On a recent day off from work I decided to see what the Quogue Wildlife Refuge was all about. The refuge was founded by a group of duck hunters during an exceptionally cold winter in the 1930s. Concerned that the ducks would not survive the winter, they created a water fowl refuge on land that was formerly owned by an ice company. Today, in addition to housing injured animals, the Quogue Wildlife Refuge provides nature programs and miles of trails to wander.
Since Long Island gets pretty flat as one travels east, I left my hiking poles behind. I was not disappointed. I found the trails to be flat, wide and nicely cushioned with pine needles. In fact, the trails seemed to be accessible to anyone who wanted to be outdoors. During my visit, I passed runners, families with small children and mothers pushing strollers.
I began my ramble clockwise around the Old Ice Pond. The trail offered some excellent views of the pond. In the path I spotted some brilliant red leaves, a harbinger of autumn soon to come. I circled the pond, observing different things: the water view, the ferns near the path, and the intricate pattern of the remains of a discarded beehive.
At a junction in the road, I headed towards the North Pond where I decided to make use of one of the many benches along the trails. The water level in this smaller pond was pretty shallow with the edges becoming somewhat boggy but it still gave me something to study. I watched three dragonflies with striped wings perform a complex dance as they circled around each other, then dipping down occasionally to skim the service of the water before repeating the pattern again. When the performance was over, I continued on my way.
Back on the path that circled the Old Ice Pond, the trail soon gave way to a boardwalk, bridging over some vegetated wet areas before crossing part of the pond. Here, I found some beautiful white-fringed bog-orchids. There was another interesting plant that now showed a feathery display. I spent some time admiring them before moving on
As I neared the completion of my circuit, I discovered several interesting turn-offs. One led to a field with several bird condominiums perched on tall poles. Again, there were plenty of benches around for those who wanted to contemplate this aspect of nature. Not far beyond this field was another spur in the trail. I decided to stay on the main path, taking heed of the sign that informed the traveler that this field contained active beehives and was for staff use only.
Back near the entrance, I viewed some of the captive wildlife before ending my visit.