The Mall and the Nature Preserve

I spent a little time on the Cabin John Trail visiting the Locust Grove Nature Center during an afternoon coffee in the bird watching area.  We saw mourning doves, nuthatches, tufted titmouses, both house and gold finches, carolina wrens, chicadees, and cardinals,

a male northern cardinal

before I headed out on the trail with the dogs.


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I first took the upper meadow trail loop, then headed out on the hilly blue trail following it all the way out to the bike trail on the power line clearing. There I descended the clearing to the creek,

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and followed an unmarked creek trail that eventually rejoined to the blue trail, finishing the lower meadow trail in a small rain shower.  I enjoyed the exploratory possibility of the hike.  The area, far from wild, is nonetheless, quite well-managed with enormous biodiversity in the trees.

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Guelder Rose?

There were quite a few samples of different kinds of berries still out on the hike, although I am wary of anything that the birds won’t eat at a time of year when food is scarce.  Guelder Rose is supposed to be cookable, and useful for coughs.

The indoor center does have 2 rescued snakes – a rat snake that was run over, and a corn snake.  Apart from the birds and some deer tracks, the only other outdoor wildlife that was apparent were squirrels (2 gray ones, and a black one).  Of the multiple bird calls, I managed to record 2 of them, one of which I think is a cardinal.

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The ranger did not think the area had ever been inhabited by native people, although she said that some arrowheads had been found by the creek.  She thought the area may have been a temporary hunting ground for the Seneca.  It seems far for the Seneca to go to hunt (there is another trail called the “Seneca trail” from New York going through West Virginia that largely historically defined the boundary of British claim during the French-Indian war).  One can imagine traveling and encountering hostile tribal territorial disputes at intersections along the trail.  Of course it would be warmer.  It seems to me to be more likely that it might have been a Piscataway hunting ground.  How to distinguish the 2 cultures?

This preserve is right across the street from a large shopping mall that is expanding with large retail outlets in the vicinity.

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It is also one of the areas that has transferred congressional districts changing from District 8 (Chris Van Hollen) to District 6 (Roscoe Bartlett) in the Maryland redistricting.

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