Birdwatching on North Point State Park’s Black Marsh Trail

Birdwatching on North Point State Park's Black Marsh TrailI’ve been biking seemingly all day, every day for the past week. Saturday was especially long, up to Loch Raven, taking the lane on some seriously busy streets, down and over to check out the tulips and babies and puppies and mansions in Roland Park, and then down to Fell’s Point to avoid Pirate Day (you know pirates were often slave traders, especially when piloting the superfast Baltimore clipper ships, right?) and Record Store Day (the ladyfriend’s got that covered) and choke down a quick crepe before taking the Lombard Bike/Bus lane–good lord, I love that thing–to Ridgely’s Delight for a ride home. The increase in riding has definitely left me with some tight hips, so I also spent some time this weekend stretching the things and imagining resting for a hot minute. But then the ladyfriend told me to get the bikes on the car–she was taking us on a date. Could I ride a bit? Yes, of course, I have yet to regret a bike ride.

And I didn’t regret this one. She drove us to North Point State Park–my first visit to this one. If the folks fighting at the Battle of North Point hadn’t turned back the British, well, Baltimore may have burned. This is what I learned from the North Point folks at last year’s Star Spangled Sailabration, anyway. Just as Baltimore’s got an inferiority complex is needs to stretch with claims that at least we didn’t let our city burn (take that! DC!), North Point’s got it’s own complex to deal with. What it should really do, though, is brag about its park. The visitor center and restaurant were closed, but we got to take our bikes on a lovely ride through the multiple ecosystems you get at the edges where land and water meet: one mile we were freezing cold from winds off the bay, the next we were too hot amidst overgrown grasses. It was so pretty in so many ways, all just a short drive from Baltimore.

I snapped this picture as we got off our bikes on the Black Marsh Trail to cross over one of the many ditches dug in by flowing waters. There was a bittern in there, camouflauged by the grasses. The birdwatcher had been there awhile, waiting to snap the perfect shot of the bird going in for the kill. I asked if he had a favorite bird (mine is the great blue heron, followed by the pelican), but nope, he likes them all. He said he only knows about five birds, but he loves watching them, impressed by their patience, the way they hold their heads. He was ready to catch the shot just as the bittern stretched out its neck…nope, not the right time’ the bird went back to the watch position, and so did he. We left him there, tooled around, locked up our bikes to take a couple of short walks before heading back out to the pier to watch the water. We made a couple of stops on the way home, first for fried food on the water, second to check out what’s left of Sparrows Point’s steel industry. Wow, wow, wow. Nothing yet to say about that, except that we’ll be back, perhaps on bike the whole way.

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