Nature Nearby

Nature Nearby: A hillside architect

July 20, 2016

BY FRED SEITZ — Walk along the bike path next to the Northwest Branch and you may notice a pair of conspicuous holes in an adjacent hill. Between the holes there is a faint path marked by worn grass and obscured by recent rains. While the path’s traveller has not shown himself during the [read more]

Nature Nearby: Who cooks for you?

June 13, 2016

BY FRED SEITZ — Hyattsville’s most familiar and vocal owl has been up to his spring calls again this year as he reclaims his territory or summons a mate. The barred owl, which is the second largest in Maryland and quite common in treed suburbs, has been a regular caller for several years in our [read more]

Nature Nearby: A smelly harbinger of spring

March 13, 2016

BY FRED SEITZ — Walk around the Trumbule Trail (the boardwalk through the Magruder Park swamp) and you’ll easily notice one of the earliest spring flowers: skunk cabbage. The mottled, reddish hoods (spathe) help protect this flower cluster in its earliest spring growth. The chemical process [read more]

Nature Nearby: A honk and a hink for the season

November 9, 2015

BY FRED SEITZ — Whether you are walking along the Northwest Branch Trail ,especially near the Port of Bladensburg, or sitting quietly at home, it is hard not to notice the call of our largest waterfowl, the Canada goose. The large wild goose species flies overhead  in V-formation this time of [read more]

Nature Nearby: A giant native supermarket and water purifier

September 23, 2015

BY FRED SEITZ — The end of summer is a good time to take a walk around Magruder Park and notice the giant (7 or 8 feett tall) cattails growing in the drainage ditches. These amazing plants, native to marshes in Europe and parts of Asia and the Americas, are a favorite of survival preppers and [read more]

Nature Nearby: Dragons and damsels in Magruder Park

July 18, 2015

FRED SEITZ — In late spring and early summer, Magruder Park goes into medieval mode as the air fills with dragonflies and damselflies. These moderately large insects emerge from their multi-year development in the streams and swamp to swarm the park to dazzle viewers with their colorful [read more]

Nature Nearby: Spring rains open the witches’ umbrellas

May 19, 2015

FRED SEITZ The recent mini-deluges have helped “spring up” one of the woodland’s familiar leafy faces, the mayapple, also known as the witches’ umbrella, the American mandrake, or the hog apple. The plant has umbrella like leaves and may grow up to two feet tall. It favors moist soil and [read more]

Nature Nearby: Oh what a tangled web

April 10, 2015

BY FRED SEITZ — We have all encountered the tangled webs in our basements and sheds, around our ceilings or under furniture. Cobweb spiders, while maligned for these webs, are one of the many species of spiders that hunt for pests in and near our homes. Both the black widow and the common house [read more]

Nature Nearby: Our noisy neighbors

November 17, 2014

BY FRED SEITZ — The abundant gatherings of one of our most common and vocal “songbirds,” the common crow, will either amuse or annoy locals walking or driving in fall and early winter.   This season is when we often witness some of the most gregarious behavior of the large (about 18 inches [read more]
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