In all the discussion of urban and suburban development in Montgomery County, of how fast cars go through intersections, and how asphalt should give way to trees, it’s sometimes difficult to remember the quiet treasures that remain near us. You don’t need to go far to find solitude, where the birds sing, the creek burbles, and the leaves dance in the wind.
Just up 270 is Little Bennett Regional Park, the largest in Montgomery County. It’s at the northern tip of the county, by Clarksburg.
Just off Maryland Route 75 is the Kingsley Trail, a smooth, mostly-flat, broad gravel path that winds next to Little Bennett Creek.
On Mother’s Day, we ventured through the woods, just on a lark. It’s “Spring Migration,” when the birds are in full plumage and singing their hearts out, hoping to get lucky. Birders follow, similarly hoping to find just that wonderful look at our feathered neighbors.
We heard and saw hundreds of birds, from massive turkey vultures, wings tipping side-to-side in the morning air, to tiny warblers, flitting through the undergrowth. Some stand-outs on a lovely day included a perula, a Maryland yellow-throat, prairie warbler, and many, many catbirds. We kept hearing a pesky oven-bird (leading one awful birder to ask: “is a juvenile oven-bird half-baked?”).
The path circles past the old Kingsley single-room schoolhouse, tucked away in the woods, far from anything, in a place called Froggy Hollow.
Yes, it’s tame. It’s also beautiful. The spring air is light, not wet, even after the rains. The green is so fresh it’s almost yellow, hiding the songbirds who otherwise seem to glow at your backyard feeders. The sound of the busy Clarksburg road fades into the soft sussuration of the wind through the baby leaves, just emerging and stretching their legs.
Just a few minutes from home. Oh, and if you go, remember sunblock and bug spray.