Saturday, April 25, 2015

MD: Expectations Fulfilled! Swan Harbor County Park and Sandy Point State Park

Finally, spring!  The ice is off the wetlands and the willows are greening around the edges. Tufts of sedge and spikes of reed emerge from the flooded edges. The spring peepers are calling day and night. The slow-to-release winter gave us a strange inter-spring this year, a sputtering on and off of warm days punctuated with cold blasts and heavy rains that teased and prodded a full warmth to finally arrive. And things have been coming out!

Northern Watersnake in the wetlands at Swan Harbor Farm, Havre de Grace, MD.

I've been working pretty steadily on my dissertation these past few weekends, so not a lot of time to do my favorite long walks, but I've collected enough lunch walk pictures to stash into this post to show just how exciting spring's arrival has been.  This past week all of our spring's expectations have been fulfilled!

Eastern Painted Turtle, Swan Harbor Farm.

I always make sure to have my camera and backpack in the car no matter where I am. Even on long days when driving to and from meetings can takes hours out of my day, I try to stop for a lunch walk. I've had a two nice days out with my son and saw some things I wouldn't have seen on my work circuit. It's been an adventure capturing a few shots here and there to document the past two weeks.

Muskrat, king of the wetlands at Swan Harbor Farm.

At work at Swan Harbor Farm, the beautiful restored wetlands under the care and management of our local Ducks Unlimited chapter has been jumping with cool things to see and hear. Rails, warblers, snakes, muskrats, turtles, and all the birders coming out to enjoy it! With my office window open now, I can hear the spring peepers voices carry all the way across the fields. It's been hard ti concentrate on my reports, emails, writing assignments, and phone calls!

A birder & nature photographer enters the blind at Swan Harbor Farm.

Yellow warbler in the DU wetlands.

A broody Mallard hen prepares a nest near the DU blind.

Red-tailed Hawk.

Gashey's Creek will soon ripple with yellow perch. Swan Harbor Farm.

Spring Beauties, Swan Harbor Farm

Trout Lily, Swan Harbor Farm.

My son and I ventured over to Susquehannock State Park across the river in Lancaster County to check the overlooks. We took the Rhododendron Trail, the most difficult (black diamond!) trail in the park to enter a remote creek valley. While hiking the rocky trail down we heard two Louisiana Waterthrush calling out. We were able to watch one of them calling from mid-height - so beautiful.

Louisiana Waterthrush calling from the creek. Photo by George Eppig.

Bloodroot. Susquehannock State Park, Lancaster County, PA.

Zebra Swallowtail, Susquehannock SP.

Brown Orb Weaver, Susquehannock SP.

We also spent a day on the Greenway Trail that connects Conowingo Dam's Fisherman's Park to Susquehannah State Park in Harford County, MD. We could see great blue heron on their nests on the islands out in the rushing river.  Bald eagles were everywhere, as were osprey. We got a nice look at a pileated woodpecker and enjoyed the antics of tree swallows and fishing cormorants.

Bald Eagle enjoys a fresh-caught gizzard shad along the Greenway Trail, Conowingo Dam.

Tree Swallows chat with each other at Fisherman's Park, Conowingo Dam.

After a morning meeting in Annapolis, MD, today I took a quick lunch break and walk at Sandy Point State Park. A big storm was bearing down but I jogged out to the marsh and captured a few spring migrants with my camera before the rains came. The water out on the bay was whipped up to a frenzy as the gusts ripped through.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher hunkering in the wind at Sandy Point State Park, MD.

Female Red-Winged Blackbird in the rainy marsh at SPSP.

After a winter of drab ochre it was nice to see this Goldfinch in his breeding colors, SPSP.

Blue Grosbeak, SPSP.

A pleasant but quick walk out to the little marsh before the storm hit at Sandy Point.

So spring is here - at long last! (Even though I've turned the heat back on today at home.) I hope to spend some full days out and about these next few weeks as I catch up on my writing and begin to take my 'play days' away from the desk.  It's been fun though capturing spring as it comes on, day by day, hour by hour. A shot here and there add up to a nice progression of this season's happy appearances!

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