Calvert Cliffs State Park
On May 24, 2015, I pried Norma away from working on her garden to get in a short hike. A few weeks ago, she had requested that I take her on more outings so I said I would try to every other weekend. So far, I have done so.
My original plan was to go to Flag Ponds Park for some hiking and fossil hunting. Low tide was around 1505. I figured we could walk and then hunt when the shoreline was most exposed. Last year, I found a fair number of fossils here. We arrived around 1300 to a long line of cars waiting to get in. I walked to the front and spoke to the ranger. He said their lot was full and they have to wait for people to leave before they let others in. I asked if we could park along the side of the road and he said he would call a tow truck if we did. I guess their beach is very popular on a warm holiday weekend. It is quite nice. Fortunately, I had a back-up plan.
We drove a little south to Calvert Cliffs State Park. They have quite a bit more parking so we had no problem getting in. The last time I hiked here was in the 1990s.
We walked on the yellow/blue trail heading southeast. This followed a natural gas pipeline maintenance road. At some point, the trail veered to the left. But I continued to lead us on the hilly pipeline road. This took us to a spur trail that led to the Cove Point Barn (first photo). We visited that, hoping to see a barn owl but the barn entrance was closed off. We continued walking on the pipeline road until Norma pointed out my mistake. Then we backtracked a bit and took the Cove Point Barn spur to the blue trail. In my defense, the trail could have been better marked, though I should also have paid more attention to the map and my surroundings.
On the blue trail, I saw a luna moth. See second photo and the photo at the top of this page. It has been several years since I have seen one. This one was about five inches wide.
The blue trail led us to the red trail. The red trail is the most popular trail because it leads directly to the beach. It is also the most scenic because it follows Grays Creek. See Norma at the creek in the third photo.
We spotted a skink lizard but could not get a photo. It was about ten inches long and very evasive.
Norma and I heard several frogs that made a noise that sounded like someone was hitting two small rocks together. Open the fourth image to hear them. We never saw the frog that made these noises though it often sounded very close. I thought it might be the one in the fifth photo which inadvertently found its way into this picture of a water lily. I didn't realize it was in the photo until I got home and downloaded it.
Later that night, Norma cleverly identified this frog call as coming from the northern cricket frog. Now I don't believe it was the same type of frog that was in the photo with the water lily.
There was a lot of beaver activity (sixth photo). We saw two beaver lodges (seventh photo) and a dam (eighth photo). Unfortunately, we never saw any beavers. Some of the activity (I'm assuming that's what it was) changed the water level and flooded part of the trail. See ninth photo.
There were some pretty flowers blooming.
Tenth photo: Slender blueflag (cube iris).
White water lily or fragrant water lily. I never got close enough to smell it.
Twelfth photo: Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia). This was all over the place.
I was really looking forward to the viewing platform where I could get a better look at wildlife in the wetlands but it was closed due to disrepair.
We saw a few turtles.
Thirteenth photo: Small turtle on log.
Fouteenth photo: An eastern painted turtle.
Fifteenth photo: The back side of a snapping turtle.
Sixteenth photo: The profile of a different snapping turtle. Doesn't he look mean?
Seventeenth photo: Turtle swimming. It was quite fast.
Eventually, we arrived at the park beach on the Chesapeake Bay. There were a lot of folks out enjoying the sun, water, and sand. It was about 40 minutes after low tide. Norma and I briefly looked for fossils but found none. I have never found any here though I have at nearby locations. This place is just too popular with fossil hunters and the beach is too small. It is best to have a small boat to take you to nearby locations that are not quite so popular.
Calvert Cliffs has long been a favorite hunting ground for fossils of the Miocene Epoch of some 20 million years ago. Numbered among the fossils uncovered by professionals and amateurs alike are a wide variety of shells, the vertebrae of whales, the bones of sea cows and mastodons, and an abundance of shark's teeth, including those of the Carcharodon megalodon, a huge prehistoric monster -- perhaps, 100 feet long -- that could bite an ordinary shark in two with one snap of its mighty jaws.
- from park sign
A bald eagle flew overhead. A father pointed it out to his kids but they didn't seem very interested.
After a snack, we continued walking.
We took a maintenance road to the orange trail which led us west, back to my car. There weren't many people using it and it wasn't nearly as scenic as the red trail.
Norma and I spotted two more skinks. Both were a little smaller than the first and one looked to be a little orange-ish. These were very uncooperative at posing for a photo.
A Fowler's toad hopped across the trail. See eighteenth photo.
By the time we were done, we had walked 6.7 miles. Except for the pipeline road, the trails were quite flat.
On the return trip, we stopped in at Chesapeake's Bounty where Norma bought some fresh strawberries. I can honestly say that they are the best I've ever tasted.
Like my stand up paddleboard (SUP) trip yesterday, we were very fortunate to have light traffic both on the way there and the return drive. Since I expect many people to be driving home from their long Memorial Day weekend tomorrow, we'll stay closer to home then.
We got home in time for Norma to get some more gardening in.
Later that night, we found that we both had ticks which we then removed. I think we picked them up on the pipeline road because there were tall grasses. I think if you stay off this road, you'll be fine.
Click thumbnails to enlarge.