by Matt Rath
December 22, 2010
I gotta say… December 3 was not the nicest day ever to go out and shoot some pics, but it was well worth it anyway. Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary, located in Upper Marlboro, Md., was our first destination.
What’s great about Merkle is that it is huge and has plenty of trails to explore. It is perfect for hikers, bikers, and photographers. Many of the trails lead right out to the Patuxent River (which I unfortunately got too close to and stepped in within our first hour of walking).
Unfortunately, we missed the fall foliage by just a couple weeks, but we did have a chance to see some awesome sights. The clouds were abundant at sunrise and it made for some very interesting light. My coworker Alicia and I were overwhelmed by the amount of Canada geese. We captured some photos to illustrate exactly how many we saw (you can see them in the slide show above).
It was kind of crazy when we saw two white-tailed deer appear from the woods and run through a huge flock of these geese. All of a sudden, hundreds and hundreds of geese burst into flight going every which way. This made for some cool shots when mixed with the emerging sun.
After a few hours of exploration, the cold won out and we decided to work our way back to the heated car. Unfortunately, the Visitors’ Center was closed but some nice lady working there let me at least come in and run my shoes and socks under the hand dryer for a few minutes. Then it was on to the next destination, Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, just northeast of Merkle.
I’m gonna guess that Jug Bay is pretty awesome in late fall or early spring, unfortunately we missed both those time periods. This is one place that I will definitely put on my list to check out when the leaves come back. Jug Bay, like many of the Chesapeake Bay Gateway sites, is a perfect way to escape the crazy, hectic, complex lifestyle and get back to appreciating things for their simplicity and natural beauty.
I would highly recommend visiting either of these locations for a number of reasons. Visits to places like Merkle and Jug Bay get you outdoors and experiencing all that the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries have to offer. After all, how are we going to start protecting and restoring the Bay the way we should until we start understanding and appreciating all that it offers?