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Jun 14

South River Moonrise

Posted by erik in Flat Creek

 Moon Rise
 Photo courtesy John Koontz
Jun 12

High Bacteria Levels This Week

Posted by erik in Pollution

We just received our Operation Clearwater bacteria sampling results late yesterday evening, and they weren't pretty.    Ten out of 12 of the sites sampled exceeded the EPA threshold considered safe for water contact (104 cfu/ml).  The data is here.

These are by far the highest readings that we've seen all season and are very likely tied to the almost 2" of rain that we had the day before.   The Anne Arundel County Health Department always advises avoiding contact with tidal waters within 48 hours of a rain event.

Jun 10

South River BioBlitz 2009

Posted by erik in Flora , Fauna , Bacon Ridge Branch

Want to join field experts in identifying the plant and animal communities present in the headwaters of the South River?  Come spend some time during 24 hours of botanizing, birdwatching, and butterfly chasing.  From noon on June 27th to noon on June 28th, volunteers will be out scouring the South River greenway, cataloging all the insects, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and plants they come across.   

This area is very rich in wildlife and was designated as an important bird area by the MD/DC Audubon Society.

For more information or to get involved, contact: Alyssa Domzal, South River Greenway Coordinator for the Scenic Rivers Land Trust, alyssa@srlt.org or (248) 860-7635.

Below is the Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea), one of the forest interior dwelling birds that rely on large tracts of forest like those found in the greenway.


Jun 10

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Posted by erik in Untagged 

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Jun 04

A Seahorse, of Course

Posted by erik in Fauna

Did you realize there are seahorses swimming among us?  The lined seahorse (Hippocampus erectus) is a native of the Chesapeake and feeds on tiny crustaceans.  The female seahorse actually lays her eggs in the male's pouch, where they are fertilized and cared for.

I've never seen one in the wild, though I have seen pipefish (Syngnathus sp.), which look a little bit like elongated seahorses. If you happen to spot one one the river, please send pictures.

The one pictured below was caught just south of the Bay Bridge.

Jun 03

Harness Creek Rain Garden

Posted by erik in Rain Garden , Harness Creek

The same day that some Federation volunteers were planting marsh grasses in London Towne, others were planting a recently installed rain garden designed to capture stormwater above Harness Creek. The project was funded with a generous mini grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and is aimed at protecting tidal wetland habitat around Harness Creek.   The rain garden is approximately 675 sq/ft, and captures the runoff from several large homes near the waterfront.  

Below, Federation volunteers Kevin Green and John Flood plant wetland shrubs and herbaceous vegetation in the rain garden.

Below is a picture of the finished rain garden shortly after a storm.

Jun 01

Eastern Snapping Turtle

Posted by erik in Fauna

This weekend, out driving around south county, I saw one live eastern snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina serpentina), which I shooed into a roadside ditch as it was trying to cross a busy roadway, and several dead ones, which had been hit by cars.  The peak egg laying season for these turtles is in June and July, but given their recent prevalence, and the fact that I spotted a large terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) on her way back from a nesting run, I think they may be starting a little early this year.  Please be mindful to avoid turtles crossing roadways, or if it's safe to do so, get out of your car and "encourage" them to move to safer ground.

The snapper has a fierce reputation and is probably one of the lesser loved Chesapeake species, but as a high-level predator, it plays an important role in the ecosystem.  One of the travesties that came to my attention last year, after the passage of the terrapin harvest moratorium, was that some "watermen" were setting traps for snappers and selling them in Baltimore to be exported to Asia for turtle soup.  

Granted, the snapping turtle isn't the state reptile,  and it's not as flashy as the terrapin, but it's still an important component of the Chesapeake ecosystem, and the fact remains that reptiles like these can't be harvested from the wild in a sustainable fashion.  It's important that DNR put an end to all turtle harvesting in Maryland waters and protect this important resource. 



May 29

Reminiscing on Crab Creek

Posted by erik in History , Crab Creek

Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending some time with two longtime residents of the river and very good friends of the Federation, Manfred and Azalea Leckszas.  Azalea's family has owned property on Crab Creek (formerly Crabb's Creek) for 80 years and she has some great stories about growing up on the river, having free rein throughout Church and Crab Creeks.  She and her siblings harvested soft crabs and oysters in the shallows, dove through underwater grasses so thick they fouled propellers, and swam in creeks far clearer than they are today.

She showed me several albums of photos, including one which contained this shot: A image looking out towards the South River, across Child's Point, taken some time in the 1940s.


Crab Creek


May 28

Riva Trace Rain Garden

Posted by erik in Rain Garden , Flora , Beards Creek

Late last year we finished weeding and planting rain gardens that the Federation and church had installed at Riva Trace Baptist Church on Central Ave (Rt. 214).  This spring we get to reap the rewards.

The area is dominated by very clay soils, which are common throughout Edgewater, and as a result, the gardens as initially installed took some time to drain.  This led to some of the plants that had originally been installed rotting, and weeds, like Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) moving in to the beds.  After a vigorous weeding, Federation volunteers installed plants that can tolerate wetter feet, such as common rush (Juncus effusus), three-square (Scirpus americanus), and blue flag iris (Iris versicolor).  As you can see below, these species, and several other species of rushes which have recruited naturally on the site, appear to be pretty happy.


May 26

Ecological Amnesia

Posted by erik in Fauna

I didn't coin the term, but I really like it: "ecological amnesia."  It refers to the notion that the landscape is so dramatically changed from what it was like even a few hundred years ago that we need to think very long and hard what exactly "restoration" entails.  What is it that we're trying to get back to?  What were the aspects of those systems that helped provide incredible water quality and great habitat? 

Recently, researchers in Washington state stumbled upon findings that shed light on the historical condition of stream systems nationwide and confirm the suspicions that I've held for some time: Tidal beaver ponds are critical habitat for freshwater dependent fish.  Read more about it here:

Scientist discovers beavers building prime salmon habitat in Skagit Delta 

Below, a beaver prepares for a swim on Warehouse Creek.

Beaver on Warehouse Creek


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