Flying Through the Wetlands

Howard and Anne Arundel County, MD.

Sheet 6

Leslie, who did a fantastic job with the initial design, and I, are the process of building a seven-acre created wetland (compensatory mitigation) abutting the Patuxent River, at the Laurel Race Track, and as owned by Magna Entertainment.  The site was once an overflow parking lot in turf.  Pimlico may be moving portions of their operations to Laurel, and Laurel may eventually become the home of the Preakness.  At present Laurel Park is going through significant upgrades, and should rival the best of racing venues in time.


In this photo, the Patuxent River is to the left and the race track is to the right.  The wetland basin, side-slopes and outlet have been constructed and topsoiled (amended with organics), and we added significant patches of large woody debris for habitat.  Narrow-leaved cattail has volunteered as the aspect dominant.  We have been monitoring post-construction hydrology within the basin for one full year, and the basin is saturated to inundated through the majority of the growing season.  We are currently in the process of killing-off select patches of vegetation and will be doing mowing in the next two weeks.

Come this autumn, we will be seeding and planting the site with its permanent vegetation, and to that end, today we mapped all of the open water interspersion areas that will be edge-planted with obligated buttonbush, smooth alder, black willow, possumhaw viburnum, swamp rose, hibiscus, sweetbay and bald cypress.


I pressed through the tall cattail and performed my mapping and measuring, spooking all manner of critters out in front of me.  Green frogs and other herps were everywhere.


First-up was the Green Heron (Butorides virescens).  Having short legs, the green heron loves to perch above the water from an elevated position, while hunting.


Based on observation, this heron was feeding on tadpole morphs.


This Dragon Hunter (Hagenius brevistylus) takes a break, resting on a partially submerged log.


I flushed four different flocks of mallards from the wetland.


The always graceful Great White Egret (Ardea alba) was hiding out in the interior of the wetlands.  He let me get rather close for the photo, but then . . .


. . . once I invaded his personal space, he took off.


What a beautiful flyer!


A resting Common Whitetail (Libellula lydia).

This is going to be a high quality and attractive wetland.  We trust that it will be an amenity to the Park.  We have a future contract with Magna to design a trail system from Laurel Park Station (train stop and mixed-use community) and the race track that will incorporate a riverside walk and canoe/kayak launch, which will require bucking out several fallen trees from the river, so that we have a nice stretch of navigable river for recreation.  We will likely be installing natural history interpretive stops throughout the trail system, including a theme regarding our created wetlands.