Hopefully you made a visit to Oregon Ridge within the past two weeks. Autumn seemed to arrive later than usual, but we ended October with a brilliant flourish of fall color.
But fallen leaves and cooler temperatures shouldn’t stop you from enjoying nature at the park. There’s a lot to explore; some of which is overlooked during all the summer activity. Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Most of us are familiar with identifying trees by their leaves. But have you stopped for closeup views of bark? Enjoy the variety of textures and patterns.
2. Explore the life of a decomposing log and dead tree stumps. Who lives in it? Who lives under it? Who’s been hunting for food on it?
3. Search for fungi. How many different types can you find? Then compare your notes with the “Fungi of Maryland” exhibit in the Nature Center. Maybe you’ve found a species not on display!
4. Collect as many shades of silver and gold, brown and green as you can find in 10 minutes. You may be amazed at the variety of color and richness of shading.
5. You’ll still find green! Mountain laurel, holly, and conifers retain their green all through the winter.
6. The views are better. Without foliage, you can see more of the landscape. Winter weather patterns dilute pollutants, making the air less hazy, giving us a crisper view of the outdoors.
7. With less foliage, it’s easier to find the birds! Cardinals, chickadees, woodpeckers, and more live in the park year round. Take an early morning or late afternoon hike to improve your chances of seeing them. Or sit quietly by the bird feeders at the Nature Center. Be sure to occasionally look up while hiking to catch a glimpse of our birds of prey: hawks and vultures.
What’s your favorite way to explore Oregon Ridge Park in the “off season”?