Despite its small size, this park can be a useful stop because it contains several habitats and it provides property access in western Howard County where most land is private.
GPS: N39 20 41.1 W77 05 45.2
Habitat: The deciduous woodlands are not yet mature with many young box elder trees in the floodplain along the remarkably clear stream. The wooded area contains an open glade. A small meadow, that affords a fine view of the sky, is bordered on two sides by hedgerows. There is a heavily vegetated seepage area near the spring head. A small farm pond can be viewed from the parking area.
Layout: From the parking area adjacent to Watersville Road, there is a hummingbird garden on the right. To the left is the historic Poplar Spring marked by a sign. Adjacent to the spring a trail goes into the woods, winds over a wooden bridge, and continues through a glade with a bench. The meadow to the south can be reached through the glade or by continuing beyond it as the path bears left (this part of the trail may be difficult to follow but the path is marked by downed trees at the edges). The meadow contains hedgerows on the west and south sides, mown paths wind through it, and there is a good view of the sky. Unfortunately, several dozen trees have been planted throughout the meadow; in a few years, they will reduce the diversity of birds and butterflies here. A heavily vegetated seepage area forms part of the south boundary of the park. It lies adjacent to Watersville Road and the spring. It is legal to walk close to the vegetation along the south edge without trespassing on the adjoining property.
Best Time to Visit: This park is easily accessible year-round and provides a delightful miniature mix of woods, field, and stream habitats. Not surprisingly, there is little bird activity in winter. Walk whenever the weather permits. The woodland path and bridge can be slippery when wet; portions may be muddy after heavy rains!
Birding:The wooded area is alive with woodpeckers year-round with Red-bellied, Downy, and Northern Flicker common. During spring migration Rusty Blackbirds visit floodplain situations along the stream, and warblers can be found in the canopy. A variety of woodland species can be seen and heard (although sounds from traffic on nearby I-70 can be distracting). Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Carolina Wrens, and Northern Cardinals are present year-round, while Dark-eyed Juncos and White-throated Sparrows visit in winter. The adjacent meadow provides a different habitat and an excellent view of the sky for flyover species. Red-shouldered and Red-tailed hawks as well as Black and Turkey vultures drift over all year. Eastern Bluebirds utilize the nest boxes and are ever-present on the wood edges. Spring finds Field and Chipping sparrows along with Indigo Buntings singing from the small trees planted in the meadow.
Highlights: This small park has an interesting combination of county history and natural history. Visit the Mason Bee blocks located in the meadow. This project is an effort to increase the population of this native species, a local pollinator of fruit trees, vegetables, and flowers.
Many native bee species are more effieict pollinators, on a bee-per-bee basis, than honey bees: 250 female orchard mason bees can effectively pollinate one acre of apples. Plenty: The World in Green, Issue No. 20 February/March 2008
Handicapped Access: Limited, although paths are level. The woods trail is dirt and the meadow path is mown grass.