Masonville Cove Revisted - Baltimore, MD

First and foremost, for an explanation of my initial visit to the cove please visit my original blog post on the Masonville Cove. I have no picture for this current post so if you want to see what it looks like you'll have the refer to the other post.

View Masonville Cove in a larger map

Okay, now that you have read the old post let's fast forward to October 2010. I have been doing a lot of bird watching over at Ft. McHenry and have been watching the dredge activity over at Masonville Cove. If you look at the Google Map Satellite imagery viewable now (October 2010) in the above map it is completely inaccurate. The Port Administration has annihilated the cove, the ferry is gone and so are a lot of the other boat relics that were there. The cove area to the east of the Mercedes Benz parking lot has been filled in and now there are new land formations all over. The last 2 years have been a noisy busy mess.

I had to go over to Brooklyn yesterday so I figured I would stop in over at the cove to see what was going on. The Masonville Environmental Center has been erected, finished and staffed. According to the Masonville Cove Environmental Center Website it is sort an education center. I was there at noon on a Monday. There was staff in the building but the door was locked. I knocked anyway. The staff told me the building was not open to the public that day, I asked to look around which they allowed me to do. Nobody offered me a map or instructions on what to do or see at the cove. The staff seemed busy preparing their lunches. I opted not to ask any questions because I feared the staff would tell me I had to leave the cove and go away which wasn't going to happen. I didn't feel like getting into a pissing match with a ponytail.

Now I was left with a dilemma, I wanted to see the cove but I didn't want the staff to notice I was in the cove. Fortunately for me I remembered to wear my camouflage. The beauty of Masonville Cove Environmental Center is that the center is completely obscured in the woods. As long as one stays to the west of the center they can't see you. So that is where I decided to go. I left my car in the Environmental Center's parking lot which I will probably never do again. The parking lot has a gate and I was worried that the gate might get closed. Next time I visit I will leave my car somewhere on Frankfurst Avenue so the staff can't see it and I won't have to worry about the gate. I also want to forwarn you that due to the dredging the entire area really really stinks, it stinks bad.

I walked west on Frankfurst Ave. and used the gated road entrance to access the cove (see map). Then I walked a few hundred feet to get to the water's edge. There is a road that goes to mulch parking lot there. Then you have to bushwhack. Some of the coastline there rises about 20-30 feet above the water and makes for a good place to watch the birds. This was pretty exciting because an osprey was busy diving for fish not 50 feet in front of me. There was lots of osprey activity. Across the cove area I noticed a kingfisher enjoying the rocks. I looked over to the Mercedes Benz parking lots and saw a bald eagle atop the big light poles. It's October and I have always noticed the balds on the Patapsco at this time of year. My guess is that they are coming from the north, performing their southward migration to South America to hang for the winter.

I wanted to know what the land looked like as it went out further to the point. So I started to walk northward. There was no trail, I was doing a lot of difficult bushwhack in lots of thorns and invasives. I got to an area where there was a group of trees and all hell seemed to break loose. The trees came alive with big blue herons squawking and flapping their wings. Now, this answered a question I had about the big blues. As an avid birder over at Ft. McHenry I always wondered where the herons lived, as they seemed to always fly in from Masonville Cove. Herons are very particular as to what type of tree they like to perch in. This little group of about 4 trees that I stumbled upon must be the home turf of the area's heron population. With all my crunching the herons decided to vacate the premises. Before I knew it there was a big flock of large blue herons flying around the Patapsco River Basin which looked totally cool. I felt bad for disturbing them, and this is probably why I later learned the Masonville Urban Bird Sanctuary is off-limit to humans. I suppose I must have been in the bird sanctuary part of the cove. Who knew?

I managed to make me way out to the tip of the point and saw some old rotting pier posts. There were a variety of gulls and cormorants basking in the sun. It was nice and peaceful, I found some old shards of chinaware that were unusual. When I was at the environmental center I had notice a very small picture display of the history of the point. Apparently there once was entire rowhouse neighborhood on the point that was demolished because the railroad wanted the land. There are some old pictures of the neighborhood on the website here. I wonder where Matson and Mavin Street, in Masonville Cove once were? The neighborhood had 50 houses, a store and gospel hall. Do you know? Please add a comment if you do.

Anyway, I was getting a little worried about my car and that gate so I left Masonville Cove, maybe one day I will visit their legal hiking trails and learn more, that is if the Visitor's Center staff is a little more welcoming.

Update January 3, 2011 I went back to Masonville Cove a few days ago. This time I left my car at the parking lot but outside the gate alongside the Environmental Center Sign. I learned that the Maryland Environmental Services team closes the gate precisely at 3:30PM and that it is legal to leave your car outside the gate but not blocking the entrance way. Forwarning: There was a lady-of-the-evening actively looking for business out on Fairfield Ave. so be very aware that this is going on in the immediate area. Take precautions and protect yourself, especially if you are female.

I bushwhacked back to the cove to the water's edge that is on the west side near the concrete plant. This is migratory duck heaven. I saw:

Ruddy Ducks
Common Mergansers both male AND female
Herring Gulls
Blackbacked Gulls
Big Blue Herons

Next time I visit I think I might park at the Park&Ride at the intersection of Hanover Street. I am going to wear my baggy pants and hood, and then walk up 1/2 mile on Fairfield Ave to get back to the cove. As a woman in this section of town I don't want to be all that visible.

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