News from Unexpected Wildlife Refuge

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May 2017

Red squirrel, by co-founder Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci

25th: Throwback to 1967, when Refuge co-founder Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci photographed this beautiful red squirrel on a cedar limb at the Refuge. – VVH
#tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRhistory #redsquirrels #NJwildlife #NJpinebarrens

White-tailed deer at main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

24th: Two white-tailed deer stopped for a late-afternoon drink by the edge of the main pond at the Refuge. – VVH

Northern watersnake under water, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

22nd: Do you notice anyone in this photo, hidden among the leaves in the water?
Hint: he or she has keeled scales. – VVH

Great blue heron watching, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

20th: A great blue heron was motionlessly watching the main pond, possibly for fish and small frogs. – VVH

Volunteer Mary Ann Gurka, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

18th: Throwback to April 2016, when Mary Ann Gurka, a frequent Refuge volunteer, was helping us install the first posts to protect the Refuge from illegal and damaging off-road vehicle use on the trails. We now have many effective obstacles in place thanks to help from the Pinelands Protection Alliance and a number of other dedicated volunteers. – VVH
#ThrowbackThursday #tbt #UWRhistory #Pinelands #PineBarrens #NJPineBarrens #PinelandsProtectionAlliance #PPA #NJconservation

Common yellowthroat; Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

17th: This black-masked warbler, the common yellowthroat, was hiding among the vegetation in some low shrubs near the main pond. – VVH

Otter photoed by trail camera, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

15th: I have been trying to photograph an otter at the Refuge for more than a year, with no success. Imagine my excitement when I examined the photos recently taken by one of our trail cameras and saw this elusive river otter about to slide into one of the small pools in the wetlands! – VVH

Southern twayblade orchid, courtesy James Pullaro James Pullaro points out twayblade to young visitor, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

13th: James Pullaro, a recent visitor to the Refuge, shared a photo of a southern twayblade he took along one of the trails at the Refuge. He was pleased by his find and wanted us to be aware that this member of the orchid group is considered rare in New Jersey. At one time, the twayblade was known to grow in only three locations in the state. The other photo is of James showing the orchid to a young guest. Thank you, James, for sharing! – VVH

Beaver drawing by co-founder Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci

11th: For our Throwback Thursday post this week, we are sharing an undated sketch by Refuge co-founder, Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, of a beaver confronted with wire-wrapped trees. Wrapping trees with wire is one of the easy and affordable methods we and other experts recommend to foster a healthy and humane relationship with local beavers when specific trees are to be protected.
#ThrowbackThursday #tbt #UWRHistory #beavers #beaversolutions #beaverbafflers #njwildlife #njpinebarrens – VVH

Cricket frog calling, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

10th: A cricket frog sounded his mating call from a lily pad on the main pond at the Refuge. – VVH

Moon over pines, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

8th: A waxing moon appeared over the pines on one of the trails at the Refuge. – VVH

Beaver eating in main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

6th: As we watched this beaver at early dusk one evening, we noticed that he or she was deftly grabbing aquatic vegetation to snack on while swimming across the main pond. – VVH

Wood duck and great blue heron reflection, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

4th: Our Throwback this week is to a photo from 2016 and one of my favorite trail cam images taken at the Refuge. Here, the camera photographed a wood duck swimming past the main beaver lodge and the reflection of a great blue heron perched on top of the lodge. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #NJWildlife – VVH

Belted kingfisher, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

2nd: This belted kingfisher has been regularly spotted flitting back and forth between two favored fishing spots on the main pond at the Refuge. Here, she sits on a dead tree in the middle of the main pond. – VVH

April 2017

Northern cricket frog, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

29th: One of the petite (1/2 - 1 inch 'diameter'), but raucous, frogs who make their presence known throughout the wetlands of the Refuge is the Northern cricket frog. The one shown here had stopped midway as he was traversing the walkway from one side of a small pool to the other. The distinctive patterns differ in color between individuals and may include shades of green and brown or russet red. – VVH

Earth Day Cleanup, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo Earth Day Cleanup. Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo Earth Day Cleanup, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo Earth Day Cleanup, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo Earth Day Cleanup, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

28th: Thank you to all of our volunteers who made our annual Earth Day Cleanup a success! We focused on cleaning up the stretch of Piney Hollow Road where it borders the Refuge and we collected 12 large bags of trash and recyclable materials. Our vegan barbecue this year featured Tofurky Italian sausage with peppers and onions, Tofurky kielbasa with baby potatoes and onions with a Dijon dip and potato and macaroni salads made with Just Mayo, egg-less mayonnaise. One of our volunteers brought a vegan chocolate cake with strawberry icing made with fresh strawberries.

We had a fantastic day, thanks to the great company of our volunteers and their dedication to helping us keep the Refuge clean. – VVH

Beaver child, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

27th: Throwback this week to a young beaver born to a mother called Whiskers in 1965. There have been beavers at the Refuge for as long as we know, creating beautiful habitat for other animals, and taking only what they need from the plentiful trees and water plants to raise their families. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #beavers #NJbeavers #NJWildlife – VVH

Osprey with fish, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

25th: We have been noticing at least two adult ospreys at the Refuge. Almost daily, these birds were seen diving from tall pine trees next to the main pond across from the cabin. The photo shows one who was successful in catching a fish during one of those dives. We, of course, feel sorry for the fish, but we can take comfort in knowing that the animals (and plants) at the Refuge live freely as nature 'intended' and that, unlike us, their dietary choices often of necessity result in one life ending so that another may continue. – VVH

Spring peeper, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

23rd: The Refuge at night has been alive with frog songs. Although sometimes cacophonous to our ears, these voices are critical to the reproductive lives of these amphibians. Amidst the mixture of sounds, we were able to identify carpenter frogs, cricket frogs, green frogs, leopard frogs and, very recently, bullfrogs. One of the first to awaken and sing was this little one with the mighty chirp, the northern spring peeper, who was sitting on a small branch in the Muddy Bog. – VVH

Bat and 'pink moon', Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

21st: I went out to photograph our first full moon of spring, named "pink moon" after the ground phlox, an early-spring blooming pink flower. As I was taking this photo, a brown bat flew into frame. We have adjusted the color a bit so you can see her or him in the upper left corner of the picture. I could not have timed this photograph better if I tried! – VVH

Amber jelly fungus, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

19th: Recent rains brought out this pretty, albeit common, amber, translucent jelly fungus. – VVH

Lesser scaups on main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

17th: A lesser scaup couple swim together on the main pond at the Refuge. – VVH

Canada geese on main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

14th: Wildlife biologists who study Canada geese, tell individuals apart by the white feathers partially wrapping the heads. These so-called chin straps are unique in pattern to each bird, as you can see in these three individuals on the main pond. – VVH

Gray tree frog, courtesy Al Francesconi

13th: Throwback to 1971, the year of Unexpected's tenth anniversary. Al Francesconi, frequent Refuge guest and photographer, took this great photo of a beautiful gray tree frog sitting on a moss-covered log.
#tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #frogs #treefrogs #njwildlife – VVH

Spring azure butterfly, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

12th: This small spring azure butterfly was taking a drink from the moss in one of the wetlands at the Refuge. – VVH

White cedar seedling, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

10th: These brown shoots, shaped a bit like rosemary, are white cedar seedlings, beginning to grow in a bed of sphagnum moss in one of the bogs at the Refuge. – VVH

Osprey taking flight, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

8th: We were happy to see a 'new' visitor to the Refuge. This osprey had been sighted around the main pond for days in a row. Here, he or she has just started to take flight, perhaps to do some fishing. – VVH

7th: Beavers killed and eaten

We were saddened to learn about this event by the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Aerie # 1966. Without in any way meaning to imply that other wildlife are not important or deserving of our compassion, beavers are a keystone species -- they are necessary for a healthy ecosystem. Beavers are smart, industrious and family-oriented and they form close communities wherever they choose to live. The Eagles organization has a history of charitable giving and community involvement. We hope that next year, they extend their compassion to New Jersey's beaver population and not consider them a 'novelty' food item. Please consider a POLITE and CIVIL message to them asking them to take beavers 'off the menu' in the future:

2016 Earth Day Cleanup; Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

6th: Throwback to last year's Earth Day Cleanup at Unexpected Wildlife Refuge. Volunteers happily braved the cold, rainy day to help us in our annual trash collection along a busy road adjacent the Refuge. Join us this year on Saturday, April 22, at 11 AM. Everything you need to help us gather trash shall be supplied. Volunteers are invited to a vegan barbecue at headquarters after the cleanup. RSVP by email or phone: or 856.697.3541. We will be posting an event page soon.
#TBT #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #EarthDay #EarthDay2017 – VVH

Great blue herons, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

5th: These great blue herons perched in a tree on a windy day, high above the main pond at the Refuge. They had been very social with each other. I watched them fly around the pond, landing and otherwise spending time together. I have a feeling a clutch of heron eggs is not too far off in the future. – VVH

Oriole nest, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

3rd: A Baltimore oriole's intricate, cup-like nest from last year hangs from a branch high in a tree by the cabin at the Refuge. Orioles sometimes recycle nesting materials from a previous year's nest. If the female oriole revisits this one this spring, I may post an update if I can get a good photo. – VVH

Hooded mergansers on main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

1st: A trio of hooded mergansers near sunset on the main pond. The male mergansers have characteristic hoods with bold white patches, whereas the females have ruddy-red hoods. A second female was trailing behind her companions and is not pictured. – VVH

March 2017

Lines at the Pines exhibit, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

31st: We were pleased to be invited to participate again in the Lines on the Pines (New Jersey), event earlier this month. This event is a showcase for local Pinelands artists, craftspeople, authors and more. We displayed the artwork and books by Refuge co-founder Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci. Part of this year's event theme was involvement for young people. To accommodate this, we brought along some coloring pages for children designed by Hope (shown in photo). We also had feathers we found from wild turkeys, turkey vultures and red-tailed hawks, and part of a tree felled by Refuge beavers.
#PineBarrens #NJPineBarrens #LinesonthePines – VVH

Cottontail rabbit babies, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

30th: Our "Throwback Thursday" post this week features baby cottontail rabbits in a photo from 1966 -- just a few years after the Refuge was founded. This is a great time to remind everyone that baby rabbits appearing to be 'alone' in your yard are not abandoned. Mother rabbits leave their young for many hours at a time to look for food. They come back only a few times during the day to nurse their young. If you see young rabbits in your yard, do not interfere with them and be sure that no domestic predators (like cats or dogs) can get to them. If in doubt, call a local wildlife rehabber for advice.
#Throwback Thursday # TBT #UWRHistory #Cottontailrabbits #rabbits #NJWildlife – VVH

Song sparrow on boardwalk, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

29th: A song sparrow takes a drink from a rivulet of water between the wooden boardwalks by the main pond at the Refuge. – VVH

Canada goose on main pond, by trail cameraUnexpected Wildlife Refuge photo Canada geese and mallards, main pond, by trail camera, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

27th: We were fortunate to be the recipient of a Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics grant through their Charity Pot program. Lush chooses organizations who are doing conservation and educational work. With this grant, we were able to purchase a few extra trail cameras so we can increase our unobtrusive witnessing of wildlife at the Refuge.

Here are two photos taken recently by one of these cameras placed on the main pond. In the first, a Canada goose seems to be looking directly into the camera. In the second, a Canada goose glances over in the direction of another goose searching for food under water and a mallard duck couple paddling by.

It would be nice to have some extra rechargeable batteries and SDHC cards for our new cameras. Please visit our Amazon Wish List if you would like to donate these items. – VVH

Mountain laurel trail, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

25th: The mountain laurel at the Refuge is creating pretty, verdant corridors on some of the back trails. – VVH

Timber rattlesnake, by co-founder Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci

23rd: Though I haven't yet been fortunate enough to see one, this 1984 photo of a timber rattlesnake (also known as a banded rattlesnake), taken by co-founder Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, shows us that these snakes were at least here at some point in the not too distant past. People mistakenly consider rattlesnakes to be dangerous and have killed them (who is the dangerous one?) to the point of near extinction in some locales. Like all snakes, the reclusive rattlesnake is a critical part of a healthy, vibrant and diverse ecosystem. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #NJWildlife #PineBarrens #Rattlesnakes – VVH

Red fox den, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

22nd: We marveled at the precision, neatness and natural beauty of the entrance to this red fox den at the Refuge. – VVH

Little brown bat, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

20th: Little brown bats were once a very common sight in early-evening skies. Sadly, the "white-nose syndrome", caused by a fungus accidentally brought here from Eurasia, has killed millions of individuals belonging to various groups of hibernating species of bats, including the little brown bat. Last year at the Refuge, we saw just a couple of little brown bats emerging at dusk to fly over the main pond. Recently, however, we were thrilled when we witnessed almost a dozen taking wing over the water and tree line at sunset. – VVH

Mylar and other balloon pollution, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

18th: The release of Mylar, latex or any balloons into the environment can be deadly to animals, especially balloons that float in the air and eventually break and drop to the earth's surface, often miles from their origin. I find Mylar balloons and their strings on the ground and in trees and shrubs. Animals can become immobilized or entangled by the non-biodegradable strings and will die of starvation, dehydration or gangrene from strangulation of a limb. Balloons are sometimes ingested by animals, leading to gastrointestinal obstruction and death. Pictured is a small sample of the balloons I have found at the Refuge recently. These balloons should be banned because there is no way to prevent their release into the atmosphere. In the meantime, it is critical that people understand the danger to animals and not allow anyone to use these balloons outdoors regardless of a 'controlled' situation because 'accidents' will happen. Worse, some people purposefully release these balloons as part of an event. If you hear a local organization is planning a balloon release, urge them to consider a more environmentally friendly event. For more information, see – VVH

Main pond at dusk, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

15th: Here is a recent view of the main pond at dusk. Although I was unable to get photos, while I watched, ring-necked ducks, hooded mergansers, mallards, black ducks, three great blue herons and Canada geese made appearances. – VVH

13th: I was excited to hear early one morning the call of a red-shouldered hawk who was high in the trees at the Refuge. This species of hawk is uncommon on much of the East Coast. Unfortunately, I was only able to capture her or his voice in this YouTube video. Here is a direct link as well: – VVH

PPA and DEP trail work volunteers, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

11th: We recently teamed up with Pinelands Protection Alliance (PPA) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Watershed Ambassadors to clean and protect from off-road vehicles a sensitive Pinelands area which is home to some rare and endangered plant and animal species endemic to the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Pictured are two PPA volunteers and Refuge director, Veronica Van Hof (center).
#PinelandsProtectionAlliance #PPA #NJPineBarrens #Endangeredspecies – VVH

Young kestrel, courtesy Al Francesconi

9th: Refuge visitor and photographer, Al Francesconi, captured this image of a beautiful young American kestrel, North America's smallest falcon. The photo was taken in 1966, five years after the Refuge was founded. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #NJWildlife #Falcons – VVH

Beaver-chewed branch in dam, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

8th: It looks like someone has been trying to 'help' us maintain the boardwalk area by the main pond. You can see the end of a freshly chewed branch that had been inserted into the existing dam. (Yes, the someone was a beaver.) – VVH

Injured turkey vulture, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

6th: Although we have no facilities for rehabilitating injured animals at the Refuge, we occasionally receive calls about wildlife in distress. I got a call about an injured turkey vulture who had been on the side of a highway for almost three days. She had endured the cold nights and a fierce rain and wind storm, and likely had had no food for two days and nights. She allowed me to approach her, gather her into a towel and transport her to a local rehabber where she will be treated for her injury, exposure and dehydration. I am told her outlook for release back to a free-living state is very good. – VVH

Eastern mud turtle, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo Opening to mud turtle den, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

4th: Eastern mud turtles spend the winter hibernating in dens. They dig into the substrate of their pond or in the soil on land, about three feet deep so that they are under the frost line. This one, still covered in sandy soil, had just climbed out of a den and was on her or his way to the pond about 30 feet away. The mud turtle is reputed to be the rarest indigenous turtle in New York state and is listed as endangered in New York and Indiana due to habitat destruction, especially loss and fragmentation of wetlands. – VVH

Co-founder Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci and beaver crossing sign, 2000

2nd: Refuge co-founder Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci stands next to a "Beaver Crossing" sign at the Refuge in the fall of 2000. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #Beavers #NJWildlife – VVH

Bald eagle on stump in main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

1st: A bald eagle looks up while fishing from an old tree stump in the main pond. – VVH

February 2017

Purple turkey tail fungus, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

27th: I found this beautiful purple shelf fungus near the swamp on the main trail. Although it could be an old Ganoderma sessile, I think it is probably a purple Trametes versicolor, or 'turkey tail'. I have never seen one quite this vibrant. – VVH

Bald eagle flying over main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

25th: A bald eagle flies against the backdrop of crepuscular rays over the main pond. – VVH

Great crested flycatcher, courtesy Ray Davis

23rd: Refuge visitor and photographer, Ray Davis, caught this beautiful image of a great crested flycatcher on a sunny day at the Refuge in 1989. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRhistory – VVH

Carolina chickadee, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

22nd: A small Carolina chickadee comes in for a landing. – VVH

Red fox by trail camera, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo Red fox by trail camera, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

20th: One of the trail cameras caught a video and still photos of this small red fox bounding by one night recently. The shapes of the ears and tail are unmistakable, even in the dark. – VVH

Bird down in tree cavity, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

18th: It looks like someone has been using this cozy cavity in an old tree at one of the bogs at the Refuge, as evidenced by this small fluff of down left at the entrance. – VVH

Barred owl, courtesy Bernie Hehl

16th: A barred owl perches on a branch in this 1990 photo taken by Refuge visitor Bernie Hehl.
#tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRhistory #NJwildlife – VVH

Female wild turkey, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

14th: One of our trail cameras photographed this beautiful and alert female turkey trailing behind her companions, early one morning. – VVH

12th: Raccoons are not the only ones curious about what we leave behind in these woods. No matter how well we conceal our cameras, some smart and observant residents find and investigate them. Here, a small opossum 'discovers' a trail camera and thoroughly 'checks it out'. If the video does not play for you here, you can access it directly at – VVH

Announcement of Refuge history presentation

11th: We will be presenting a short history of Unexpected Wildlife Refuge, including the natural history of the land, on February 27 in Woodbury, New Jersey. This program is part of the lecture series presented by the Vegetarian Society of South Jersey. – VVH

Pine Barrens tree frog, courtesy Bob Birdsall

9th: This stunning photo of a rare Pine Barrens tree frog 'under' a full moon was taken by Bob Birdsall at the Refuge in 1989. It was done by using a double exposure. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRhistory #PineBarrenstreefrog – VVH

Ring-necked ducks, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

7th: I recently saw and heard a group of small ducks on the main pond and thought they were hooded mergansers from a distance. Although they kept showing up out of range of the camera, I finally managed to get a photo using the cell phone. Despite the relatively poor quality, the photo enabled me to identify these individuals as ring-necked ducks. This is the first time I have seen this species at the Refuge; very exciting! – VVH

Main pond, courtesy Kendall Berry

5th: This lovely photo of the main pond was taken by Kendall Berry, who helped the Refuge by patrolling our borders during January. – VVH

Muskrat tracks in snow by Refuge co-founder Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci

2nd: Muskrat tracks in snow. Photo taken in 1966 by Refuge co-founder, Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRhistory – VVH

January 2017

Beaver lodge and food raft, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

30th: Beavers work tirelessly all fall to save hearty food that will last all through the winter. If you were to go beneath the surface of the water, you would find a store of sticks from fast-growing trees, carefully sunk into the mud near the underwater entrance to their lodge. The beavers also build a 'raft' of food on the surface of the water from which they can sustain themselves all season. This photo shows the lodge and adjacent 'raft'. – VVH

New beaver lodge, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

28th: It looks like one of our second-year kits just built himself a new, small lodge right next to his parents' lodge. Good practice for young apprentice beavers! – VVH

Canada goose flying over main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

26th: Refuge visitor Richard Rosenberg captured this beautiful image of a Canada goose flying low over the main pond in 1985. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRhistory – VVH

Bald eagle looking over main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

25th: One of the resident adult bald eagles patiently surveys a small opening in the ice on the main pond at the Refuge. – VVH

Unexpected Wildlife Refuge from the air, by Cliff Compton

23rd: A supporter of and frequent visitor to the Refuge, Cliff Compton is an aerial photographer. He recently took this beautiful photo of the main pond, headquarters and surrounding habitat as he flew overhead. You may remember that he took a similar photo last year. We are grateful for his contributions to the Refuge archives. – VVH

Canada geese on main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

21st: Recently, a flock of Canada geese stopped overnight at the Refuge on their long winter migration. There were so many traveling companions that they stretched from one side of the main pond to the other. It was quite a wonderful sight to behold. – VVH

Young kestrel, by Al Francesconi

19th: A young kestrel perches on a bough in this 1966 photo by frequent Refuge guest and photographer, Al Francesconi. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #Kestrel – VVH

Beaver hole in ice, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

18th: Beavers spend most of the winter in their lodges. They do, however, occasionally leave the comfort of their homes, usually in search of food or materials to maintain their lodge. As a result, they are sometimes faced with an iced over pond surface. This hole was created by a beaver pushing through the ice in the main pond. – VVH

Trees gnawed by beaver, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

17th: Beavers leave distinctive marks by their incisors in the trees they gnaw or cut down. Here you can see the scalloped pattern in these small trees in the snow. – VVH

Bird tracks in snow, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo Rabbit tracks in snow, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

16th: The first snow of the year at the Refuge. Now we can easily see signs of 'traffic', a bird and a rabbit in these photos. – VVH

'Microscope' stand for cell phone, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo Fish scale from eagle pellet, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo Fish bone from eagle pellet, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

14th: A volunteer came by and helped me build this 'microscope' stand for my cell phone. Shown are photos of small things pulled from an eagle pellet, found on one of the trails: a ctenoid fish scale and a small fish bone. The fish scale has been 'regenerated'; it is not an original scale, rather one that the fish had replaced after an injury. The middle shows the somewhat opaque appearance typical of regrown scales. If this was an original scale, there would be many 'annuli', rings that determine the age of the fish. For instructions on building your own stand, click here. – VVH

Refuge co-founder Cavit Buyukmihci watching for hunters, 1986

12th: Given that hunting 'season' is still going on, it seems appropriate to show you a picture of Refuge co-founder Cavit Buyukmihci from our archives. In this photo from January 1986, Cavit sits at a strategic site to watch for hunters. Many of you may not know, but Cavit was instrumental in designing and installing all the boardwalks throughout the Refuge, making the task of patrolling more convenient. Of course, the boardwalks also made traversing the many miles of trails more fun during other times of the year. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory – VVH

Pine trees photoed with trail camera, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

11th: Placing the Refuge trail cameras takes some guesswork and some luck. We do not ever 'bait' our camera stations; rather, we look for signs of animal habitation or activity and hope for the best. This camera was placed at the back of the Refuge, along the long boundary trail. A small animal set off the motion detector and resulted in this beautiful infrared photo of these pine trees. – VVH

Materials for protecting trees Tree protected by wire

9th: Before the end of 2016, we asked everyone to join us and a local naturalist in an effort to convince the township of Mansfield, New Jersey, to not kill a family of beavers in a local pond. Thankfully, the township agreed and the beavers were allowed to remain at their home in peace. Part of the work ahead is to help the township protect certain trees near the pond. Here are some photos of the wire-wrapping, taken by Chuck Garrett, the naturalist and beaver defender who alerted us to the 'conflict'. As you can see, there are few materials and tools needed and each tree takes just minutes to 'wrap' -- an easy, affordable, effective and HUMANE solution. We recommend, however, that there be at least a six inch space between the wire and the tree so that the beavers cannot gain access to the tree through the mesh openings. To deter easy displacement of these tree 'cages', it may be advisable to pin the bottoms to the ground using something like tent stakes. – VVH

Cardinal nest, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

7th: One of the beneficial things (for us) about losing some foliage in the fall and winter is that the bare trees expose some of the bird nests which were so carefully concealed all spring and summer. This, we believe, is the nest of a northern cardinal, built into the fork of a small tree. – VVH

Beaver food raft, by co-founder Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci

5th: As the days get colder, beavers spend most of their time beneath the ice. They will bolster their lodge for the winter using sticks and mud to keep the interiors cozy. Natural bedding and the warmth of the family keep them from freezing all season. Beavers will stockpile food within the lodge for the winter as well as creating a cache or "raft" of food nearby. The latter are comprised of hearty branches and vegetation that will stay edible over the next few months. This is a photo of such a raft on the main pond, taken by Refuge co-founder Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci in 1966. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #Beavers – VVH

Wild turkey in rain, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

4th: One of the trail cameras captured this rather artistic photo of a female wild turkey during a morning rain. – VVH

Carolina wren, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo Dark-eyed junco, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo Northern cardinal, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

2nd: The wild berries at the Refuge are popular with songbirds. Here, a Carolina wren, a dark-eyed junco and a northern cardinal (who landed above the branches with berries) visited this site at various times during the same day. – VVH

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