Jug Bay Natural Area

Our first wetlands class field trip went to the Prince George’s side of Jug Bay on the Patuxent River. Greg Kearns of the park staff ran us up the river in a powered pontoon boat; he described the changes, good and bad, that he’s seen in the tidal wetlands over this 30-year career.

coming backfloweringThe re-establishment of Annual Wild Rice (Zizania aquatica) is due a decade of hard work by Kearns and his team: planting, spraying invasive Phragmites, building fences to exclude non-migratory Canada Goose (Branta canadensis), and other management activities regarding the geese (some call ’em flying cows). And the work has paid off. At left, the yellow-green band of veg in the midground, between the Spatterdock (Nuphar sp.) in the foreground and the gray-green Phragmites in the background, is Wild Rice. At right, you can see some of it coming into flower. This plant is a congener of the wild rice we eat, Z. palustris, harvested from the upper Midwest and Canada.

doing fineAfter the boat trip, a handful of us wandered down to the observation tower. We were surprised to find several good examples of Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum), especially since the feature of next week’s trip to Battle Creek Cypress Swamp is this same tree. Here’s an example that appears to be doing quite well.

Oh, yeah, and the place is crazy full of Osprey (Pandion haliaetus).