October 13–19 is National Wildlife Refuge Week. Bay Naturalist, on page 36, offers a list of refuges in the region to visit. To whet your interest, here are the descriptions for six of refuges in or near the Chesapeake region. Can you match the description to the refuge?
Bombay Hook NWR
Eastern Neck NWR
Great Dismal Swamp NWR
James River NWR
John Heinz NWR at Tinicum
Patuxent Research Refuge
1. This refuge’s 13,100-acre tidal salt marsh is one of the largest marshes on the East Coast. In the spring, horseshoe crabs come ashore to lay their eggs. This coincides with the arrival of hungry migratory shorebirds, which eat the uncovered eggs, a valuable source of protein. October is the best month to see bur marigolds in freshwater pools and avocets.
2. This refuge was created to protect Pennsylvania’s largest remaining freshwater tidal marsh. Because it is near the boundary for southern and northern migratory ranges for birds along the Atlantic Flyway, more than 300 species have been spotted here. Reptiles and amphibians here include the state endangered southern leopard frog and the state threatened red-bellied turtle. This refuge also contains a Children’s Pollinator Garden created by elementary students that focuses on the roles of pollinators and the plants they frequent.
3. This refuge was created to protect American bald eagle habitat. These fish-eaters have plenty to feast on here, including the alewives, herring, shad and striped bass that come here to spawn. Globally rare plants include the prairie senna, Long’s bittercrest and sensitive joint vetch.
4. This refuge, which stretches over two states, contains Lake Drummond, the largest of only two natural lakes in Virginia. It is one of the largest intact areas of wilderness in the United States. Its 112,000 acres include five forest communities as well as remnant marsh, sphagnum bog and pocosin communities. It is a site on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. In addition, it was the site of a community of thousands of freed and escaped slaves known as the maroons that lived here around 1700–1860.
5. This refuge was created to provide habitat for migratory birds. Woodland Period Indians (circa A.D. 1300) collected finfish and shellfish in the area. Their stone tools, arrow and spearheads and ceramic pots are still found in the area. (Artifact collecting is prohibited; visitors are asked to leave items in place and report them to refuge staff.) The Ozinie Indians, known for their shell beadwork, were living here when Capt. John Smith explored the area in 1608.
6. This is the only refuge in the nation established to support wildlife research. It includes forest, meadow and wetland habitats. Research done here was crucial to ospreys returning to the Chesapeake. Current research is working to restore the populations of the whooping crane, North America’s tallest bird and one of the rarest crane species on the planet.
1. Bombay Hook NWR
2. John Heinz NWR at Tinicum
3. James River NWR
4. Great Dismal Swamp
5. Eastern Neck NWR
6. Patuxent Research Refuge