Arriving at Morton NWR

We wrapped up our time at Ottawa NWR with a flurry of activity. We spent some time with my ‘old’ college roommate and his wife at their home near Toledo where we had a delicious meal and caught up on happenings in all of our lives. Another day we had a visit from Judith’s long time friend, Karen, and her friend, David.

Soon it was off to New York and Long Island. While we expected traffic as we skirted the NYC area, we still received a shock when we reached the George Washington Bridge! It was about a half-hour delay to get onto the bridge, and the toll was $92!

I was far too busy driving to take a picture, so this one is borrowed from the internet.

Then came the Throgs Neck Bridge with another half-hour delay and a $55 toll. One more half-hour delay around an auto accident on the freeway, and we were on our way to meet our new Volunteer Coordinator, Ann Marie. She showed us around the Complex Headquarters, signed us up, gave us keys and apparel, and we were off to our summer home, Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge.


It is a beautiful place! We were immediately greeted by the welcoming committee. But she was too busy looking for food to pose for a picture!

Wild Turkey – hen

We were soon set up and settled in.

The refuge is small (187 acres) but beautiful with a variety of habitats. The primary features are a delightful trail, and the beach on Little Peconic Bay.


Entrance to the walking trails
Wild roses in bloom
Walking through the woods
Boardwalk on pond loop
Woodland pond
Visitors enjoying the beach on Little Peconic Bay
View of Little Peconic Bay
Jessup’s Neck Peninsula

Unfortunately, the refuge had a history of allowing, even encouraging, visitors to hand feed the birds. While that practice is not prohibited, we are trying to reeducate the public to the problems this can cause. However, the birds and chipmunks have become accustomed to having people feeding them, so they are not as shy as normal. In fact, some of the small birds will come, land on a visitor’s hand, and eat from their hand!

Northern Cardinal – Female
Gray Catbird
Downey Woodpecker
Tufted Titmouse

Other flora and fauna of interest:

Milkweed in blossom
Osprey on nest – note the homes across Noyack Bay
Snapping Turtle laying eggs
Painted Box Turtle
House Wren in nesting box

Most of the time we greet visitors as they come down the walkway and into the refuge, but we do some general maintenance as well (attend to the bathrooms, mow the grass, pick up trash, etc.). Judith has been working to rejuvenate a Perennial Garden that has been long neglected. One thing that is very different than most of our experiences, there are many, many folks who live in the area and visit the refuge regularly – some every day, some several times a week, etc.

Judith weeding the butterfly garden
Mark and his ‘assistant’ greeting visitors

We find that our smaller rig is working well for us. There are three interns in the bunkhouse next door. We are creating new Wingspan addicts wherever we go!

On May 17 we became grandparents for the first time. Mother and baby are doing fine! (Daddy is too!)

We will be seeing them in September.