Gerald Winegrad: Birds of Chesapeake on display around Annapolis waters
By Gerald Winegrad
Feb 12, 2020 | 11:03 AM
We are all privileged to live in Chesapeake Bay country surrounded by the beauty of nature. For many people caught up in the daily demands of busy lives, getting outdoors to search for and connect with the wonders of our natural world may not fit schedules.
Despite the cold of winter, my hope is that all readers will overcome barriers, escape computers, and smartphones, and enjoy the greatest show on Earth presented every day on the waters around Annapolis by Mother Nature.
So how can you connect? It can be as simple as a walk in the park. Our area is filled with many fine natural areas: Beverly Triton, Mayo, Quiet Waters, Thomas Point, Downs, Kinder, and Fort Smallwood Parks among others. Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, the B&A Trail and Bacon Ridge Natural Area offer good walking trails.
These public natural areas offer trails through forested areas and some provide access to our many rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. There now are thousands of waterfowl to be seen on our waters, visiting from the north for winter.
Those of us lucky to live on the water should be well-aware of these winter visitors and can share them with friends and neighbors. Many of us live near forests which can provide peace and solitude while looking for birds and other critters.
Recently, I have been out three times on the Annapolis Neck Peninsula with my wife and others who were delighted with the photographic opportunities. We observed a huge raft of more than 2,500 waterfowl on the South River including more than 100 Tundra Swans, 1,800 Canvasbacks, and Buffleheads and a few Redhead Ducks. We also saw five Bald Eagles. At Thomas Point Park, we saw a few Black Ducks, more than 40 Surf and Black Scoters, and a Long-tail Duck.
For those not conversant with where to go and what to see in the Greatest Show on Earth, I would suggest joining the Anne Arundel Bird Club. The club provides great opportunities for everyone, young and old, to connect with nature and enjoy wildlife all around the area.
The Bird Club hosts numerous walks — called field trips — in natural areas in the county and throughout the region led by excellent naturalists who know the area and how to find birds and other animals. I have led such trips for more than 25 years and can attest that all folks, regardless of knowledge of birds and nature, are welcomed. You only need binoculars and an interest in the outdoors.
Every field trip is special as they are never just about birds. Trip leaders and others are knowledgeable on species of trees, flowers and other plants, butterflies, frogs, and other animals and the history of the area. Great guides and knowledgeable people are the keys to opening the door to The Greatest Show on Earth. If you ever wondered what kind of duck or bird you just saw or where to find Bald Eagles and Tundra Swans, woodpeckers and cardinals, join the Bird Club and join in on field trips.
Besides regular field trips that are at no charge, there are monthly meetings at Quiet Waters Park with presentations by fascinating speakers. All are invited to attend the next club sponsored presentation —Expedition to the Kingdom of the Ice Bear — at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Quiet Waters Park Blue Heron Room.
My presentation includes my wife’s photos of our exploration of the remote Svalbard Archipelago in the high Norwegian Arctic. This is a place of wildlife wonders and awesome viewscapes with 60% of the landmass covered by glaciers surrounded by the Arctic Ocean and Barents Sea. We made it through the ice to within 560 miles of the North Pole. Carol’s photos include glaciers spawning floating ice sculptures; Polar bears, walrus; Arctic fox; Svalbard reindeer; Atlantic Puffins; many other birds; white Beluga whales; and striking Arctic flowers.
The club plans field trips to other states and some international travel. I put together a customized Costa Rica trip of 11 days and we joined Club members on a memorable Brazilian trip including the Pantanal where we watched a Jaguar in broad daylight, and to Iguazú Falls, one of the Natural Wonders of the World.
Gerald Winegrad served in the Maryland legislature for 16 years and led efforts to restore the Bay. He chaired the Senate Environment and Chesapeake Bay Subcommittee and has taught graduate courses in Bay Restoration since 1988. His column on the environment appears weekly. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.