A Wonderful Week in Maryland USA

If you follow my blog, you may remember that last October,  took a trip out to visit Ed Snodgrass in Maryland in the USA. I met Ed at a green roof conference and, when he told me about his farm here and invited me out, I just couldn’t say no! Ed is the founder and owner of Emory Knoll Farms; the first green roof nursery in North America. ‘As the nation’s leading supplier of plants for green roof systems since 1998, their accomplished horticulture team has more experience than any other nursery in the United States growing plants for successful green roof projects and are active in green roof plant research and collaborating with educational institutions and nurseries, worldwide.’

Ed has worked tirelessly to return the 140 acres of his farm, back to nature and the results are simply spectacular. From huge swathes of meadow, to woodland and pools, Ed has created a habitat simply teeming with wildlife, so I was in my element. In October, last year, I visited when everything had come to an end, flowering-wise. The meadows were in seed and the weather was getting cooler.

Ed had said I must come back in the summer, but this week in May half term was the only week I could manage; a bit early for the meadow and butterfly deluge, but my goodness, how different it is. Maryland is warm and wet and the growth here is incredible. Everything is so lush and green and the planting is simply spectacular, both up at the nurseries and around the site.

The biggest luxury for me has been to slow down a little and spend some time with my camera. I absolutely love photographing wildlife, but seem to have less and less time doing it at present. It has been an absolute pleasure to wander this farm, photographing some of the wildlife.

There are lots of birds around, but the lush vegetation has made them difficult to photograph, so I have just been watching them. From Indigo buntings to the many warblers in this part of the world, the air is full of unfamiliar songs and calls. Ed has a series of bird feeders out which he had been keeping topped up, ready for my visit and I got a few new species on those that were different to my October visit. I set the Bushnell up in a series of locations and these videos show a merge of some of the species that visited.

The fat feeder clip shows the red bellied woodpecker and the downy woodpecker. You also see the Carolina Wren and a Northern Mockingbird I think!

I also set a feeding station up on the ground. Visitors here included a brown-headed cowbird and young, mourning dove, cardinal, brown thrasher and sparrows.

I also set the Bushnells up around the farm, but didn’t really capture much in this short period, apart from deer, opossum and fox.

The major difference to October (other than the temperature!) have been the frogs! The area is full of frogs and their calls can be heard sporadically through the day and then they kick off at dusk, with an incredible crescendo of calling. It is just wonderful. On a couple of lovely evenings, Ed built a fire and we sat out after dark, listening to them and watching the thousands of fireflies twinkling their lights across the darkening meadows. It really was magical! We get used to our nights in the uk being relatively quiet, wildlife-wise. It is louder here at night, than it is during the day!

I was lucky enough to get a close look at one of these tree frogs, when we found one seeking refuge under the veranda seat cushions. I discovered that this is the Cope’s Gray Tree Frog and it seems to be the dominant species, along with the bullfrogs, around the property.

Normally, they will hide in the vegetation or in the trees during the day, randomly bursting into ‘song’ during the day. They are nature’s barometers and yesterday, when the weather became very sultry and stormy, the frogs all started calling about half an hour before the heavens opened. They must detect the change in pressure.

I positioned this little guy back on the bark, where he belonged and you could see why. His perfect camouflage explained why I struggled to ever locate them, despite hearing them calling really near by.

This little montage shows some of the images I took…

The next day, we found him under some wood on the veranda table. As it became more humid and the other frogs started calling, we were privileged to watch and hear him calling… the volume they create is pretty impressive, so