Saturday, July 8, 2017

Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge Photos

Here’s a little quiz:
What’s one of 560 and, at the same time, one of only two?
What has acres and acres of beauty?
What has boardwalks and swamps and fields and woodlands?
What offers families and individuals hours of recreation and exercise - for free?
What’s absolutely FULL of birds?

The answer to every question? MISSISQUOI NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE !!

MNWR is one of 560 refuges nationwide, but one of only two here in Vermont. 

We here in Vermont have a beautiful refuge in the northwest corner of  the state and another in the Northeast Kingdom. (That's the Nulhegan Basin Division of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.)

Let's start at the Visitor Center on Tabor Road in Swanton. 

(Some people still go to the location of the old headquarters on Route 78. To get to the “new” building – 15 years old or so – drive a few miles farther on 78 and turn left onto Tabor Road.)

Over a hundred twenty bird species have been reported right at the refuge headquarters. Cliff Swallows and Barn Swallows nest in the eaves, and Tree Swallows use the many boxes around the Center.

Bernie noticed a House Sparrow using a Cliff Swallow's mud nest to raise three hungry youngsters.

In back of the headquarters building is the mile-long Discovery Trail, with a grassland section and a beautifully designed boardwalk through a swamp. After a walk, one out-of-state visitor gasped, "I felt like I was in the Wizard of Oz! Following a magic road!"

Tiny Leopard Frogs covered the Discovery Trail, the grasses around the Visitor Center, and even the paved parking lot. Refuge Manager Ken Sturm spent many minutes helping some of the minuscule creatures by getting them off the scorching pavement and putting them in cool, moist grass.

We also walked the Black Creek and Maquam Creek Trail off Route 78. 

There's another boardwalk on this trail, also built by kids of the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps.

This is an astonishingly lovely walk!

The Black Creek / Maquam Creek Trail is a 2.5 mile round trip - with birds and other wildlife everywhere you look.

At the start of the trail, just by the railroad tracks, a Green Heron balanced on a wire while Bernie took several photos. Very unusual behavior for this usually shy marsh bird!

Eastern Wood-Pewees were everywhere, working at reducing the number of helicopter-sized mosquitos for which the trail is infamous.

We watched a humongous beaver towing a twenty-foot long branch to its lodge and then tugging and tugging to get it into exactly the right place. The beaver then came to check us out, giving two loud smacks with its tail before swimming away.

On every walk, Yellow Warblers sang "sweet - sweet-sweet-oh, so SWEET!"

Northern Waterthrushes made soft liquid noises.

The high thin whistles of Cedar Waxwings joined the chorus.

Catbirds threw in an assortment of songs, mews, whistles and catcalls. This bird kept singing even though its mouth was full of insects.

We got so used to seeing birdlife on every side that we both saw a bird in this stick!

So many other critters welcomed us to the refuge also!

Garter snakes and this Red-bellied Snake ...

The resident (and stuffed) River Otter at the Visitor Center ...

Lola, Ranger Dave Frisque's friendly retriever ...

 A woodchuck next to the headquarters building ...

Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge is acres and acres of beauty, birds and other wildlife. And, as the sign says, IT'S YOURS!

Here are more images of the beauty we saw at the refuge.

Visitors may borrow brand-new binoculars at the main desk for use on their nature walks. There are also kid-sized backpacks with field guides, magnifying glasses and other helpful tools.

America the Beautiful Passes  and Duck Stamps are available at the refuge. The America the Beautiful Senior Pass is a lifetime get-in-free ticket for people 62 and over who want to visit national parks, wildlife refuges, national monuments and other sites. Senior Passes cost $10 now but the cost will go up to $80 in October 2017. 

There are free America the Beautiful Passes for active military personnel (one year pass) and for disabled people. There are also annual passes costing $80 that are designed for people under 62 who will be traveling a lot and visiting many national parks or refuges within one year. 

Duck Stamps have been called the most successful conservation program in history. Ninety-eight cents out of every dollar goes toward buying or leasing wetland habitat for protection under the National Wildlife Refuge program. You don't have to be a duck hunter to buy a Duck Stamp and show it proudly!

For more information about the refuge, walking trails, paddling and other activities, go to:

Friends of the Missisquoi website

Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge

Vermont Birds and Words

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for taking us along on this outing. And many thanks for mentioning the price increase in America the Beautiful passes. I was happy to know that I could get one at Missisquoi.