Beautiful BlackwaterJane Thomas ·
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is a gem in southern Dorchester County, Maryland.
Covering more than 27,000 acres of mostly tidal marsh, Blackwater is a well-known haven for migratory birds in the winter, but still offers much to see during the summer, including the endangered Delmarva fox squirrel and any number of waterbirds, frogs, and mammals such as muskrat and beaver.
These osprey (Pandion haliaetus) chicks are fledged but still stay close to home.
You can always count on spotting a bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) or two. Blackwater hosts the largest nesting population of these national icons north of Florida.
I hiked along the Tubman Road Trail, which is south of the more heavily visited Wildlife Drive. The area around this trail is being reforested and the trail winds through forest and wetlands.
This is where I spotted this little fellow.
And this beetle feasting on Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota):
But it is the marshes for which Blackwater is best known, and rightly so.
However, these expansive tidal marshes are under threat from sea level rise, which in Chesapeake Bay is happening at twice the rate of the rest of the country. Rapid sea level rise erodes marshes, and often happens too quickly for them to migrate landwards to keep up (not to mention that most of the time, the marshes are hemmed in by development or farm fields on the upland side).
Blackwater is taking steps to stabilize their marshes. Here is a marsh stabilization project near Wildlife Drive.
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge truly is a gem on our doorstep. With miles of biking and kayaking to enjoy, plan your visit soon! Find more information at Friends of Blackwater.