We decided to take an overnight trip to Long Island for Labor Day, and first drove to Shirley, to the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge features wetlands on both sides of the Lower Carmans River. While the visitor’s center is closed on Sundays, the refuge is still open for visitors. As we drove into the property we saw a few wild turkeys, but they did not wait to be photographed.
Two trails lead from the parking lot. The White Oak Trail begins behind the visitor center on the north (right) side, then after continuing north a short distance, it turns west and crosses a bridge over the river, after which it runs south, visiting the western side of the river. The Black Tupelo trail begins on the south (left) side of the visitor center, and continues south to explore the eastern side of the river.
We began on the White Oak Trail:
I spotted a small white butterfly, which was nicely camouflaged as it sat on the trail. I believe this is a Summer azur (Celastrina neglecta).
Vivid red leaves, identified by the fine folks at GardenWeb.com as part of a 5-leaflet compound (palmate) leaf of a Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia):
The Long Island Rail Road Montauk Branch bridge:
The trees of the preserve include oak, pitch pine, tupelo, blackgum, pepperidge tree, and red maple.
Common reed (Phragmite australis) grew beside the river:
A dragonfly, probably Golden-winged skimmer (Libellula auripennis):
The trail was very flat and easy to follow. There was no danger of getting lost in this park:
Another view of the Carmans River:
I noticed an orb-weaver spider (Araneidae) about 20′ away. He was hard to photograph, as he kept running up and down a strand of silk that was blowing in the wind, and as I was trying to steady my camera and 200mm lens. I finally captured his photo ascending:
This large and scary-looking wasp, the Cicada killer (Sphecius speciosus), rarely causes any harm to humans.
Another view from the White Oak Trail:
We reached the southern end of the White Oak Trail. The trail is actually a lollipop trail with a narrow loop, and when we reached the loop we hiked it clockwise, starting closest to the water.
On the return, we spotted this northern brown snake (Storeria dekayi dekayi) sitting in the middle of the footpath:
A dock behind the visitor center also features a nice view of the river:
The Black Tupelo Trail was less exciting in my opinion. This was also a lollipop loop, but there weren’t as many views of the river. Despite having sprayed ourselves with insect repellent, we attracted a cloud of mosquitoes, which were feasting on Batya. Perhaps they were also feeding on these American robins (Turdus migratorius):
One feature that I did enjoy on the Black Tupelo Trail was Indian Landing, a tiny beach at the southern end of the trail, said to have been a meeting place of the Unkechaug tribe:
Indian Landing also provided a nice panoramic view of the Carmans River:
We began our return to the parking lot. In contrast to the relatively benign Cicada killers, these Bald-faced hornets (Dolichovespula maculata) are bad news. Do not disturb their nest!
We returned to the car, and drove to Medford, where we spent the night.