Colonel Lee's Birdhouse Driving north across the Francis Scott Key Bridge, looking south, it's the hexagonal chunk of brown granite poking its head above the surface of the Patapsco River -- a landmark that many-a-time has inspired the question, "What is that?" That's Fort Carroll, the army outpost built in the 1840’s to stop an invasion of Baltimore harbor. U.S. Army Brevet Colonel Robert E. Lee (yes, that Robert E. Lee) had high hopes for the fort when he oversaw much of its construction. But Fort Carroll never saw action and was never even completed, thanks to several twists of fate. Now, the Fort seems to have found a noble, albeit unusual, occupation: it’s become home to a world-class colonial nesting bird rookery, the most diverse colony of species within 100 miles. There is a problem, though: the trees that make up the rookery’s nesting cradles may be threatening Fort Carroll’s structural integrity. But, the offending trees can’t be cut, because state and federal laws protect the rookery. The quandary: save the fort, or keep the birds?
Wings of Color She has an unusual passion for Lepidopteria -- that's "Moths" for the layperson. Marianne Blair raises one spectacular species of moth in particular -- the stunning Cecropia, North America's largest moth. Wing colors -- chocolate brown, pink, orange, purple -- are most vivid when these huge moths emerge from their cocoons.
Sport of Kings Peregrine Falcons are trained to hunt game for their handlers, much like they have since medieval times. These "wolves of the sky" hunt together, much like wolfpacks stalk their prey.
The Ancient Bay The Chesapeake is more than crabs and oysters. Below the surface lays buried ancient secrets to the earth’s past – an historical record offering tantalizing clues to some of the world’s greatest cataclysmic events. To unearth new evidence, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources sends its own research vessel onto the Chesapeake.
Return to Paradise They’re places to chant, to pray, to take symbolic journeys, to grieve, to rejoice, to meditate on forgiveness. They're a garden style that's both new and old. They are "spiritual gardens" – outdoor paradises that connect us not just with the beauty of nature but with our deepest spiritual needs -- from medieval labyrinths, Buddhist stupas and formal gardens, to simple backyard spaces designed for meditation.
Shades Of Winter A look at how Maryland's beauty inspires some local painters.
Shape Of The Sand The lowly Amaranth is an elegant metaphor...a symbol of the ever-changing world of native-versus-invasive plant species that continues to sweep the Earth as biological globalization becomes a reality. In the smaller, more manageable context of its importance to Maryland, the Seabeach Amaranth offers scientists a rare opportunity to resurrect a species once thought extinct.
Baptism In The Bay 200 schools across the state are participating in a program from 1st through 12th grade that teaches them about the Bay, the importance of SAV's, and how to grow them for transplantation and for use as crab habitat.
Night Songs Take a walk outside any balmy late summer evening and listen to Nature's insect symphony -- a nightly orchestration by the 30-40 species of crickets and katydids that call our forests and fields and lawns home. Wil Hershberg is a cricket and katydid fanatic -- and connoisseur listener. Armed with microphones and headsets and recorders, Wil takes to the night to record their songs, and has compiled over 50 chorus and species samples on CD. The CD is now being used as a resource to teach volunteers how to identify different cricket and katydid species songs for a new joint research effort by scientists to document Mid-Atlantic cricket and katydid species.
Patuxent Sojourn Lovers of the Patuxent River canoe and kayak their way down river toward the Bernie Fowler wade-in.
Raising The Sail Kids from the Boys and Girls Club of Annapolis take to the Chesapeake Bay on a Chesapeake Bay foundation skipjack in search of adventure and learning.
Run Spot, Run A growing number of dog owners are involving their dogs in various kinds of fun and athletic dog events. One of the most exciting is called "fly ball." This is a relay-team sport. The dogs run over a series of jumps, hit a lever, catch an ball and run back to their "team" and tag the next dog. Also, of course, there are the frisbee catching dogs and a national Frisbee championship on the DC mall sometime in the summer.
The Valley Paradise The north branch of the Potomac River was some years ago the victim of a vicious rumor: they said it was dead, gone, with no hope of survival or revival, the victim of bitter, acidic poison pumped up from the bowels of drowned, ancient coal mines. It was close, after all, but the miraculous has happened, and the north branch now is a living organism again and begs for an occasional bass fisherman to test its mettle by casting toward the weeds - which is exactly what we do once we're there.
King Neptune's Steed Sea horses are among the most unusual critters on land or in the sea. It is the males who give birth to dozens of babies, and sea horse locomotion -- vertical swimming -- is truly unique. Sea horses are fascinating to watch gliding through the water or anchoring themselves with curled their tails on swaying sea grasses -- witness the public hoopla attending this spring's upcoming opening of a sea horse exhibit with dozens of species at the Baltimore Aquarium. A new international team of scientists from Europe, Asia, Canada and the United States have launched Project Sea Horse, a research and preservation effort to determine the status of sea horse species world-wide -- at least 20 million are taken from the world's ocean reefs for food and medicinal purposes every year.