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Category Archives: Nature

Wildflowers in Winter?

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It may be cold outside but inside this Saturday you can be transported. To visions of the flowers that bloom naturally, here where we live.

Are you like me, who just waits for that first carpet of blooms, telling us spring is coming?

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Besides buttercups, and dandelions, what do you know about those perennial flowers (and weeds) that mark the changing seasons here in Maryland?

Do you know what these are?

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Would you like to hear more about the flowers you see in your travels, on your hikes, or your commute?

Come to the Howard County Conservancy Mt. Pleasant this Saturday morning at 10 am for one of their free events. A second Saturday “Wonder Walk”, except that in the cold dreary winter, the walks turn into talks.

Jo and Bob Solem, known to many who are active Howard County birders, are also avid recorders of the wildflowers that grace our area. They are presenting some of their finest pictures and talking about the lure of these flowers.

It may be cold and rainy outside Saturday morning but in the Nature Center, you can think about spring.

Standing Room Only

I love it when the free programs out at the Conservancy far exceed our expectations. Like today.

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Fifty two people. Ten of them little ones. For Frank Marsden’s talk and walk about finding wildlife in winter.

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Frank told us everything we always wanted to know about scat, but were afraid to ask. Like determining the diet from the color, texture and “ingredients” found. Like how grey fox and red fox are different. How we never see grey fox as they sleep in trees.

We went out for a ninety minute hike, looking for signs of wildlife. We did find deer tracks.

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We also found out that our former ground hog habitat, a large number of interconnected holes up in the meadow, have been abandoned by the ground hogs, and are now inhabited by fox. How do we know that? The smell of fox urine, a sure sign that fox have moved in and are marking their territory.

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We had a lovely day out there, even if it was a bit windy.

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The meadows are lovely this time of year, and by taking a leisurely hike, you can find many signs of the wildlife living here. Take a hike some day. There are four miles of marked trails, and with no leaves on the trees, you can see far across the ridges to neighboring towns.

Planning Ahead?

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Just a couple of really interesting programs are coming up next weekend over at the Howard County Conservancy Mt. Pleasant site. Followed by one of the very popular meteor shower watches on the following Tuesday. Here are the details for those planning their weekends in advance.

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Spotting Wildlife in Winter – Saturday morning the 14th at 10am. For the hikers, photographers, and nature lovers who want to learn how to see more during the winter, Frank Marsden is leading a hike through the fields, woods and along the stream out at Mt. Pleasant. Frank has been taking amazing pictures out at Eden Mill Nature Center in Harford County. He is coming into our woods to show us what to look for, and how to increase our chances of seeing wildlife in their natural habitat.

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Then, on Sunday, another very special program. Do you know where Patterson Park is? Have you ever heard of Miracle Pond? Middleton Evans had made over 600 trips to this pond in a wildly overgrown section of the park. His visits, and his amazing photographs, span 15 years. He is giving a presentation in the Gudelsky Center at 4pm on the 15th of November. It should be something special.

Planning to check out the Leonids? Want to do it with some of our talented astronomical experts, like Star Doc (Dr. Joel Goodman) and Dr. Alex Storrs from Towson University? They will be bringing high powered scopes, but on a dark night like the 17th, you should be able to sit back in a lawn chair, bundled up against the cool weather, sipping some hot chocolate while looking for meteors shooting across the skies. This is always a popular event, with many attendees. Sometimes we’ve had over a 100 people out there. They will be there from 10pm until the wee hours of the morning.

This trio of programs should give us a few good reasons to “Get Out There”. Details on the Conservancy web site, under upcoming events.

Nighttime Hiking

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What are you doing this Friday night? How about hiking under an almost full moon, with flashlights?

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Out at my favorite volunteer location, where I spend way too much time having fun (yes, tomorrow I get to chase first graders all over the property on a field trip about owls), this Friday at 7 PM, they are having a flashlight night hike for anyone interested in what is out there in the dark. As an aside, how is that for an epic run on sentence?

What can we see in the dark? What can we hear? If you really want to have a great beginning to your Halloween weekend, go to the web site and guarantee a place. Howard County Conservancy. Mt. Pleasant. Woodstock. If you haven’t been there, you are really missing something. Worth the time to check it out. Your family will love you for it.

Fall Fest is On!

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Tired of being indoors from the rain? Want to get out and have a fun Sunday at the Howard County Conservancy? The festival tomorrow the 4th of October is still going to take place. Minus a few things, like the hay rides. Slippery, wet trails where they usually ride will make it impossible to hold the rides without creating ruts, which encourage erosion.

Besides that change, the rest will still take place. Pumpkin painting. Crafts and storytelling.

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You can visit the animals, including the alpacas from Pearl Moon.

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The square dancers will be inside the Gudelsky Center. The historic farmhouse will be open for tours.

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The blacksmiths will be operating. So will the chair caners, the woodturners, the basketweavers, and more.

The cost. Just $10 a car. Bring neighbors, relatives and friends. The more the merrier. Time is 11am-3pm. Food trucks will be there with waffles, BBQ, and other goodies.

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See you there?

Twilight Hiking for the Family

Out on the Howard County Conservancy trails at Mt. Pleasant. Friday night, 5-7 pm.

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This is the description from the web site.

“Walk through the meadow and along the stream to the woodland campfire ring. Listen to the birds singing at dusk. Gather around the crackling fire and hear legend-stories about the Equinox, sing old-time songs, roast marshmallows, and enjoy s’mores. Hike back in time to watch the sun set over horizon –exactly due west – and hear other interesting astronomical facts about the Fall Equinox.”

You can look for milkweed.

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Or maybe check out all the walnuts that have fallen from the trees along the trail.

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Pre-register if you can, so we know how much food to buy and how many volunteers we may need.

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Loving the fact that we are well into my favorite season around here.

A Triple Header

This weekend. For birders, and those who want to learn about birds. At Mt. Pleasant on Saturday.

Mike Kerwin is leading three different walks to observe bird migrations. At 8 am, the Howard Bird Club two hour early morning walk looking for migrating birds.

At 10 am, a Conservancy sponsored Wonder Walk which is focusing on identifying hawks while looking for birds.

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Followed by an impromptu hang out and watch the hawks in action, as they are very active over the Conservancy property. This is an opportunity to do as much or as little as you wish.

The events are free. After 9 am, the Conservancy building is open for restroom facilities and water.

Mike is seen quite often at Centennial Lake, hanging out over on the southwest side, watching the birds of prey. He is a wealth of knowledge in identifying raptors.

Do you know the difference between a Cooper’s Hawk and a Sharp Shinned Hawk. Mike can show you.

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Come join us. At 8 am with the bird club, or 10 am with the Conservancy. Mike will love to have you there.

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