So Cool: Bocce Returns to Chestertown

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Chestertown Recreation Commission announces the return of the wildly successful Ye Olde Town Bocce League. Begun last fall and enjoyed by players of all ages, the Bocce League was a huge hit. Bocce, or lawn bowling is a great activity for players of any skill level and proved a terrific way to spend an evening with our neighbors.

Plans are to hold matches on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 6:30 once again in Wilmer Park. The league has added a second night in anticipation of additional teams joining. Play will begin the week of April 28th and carry through the week of June 16th. Playoffs will follow during the next 2 weeks, allowing us to conclude the season by July 1.

The fee will be $25 per person and teams of up to 6 persons will be $ 125, (sign up 5, get one free). Teams are permitted to have more players if they like however, members beyond the 6 will each have to pay $10 for a shirt.

All proceeds go towards league equipment and towards the construction of a permanent bocce court to be built in town.
Anyone interested in being involved can email our bocce guru Frank Hurst at fdhurst1@verizon.net, or in person by signing up in the park during the farmers market.

The Chestertown Recreation Commission is a official branch of the Mayor & Council’s office charged with improving recreational opportunities, programming and facilities in the town. The CRC meets monthly at Town Hall, and welcomes any and all ideas from the community. Those interested, please email us at chestertownrec@yahoo.com.

Skywatch for April 2014: Mars and Lunar Eclipse

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April 2014 is an action-packed month for skywatchers; full of excellent events and things to see in our skies. The headliner is the first of two Total Lunar Eclipses for 2014, which happens in the early morning hours of “tax day”, April 15th. It has been 857 days since the Sun, Earth, and Moon lined up (in that order) and the Moon passed through Earth’s shadow and any of us saw a total lunar eclipse—- over two years! (2014’s second lunar eclipse will be on October 8th).

 

Total Lunar Eclipse of 1993 Nov 29 (Dunkirk, Maryland) by Fred Espenak

Total Lunar Eclipse of 1993 Nov 29 (Dunkirk, Maryland) by Fred Espenak

Skywatchers in North and South America will have the prime view of the April 15th eclipse, as none of it will be seen in Europe, Africa, and Central Asia (Moon will already have set when in eclipse). For us the Moon will appear nestled among the stars of zodiac constellation Virgo, and the total phase of the eclipse will last 1 hour and 18 minutes. In the sky region around the Moon will also be seen 1st magnitude star Spica (Virgo’s brightest) just 1.5 degrees to the right and below the Moon, and 1st magnitude Arcturus (Bootes) 32 degrees above and left of the Moon, and 1st magnitude Antares (Scorpius) 45 degrees below and left of it. Meanwhile, Mars will be seen, a week past opposition for it, just 9 degrees above and right of the Moon, and Saturn, 27 degrees left, and slightly above the Moon. This will keep us busy spotting things in addition to the eclipse.

Partial Eclipse starts at 1:58 am EDT —– this is when the Moon enters the Umbra(darkest part) of Earth’s shadow
Totality begins at 3:07 am EDT ——– this is when the Moon is fully inside the Umbra.
Totality ends at 4:25 am EDT ——–Moon exits the Umbra.
Partial Eclipse ends at 5:33 am EDT —– Moon fully out of Earth’s shadow.

Path of the Moon through Earth's umbral and penumbral shadows  during the Total Lunar Eclipse of April 15, 2014. Courtesy of Fred Espenak.

Path of the Moon through Earth’s umbral and penumbral shadows
during the Total Lunar Eclipse of April 15, 2014. Courtesy of Fred Espenak.

When in total eclipse the Moon usually looks reddish-orange in color because our air bends some of the Sun’s rays into our shadow while scattering the shorter blue wavelengths of light. Any significant volcanic eruptions may darken the Moon’s appearance too by filling the air with fine dust and ash particles. Remember, this is a completely “safe” eclipse to watch —- we are not looking at any bright Sun rays (as in a Solar Eclipse) —– but merely looking into Earth’s shadow through which the Moon is passing. And since it lasts for 3 1/2 hours, one can watch all of it or parts of it spread over that time. You can use your eyes, binoculars, or telescopes, and it can be seen from a dark observing place or even from a brightly light parking lot. The only problem is the timing —– 2:00 to 5:30 am —– is not an especially convenient time —– BUT —–well worth getting up to see!!

Jupiter and Venus continue to be bright, easy to see planets all month. Jupiter at magnitude –2.1 is in the southwest sky form dusk until about 2 am. Venus in the southeast pre-dawn sky can be seen there for two hours before sunrise at magnitude –4.3. Also each planet will have the Moon passing nearby it during April. A nearly first quarter Moon will be seen just 5 degrees below Jupiter on April 6th, and a waning crescent Moon will be just above Venus on the morning of the 25th.

But the other biggest April event after the eclipse is the opposition of Mars on April 8th. Mars then is closer to Earth than it has been since December 2007, at 50 million miles. Mars will rise in the East as the Sun sets in the west that night, and it will appear at –1.5 magnitude, making it even brighter than Sirius, the sky’s brightest star (-1.4; and still visible low in Canis Major in the southwest sky in April). Mars will be visible all throughout the spring and into summer, but will stay at its current brightness for only this month because Mars is a small planet and our orbit motion and its own obit separate us fairly quickly. But it will stay as bright as other 1st magnitude stars into summer among the stars of Virgo and then into Cancer.

Get out and enjoy what the sky offers this first full month of spring!!

Sassafras River Association Heron Rookery Paddle ‘N Picnic

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Join the Sassafras River Association on Saturday, April 12th at 9AM as we paddle on the Sassafras River and Dyer Creek to one of the Heron Rookeries to see dozens of heron nests, plenty of adult herons, and maybe some chicks! There is also a bald eagle nest in the vicinity. We may also paddle up Hall Creek alongside the DuPont Estate for those of you who are interested.

The paddling will be from 9 AM until around 11:30 AM or so, at which time we will ease back to shore for a hamburger and hotdog cookout in a beautiful setting overlooking the Sassafras.

Bring your kayak or canoe, paddles, a life jacket for all paddlers, a hat, sunscreen, and binoculars. If you don’t have a canoe or kayak we may be able to provide a limited number of boats or find room in someone else’s boat, but please let us know at least a week in advance of the trip. We’ll be close to high tide so we’ll have plenty of water.

The paddle is free for SRA members and $10 for non-members. Children are free. Please RSVP by Monday, April 7th (if you have your own boat) or Friday April 4th (if you need a boat).

Contact Emmett Duke at riverkeeper@sassafrasriver.org or (410)275-1400. Please tell us your name, the number of people in your group, and a phone number and email you can be reached at.

Registration Underway for Adkins Arboretum’s Summer Nature Camps

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Camp Pollywog 2013

Adkins Arboretum’s Summer Nature Camps provide an enchanted experience for children. Registration is underway.

Summer belongs to children. For the past nine years, families and children have grown with Adkins Arboretum’s Summer Nature Camps. The camps provide extraordinary ways for children to enjoy summer the old-fashioned way—outdoors.

Campers will make lifelong memories while exploring the Arboretum’s woodland, meadows, streams and wetland. From grazing on blackberries to splashing in the Blockston Branch, the Arboretum’s Summer Nature Camps provide children with a truly enchanted experience.

Preschoolers ages 2 and 3 (with an adult) who participate in Camp Bumblebee (June 16–20) will float leaf and twig boats down the Blockston Branch, create leafy magic carpets on the forest floor and mix gooey wetland “parfaits” while listening to a chorus of frogs and red-winged blackbirds. Camp Pollywog (June 23–27) campers ages 4 to 6 will learn about the mysteries and magic of summer as they snack on blueberries in the Funshine Garden, scoop up critters in the Arboretum wetland and dip their toes in the Blockston Branch.

In Camp Paw Paw (July 7–11), campers ages 7 to 9 will enjoy a week of outdoor discovery while keeping nature journals, developing photography skills, making paper and learning artistic and natural science skills. Camp Egret (July 14– 18) campers ages 10 to 12 will develop resiliency and confidence of character while gaining outdoor skills, including wilderness survival, archery, stealth, navigation and animal tracking.

Registration fees vary, and advance registration is required. Register at adkinsarboretum.org or by calling 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Osprey On The Move: Track Progress of Birds Online

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The annual migration of osprey from their wintering grounds in South America is now underway, and you can track the movements of three Chesapeake Bay osprey at cbf.org/ospreymap. One of the birds, named Nick, has just started his journey toward Tangier Sound. Tango, who also resides in Tangier Sound and Woody, who will take up residence in Whitehall Bay, in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, have not yet signaled their departure.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF) Osprey Tracking Project was designed to enhance understanding of this iconic species, and the three birds were chosen because they are frequently seen by students participating in CBF’s Education Programs. This technology enables students to see the birds in the wild and study their daily travels from the classroom.

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CBF’s Osprey Tracking Project allows students and teachers to track birds—ones they have seen during field experiences at CBF’s Port Isobel Island or Arthur Sherwood education centers—from their home and classroom computers. Photo Credit: Lance Jordan.

“Using this tracking technology we can engage students and citizens and help them understand the epic migration and life cycle of these fascinating birds,” said Don Baugh, CBF’s Vice President for Education. “Not only can we track migration, we can also monitor the daily activities of these birds both here and in South America.”

The return of osprey to the Chesapeake Bay, generally in March, is a traditional sign of spring. The Chesapeake Bay has the most concentrated population of osprey in the world, but they can also be found in places as far away as Siberia, the Red Sea, and Canada. While here in the Chesapeake, osprey, also called fish hawks, dine primarily on menhaden.

The tracking devices were donated by Microwave Telemetry, Inc., and were installed by professional ornithologists.

“We are pleased to participate in this effort with CBF, and hope that it will help raise awareness and public support for conservation of our national treasure,” said Dr. Lance Jordan, Operations Manager at Microwave Telemetry, Inc.

Love Maryland’s Outdoors? There’s an App for That!

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DNR launches mobile app featuring recreation opportunities and news updates

DNR launches mobile app featuring recreation opportunities and news updates

Enjoying Maryland’s great outdoors has never been easier with the Department of Natural Resource’s new mobile app! The AccessDNR app provides the State’s hunters, anglers, boaters, park-goers ─ anyone seeking outside adventure ─ all of the latest in nature-related recreation, information and news right at their fingertips.

“DNR’s new mobile app will make finding and enjoying Maryland’s unparalleled outdoor recreation opportunities considerably easier for our citizens and visitors,” said DNR Secretary Joseph Gill. “We are very excited by this new step forward in providing customers with a more personalized and accessible DNR experience.”

From identifying an unknown fish, to finding a nearby swimming hole, to locating a dog-friendly State Park, the AccessDNR app provides information and services for the Maryland outdoor enthusiast on the go.

The location-based app allows users to discover and locate State recreation, such as parks and trails, boat launches and hunting lands, in relation to where they are. Customers can refine their location search in radius increments of 10, 25 or 50 miles. This mobile resource also provides on the spot access to fishing and hunting regulations, a fish identifier, late breaking DNR news updates, and much more.

The AccessDNR mobile phone app features:

*Location-based maps and directions to State-owned lands and attractions
*Maryland State Park activities and amenities
*Fishing and hunting season information
*Hunting harvest mobile submission option
*Trophy Case, hunting photo sharing through Facebook, Twitter or by email
*A location-based sunrise/sunset and tide update
*Maryland fish and shellfish identifier
*Hunting, fishing and boating regulation guides
*Breaking DNR news and alerts

Developed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the electronic government facilitator NIC, the app is currently compatible with Apple and Android devices.

To download and for more information, visit dnr2.maryland.gov/Pages/dnrapp.aspx.

Celebrate Spring with Adkins Arboretum’s Ninth Annual Arbor Day Run

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Youngsters dash off the starting line at Adkins Arboretum’s 2013 Arbor Day Run

Youngsters dash off the starting line at Adkins Arboretum’s 2013 Arbor Day Run

Calling all runners! Adkins Arboretum will host its ninth annual Arbor Day Run Sat., April 5. Runners, walkers, families and nature enthusiasts are invited to enjoy this popular event at the Arboretum. Register by Sat., March 29 to save on registration fees.

Managed by TriSportsEvents and featuring a 5K Run, a 5K Walk, and a free Healthy Kids 100-yard dash, the Run is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy an early spring morning in nature. Participants will catch glimpses of spring as they traverse the cross-country trail plotted along the Arboretum’s network of scenic forest and meadow paths.

Awards will be presented for all events, and all 5K participants will receive an Arbor Day Run T-shirt. Post-race activities include refreshments, a nature project for children and a native tree raffle. Registration begins at 8 a.m., with the Kids’ Dash at 8:50 a.m. The 5K Run and 5K Walk commence at 9 a.m.

Registration is underway. For fee information or to register, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410.634.2847, ext. 0.

The CBEC Speaker Series Presents: “Return of the Osprey, a Symbol of the Bay”

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osprey fullChesapeake Bay Environmental Center continues its 2014 “Environmentally Speaking” series at 7:00 PM on Wed, March 19th at CBEC’s Education Building in Grasonville, MD.

The third of five monthly series will feature Dr. Judy Wink, CBEC’s Executive Director and a renowned ornithologist. She will discuss the life and migratory habits of the Osprey, one of the Bay’s most interesting birds.

$8/members;$10/non-members. Info: 410-827-6694.

If you have any questions please contact Judy Wink, Exec. Director, CBEC, at 410-827-6694, or email her at jwink@bayrestoration.org, or call me at 410-643-1104.

Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge to Hold Youth Turkey Hunt

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Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in cooperation with the National Wild Turkey Federation will once again conduct a gobbler-only spring youth turkey hunt on the refuge. The Youth Turkey Hunt will include two Saturdays during the State season: April 19th and April 26th, 2014.

Pick up applications at the refuge office from 11 am to 3 pm most days. Request applications by email ENYouthHunt@gmail.com or phone 410-639-7056.

Completed applications must be received or postmarked no later than April 3, 2014. See the application for details. The drawing to select youth hunters will be held on Tuesday, April 8, 2014.

The refuge will be CLOSED from 7:30 am to noon during the Youth Turkey Hunts on April 19 and April 26, 2014.