ONE OF THE entrances to Annapolis has been under surveillance for several months now by a squadron of vultures hovering and hanging around Aris T. Allen Boulevard.
We can only speculate what their presence between Route 2 and Chinquapin Round Road symbolizes. We can guess where the hot air they thrive on comes from, Annapolis being a capital city with not one, but three, governments.
Glenn Therres, a biologist with the Department of Natural Resources who specializes in endangered species and nongame wildlife, said they can be one of two types of birds, the turkey vulture or the black vulture.
The turkey vulture has a red head, a wingspan of almost 6 feet and a V-shaped flight profile. The black vulture is smaller, has white "fingertips" on the underside of its wings and soars with a flat profile.
"Vultures in the winter will congregate, gather in roosts, to make finding food a little easier," Therres said. "Congregating is natural this time of the year."
The food they find almost always will be of the road kill variety.
"They will wait for thermals, hunt, and then sit and digest," he said.
They will soon fly off in pairs to breed, Therres said, building nests in abandoned buildings or the hollows of trees.
He said he was not certain why the birds have congregated around the boulevard.
"The area could have been a traditional roosting site, perhaps before the time the road was built," he said.
Therres also said, "The bald eagle population has rebounded in Anne Arundel County." The DNR counts seven nesting pairs in the county, evidence, he said, of steady improvement.
Mike Jordan of Ambridge won last week's Community Associations of Annapolis citywide chili-tasting contest. Phyllis Richardson of West Annapolis was second, and Maureen Lamb of Ward 1 was third. Ann Hillyer of Murray Hill concocted the hottest pot.
Mayor Dean L. Johnson was on hand to award prizes, which included a newsletter printing job from Freestate Press and stamps for the newsletter; luncheons at two new restaurants, Chevys and Sean Donlon; and a massage at Transcends Salon and Spa.
Runners can get a closer look at the buds and blooms of South County during the Annapolis Striders' Cherry Pit 10-mile Race at 8 a.m. Sunday at South River High School in Edgewater. The defending champions are Steve Egloff and Jennifer Sullivan.
The press release says the monitored course loops 10 miles "over country roads with moderately rolling hills." Sounds pleasant enough.
Whitey Gross is handling queries at 410-551-8996.
For culture vultures
Author William Martin will speak on "Annapolis Through the Centuries" at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Maryland Hall.
Martin's work includes a book and a PBS documentary on former President George Washington, who did, indeed, sleep in Annapolis.
This lecture will be the last of a series sponsored by the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Cultural Heritage Alliance. The program will include a "living history" presentation by Shari Valario of Annapolis.
Admission is $7. Information: Claudia Evans, 410-974-9368.