Church Creek

It has been a very cold late March and early April, which in turn has been suppressing wildflower development.  I had a job on a nontidal reach of stream that flows to the Severn River, where I was required to perform a functional evaluation of a formerly restored stream.  Starting work at 8:00 AM, temperatures were at about 30 degrees and it got down into the mid-20’s overnight.


Within our study reach I found both netted chain fern and sensitive fern growing side-by-side, which is atypical, as they would generally grow in discrete aggregates if growing nearby each other.  This is the spent reproductive fruiting portion of the chain fern, with the beads of the sensitive “bead fern” just out of the photo.


The least disturbed areas of the wooded side slopes contained pockets of mayapple.


It got down to the mid-20’s last night, and the radiant heat of the dark soil, in combination with the 52-degree groundwater discharge from the seep, was not enough to keep these skunk cabbage leaves from being frost-bitten.  The loss of turgidity, from being nipped is a temporary response to being frozen.  As I looked at the skunk cabbage seep later in the morning as the sun began to warm the forest floor, I could already see life coming back into the wilted leaves.


A patch of naturalized common daylily.


The unfurling of cinnamon fern, which was a rather large hummock on the edge of the seep area.


Highbush blueberry in flower.  We also saw the bud swell of the native pink azalea along the stream bank, chokeberry too.


The initial emergence of a Solomon seal or bellwort.


Confederate violet.


The renewal of Devil’s walking stick, also known as Hercules Club.


The epicotyls of jewelweed, a common sight along the wetland margins of the perennial stream.


Kidney-leaved crowsfoot in flower.


We saw many in-channel patches of an emergent buttercup (Ranunculus), probably R. sceleratus, OBL, behaving as floating aquatic vegetation (FAV) in the stream.


The fresh swords/flags of iris.


Tent caterpillars growing (instars), at the same rate as the expanding host food source (tree leaves).


A quick review of macro-invertebrates yielded many shrimp/scud in most net sweeps.


A damsilfly.


Occasional pools held mosquitofish (male in the photo), which are native to the southeast.

Although very cold out (low 30’s), privet and bush honeysuckle were well expanded, multiflora rose and Japanese honeysuckle too.  The natives were all popping and the warm days ahead will promote a profusion of ephemeral wildflowers and blooms, as April and May are two of the most exciting months to be in the field!

So how did the functional analysis go?  Many of the in-stream structures were aggraded (buried), as the channel profile has built-up since the time of armoring construction nearly 10-years ago.  The channel had a 100-percent wetted perimeter and no down-cuting or channel widening.