Maryland Adventure: Part 1

Well, I’ve made it to Maryland and staying with the wonderful Ed Snodgrass of Emery Knoll Farm.

As the ‘nation’s leading supplier of plants for green roof systems since 1998’ ,they have a horticulture team with more experience than any other nursery in the United States growing plants for successful green roof projects.  They very are active in green roof plant research and collaborate with educational institutions and nurseries, worldwide. Ed has the most incredible knowledge and I met him at John Little’s conference in Essex in the summer.

My close friend Dave, who has built lots of projects with me, including the tawny box at YewView, was travelling out to Ed’s for 3 months to help with some building projects and it was then that the idea of me joining them for a week first emerged.

Ed has kindly put me and Dave up in his wonderful house with nearly 100 acres of land that he has planted for wildlife. Packing all my trail cameras and camera kit, I travelled out on Thursday.

After a very long day and a good night’s sleep, I was up quite early raring to get outside and explore! We ate breakfast next to a roaring fire and watching the birds on the feeders that Dave had stocked up ready for my arrival!

As a keen birdwatcher, I love coming somewhere new where I literally cannot ID anything! I uploaded the Audubon Bird App and that allows me to see birds common in this area and keep a log of the species I see.

Dave and I headed out first thing so he could give me a tour of the site and I could get a feel for the habitat here.

In fact, the woodland here is very similar to that at home… just the bird calls meant It was obvious I was not at home! The whole area is set up for wildlife with a strong emphasis on habitat creation and planting. Of course, if you do that, then the rest of the wildlife follows.

The only bird I really managed to photograph as we went though the woods was the white-throated sparrow. We saw lots of birds flitting through the undergrowth and this one sat still for a moment for me…

I was fascinated by this aptly name ‘Black & Yellow Garden Spider’ that sat in her web in front of the office buildings all day….

These spiders are about 5cm in length and harmless to humans, despite their vivid coloration. I will be returning to take some more photos I’m sure!

Another great invertebrate find was this praying mantis. The cold conditions meant it was very lethargic and we were able to pick it up for a closer look… what a fantastic insect!

I took some shots with my DSLR, using the 100-400mm lens. This lens can focus at about 70cm, which is fantastic for photographing smaller creatures….

I also took some images on my little Olympus Tough as well….

After all that excitement, it was time to set the Bushnells and I couldn’t wait! We spent some time walking around the trail and in the woods and we set them up on a variety of settings. From tree stumps to woodlands, streams to trails and wood piles, Dave and I set 8 cameras.

I can’t wait to see what we capture. I will try to leave them for a couple of nights, before I swap the cards over and take a peek!

Wandering back, the place is just heaving with wildlife. The huge meadows, which must have been spectacular in the summer, are now left to seed and the milkweed seed heads are fantastic. Packed tight with fathered seeds, each with their own silken parachute. Birds flock to these meadows as they are heaving with seed.

The ground is littered with epic acorns… so much bigger than ours at home and some amazing blue and bronze fungi adorned the standing dead wood; another important resource for wildlife.

Dave and I finished the day watching a wonderful starling murmuration as thousands come into roost in a huge dense patch of bamboo just up from Ed’s house… spectacular avian swirling and twisting spectacle culminating in such a rapid descent into the bamboo that it looked like they were being sucked in… amazing!

With the bird count up to 23, I’m learning fast and looking forward to what this area has to offer over the coming week!