancy’s Belmont location. The theme for the hike was how the land has changed from it was all a forest 300+ years ago…to the way it is today with emphasis on the impact of our development of farms and factories…streets and homes.

I arrived early to help with set up. I carried a bag with materials for the terrain model to the table mid-way along the hike and then carried the other bag into the forest for the students to compare aerial photos of the Belmont area.  I took some pictures since I knew once the students arrived I wouldn’t have time for more – I am totally focused on the students while we hike. Some areas in the forest have deep leaf litter and would soak up a lot of water before the water would run off…and right now there are some leaves that are still colorful too.

Coming out of the forest I took a picture of the Belmont cemetery and the row of white pines. I took my hiking groups to the side of the cemetery and talked about the ground penetrating radar that was used a few years ago finding graves under the ground within the cemetery even where there are no markers and also where we were standing outside the fence (lot’s of fun to point out on a Halloween hike) but the conversation also included the idea of shifting of sediment and deterioration of grave markers that might have been made of wood. The pine needles that have accumulated over the years under the pines make the ground feel spongy; that surprised some of the students….and that area would soak up a lot of water just as the leaf litter does – like a sponge.

There was a terrain model that we poured blue liquid over to represent the normal river level…then more blue liquid to be a minor flood (houses nearest the river wet)…up to the level representing the 1868 flood which washed away Elkridge Landing and parts of Ellicott City. The mills never recovered, and towns ceased to exist. The students were surprised to learn that the flood experienced by Ellicott City in 2018 was not that much below 1868 and it was higher than the flood caused by Hurricane Agnes (1972) in Ellicott City.

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Overall – it was a great day for a fall hike with 4th graders!

BioBlitz with 7th Graders

I spent two mornings at Howard County Conservancy’s Mt. Pleasant with 7th graders for a BioBlitz.

Both days were cool and a little breezy. I arrived early enough the first day to take a few pictures of the fall gardens (in the calm before almost chaos)

And to look at the Green Infrastructure Network map again….enough to locate the approximate location of their school and think through how to talk about hubs/corridors in the county.

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I had 11 students and a chaperone for about 2 hours and we found quite a lot. The most exciting – for me and the students on the first day – was a spotted salamander when we rolled over a log.

The brightly colored shelf-fungus and a wolf spider were good finds too.

On both days – one of the students borrowed my macro lens and became a specialist at getting macro pictures. Overall – the students handled being a little cold very well and stayed focused the BioBlitz for most of the two hours.

In the Middle Patuxent at MPEA

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It was a cold morning last week when I headed out at dawn to help set up for another Middle Patuxent stream assessment – this time at the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area which is upstream from the other Middle Patuxent field trips I had done this fall. It was a field trip that had been canceled previously because of high water (see the post about hike I made that day).

The day was cloudy but dry. I enjoyed the hike down to the river.

The water was low enough that we could walk across near one of the riffles without jumping from rock to rock. I was wearing two pairs of socks to fill out my boots and keep my feet warm. My table got macroinvertebrate identification (after we captured them) was set up on a gravel island in the middle of the river. The other two were on the bank further downstream.

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Mayfly larvae were the more numerous critters we found – all sizes. There were numerous good photos taken with the macro lens by the students.

But the highlights of the day were two larger critters. The crayfish was large enough that it had to be in the plastic bin while the hellgrammite fit into the ice cube tray. Photos of these did not require the macro lens!

The group of 60 students managed reasonably well in the cold; it might have been a little warmer at the river level when we were dry. I realized as I walked back up the path afterwards that I was cold but for the two hours I was in the river – I was warm enough and overwhelmingly focused on the experience with the students.

Saturday Hike – Part II

We started down from the Howard County Conservancy’s Belmont Carriage House shortly after 10 AM with 21 hikers. I wanted to make good time for the downhill part of the hike to the Patapsco River in the Avalon area of the state park. I didn’t stop for any pictures. Until we got down to the river.

The water was cloudy with silt and the gravel bars that used to be in the center (where tiger swallowtail butterflies liked to puddle in the summer) were gone. The high volume of rainfall has swept them way. The shallows don’t look so shallow any more.

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I noticed a stand of young sycamores as we started back. I wondered if they were planted or had just come up from seeds. There are not many truly large trees along the river because of the violence of the floods.

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The paths were muddy and sometimes slippery with wet leaves. The rain from the night before was still running off. There were two downed trees across the trail at one point…the leaves on one still looked fresh – like it might have fallen the night before. It was easy enough to go under them rather than over.

We’d had enough dry days that there were some noticeable shelf fungi but none of the brightly colored ‘new’ ones that appear after several days of rain.

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There was a light coating of leaves on the forest floor but a lot of green too.

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We knew were past the half way point going back when we came to the Morning Choice Trail.

There were more signs of trees that had fallen recently. I zoomed in on part of this one when I saw a funnel spider web that looked a lot like an owl!

We came out through the stand of big leaf magnolias and into the trail beside a hay field and thne were within sight of the carriage house shortly after noon. I had my 12,000 steps for the day!

Saturday Hike – Part I

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Last Saturday, I lead a hike from Howard County Conservancy’s Belmont Carriage House down to the Patapsco River. It was a cool gray morning – a good day for a fall hike.

The starlings and male brown-headed cowbirds were busy around the carriage house when I arrived.

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I appreciated the leaf color of the sugar maple near the carriage house since most of the other leaves in our area seem to be staying green on the trees or falling off before they change color

I noticed that the pods on the butterfly weed had opened but the seeds were still tightly packed inside. Perhaps the rain has come frequently enough this year that the white fibers haven’t dried out enough to become the parachutes for the seeds.

That was the calm before the hike. The list of people that had signed up was long – over 50 people. But only 21 showed up. That was large enough and I was glad that another volunteer was available to bring up the rear on the way down and be at the front for the uphill trek.

More about the hike itself in tomorrow’s post.

Cold Hike with 1st Graders

Last week, I hiked with groups of 1st graders at the Howard County Conservancy’s Mt. Pleasant Farm. It was the coldest field trip of the fall season so far – with the temperature in the 40s. On the plus side – it was a sunny day so it looked warmer that it felt.  

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I arrived early to take some pictures before the buses and put on several layers before I left my car. The leaves are still mostly green.

It like the sunshine on the ferns and seed pods.

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There were still a few flowers late season flowers for the pollinators still around or coming through. Apparently, there are still a few hummingbirds although they are usually mostly further south by this time.

There were several other field trip groups at the Mt. Pleasant on the same day: high schoolers down at the stream and a group of babies/toddlers/pre-K children with parents. All three groups arrived in about 30 minutes: the high school bus then the young group in cars that seemed to fill up half the parking lot (a larger informal group that usual) and then the 2 bus loads of 1st graders, their teachers, and their chaperones.

The students were dressed for the weather and enjoyed hiking. We talked about what lives in trees and saw squirrels and their nests….some birds. We saw the domestic chickens and goats…talked about how they stayed warm and what they ate.

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The children found a snake skin on a stump…and the second group saw a very small rat snake sunning itself on an old stump.

Good hikes and activities…then hand washing and a picnic! What a great 1st grade morning!

Common Buckeye Butterfly

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Last Saturday, I was at Robinson Nature Center about noon enjoying the native plant garden near the front of the nature center. When I noticed a Common Bucky Butterfly enjoying some of the fall flowers.

I took pictures from several perspectives. The colors and markings are very distinctive. It has knobs on the end of the antennae and whitish palpi between its eyes. It’s reported to like flowers with yellow centers…and that it what this individual was enjoying.

The entrance of the nature center has a nice display of fall pumpkins and squash.

I had come to the nature center earlier to participate look at macroinvertebrates in this part of the Middle Patuxent – upstream from the location for the two assessment with high schoolers earlier this week. Two differences: 1) no clams at Robinson….lots of them further down the river and 2) we found a snail…didn’t find any downstream. We found more of everything but that could have been the difference between and adult group and high schoolers….and we had more time to do the project.

In the Middle Patuxent – Day 2

Last Wednesday was the second day of the week that I volunteered through the Howard County Conservancy to help with a high school Stream Assessment in the Middle Patuxent River off the Kings Contrivance Loop trail; same location, different high school. The day still started out in near darkness…but then it was sunny!

We set up for the macroinvertebrate identification and quality assessment: collection bins and buckets and nets at the river level then tables with identification and analysis materials to the side of the trail.

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I took a river level picture…much better without the rain – although the temperature was in the 50s rather than the 60s like Monday.

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This time the white board worked very well to summarize the macroinvertebrates the students found and identified.

The students took pictures of the critters during the field trip. I let them borrow my clip-on macro lens. One girl had a very steady hand and took video of one showing gill movement. I took my pictures after the students headed back to school. Here are some my favorites.

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Two entwined netspinning caddisfly larvae and a dragonfly larvae

A lot of dragonfly larvae…different instars and species

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Another dragonfly larvae – one that seems to like this particular stretch of the Middle Patuxent. We’ll see if we find any upstream in day 3.

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Several different pictures of the same damselfly larvae. We use ice cube trays to separate the critters while we are identifying them…they are ‘macro’ but not very big!

Two different kinds of mayfly larvae.

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As I walked back up the hill to my car, I savored the sunny day and the near solitude of the walk.

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The feeder streams still had trickles of water. One neighborhood woman that came by before the students arrived told me that the river had gotten bigger in the 30 years she has lived in the area and walked the trail. The river has dug down through sediment enough that it becomes a roaring torrent when it rains hard and rarely connects to its floodplain.

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I couldn’t resist a fall leaf. Most of the forest is still green. We’re still waiting for fall color!

In the Middle Patuxent River – Day 1

Last Monday, I volunteered through the Howard County Conservancy to help with a high school Stream Assessment in the Middle Patuxent River off the Kings Contrivance Loop trail. It was raining when I left the house before sunrise and continued through the assessment.

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It was starting to get lighter when I arrived at the site and helped to set up for the macroinvertebrate collection and identification.

We discovered very quickly that the white boards would not work in the rain – even if we wiped them off immediately before we tried to write.

Fortunately, the rain was gentle and water still relatively clear. This part of the river is silty…not a lot of cobbles.

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We found quite a few critters. There were at least 3 different kinds of dragonfly larvae; I had never seen the kind with a more rounded abdomen. All the other critters were the more typical ones.

Paper was quickly damaged in the rain. The students took pictures and (hopefully) enough data sheets will survive to make a good composite data set for the class. I took a picture of one of the sheets. The macroinvertebrate analysis done on site showed the river to be in the moderate range.

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The students finished and headed to their buses. As I made my way up the hill to my car, I stopped to look at some of the feeder rivulets along the way (there were bridges although I could have easily walked across these with my boots). There were some signs of erosion along the banks….it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be after our recent downpours.

There were also some colorful fungi. Orange is seen frequently.

There was an area with a lot of shelf fungi on logs. It was so damp that some seemed to have something green growing on them.

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My favorite was nearby – bright red and orange with yellow on the edge.

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HCC Fall Festival

Yesterday was the Howard County Conservancy’s annual Fall Festival at Mt. Pleasant Farm. The day started out cloudy and cool, but it cleared and was sunny in the afternoon. It was a good day to be out and after a lot of rainy days. It was still muddy enough that the hayride was cancelled for the year and there weren’t as many pumpkins, but all the other parts of the festival were ready for the event by 11…and there were a lot of people that came to enjoy the day at Mt. Pleasant.

I volunteered to help with the big map spread on the floor of the natures center. It was a big hit – just as it had been last year. The challenge once a lot of people started showing up was to remind children (and parents) to take off their shoes if they wanted to walk on the map. Nearly all the children wanted to walk on the map.

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I prompted them to find where they lived…and encouraged their parents to help find where they had got to the beach or where friends lived. We figure out how to get from Columbia (where many of them lived) to Ocean City (they they’d gone to the beach) – pointing out the bay bridge that is along the route. Many lived in Ellicott City which was more challenging to find because it is not on the map and the Patapsco River is not labeled. Some children walked the Potomac River or the Appalachian trail…or stood with one foot in Maryland and another in one on of the neighboring states. One boy was able to put one foot in Maryland, DC, and Virginia! It was fun for all ages and many of the adults got into the action as well.

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The permanent map on the nature center floor of the Howard County watersheds was popular too. The Patapsco River (light and dark green watersheds on this map) is often in the news because of the Ellicott City flooding but the Patuxent River drains more of the county.

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After two hours of interacting with the crowds on the map…I was ready to walk around the Festival a little. I headed over to see pumpkin that had been painted. Some had already dried and been picked up, but the ones that were still on the plastic were fantastic.

And a good time was had by all.

Yummy Potluck Lunch

There is always a potluck lunch after one of the training sessions for fall field trips at Howard County Conservancy…and the big day for fall 2018 was yesterday. It’s always a delicious feast. This year I tried to take pictures just before we started eating. There were still a few things to go on the tables! This group of volunteers is cooks and enjoys good eats!

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Note that the desert table has less chocolate than the usual potluck (although there are some chocolate squares around the edge of one of the cookie trays and brownies on the other). And there wasn’t anything with a lot of sugary icing. Cinnamon was a popular spice in the pumpkin and zucchini breads and apple cobbler!

There are always a lot of salads…lean meats. The space at the end of the table was taken by a big pot of stuffed cabbage and some slice French bread just after I took the picture. Note that there were no potatoes or chips! This cohort of staff and volunteers is trending more and more toward healthy eating. Good for us all!

The only downside of these potluck lunches is that I eat too much. This time I planned for it – lunch was the only meal of the day. It was a good hour of conversation and eating…and we all had a few leftovers to take home.