Along the Natchez Trace

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Aroostook NWR... a Gated Community

Aroostook NWR - Limestone, ME

Did I mention that we live in a gated community?

Our "summer home", otherwise known as our motorhome,  is parked about 2 miles down this road. 

Wildlife Refuges are special places.  Here it's "animals first, people second".  Refuges are established to protect and provide habitat for endangered species....  that species could be an animal, fish, or even a plant.  Here at Aroostook the Upland Sandpiper nests.  Since it is an endangered species much of this refuge is off limits to the public until after nesting season, which generally ends July 15th.

Bull and Cow Moose

Most refuges do not have camp grounds.  There are exceptions...  Bosque del Apache NWR in NM has a campground that is used only for educational groups.  Buenos Aires NWR in AZ has primitive camping for hunters. (yes, some NWRs allow hunting).  Those are 2 examples where we've volunteered, but I am happy to 
write here that this refuge allows neither.

But refuges need public support and most have very good educational programs, photography opportunities, wildlife observation and other outdoor and recreational opportunities.  Federal funding is hard to come by so public interest is very important.

Common Merganser

This refuge is rich in history...  not as a refuge but as the place where nuclear bombs were stored during the cold war.  Many of the visitors that come here come because they were once stationed here.  There are still about 50 bunkers left here, but the land they are on is now the nesting grounds of the upland sandpiper.

One of the 3 deer we saw today.

There is a beautiful Visitor Center here.  It has a very large, very nice gift shop.  Everything sold is either made in Maine or pertains to nature or outdoors.  It is totally manned by volunteers.  During the winter it is open 3 days a week from 1-4 pm.  Bill & I are the only volunteers here so I'll pick up 2 additional days and take the Thursday as one of the volunteers takes the summer off.

Mama (common) goldeneye and her 8 chicks.  Have they grown since yesterday? 

Next Saturday is the annual Fishing Derby.  One of the ponds will be stocked with trout.  They have to wait until the evening before, or better yet, the day of, the derby as a family of otters can clean out 50+ fish in just a few nights.   The derby is for kids 16 years or younger.  It is a fun event and gives people another opportunity to see "beyond the gate".

This cow was about in the same place the bull was yesterday.  This pond is a very popular spot.

We saw 7 moose today...  mostly cows, but a couple of bulls.  I like to keep track of how many moose and bear we see.  I think we saw 4 bear.  While we see a fair number of animals we are cautious.  Most of the time these critters are afraid of us...  the only time they would be a danger would be if we messed with their young.  And even the young learn real fast to be afraid of humans.

This is one of my favorite spots.  It's called "Moose Marsh", but because of beaver activity the water level is getting too high and it's more a pond than a marsh now.

Speaking of beaver, I saw this guy late this afternoon.  I have no idea what he has in his mouth, but beavers are vegetarians, so it's not a fish.

I didn't get my bird feeders put up until this morning.
Within minutes I had this pair of goldfinch and (I believe) a female purple finch.  They haven't touched the thistle feeder yet....  nor have I had any takers at the hummingbird feeder.  But I bought a  RED petunia hanging basket today, so that might help attract the hummers.

Just another moose...  I saw this cow up at the Weapons Storage Area around 6:00 this morning.

Around noon today, Bill & I took our 2 game cameras out to a couple of my favorite areas that have been "critter crossings" in the past.  I'm looking forward to checking on them tomorrow to see what's out there this year.

Although we don't "officially" start work until Monday, Bill was busy clearing brush and weeds today.  A new road is being proposed...  one that will avoid the nesting areas of the sandpipers.  Since we are the only volunteers here our hours are very flexible.

The sunsets here can be spectacular!  Not in the way they are in the desert in Arizona, but in a way that is purely Maine.

This is a beautiful place...  I am always happy to come back.

That's all for Today...

To see where we are click on the line below....


  1. Love your gated community, and all the wonderful neighbors you have there. Thanks for sharing.

  2. You have a great summer home, great scenery, quiet neighbors, no real estate taxes and no association fees.

  3. You are in Maine?? It is beautiful!! Beautiful deer!

  4. What I'd like to know is if they have more than one volunteer spot, and will they accept solo volunteers? I've got some free time and have volunteered at many NWRs.

  5. Nice! That means no human nighttime neighbors at all, right? I mean, besides Judy next summer?

  6. That looks like a wonderful place to spend the summer and I like your neighbors. No loud music, no generators, no squabbling kids, oh yeah, sounds like heaven!!

  7. I feel a Maine trip coming in ... beautiful

  8. Oh, so beautiful. And not yet black fly season... or is that green fly season? Whatever, it's not yet fly season I think. Your sightings and photos make me want to finally explore our nearby wildlife refuge!

  9. wow, what a great area to enjoy. Until following your blog and Judy's, I had not been introduced to NWR. I have enjoyed reading your adventures.

  10. Glad y'all made it safely. The couple of times we visited last year we felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. It's a beautiful, relaxing refuge.
    You say your hours are flexible but I know you put in way more than the required time - I hope the staff knows how lucky they are to have you and Bill as volunteers!
    I love seeing the critter pictures. We've seen one black bear here in Colorado.
    Look forward to your summer blog!

  11. Wonderful photos, but the one of the merganser with eight babies is priceless!

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  13. Wow! Beautiful !! Lucky you to get to volunteer and live in such a nice gated community!!