Visitors cross the boardwalk over wetlands at Patuxent River Park in Upper Marlboro, Md., on Jan. 6, 2019. (Photos by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
by Will Parson
December 27, 2019
This past year, the Chesapeake Bay got a little fresh—as record rainfall tipped the scales toward low salinity. The water threw a range of people, places and critters off balance. Blue crabs boomed but were held south by the wall of fresh water. The same conditions delayed some oyster restoration, and underwater grasses will have to rebound from losses in 2019.
But, in other ways the regular rise and fall of the seasons brought a reassuring succession of wildlife in spring, swimmers beating the summer heat and muted colors in fall. This year, we found a vantage for the changing seasons during visits to parks, conserved lands, farms and restoration sites.
To underscore nature’s steady pace, we present the year in photos in chronological order. We hope you enjoy our look at the Chesapeake Bay watershed, from January to December!
Fox footprints dot the snow above a frozen pond at Andover Flatwoods Natural Area in Queen Anne's County, Md., on Feb. 2, 2019.
Two bald eagles fly in tandem above Deep Bottom Park in Henrico County, Va., on Feb. 11, 2019.
Rural homes, a vineyard and forested land are seen in the headwater reaches of the James River watershed near Afton, Va., on April 7, 2019.
An American bullfrog visits Two Run Branch, a tributary of the Patuxent River, as it flows through Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary in Lothian, Md., on April 9, 2019. Bullfrogs breed from late spring to early fall and females will lay an average of 12,000 eggs per clutch, and one or two clutches per season.
An eastern box turtle is found in the forest understory at Corcoran Woods in Anne Arundel County, Md., on April 26, 2019. Corcoran Woods is part of Sandy Point State Park and though the former farmland is preserved from development, invasive species have heavily impacted roughly half of its area. Restoration has involved removal, herbicide treatment and planting hundreds of trees. Staff from the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Forest Service, Environmental Protection Agency and Chesapeake Research Consortium attended a tree planting at Corcoran Woods to commemorate Arbor Day.
A kayaker paddles on the Patapsco River near Fells Point in Baltimore on May 21, 2019.
A yellow-sided skimmer lands on soft-stemmed bulrush growing along Bowen's Branch, a restored stream at St. Luke's Church in Annapolis, Md., on June 5, 2019. After decades of being buried and piped directly to nearby Back Creek, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, the stream was returned to natural functions in order to filter stormwater runoff and create habitat for wildlife.
A female osprey, right, feeds its chicks while its partner breaks from dismembering a fish it caught it in the waters near Wildlife Drive at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Dorchester County, Md., on June 8, 2019. After a female osprey incubates its eggs for about a month, it will continue to remain in the nest while the male hunts.
Sonya Smith of Cambridge, Md., stands with her husband Marques Smith while making a photo of her daughter Coree Young with the newly-painted mural adorning the Harriet Tubman Museum & Educational Center in Cambridge on June 8, 2019. Painted by local artist Michael Rosato, the mural depicts Tubman, who led over 300 slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad, reaching out to the viewer. "I love it," Sonya said. "To come down and just look at this and see how he did that, it's just an awesome feeling."
Fields of corn grow at Schrack Farms in Loganton, Pa., on July 19, 2019. The dairy farm has practiced no-till farming methods and cover cropping for decades, which have improved the health of the soil and improved its ability to soak up water during intense storms.
A storm passes over Spa Creek in Annapolis, Md., on Aug. 7, 2019.
Visitors cool off in the James River amid 90-degree temperatures in Richmond, Va., on Aug. 13, 2019.
A juvenile diamondback terrapin is raised in captivity on Poplar Island on Aug. 27, 2019. The survival rate of diamondback terrapins is significantly higher on the island, compared with the rest of the region. Each year, terrapin hatchlings are monitored by a team from Ohio University, and some are raised in area classrooms as part of a head start program.
Mike Jura, left, of Tioga County Soil and Water Conservation District, and Mike Lovegren of the Upper Susquehanna Coalition look at a culvert installed at Lusczek Farm in central New York to reduce flood risk and improve wildlife habitat connectivity. The previous culvert at the farm had resulted in flooding during Tropical Storm Lee in 2011.
The Susquehanna River, left, joins the West Branch Susquehanna at Northumberland, Pa., on Sept. 17, 2019. The Susquehanna River provides roughly half the fresh water that reaches the Chesapeake Bay.
Forested land is seen looking east from Dolly Sods Wilderness, part of Monongahela National Forest in Grant County, W.Va., on Sept. 25, 2019. Dolly Sods includes part of the eastern edge of the Allegheny Plateau, which marks the Allegheny Front and the eastern continental divide—the boundary of the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the headwaters of the North Fork of the South Branch Potomac River.
Robinne Gray, left, and Emily Castelli of the Anacostia Watershed Society drop hatchery-raised freshwater mussels into the Anacostia River at Kingman Marsh in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 30, 2019. The nonprofit has released thousands of mussels to boost populations of several species that are native to the Anacostia. Individual mussels can filter over ten gallons of water daily.
Riparian Forest Buffer Vocational Training concludes as inmates from Huntingdon State Correctional Institution plant 400 trees with help from officials and environmental professionals in Huntingdon, Pa., on Oct. 16, 2019. The 14-week training was part of the Correctional Conservation Collaborative, which aims to increase the workforce available for green careers and is a partnership including the nonprofit Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Following the planting, instructors with DCNR and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay held a graduation ceremony for twenty men, who represent the first training class of the program.
Blackston Branch flows through Adkins Arboretum in Ridgely, Md., on Nov. 6, 2019.
A great blue heron perches in Broad Creek in Laurel, Del., on Nov. 6, 2019.
Shenandoah Jerseys is a dairy milking 115 registered Jersey cows, seen in Boonsboro, Md., on Nov. 16, 2019. The farm is owned by Janet Fulton, whose daughter Jessica Stiles Hess and son-in-law J.R. Hess manage the herd and farm, respectively. Conservation practices at Shenandoah Jerseys, which manages a total of over 750 acres near Antietam Creek, includes two waste storage facilities and stream fencing to exclude cattle from the water.
Dennis Seymour, chair of the Baltimore American Indian Center and a member of the Eastern Band Cherokee tribe, poses with a vintage hat he has adorned as a tribute to John Ross, chief of the Cherokee for four decades in the 1800s. "In the 1600s, there were as many as 80 different tribes represented along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay," Seymour said. "What we're actually finding is that the broader Native American population in the area is growing."
A male bufflehead duck rises from a dive in the Indian River in Hampton, Va., on Dec. 17, 2019.
About Will Parson - Will produces digital stories for the Chesapeake Bay Program. He studied ecology and evolution at University of California, San Diego. He reported on water and the environment as a graduate student at Ohio University's School of Visual Communication, and worked at newspapers in New England before landing in Maryland.