Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Walk around the Lake with Local Naturalists

Last Saturday morning (October 25), I joined a guided walk around Lake Kittamaqundi sponsored by Town Center and led by local naturalists Ned Tillman and Elaine Pardoe. Tillman is the author of "Saving the Places We Love" and "The Chesapeake Bay Watershed". Thanks to Whole Foods of Columbia for providing the cereal bars and bottled water -- although those plastic bottles became the subject of discussion in one of the issues of concern addressed by Tillman and Pardoe as we walked.

First stop was the parking lot in front of the new Whole Foods. Tillman wanted to explain the rain gardens which the company had installed during renovation of the former administrative building on the lake. We are shifting from unprotected storm drains to features like this rain garden which help to absorb more run-off and filter substances before they reach lakes and streams.

A native persimmon tree in the new plantings along the path. Edible, and Tillman sampled a berry, but he warned that if they're not ripe enough, their astringency can hurt. The tree also will be a natural food source for wildlife.

The man-made lakes in the county are both recreational features for people and wildlife habitat.

An ugly aspect of the lake. Plastic litter can be washed downstream, and Tillman described seeing thousands of plastic bottles all over the banks of the Patapsco River estuary.

New plantings of native pink muhley grass can be seen in this photo which I took later in the weekend. On the walk, it drew admiration and questions from people before we even got close to it. On the negative side, visible in the water on the left edge of the photo is some of the aquatic weed which surged in the lake this year. A mixed blessing -- it seems to have attracted more species (including ruddy duck) and higher numbers of usual visitors (pied-billed grebes and American coots) during this year's fall migration, but it is the result of nutrients from excessive run-off from our lawns and parking lots. And it has to be cut back with machinery, if we want to maintain the lake for recreational use.