Spring 2021 Newsletter
Patuxent River Park - one of Prince George's County's hidden gems. Come discover (or RE-discover) us!
Greetings!
After a Winter of staying inside, are you ready to get outside?! Patuxent River Park is ready for you! We have over 14 miles of trails, multiple places to fish from, ramps from which to launch your boat, kayak, or canoe, boat rentals, photo opportunities, program offerings, and more! Explore this brand new newsletter and come discover us! If you already know how great we are, we invite you to come re-discover us! We can't wait to see you!
A Word From Our Director
Dear Park Patrons,
 
Happy New Year! We are all excited that 2021 has arrived and with it optimism and hope for the return of some normalcy. Patuxent River Park has adapted some of its operations to help you experience the park’s natural and historical resources. While indoor visitation is still not permitted, we have converted a window at the visitors center to allow for walk up customer service. We have modified our in-person programs to allow safe interpretation with our staff. You can also challenge yourself and your child with an educational gaming app called Agents of Discovery. 
As you read through this newsletter, I hope you are encouraged to spend time at the park in the coming months to enjoy all that is offered and get to know the staff that are working hard to ensure your visit is memorable. 
 
Continue to visit PatuxentRiverPark.com or call 301-627-6074 for up to date information. Thank you for your patience and flexibility.  

Thomas Baden
Facility Director    
Notable News
Agents of Discovery
Patuxent River Park has joined in the nation-wide Agents of Discovery adventure! Download the app and join in the fun while you visit local landmarks such as Watkins Regional Park, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, National Arboretum, the Patuxent Research Refuge, and more! If you accept our Missions, start your journey around the Visitors Center's new walk-up window (story below!). You will return to that spot to claim your prize(s) should you complete the Missions!
**Be sure to complete our newest Mission - 'Love is in the Air!' - in celebration of February and thinking about Spring!**

New Walk-up Window!
We have a new walk-up window in order to better serve our customers! You can purchase trailer permits, pick up a trail map, purchase something from our gift shop (viewable through our side doors), and/or just say hi to our friendly staff!

Hours of operation are:
Saturdays and Sundays: 10:00am - 2:00pm
Mondays: CLOSED
Tuesdays through Fridays: 11:00am - 2:00pm

We appreciate your patience and look forward to serving you!
Park Status
Our Park continues to open in phases according to County and Department regulations. Updates are difficult to keep current with over a newsletter so please keep checking pgparks.com and patuxentriverpark.com to find out more information. 

Featured Programs
Naturally Crafty
In-Person
Celebrate Global Recycling Day and World Frog Day by creating your own amphibious creatures with recycled/upcycled items! All supplies provided, just bring your creativity!
Friday, March 19; 1-3:00pm
Ages 6-12 years; $5 ($7)
Live Streaming
Combination in-person and virtual
Come along on a new version of "live streaming" where we will explore our local streams for creatures! Participants can join in-person or virtually! Those joining virtually must have a laptop or desktop with the capabilities to use Microsoft Teams with video camera and microphone to engage. All instructions will be emailed to participants after registration. You will receive a detailed email with all information you will need for this activity.
Wednesday, March 24; 1-3:00pm
Ages 9-13 years; $5 ($7)
Park Exploration Program
In-Person
Spend some time escaping the virtual world and explore a local natural resource! Every other week, we will learn about a different topic and set out into the park to do some hands-on learning! Register for one or all classes! Topics and activities for the Spring sessions are macroinvertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, a tree survey, wetland plants, invasives, and a trail survey!
Every other Friday beginning March 12 until May 28th; 1-3:00pm
Two age groups: 9-13 and 13-17
$5 ($7) each class
Naturally: Egg Dyeing
In-Person
In seasonal celebration, come to our park to learn how to dye eggs naturally! Bring your own eggs to dye!
Thursday, April 1; 1-2:30pm
Ages 6-12 years; $5 ($7)
Mindful Meditation
In-Person
Meet at beautiful Mount Calvert to experience a calming and centering guided outdoor mindful meditation with live music, overlooking the peaceful Patuxent River.
Saturday, May 22; 8-9:00am
Ages 18 and up; $5 ($7)
These are just our featured programs. In addition to those above, we are still offering our "normal" programs (hikes, boat tours, kayak tours) this Spring. Find and register for them by clicking on the blue button below.
The Department of Parks and Recreation encourages and supports the participation of Individuals with disabilities. Register at least a minimum of two weeks in advance of the program start date to request and receive an accommodation.
Rare Birds Provide a Silver Lining During COVID
By Matthew Felperin, Naturalist

COVID-19 has certainly kept most of us stir crazy, leading to a major spike of interest in outdoor hobbies such as birding and wildlife photography. Luckily for new and experienced birders alike, many infrequent bird species have put on quite the show this fall and winter to keep us entertained! While most wildlife cannot travel too far out of their native range without human assistance, birds’ ability to fly leads to many unusual occurrences during fall migration. Weather patterns, lack of food sources, and migration inexperience are the most common factors for birds to end up well out of range. Unfortunately, getting lost does provide great risk for migrating birds, especially if they require a specific type of food that is not readily available in their new surroundings. They also will need to expend more energy and become vulnerable to exhaustion and predation while attempting to correct their course. However harsh migration can be, it does lead to some incredibly valuable data and amazingly cool sightings.

Fall migration kicked off with a large influx of northern pine seed-eating birds such as Red-breasted Nuthatch, Pine Siskin, and the very notable Evening Grosbeak. This is considered an “irruption year” for these birds, meaning these species have moved south in much larger numbers than usual. This indicates a lack of seeded pinecones further north. It has been said that this is the best winter for Evening Grosbeak in over 30 years!

A few rare birds from out west made their way just north of Baltimore, including a Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Mountain Bluebird (3rd ever record in MD), and a pair of Western Grebes. Local birders went into a frenzy when DC’s first ever recorded Barnacle Goose was spotted near the FDR Memorial, associating with Canada Geese. This bird was most likely born in Greenland, and should have ended up in northern Europe. However, they occasionally latch on to flocks of migrating Canada Geese and end up in the northeast.

Perhaps the most famous bird of the bunch is the adult male Painted Bunting that has consistently been seen and photographed on the Maryland side of Great Falls along the C&O Canal. It has been featured in the Washington Post and all local media outlets, and has quite a large fan club. Painted Buntings are true to their namesake sporting plumage splattered with vibrant shades of blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. They are actually expected winter vagrants, showing up in small numbers throughout the Mid-Atlantic but typically found at birdfeeders. Having one stay put at one of the most popular parks in the area is certainly a treat, and that coupled with their uniquely beautiful appearance it’s no surprise why this is probably the most documented individual bird of late.

Want to be in the know the next time a rare bird shows up close by? Sign up for regional rare bird alerts at eBird.com, or find one out in the field yourself and report it so others can enjoy it too! Happy Birding in 2021!

Photos: Left - Western Grebes; Center - Male Painted Bunting; Right - Barnacle Goose
Ever Wonder...
What this is? Just a rock? Fossil?...
The photo to the left is of, what is called a Skolithos trace fossil! Produced by a variety of organisms in shallow marine environments, these fossils range in age from pre-Cambrian to present times. They can be found commonly by bodies of water worldwide and typically in sedimentary rock. Next time you are walking by a body of water, keep your eyes peeled for these unique testaments to history!
Live Osprey Camera!
Coming in the Spring!
Around mid-March, we will be on the look-out for our returning osprey! This is an exciting time as we wait for the osprey to select their 2021 nesting spots. Right around this time, we turn on our two live-streaming osprey cameras! You can find them at the link below. Tune in and observe the osprey as they journey through their 2021 nesting season!

Staff Spotlight
Meet Park Naturalist Beth Mays
How long have you been working at PRP? I have worked here for about 5.5 years.
What are your current job responsibilities? My primary job is to coordinate the Park's education programs. I also conduct research projects, plan events, and complete administrative tasks.
What parts of your job are most enjoyable to you? I enjoy working at Patuxent River Park because it is a beautiful place to work. Additionally, I enjoy the people I work with.
What previous jobs or volunteer experiences did you have prior to working at Patuxent? Before transferring to Patuxent in 2015, I worked at Clearwater Nature Center since 2007.
What are your long-term career goals? I would love to manage a Nature Center one day.
What are your hobbies? I enjoy playing with my toddler and being outside (hiking, cycling, kayaking, etc)! I also enjoy journaling and baking.
What is a fun fact about you? I have five tattoos!
Other Park Information
The Critical Area Driving Tour offers a unique opportunity to see and learn about the outstanding natural resources of the Patuxent River. It is a four mile, self-guided tour, with interpretive stops and an observation tower.
Open daily for hikers and bikers.
Open Sundays for vehicles 10:00 am-3:00 pm
(One way from Patuxent River Park to Merkle
Wildlife Sanctuary)
These museums are currently closed to the public until further notice. We hope you will come see them once they reopen. When they do, opening hours for walk-through tours will be 1-4pm on weekends from April to October. They can also be opened for fee-based private tours at all other times with
advanced reservations.
16000 Croom Airport Road
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
301-627-6074
www.PatuxentRiverPark.com