Maybe I shouldn’t even write this post and give the secret away … Local nature centers are gems. On any weekend, you may wonder: What can I do today to get outdoors? And there’ll be a organized program somewhere where you can hike, kayak, do, make, or learn something. An hour at a nature center piques your curiosity and gives you a gentle prod to get started exploring nature. And, as a bonus, programs often give you an opportunity to play or do something in an area or at a time not usually accessible to everyone.
Saturday was a great example.
“Crack of Dawn” Hike
A group of about 15 early-birds (women, men, kids) gathered at 7:30am at the Anita Leight Estuary Center in Abingdon, Maryland.
The leader led us around the trails looking for tracks & critters. We started out at the shoreline and saw these tracks. Raccoon? And beautiful patterns in the sand.
We spent the next hour or so exploring the trails throughout the estuary center. The leader pointed out different trees, and explained various scientific studies that are conducted there – such as tracking turtles. One student did a study a few years ago & traced the soil to the dinosaur era! We also hiked to one area of the park where we talked about the effects of us humans, how we impact nature — but nature has its way of recovering.
Pics: Frost edging the leaves; gorgeous view of Otter Point Creek
We also stopped by a vernal pool; one that has them puzzled. Though all the conditions seem to be right, it isn’t “productive”, ie. no amphibians/reptiles make it home.
Vernal pools are temporary pools of water, usually formed in the spring (hence the term “vernal”) from winter rains or snow melt. They’re usually devoid of fish, and that’s make then a nice home for frogs, toads, and salamanders in which to breed. But that’s not happening here.
Mmmm, homemade breakfast
The hike was worth waking up early for. But breakfast was also on the agenda. I expected bagels and cream cheese. But it was homemade french toast, fresh scrambled eggs, bacon, fresh fruit, fresh-brewed coffee, juice, toast, and donuts. How can I do this every Saturday?!?!?
View of Otter Point Creek, from Rte 40:
I returned later in the day for “If You Feed Them, They Will Come” – a discussion about the birds you can expect to find at backyard feeders in our local area of Harford County. We also branched out to talking about other local birds – not necessarily ones we’d find at our backyard feeder – such as vultures, osprey, and eagles, and where we’ve seen their nests. It seems we’re always fascinated with eagles.
Lingering at the center, we watched their bird feeder and saw these:
- red-bellied woodpecker
- song sparrow
Being a beautiful day, and enjoying the time outdoors, I capped off the afternoon with another short hike through the woods.