A 75-Degree February Friday!

Observations from the Field.


The fall line.  This is the last set of rock outcrops and grade drop on the Piedmont of the Patuxent River in Laurel, Maryland, and is the location of the ruins of a cotton mill dam that was built in 1850.  The river downstream of this location flattens onto the coastal plain at approximately U.S. Route 1.


Alumroot (Heuchera americana).


Cotton mill dam ruins.  The dam was built in 1850 and was 222-feet wide and 27-feet tall, and included a 600-foot mill race from the river.


Alien invasive Italian Arum (Arum italicum) was observed at several locations on the Patuxent River floodplain.  This attractive arrowhead-shaped perennial has become naturalized in several watersheds in Virginia and North Carolina, and hence the warning that it can become invasive.  Reference the following notice:  arum-italicum-2012-ncrepmt


The cotton mill dam was “blown-up” in the 1940’s.


We evaluated trail alignments from our clients property (Laurel Park Station and Laurel Park), and into Oxbow Preserve, a 230-acre MD DNR and Nature Conservancy site, which contains the only natural freshwater lake in the state of Maryland.

A flock of Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) were observed on the shallow oxbow lake.  This native swan can be distinguished from the non-native mute swan that has an orange beak and dark knob on its head.  The trumpeter has a straight black beak with white feathers that form a V-shape on the forehead between the eyes.


Twenty-eight basking water turtles!

This has been quite a warm February, which is reflected in the phenology of leaf-out.  The National Phenology Network (NPN) noted large anomalies in the southeastern United States related to their Spring Leaf Index map, where the index was up to three weeks earlier than typical for these locations.


The timing of leaf-out, migration, flowering and other seasonal phenomena in many species is closely tied to local weather conditions and broad climatic patterns.  Reference the following article: https://www.usanpn.org/data/phenology_maps