The Quogue Wildlife Refuge is quite unlike any place on the East End. The refuge began as a place where the local Black Duck population—which declined rapidly during the exceptionally harsh winters of the early ’30s—could be propagated and reared. Richard and George Post donated the original 104 acres, formerly the Quogue Ice Company. In 1938, 107 acres were added and almost a half-century later approximately 100 more acres were added by Southampton Town.
Today, the 305-acre expanse of protected land includes more than seven miles of trails in which visitors can explore a variety of habitats including Pine Barrens, bogs, wetlands, a field and a tidal estuary. Inside the Charles Banks Belt Nature Center visitors will find a warm and friendly environment where they can observe wildlife through huge windows that overlook Old Ice Pond, a 100 year-old pond originally created for ice harvesting for the Quogue Ice Company and now home to various species of freshwater fish, turtles and birds.
The Refuge is not only a great place for a family-friendly day out. It also hosts four different summer programs depending on your child’s age.
The Little Naturalists Program, for children ages 4–6, is designed to introduce and immerse young children into nature through exploring the outdoors, hands on activities, games, crafts and meeting many of the Refuge animals up close. A variety of topics will be introduced to the children including forest and pond habitats, food chains, local plants and animals, birds, mammals, reptiles, animal defenses and adaptations, composting and recycling. Each session, of which there is a total of 10, consists of three days: a Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, from 9 a.m.–noon.
The Children’s Field Ecology Program, for children entering grades 2–6, will explore the infamous areas of the Refuge including the super secret, extra squishy mud trail; find the magic at Fairy Dell, get a taste of Chocolate Pudding Pond and journey to Dune Road to seine for slippery fish and quick crabs! Classes run Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–noon. Repeaters entering grades 5-6 will be off on Wednesday, July 4th, and will have a night hike on Friday from 7–10:30 p.m. East session, of which there is 5, runs Monday–Friday.
Young Explorers (grades 6–7) and Explorers (grades 8–9) will visit old favorite places, explore the Peconic River by kayak, enjoy off-site field trips, including Sunken Forest on Fire Island, and a night walk in search of owls and bats. Time and places of this program vary. Explorers in grades 8 and 9 will also have campout at the Refuge on Thursday night.
Parent or guardians are asked to stay for a brief introduction on the first day of whichever program they’ve signed up for, which is held in the Nature Center.
But enough about summer camp for the kids. How can the adults have fun at the Refuge? Saturday, July 13 is the Quogue Wildlife Refuge’s 13th Annual Wild Night for Wildlife, a benefit gala held on the Refuge’s grounds. The event—the most important event in the Refuge’s fundraising program, providing a major portion of our operating budget—will feature hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, wine, live music, live and silent auctions and a chance to meet our resident animals up close!
The Quogue Wildlife Refuge is open 365 days a year from sunrise to sunset. 3 Old Country Road, Quogue. 631-653-4771, quoguewildliferefuge.org