Belmont in January 2019

Last week, I attended a lecture for Howard County Conservancy volunteers at the Belmont Carriage House – arriving early to walk around a bit before the lecture. There was still quite a lot of snow on the ground.

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I stayed on the cleared roads until I made the trek up to the old cemetery.

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The old tulip poplar looks even more ancient in the winter with all the hollows and bark injuries more clearly visible. It had a lot of seed pods from last season just as the younger trees do.

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One of the people I was hiking with pointed out an ash tree on the Patapsco Valley State Park side of the cemetery that had evidence of emerald ash borer (the lighter color on the bark). This tree will have to be cut down before it falls on the cemetery taking down fences and stones.

On a positive note – the hemlocks in the cemetery seem to be thriving. A few years ago they were infested with wooly adelgid but they were treated and it seems have saved them.

The wind must have ‘pruned’ the holly in the cemetery. A branch was draped from one of the headstones – no footprints in the snow around the headstone.

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There were lots of deer tracks in the snow as we walked up to the cemetery and back. We didn’t see any rabbit tracks. Maybe a coyote?

We circled back along the row of white pines. The snow stands out even on a very cloudy day.

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It was time to head back. I stopped near the mailboxes to take a picture of the pond with the bald cypress standing just to the left of it. It does have a classic cypress shape but if I wasn’t familiar with the tree, I’d have to hike down to the pond and see the cypress knees that surround it for a definitive identification.

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2018 Belmont BioBlitz – part 1


I’ve been volunteering for the Howard County Conservancy’s Belmont BioBlitz field trips since they started in the fall of 2014. We had a 3-day BioBlitz this week with students coming from 2 schools. On the first morning the day started out foggy and stayed cloudy. While we were waiting for the buses to arrive with the students, I took some pictures.


The horse chestnut tree was blooming although the blooms were past their prime and some had fallen to the ground already. I took a picture of one with the macro lens on the cell phone.


All the vegetation was covered in water droplets. Even grass seeds look like little works of art with the droplets.


The buses came up the tree lined drive. There are more gaps in the tree line now that the ashes have been cut down.


We headed back to our assigned ‘zone’ in the woods – finding white pines along the way to document and then a box turtle and violets gone to seed on the forest floor.

Stay tuned for more BioBlitz finds in tomorrow’s post.

Tree Cookies

I was in a class recently that included looking at some labelled tree cookies – for trees that are relatively common in our area. Each one is about a foot across. I photographed them to study on my large computer monitor.

Some of them have split as they dried and the saw marks are still visible…but the rings show through reasonably well. They would probably show up better if the cookies were sanded a little. There is something unique about each one: the sugar maple looks light colored throughout; the dogwood has wider dark marks (reddish in color) and they don’t appear to be concentric further away from the center); the cherry has a dark center; the white pine shows come places where branches come off and this cookie has the most clearly visible rings all the way out. It is possible to count the rings out from the center to determine the age of the tree when it was cut done.