Sunday, February 20, 2011

355 to Watkins Mill-The Urban Hiker

Today was what we like to call a "break in" hike.  After not hiking for a while we adventured to the Seneca Greenway Trail and hiked the section between route 355 and Watkins Mill Road in Seneca Stream Valley Park Unit 1.  The total trail encompasses 26 miles from the Potomac River into Damascus in Montgomery County, Maryland.  The section we hiked is 2.9 miles between the highways and as many sections of the trail, much of the parking is along major roads and is easily accessible. 

Much of the trial is close to Great Seneca Creek which makes for a visually nice hike.  Keep in mind that due to heavy foot traffic the unpaved trails can be quite muddy at times. Unfortunately, the trail is also close to many residential areas so if you are looking to get away from it all this is not the hike for you.  Being close to residential areas also leads to quite a bit of trash along hillsides near residences.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Creature Feature: The Bald Eagle

The Bald Eagle is easily distinguished from other birds by its large white head, white tail, and nearly all black body.  A juvenile may not be so easily distinguished due to the lack of white plumage, but its overall size makes it easy to identify.  These raptors are opportunists and feed on what is available including other birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.  This formerly endangered species was brought back from near extinction when the pesticide DDT was banner.  The bioaccumulation of DDT in Bald Eagles caused the eggs they laid to be brittle and usually fail to hatch.  Today the Bald Eagle is still protected and remains an amazing sight to see out in the field.

Lesser known fact: Most of the time the sharp call of a hawk is played on many television shows and movies while a bald eagle is shown in flight.

To Blackwater and Back Again: A Hiker’s Tale by Francis and Ann

We decided to start our hiking adventures this year by heading off to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.  We headed out Sunday, February 5th around 8 a.m. with sunny skies and a high temperature of 45 degrees. The drive down there took about two hours and took us across the Bay Bridge.  Our first trip there was last summer. 

Blackwater NWR boasts 25,000 acres of brackish tidal wetlands, evergreen and deciduous forest, and freshwater impoundments.  The visitor’s center offers a butterfly garden and viewing station for one of the many Osprey nests.