Stealth frog song missions and Yellow Crowned Night Heron

This week I recieved an email update concerning  MARA, the Maryland Amphibian and Atlas Project, a five year project to collect data on Maryland’s reptiles and amphibians.

Sue, the naturalist in charge, was looking for someone to go up to a lake in the Northwest section and try to get a recording of frog/toad song. They are able to analyze the rate and pitch and determine the species.

I mentioned this to my eldest son, Aidan, and supposed that we could try it Friday night, which was last night, as most of the kids would be at their Dad’s so it would be just he and his ten year old sister,  little bee.

“I see.  Is this a stealth mission?”

“As in, you mean, is there any possible trespassing on private property in the mix?”

He nodded solemnly.

“Not that I’m aware of, though I assume the park closes at dusk, and that IS when we need to be there. It’s also not the best section of town, and I’m not too familiar with it.”

He understands that two driving issues of mine are driving at night, and going places I don’t know.

“Sounds good, and sort of stealthy,” he said as he saluted and walked off.

So around 7:45 last night we set off for parts unexplored with written out directions and a vague idea of where it was.

We found the park, but the wrong area (i went too far north), as we could not locate the lake in question,

but we did find a BEAUTIFUL park, where we engaged in

sort of stealthy running:


fairly stealthy deer watching:


We encountered two doe and two healthy looking fawn.

and not the least bit stealthy duck watching:


Aidan named them Tup and Matilda. Tup was slightly miffed at our presence.

As it was getting very dark, we walked down to the only water we could find, Gwynn Falls stream, and saw across from us this lovely bird, a  very stealthy Yellow Crowned Night Heron. The light was very dim, so I made it hdr to see if I could bring out details.


They are nocturnal birds seen nesting in Baltimore city (Jones Falls) by accounts for about five years now.

Little Bee found clam and oyster shells in the water, and I made the promise we’d come back.

So, the frog song mission was slightly unsuccessful, and yet, not really, because we have a new spot for everyone to explore. I suspect, in the day, we may also find butterflies.

Journalist Rona Kobell, in her article on the Jones Falls Trail writes:

Baltimore is a city of contradictions.

Its neighborhoods are dense, filled with two-and three-story rowhouses that are neat and tidy in some neighborhoods, blighted and dilapidated in others…

there is a different Baltimore, one filled with waterfalls and yellow-crowned night herons, falling leaves and old oak trees, foxtail grasses and rushing streams. This is the Baltimore many residents, including natives, have never seen. In this Baltimore, it’s quiet, even serene, and a visitor could be forgiven for wondering where the city got its reputation for danger and mayhem.

This Baltimore is stealthily hiding in plain sight.


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