News from Unexpected Wildlife Refuge

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Unexpected Wildlife Refuge sketch by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, artist and co-founder

20th: We are seeking a new manager. If you or someone you know is interested in rewarding and challenging service to wildlife, please send the following by E-mail only, to Nedim C. Buyukmihci, president, 1) letter explaining why you would be the ideal candidate; 2) full curriculum vitae (an expanded résumé); and 3) at least three references, one of whom must provide a critical assessment of your abilities. Click here for a full job description.

Wetlands walkway and fog, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

19th: A thin fog hangs at the end of the walkway through one of the wetlands at the Refuge after a recent rain.

Lichen in winter, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

17th: There are a multitude of lichens at the Refuge. We think this might be the species known as the brown-eyed rim.

Northern water snake, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

15th: Throwback to this 2016 photo of a northern water snake on the trail along the main pond.
#tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory

Downy woodpecker, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

14th: A downy woodpecker along the trails near the white cedar swamp at the Refuge.

Earth Day Cleanup volunteers, 2016, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

8th: Throwback to our 2016 annual Earth Day Cleanup event at the Refuge. It rained all day, but our volunteers made the best of it! Join us this year on April 14 at 11:00 AM. E-mail us at for more information and to confirm you will be able to attend or call 856.697.3541. – VVH
#tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #EarthDay

Tree downed by beaver, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

7th: This tree located on one of the tiny islands of earth in the wetlands was found cut down during a recent warm day. We know this was the work of at least one beaver, 'harvesting' food. Whether he or she had help is speculation. Maybe some day we will be lucky enough to get video footage to share. – VVH

Canada geese on frozen main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

5th: These Canada geese were standing on the frozen surface of the main pond in early morning fog. Two of the geese were holding a foot close to their bodies, protected by lower plumage. An alternating pattern of lifting feet up to the body is a method many birds use to warm their extremities. – VVH

Fox sparrow, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo Fox sparrow, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

3rd: A fox sparrow in a tall tree along one of the Refuge trails. She tilted her head in response to the click of the camera shutter. – VVH

Red-winged blackbird singing, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

1st: Throwback to 2016 and this photo of a red-winged blackbird exercising his vocal abilities. – VVH
#tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory

February 2018

Hooded merganser couples on main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

28th: Two hooded merganser couples paddle companionably in the main pond at the Refuge. – VVH

Brown thrasher, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

26th: Brown thrashers are difficult to photograph. They are shy and spend most of their time in dense cover. A species of "special concern", their numbers have declined over the years due to habitat loss, making this sighting particularly delightful. – VVH

24th: A selection of beautiful photographs taken at the Refuge by Jeff Hrusko, who volunteered during the final weekend of our 2017-2018 deer patrol season. One shows the beaver lodges in the main pond, another the pond as it appears through shoreline reeds and the third a dead pine trunk which makes a wonderful home for many of the creatures (and plants) who live at the Refuge. – VVH

Main pond and beaver lodges, by Jeff Hrusko Main pond through reeds, by Jeff Hrusko Dead pine, by Jeff Hrusko

Wood duck, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge trail camera photo

22nd: Throwback to this fortuitously well-framed photo of a wood duck taken by one of the Refuge trail cameras last year. – VVH
#tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory

Reindeer lichen in snow, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

21st: Some reindeer lichen covered with the icy remains of a recent, light snowfall. It is sometimes misleadingly referred to as reindeer moss. – VVH

Gray squirrel food caches, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

19th: The holes amongst the pine needles and other leaves are from a gray squirrel digging up acorns and other food. Whether the same squirrel hid the 'treasure' in the first place is open to speculation. – VVH

Rabbit footprints in snow, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

17th: Often, our only awareness of the presence of some Refuge residents is right after a snowfall. Here, a rabbit has made her or his way across the snow. – VVH

Raccoons at Otter Dam, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

16th: As you may recall, we learned that Amazon cares more about profit than it does about treating non-human animals humanely. We warned Amazon that we would close our account unless they had a change in policy and stopped selling live animals through the mail as if they were a pair of socks. Amazon refused to listen to us and many others, even those who were experts on animal welfare. As a result we closed our account and will not accept any donations of items purchased from them.

We are sharing with you our current wish list in case you can help us with these items. Click here to see the list and how to send the items to us. Our only caveat is that you not purchase any from Amazon or from any business which similarly is more interested in money than morals. Questions? Please E-mail us at or telephone us at 856.697.3541. – VVH

Great blue heron on boardwalk, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge trail camera photo

15th: Throwback to a photo of this long-legged visitor to a trail camera on the boardwalks at the Refuge. – VVH
#tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #greatblueheron

Beaver lodges in snow, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo Shelf fungus and snow on beaver lodge, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

14th: During a recent stretch of below-freezing days, I was able for the first time to walk across the frozen main pond to examine the beaver lodges up-close. In the second photo, you can see a ruffled shelf fungus attached to one of the boughs the beavers used for home fortification. – VVH

Tufted titmouse, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

12th: A tufted titmouse sitting high in a tree at the Refuge during a bright, cloudless day. – VVH

Beaver with lily pad 'hat', Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

11th: Two anti-wildlife bills will be up for a vote before New Jersey's legislators soon. The hearings on both bills will be held on Monday, 12 February. The bills could go for a vote as early as Thursday, 15 February.

The first bill is A3242, the Poaching Bill. It would allow the killing of deer as part of forest 'stewardship' and on commercially logged lands. Bait piles could be used at any time of day or night and deer could be killed from vehicles including at night through the use of strong lights to immobilize them.

The second bill is A2731, the Beaver Bill. This would eliminate the 20-animals-per-permit trapping limit and expand the use of body-crushing (Conibear) traps. Many of the animals caught in these traps die a prolonged, agonizing death.

Please write NOW to your Assemblypersons and politely express your outrage concerning these bills. Use the following Web site to find your representative and contact information: Please also contact Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin at 732.855.7441 or via his contact information on his Web page: Tell him of your opposition to these bills.

For more information, please visit the following link: – VVH

Captive lobster

10th: URGENT UPDATE: I have been in contact with senior representatives at Amazon. Unfortunately, Amazon is refusing to listen to experts who are telling them that shipping live lobsters through the mail is inhumane. Instead, they are obstinately defending this immoral practice by claiming that they are not in violation of the law, as if that was the issue. They are clearly more interested in the (minimal) profits made through the abuse of animals than they are in being compassionate and humane.

As a result, we have closed our account with Amazon and will no longer do business with them. Nor will we accept any donated items purchased through them. I am urging you to help us in this matter by doing the following, if you have not already done so:

  1. Write to Amazon at, and voice your strong objection to their selling of live animals and tell them you will boycott them until they stop.
  2. If you have an account with Amazon, please close it and explain why.
  3. Write to Drogo Montagu at and let him know that lobsters are able to feel pain and suffer and that his actions and callousness in selling live lobsters through the mail (using Amazon) have caused you to boycott Amazon in general. Be sure to copy your message to Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, at


Main pond, frozen, with moon and stars, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

9th: A frozen, snow-covered main pond at night under a waxing moon. Note the pinpoint lights from some stars in the dark sky. – VVH

Raccoon swimming, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge trail camera photo

8th: Throwback to May 2017 and one of my favorite "unexpected" trail camera images -- a raccoon swimming gracefully at the Refuge late one night. – VVH
#tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #raccoons

Captive lobster

5th: URGENT: This is a follow up to our post on why we are boycotting and asking you to do so, too. At least in the UK, the provider of the live lobsters Amazon is shipping (or allowing to be shipped under their name) is Fine Food Specialist in London. In defense of this despicable practice, the founder, Drogo Montagu, is quoted in the Times (4 Feb 2018) as stating there is no evidence that lobsters feel pain. This is biological nonsense. There is now ample evidence to prove that lobsters and other crustaceans not only can feel pain in ways similar to mammals, they can also suffer (which goes beyond just the ability to feel pain). We will be glad to provide you with copies of the scientific literature as evidence.

We are asking you to write to Mr Montagu ( and set him straight on the issue of lobsters being able to feel pain and suffer and that his actions and callousness have caused you to boycott Amazon in general. Ask him to stop selling live lobsters, especially through the mail. Be sure to copy your message to Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, at – NCB

Captive lobster

4th: We just learned that Amazon is selling live lobsters through the mail! As a result, we are not going to use their services until they put a stop to this despicable practice. We ask that you WRITE Amazon, now, at, and voice your strong objection to their selling of live animals and tell them you will boycott them until they stop. – NCB

Wild turkeys, by trail camera

3rd: Refuge Amazon Wish List updated!
Please consider supporting the Refuge with one of the much-needed items from our Amazon Wish List at – VVH

Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, Refuge co-founder, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

1st: Throwback to 1965 for this photo of Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci doing what she liked best, spending time studying the natural world around her. For those of you who are not aware, Hope and her husband, Cavit (pronounced like 'javit' with a soft 'a') Buyukmihci, founded the Refuge through donating their home and land in 1961. – VVH
#tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory

January 2018

Juvenile bald eagle in flight, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

31st: A juvenile bald eagle soars high above the Refuge on a cloudless day. – VVH

30th: We have a new color leaflet summarizing what the Refuge is. We plan to use it at various events we sponsor or attend. You can help us by downloading, printing and distributing the leaflet elsewhere. The leaflet fits on a legal size sheet of paper (8.5 x 14 inches or 216 x 356 mm), printed double-sided in landscape orientation and folded twice so that the panel with our name in green is at front. Click here to see and obtain the file (about 2 MB). – NCB

Side 1 of new Refuge leaflet Side 2 of new Refuge leaflet

Main pond with layer of ice at sunset, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

29th: The main pond with snow covering its frozen surface, at sunset, looking somewhat like a desert landscape. – VVH

White-throated sparrow, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

27th: A white-throated sparrow perches on a branch next to the Refuge trails. – VVH

Boundary trail, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

25th: Throwback to this sunset photo taken on the boundary trail in December of 2015. – VVH
#tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRhistory

American black ducks in fog on main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

24th: Two American black ducks swim in the main pond through a thick, early morning fog that hung over the Refuge. – VVH

Paw prints across frozen main pond, with lens flare, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo Paw prints across frozen main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

22nd: One or more Refuge residents took a long walk across the snow-covered and frozen main pond one evening or early morning. The tracks started at a trail head and ended on the opposite end of the pond. Notice the lens flare caused by the bright sunlight in one of the photos. – VVH

Main pond, frozen, near sunset, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

20th: The main pond, surface frozen, at sunset one recent evening at the Refuge. The brightness of the sun created a stunning pink-purple lens flare. – VVH

Main pond in 1971, by Nancy Jonap One of the boardwalks in 1971, by Nancy Jonap

18th: Throwback to the Refuge as it was in 1971. Nancy Jonap, a long-time friend of the Refuge, was kind enough to share these photos with us from her time here more than 40 years ago. The main pond and a visitor walking the boardwalks are pictured. – VVH
#tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory

17th: For your enjoyment, here are some of the beautiful photos taken by Mike McCormick, founder of South Jersey Trails, during one of his visits to the Refuge in December 2017. – VVH

Muddy Bog, frozen, by Mike McCormick Pine cone with snow, by Mike McCormick Reeds, by Mike McCormick

Grackles, red-winged blackbirds and starlings in flight, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo Grackles and red-winged blackbirds in trees, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

13th: I was fortunate to have a camera with me when a flock of grackles, red-winged blackbirds and a few starlings entered the sky above the Refuge. The birds took a full minute to pass by me and many landed in neighboring trees. – VVH

Dogwoods in spring, by Mike McCormick

11th: Throwback to this beautiful image of dogwood trees in bloom at the Refuge. This photo was taken in the spring of 2017 by Mike McCormick, founder of South Jersey Trails, a local New Jersey hiking group. – VVH
#tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #SouthJerseyTrails #warmerdays

Goldenrod at sunset, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

10th: A sprig of goldenrod backlit by the setting sun on the trails at the Refuge. – VVH

South Jersey Trails T-shirts for Unexpected Wildlife Refuge

9th: For those of you who are hiking enthusiasts, South Jersey Trails are raising funds for our Refuge through the sale of their T-shirts. If you already have enough Refuge T-shirts and want something a bit different, while still supporting us, you can go to South Jersey Trails' fund raising site. Be aware that shirts must be pre-ordered before the end of January and take 1-2 weeks for shipment. – VVH

Tufted titmouse in tree, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

8th: A tufted titmouse perches in a tree next to the trailheads on a cold day at the Refuge. Tufted titmice are among the few species of birds who store food for the winter months. – VVH

Reeds and crescent moon, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

6th: A crescent moon over the reeds at the Refuge. – VVH

Clouds reflected in main pond, courtesy Cliff Compton

4th: Throwback to this serene panorama of the main pond at sunset taken two years ago by Cliff Compton, Refuge guest and photographer. – VVH
#tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory

Morning fog over main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

3rd: Fog hangs over the frost-covered flora surrounding the main pond. – VVH

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

1st: A bald eagle perches astride two forks of an old log in the middle of the main pond. – VVH

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