Pickering Creek Announces Late Fall Programs for the Public

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Pickering Creek’s four miles of trails are open to the public dawn to dusk every day.  In addition to wandering on your own the Center invites the community to join us at one of our upcoming programs, they are a great opportunities to get outside this fall.

A student at the Center looking at a skink he captured on his woods walk.

Introduction to Bird Language will be held on Saturday, November 4 from 9:00 – 11:00am. Participants will discover the language of birds and listen in on what they tell us about the world around us during this fun morning at the Center’s newest tract, Peterson Woods at Pickering Creek Audubon Center. You will sharpen your observation skills and uncover the keys to understanding unique patterns of behavior common to birds through guided instruction and outdoor activities. You’ll see birds and the world we share with them in a whole new way. The program requires no experience in bird watching and is for adults. More bird fun is offered the following week with Hoot and Holler Owl Prowl on Friday, November 10 from 5:30 – 7:30pm. Take a break from the crowds in town and use your senses to discover nightlife on an evening hike at Pickering Creek! Participants will listen for Barred Owls calling, “Whoooo cooks for youuu,” identify the rambunctious hoots of the Great Horned Owl, and awe at the whinnies coming from our smallest, the Eastern Screech Owl.  Adults and families with children are welcome as we search out Owls at the Center.

Pickering offers a pre Thanksgiving exploration for our youngest friends with their parents and grandparents at Tiny Tots:  Totally Turkeys! on Thursday, November 16, 2017 from 10:00 – 11:00am. Bring your 3 to 5 year old to Pickering Creek for a morning of turkey tales, gobbling, outdoor exploration, and a craft.  We’ll start with a fall-theme turkey story before adventuring outside in search of turkey habitat.  Your tiny turkey will leave with a fun and creative turkey craft.

The season’s final offering is an opportunity to get outside, volunteer and make your community nature center even better.  At the Fall Cleanup on Saturday, December 9 from 9:00 am-12:00 pm you are invited to join Center staff for the last Saturday Service Day at Pickering Creek Audubon Center of the year. We will be painting inside our garden classroom during this down time between the fall and spring school field trip season.  We’ll also be clearing the leaves from the waterfront picnic area and making adjustments to the trails. Join us for a hearty morning of activity then stay for potluck lunch. If you’d like to sign up to attend a program at the Center please call 410 822 4903, reservations are strongly recommended as programs do sell out.

10th Annual Gilbert Byron Day to be Observed on October 8

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The Gilbert Byron House. Photograph by George Hatcher

The tenth annual Gilbert Byron Day will be observed on Sunday, October 8 during the annual Pickering Creek Harvest Hoedown.  In addition to the many other family oriented activities of the day, visitors will have the opportunity to visit Byron’s home. The small self-built house, pictured above, has been relocated from San Domingo Creek near St. Michaels to the Pickering Creek Audubon Center where it is undergoing restoration. With only his pet dogs for companions, Byron spent nearly half of his life in this house. It was here that he produced what is likely the largest collection of writing about the Chesapeake and Delaware Bay Regions authored by a single person. His published work includes 14 books; scores of poems; more than 170 short stories and general interest articles; and over 2,000 area newspaper columns.

During the Hoedown, the Gilbert Byron house will be open to visitors where they will have to opportunity to learn about the life and literary work of this “Voice of the Chesapeake.” Information: gilberbyron.orgpickeringcreek.audubon.org/about-us

Pickering Creek’s Harvest Hoedown Celebrates Fall October 8

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Pickering Creek celebrates fall on the Eastern Shore at this year’s Harvest Hoedown on Sunday October 8. Harvest Hoedown features music at three locations, unique craftspeople, nature walks, wildlife exhibits, boat rides on the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s Winnie Estelle and entertaining kids and adult activities as well as food prepared by the Easton Lions Club and new local food vendors. Activities and vendors will be found throughout Pickering Creek. Explore the property with hay wagon rides or take a stroll on the forest trail for a sampling of the Eastern Shore’s natural beauty from wetlands to 100 year-old trees, all highlighted in vibrant fall colors.

Great Family Fun at Harvest Hoedown.

Harvest Hoedown 2017 will feature live music, puppet shows, a family friendly scavenger hunt with prizes and storytellers will give families great entertainment and fun throughout the day.  Milkweed plants and pollinator seed balls will be available for guests who participate in fun activities about monarch butterflies, pollinators and climate. From deep in the vaults of Pickering Creek the Harvest Hoedown T-Shirt Art collection will be on display, featuring the great folk art that has graced the back of each Harvest Hoedown T-Shirt for the last seventeen years.  These works will be on display at the Center’s Welcome Center.  Scheduled events will include not only music on the main stage, but also brief nature talks by area naturalists including topics such as Bird Rescue, Poplar Island, Monarchs, Honey Bees and more.

This year features a number of great returning craftsmen including Matt Redman’s Chesapeake Soaps and Bee George Honey.  Both Matt and George have great interactive displays and are mainstays of our local community. Craftspeople from across the peninsula including Joan Devaney, Damaris ToyWorks, Plein Air Painters, Sisters Clay Art, Birdworx and Wacky Wind Chimes and more will have locally made quality items on sale that make great Christmas gifts and birthday presents while supporting our local economy.

Harvest Hoedown features great music for all ages!  The Harvest Hoedown main stage, framed by Pickering’s historic corncrib, will host toe tapping blues and bluegrass with four acts throughout the day. The kid’s stage is just down the lane right next to Pickering’s beautiful gardens, surrounded by a bevy of fun educational activities led by Audubon Naturalists and budding volunteer leaders.  The musical artists featured frequently perform in their own right, but Pickering puts them all together for a wonderful fall day of music and fun.

Slim Harrison and new Sunnyland Band’s youngest members.

The kid’s stage features a very accomplished act from Western Maryland. First Slim Harrison and the Sunnyland Band return for their sixteenth year.  The best thing about the Sunnyland Band is that it is you!  With over 40,000 members worldwide it may very well be the biggest band around. For over 25 years, Slim has performed at Schools and Festivals, Hoedowns & Throwdowns all over North America and around the world.  He is a “Master Artist” with the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning through the Arts and full-time “Artist in Residence” with the Maryland State Arts Council – Artists in Education, Touring Artists Program.

Slim’s solo performance titled: “Exploring the Roots of American Folk Music” teaches children about the many cultures that brought lots of different flavors to the American Musical Gumbo.  Kids are given an opportunity to join the “Sunnyland Band” and play along on spoons, jugs, washboards, skiffleboards, limberjacks, washtub bass, PA Dutch “stumpf-fiddles”, African tambourines, Cajun frattrois,  Native American whammy-diddles, Chinese gaos, Latin maracas, clave`s & quiros.

The main stage kicks off at 11:00 am with local favorites Alan Girard and Meredith Lathbury, followed by Baltimore musician Norm Hogeland. Playing next at Harvest Hoedown on the main stage are Slim Harrison and the Rock Candy Cloggers.

Headlining the main stage is the New and Used Bluegrass band, based on the Eastern Shore with members from across the shore. New and Used Bluegrass features Alan Breeding on banjo, Jim Bieneman on bass fiddle and vocals, Toby Price on mandolin and vocals, Ed Finkner on guitar and vocals and Jon Simmons on fiddle, mandolin and vocals. New and Used Bluegrass performs various flavors of bluegrass music, ranging from the traditional  – like the Stanley Brothers “How Mountain Girls Can Love” to “Eastbound and Down” from the Smokey and the Bandit movie, to “Caravan”, a Duke Ellington tune, as well as assorted banjo and fiddle tunes and songs.  They are well known locally for their excellent bluegrass pickin’.

Harvest Hoedown is generously supported by the following sponsors: Bartlett Griffin and Vermilye, Shore United Bank, Wye Gardens, LLC, Johnson Lumber Company, Colin Walsh & Carolyn Williams, Richard & Beverly Tilghman, Stuart and Melissa Strahl, The Star Democrat, the Chesapeake Audubon Society, Out of the Fire, Kelly Distributing, and Pepsi Cola. Please contact the Center for if you would like to be a sponsor.

Harvest Hoedown means fun for all ages!  Music, hayrides, boat rides, local arts, and great family activities put smiles on every face. Mark your calendar, dig up your overalls, boots and hat and make your way out to Pickering Creek on October 8.  We will be having fun from 11 am- 4 pm.

Summer Butterflies and Migrating Monarchs at Pickering Creek

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Visit Pickering Creek Audubon Center this August and September for three excellent opportunities to learn about local butterflies! On Saturday, August 12 from 10:30AM to 12:30 PM, butterfly experts Theresa Murray and Frank Boyle are returning for a second year to lead a “Spectacular Summer Butterflies” talk and walk. Theresa Murray has been learning about butterflies and their life cycles over the past 20 years. She currently maintains gardens with nectar plants and host plants for several butterflies including monarchs. Frank Boyle is a naturalist and butterfly specialist from Rohrersville, MD. He leads several NABA (North American Butterfly Association) annual 4th of July butterfly counts in Maryland and the mountains of Virginia. He has been chasing and gardening for butterflies for 23 years. A short presentation about the most common butterflies on the Eastern Shore of Maryland will kick off the program. The group will then walk along Pickering Creek’s meadow trails to look for various species and the native plants that attract them. Participants will Learn about identifying features of these exquisite insects and observe the beautiful blooming plants that bring them in.

Participants in Pickering Creek’s Monarch Watch Tagging program try to carefully catch butterflies sipping nectar on wetland plants.

On September 13th and 20th from 4:30 to 6:00 PM, Pickering Creek naturalists will lead two Monarch Tagging events during the butterflies’ fall migration. Each year, monarchs migrate from their breeding grounds in North America to their overwintering grounds in Mexico. This year the University of Kansas’s Monarch Watch predicts high numbers of monarchs migrating south. Participating in their nationwide citizen science tagging program is a great way to learn about this charismatic local animal and contribute to scientific research on its population, challenges and resiliency. Both tagging events at Pickering Creek will include a short program on the lifecycle and migration of monarchs and how climate change is affecting them followed by an excursion into the wetland meadows where monarchs will be sipping nectar as they fuel up for their journey south! No experience is necessary.

Register for these programs by calling 410-822-4903 or emailing Mary Helen Gillen at mgillen@audubon.org.

Nice! Pickering Creek Receives 10 Acres from George and Cemmy Peterson

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Pickering Creek Audubon Center announced today that 10-acres of land was recently added to the 400-acre footprint of the Center, thanks to a gift of property from George and Catherine (Cemmy) Peterson. Cemmy and George have spent the last twenty years enjoying Pickering Creek through many seasons, hearing children squealing with delight across the creek as they experience the wonders of nature, which was one of the leading inspirations to donate their property. Both nature enthusiasts, Cemmy serves as a Trustee and past president of the Pickering Creek Board of Trustees and George is an active volunteer at the Center.

George and Catherine (Cemmy) Peterson.

Through 2013, the Center board and staff worked on creating a Master Site Plan that both addressed infrastructure needs at the center as well as improving bird habitat in the larger landscape of the Center’s neighborhood. With forests as a high priority habitat for bird conservation for Audubon, a portion of the Master Site Plan for Pickering Creek seek to knit together the forested parts of northern Talbot County to improve the area for forest interior dwelling birds. In addition to broader conservation goals, the Center also sought to find additional places it could use to explore nature with its students, both young and old. The Petersons heard that call, and were a terrific part of creating that vision four years ago. In what can only be described as an awesome selfless act, they took the lead this past December by donating their ten acre property and three bedroom home immediately across Pickering Creek from the main campus of the Center to the Chesapeake Audubon Society.

“We are honored and awed to receive such a thoughtful and generous gift, “ said Mark Scallion, Pickering Creek Audubon Center’s Director. The parcel, which will debut it’s first program with youth this May, will be known as Peterson Woods at Pickering Creek Audubon Center.
George Peterson reflects, “We always felt that the Audubon Center shared Pickering Creek with us. We were only a hundred yards away, across an arm of Pickering Creek, and shared everything from wildlife to the excited shouts of summer campers on Pickering’s trails and the equally loud shouts of our grandchildren (who went on to become Pickering campers).

Our pileated woodpecker flew back and forth between the woods. For a time we had a river otter in our bank who made the same trip. In winters when the creek froze over, even the red foxes would walk back and forth across the snow.

So when it came time to move from our home and our woods, it seemed only natural to share the property more permanently with Pickering Creek Audubon Center. One of the remarkable things is that, although the properties are so close, they have quite different mini-environments. In Peterson Woods there are thousands of naturally massed spicebush but none of the rugged mountain laurel that grace the Audubon Center, an acre of ferns and a large patch of creeping dogwood, but none of may apples that light up spring across the creek. We hope that both the connections and the differences will help strengthen Pickering Creek Audubon Center.”
Cemmy remarks, “Over the years, we have had opportunities to take part in the life of the Center in many ways. We are ever impressed with the acumen and dedication of its staff, and the programs they create for thousands and thousands of children. Knowing that their efforts have brought the Center into a position of conservation leadership on the Eastern Shore, we entrust our land to their care. Perhaps our gift will encourage others to consider conservation easements or outright gifts of property to further the Center’s mission.”

Although not open to the public, a smattering of the Center’s programs that are offered to the public this summer and fall will be held at Peterson Woods. Keep an eye on the Center’s program calendar at www.pickeringcreek.org to take advantage of an opportunity to visit this gem.

Tour, Toast, & Taste Features an Exciting Visit at Myrtle Grove

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On June 11 Pickering Creek Audubon Center’s Tour, Toast & Taste will be held at Herb and Patrice Miller’s Myrtle Grove in Easton. The event will afford guests a rare look inside Myrtle Grove and a great opportunity to socialize and add culinary adventures to their social calendars for the next year. At this year’s gala event, Pickering Creek will welcome back nationally recognized artists, father-son duo, Ken & Brad Kolodner to entertain guests with a captivating soundscape of hammered dulcimer, banjo and fiddles.

Myrtle grove dates to the early 1700’s and is beautifully placed along the Miles River.

Myrtle grove dates to the early 1700’s and is beautifully placed along the Miles River.

When asked why they would open their delightful retreat to guest, Patrice Miller responded, “We know how impactful experiential learning is and are delighted to support the efforts of Pickering Creek by welcoming guests to Myrtle Grove.”

The Miller’s have been tremendously supportive of this year’s Tour, Toast and Taste, said Mark Scallion, Pickering Creek’s Director, “the beautiful cedars, magnolias and many other ancient trees their property hosts speak to their conservation ethic as owners of Myrtle Grove.”

Myrtle Grove’s original owner, Robert Goldsborough, arrived in America from England, and settled on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. At age thirty he bought a tract of land on the Miles River known as Ashby, which was deeded to him on October 16, 1690. Robert Goldsborough of Ashby deeded the Myrtle Grove land, carved from the Ashby tract, to his son, Robert Goldsborough II. As a wedding gift, Robert Goldsborough also built his son a small frame house on the Myrtle Grove parcel, which still stands today.

The oldest portion of the Myrtle Grove house, constructed between 1724 and 1734 using wide beaded clapboard over logs, was built in the early Georgian style. This older part of the telescope house has an “L” shaped central hall with one room on either side. The sitting room—called the prayer room by the Goldsborough family—is located across the hall from the dining room, and contains fireplace walls that are entirely paneled.

The newer, brick wing of the house at Myrtle Grove was built in 1790 by Robert Goldsborough III, a judge and twice-serving United States Senator. The bricks of the house were made at Myrtle Grove, and the outline of the excavation where the clay was dug may still be traced. The bricks were laid in a Flemish bond pattern.

Former Board Presidents Bill and Mary Griffin enjoy the 2015 Tour Toast and Taste

Former Board Presidents Bill and Mary Griffin enjoy the 2015 Tour Toast and Taste

In front of the Myrtle’ Grove’s main residence stands a small, one-story building, which Judge Robert Goldsborough (Robert Goldsborough III) erected and used as an office. The building dates to 1770, and is believed by some historians to be the oldest law office in the United States. The 18th century paneling remains intact. Inside the office, a narrow staircase to the left of the fireplace leads to a small room where students slept after reading law during the day with Judge Goldsborough.

Following the home tour on June 11th, guests will move to the spacious greens outside the home overlooking the Miles River where they will enjoy cocktails, heavy hors d’oeuvres and live music while signing up and purchasing dinners and events at a wide variety of special locales to be held throughout the year. Dinners and events ranging from classic gourmet meals to themed ethnic dinners, local and historical specialty dinners, kayaking adventures, BBQs, and Crab Feasts will be available for purchase. There is something for everyone to benefit the conservation education work that is conducted daily at Pickering Creek.

This year’s Tour, Toast and Taste is generously sponsored by Herb and Patrice Miller, the Dock Street Foundation, the Frederick Richmond Foundation, Bruce Wiltsie and Bill Davenport, the Pickering Creek Board of Trustees, the Chesapeake Audubon Society, Bill and Mary Griffin, the Tilghman Family, Cheryl Tritt and Phillip Walker, Dr. Stuart Strahl, Bartlett, Griffin and Vermilye, The Wilford Nagel Group at Morgan Stanley, Richard Scobey and Bruce Ragsdale, George and Cemmy Peterson, Colin Walsh and Carolyn Williams, Wayne and Jodi Shaner, Phillip and Charlotte Sechler, Ken’s Creative Kitchen, The Hill Group at Morgan Stanley, Ewing Dietz, Fountain and Kaludis, Easton Utilities, Avon Dixon Insurance and The Star Democrat.

For over 30 years, Pickering Creek Audubon Center has provided environmental education opportunities to students of the Eastern Shore, moving them from awareness of their watershed to conservation action in their communities. Since establishing a well-reputed elementary education program in partnership with Talbot County Public Schools 22 years ago, Audubon has added meaningful watershed experiences for middle and high school students to it’s continuum of education along with community outreach education about the region’s unique saltmarshes. Pickering Creek reaches the people of the Eastern Shore throughout their academic careers outdoor learning experiences that encourage them to continue interacting with the outdoors frequently.

Tickets and more information are available online at www.pickeringcreek.org. For more information call the Center at 410-822-4903.