HOURS OF OPERATION
Thursday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m.
The following articles are selections from our quarterly newsletter: "The Otter's Tale". The entire newsletter is available at the Estuary Center or you can download it here.
by Katie Cooney-Schofield
As this is written, it is that time of year when we find ourselves asking…why didn’t we fly south for the winter?
Like so many birds, the idea of migrating south for the winter is taken to heart by many humans. And who can blame them, with below freezing temperatures, strong northerly winds, and the constant possibility of snow and ice? People who enjoy this lifestyle are often referred to as “snow birds”.
In the avian world there are about 200 species in North America that can be considered “snow birds”. Annual migrations range in distance from a few hundred miles up to 10,000 miles and last from several weeks up to four months. By migrating, the birds are able to take advantage of seasonally abundant food sources, which has been found to lead to increased breeding success in these species.
Out of Maryland’s 312 annually occurring bird species, approximately 60 are “snow birds”. International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) was created in 1993 to help spread awareness and education about conservation of migratory birds. Conservation of the “snow birds” is a concern due to declining populations at both breeding and wintering grounds. Severe weather and human activities combine to stop many migratory birds from reaching their destinations. Humans can’t control the weather, but we can manage problems such as loss of habitat due to development, power line location, jet/bird collisions, and illegal hunting.
Some amazing facts about bird migration include that they primarily fly at night, at altitudes ranging from 200 to 4,000 feet, and at speeds between 10 to 50 miles per hour.
To learn more about migratory birds, celebrate International Migratory Bird Day at the Estuary Center on Saturday, May 18. Learn about the return of Maryland’s “snow birds” to their spring and summer breeding grounds, and look for those species who drop in for a brief respite on their way further north. Learn what you can do to help assure safe passage of these winged wonders on their migratory journeys.
The on-going, self-guided activities of the IMBD Celebration begin at 10:00 am and continue until 5:00 pm. At the Center desk you can pick up your IMBD passport and activity map and let the fun begin! Try the Perch Challenge, make a bird mask, play the Migration Game, and much more! Bring your stamped passport back to the front desk at the end of the day for participation prizes. With the wide range of activities scheduled, there will be fun for all ages! Registration is not required.
Special programs offered during the day that require preregistration include:
The Big Sit Bird Count from 7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Backyard Bird Paradise from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.
If You Feed a Hummingbird from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m.
We hope to see you at one or all of these events!
by Donna Johnson, Volunteer
Are you stressed-out, depressed, and/or grieving the loss of a loved one or beloved pet? Then let me share a little secret that I have learned over the past 19 years about the spiritual healing power of nature.
The anniversaries of my parents’ deaths fall within the same week in early December so I am always glad when that week has gone by the wayside. Thus, I was delighted when I saw an “Owl Prowl” scheduled at the Bosely Conservancy for the evening of December 7, which just happened to be the 19th anniversary of my Mom’s death. I have gone on several Owl Prowls at various locations over the past few years and had the good fortune of hearing a Great Horned Owl and Barred Owl answer our calls on two different trips. However, most of the time I just had to settle for a fun walk in the woods after dark and had never had the chance to see an owl up close and personal in its natural habitat. Still, I kept signing up for Owl Prowls with the hope that my luck would change.
So on the evening of December 7, I gathered at Bosely with an enthusiastic group of “Owl Prowlers” of all ages who were eager to go in search of the elusive owls in our area. Our adventure began in the parking lot with a short show-and-tell presentation about the adaptations that owls have to help them hunt at night and an introduction to the calls of the various owls in the area. We then ventured out into the woods to try our luck at finding some owls, and it was not long before our efforts were rewarded. Shortly after heading down the trail with our owl calls sounding off into the night, one of our youngest “prowlers” spotted a Barred Owl sitting in the top of a tree checking us out. A ripple of excitement went through our group as we were in awe at seeing such an elusive creature in its natural habitat! The fun was not over yet, though, as we wandered even further down the trail and had several more sightings of Barred Owls. It was even more exhilarating when two of the Barred Owls that we had passed further down the trail began “caterwauling” back and forth to each other. This was indeed the most thrilling “Owl Prowl” I had ever done!
As I got back in my car, I could not suppress my excitement! Just being out in the woods at night with my fellow nature lovers, especially on a day that held some not-so-nice memories for me, had totally changed my outlook on life. More than anything, I could not help but think how much my Mom would have enjoyed seeing these awesome creatures, and I could not help but think that somehow she had a hand in making sure this trip was a memorable one for me! Yes, all was right with the world once again!
When asked for a favorite memory from 23 years of volunteering with the Izaak Walton League (IWLA) and the Estuary Center, Bryon recalls the first time he ever spotted an otter at the Bosely Conservancy, this one traveling rapidly and gracefully over chunks of ice and then under the water, over and over, in a beautifully choreographed winter dance. Bryon is a keen observer of the natural world, and he is fortunate to be able to spend lots of time in that natural world. Sharing that exposure to nature with children, so that they will grow to care about conserving it, is what motivates Bryon to continue his volunteer work with the IWLA and the Estuary Center.
Bryon grew up in Abingdon and Churchville in Harford County, in a family that had land and valued outdoor pursuits, like farming and gardening and crabbing on the Bay and the Chester River. He graduated from Washington College, near the head of the Chester River, with a degree in biology and the desire to be a field biologist. But a lucrative summer job turned into full time work and then into his own company, Bodt Decoys, and Bryon has channeled his field biologist aspirations into his free time for the past 20-plus years.
As the Bosely Conservancy Manager for the IWLA, Bryon is there at least every other week, and his observations and reports of wildlife and facility issues are a huge help to the Estuary Center. He has been building, installing, monitoring, and maintaining wood duck boxes at the Conservancy for over 20 years, and has refined data collection methods to amass a data set that is valuable for management and research. He does extensive trail work at the Conservancy, as well, helping to keep the trails cleared and marked in a constantly changing land area.
He also volunteers at the Wade In with his carving exhibition, grows and donates the pumpkins we use for our Halloween Hike and Campfire, helps Invasinators remove and replace non-native invasive vegetation, helps run the annual Marsh Clean-up at Bosely, and indulges his inner scientist with monitoring projects that include emergent vegetation, SAV, and larval yellow perch, to all of which he brings an amazing “on the ground” knowledge of Otter Point Creek.
Bryon is a quiet and modest man, and is quick to point out that he doesn’t do these projects alone, always giving credit to fellow volunteers. Though he prefers to do serious wildlife observation by himself, when he is volunteering for the Center, Bryon’s favorite part of the job is the staff and volunteers he is working with. If you have the chance to volunteer with Bryon, don’t let his quiet demeanor stop you from talking with him. He is a storehouse of anecdotal history about the beginnings of the Estuary Center, and knows the natural comings and goings on Otter Point Creek better than most anyone. Thanks for your dedication, Bryon!