We took advantage of the school holiday break this week to visit and walk in some nature preserves. And to see up close some of the creatures who find sanctuary within them. I explained to my children that these places were nature’s caretakers.
All we needed were snowsuits, winter boots and a camera.
I couldn’t resist a walk in the rain when we arrived at the South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center. Everything was so silent as the mist hugged the winter landscape.
Only wild birds, animal tracks and us.
Instead of complaining about the rain, my kids happily chased each other down paths. Or my daughter paused and told me to take a photo of the beautiful raindrops on a branch.
I wanted my children to see the landscape transformed in the changing seasons. We often visit whether in the heat of the early summer or to admire the reds, pinks and yellows in the Autumn (Fall). Then we went inside.
They love the marine touch tank where they can hold native marine animals, collected from the nearby Atlantic Ocean and bays.
Or peak at the live native reptiles and amphibians. And admire a sea horse up close. There’s always a nature educator with them so they can learn more about the local habitats and its diverse life.
And when the sky cleared the next day, we went to the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, a short drive away from the Hamptons. The pond once had been used by the Quogue Ice Company but since 1934 has been part of a protected wildlife habitat.
It’s also a wildlife refuge for animals and birds that have been permanently injured and need a sanctuary. My kids wanted me to read every sign explaining how an owl or an eagle had been hurt and now needed human caretakers to survive.
Bobcats once had lived wild in the north of New York State, but this one had been kept as a pet and even declawed.
Inside the nature center, my son was drawn to an iguana, while my daughter gently touched a sleeping chinchilla.
Then we were off for a walk past the pond, over the bridge and through the woods.
There are over seven miles of trails to explore in the 305 acres of land preserved for wildlife. We’re just visitors to their home.
Although we’ll go ice skating this weekend and karate and ballet lessons will resume next week, I feel it’s important for children to visit these diverse habitats. They are nature’s caretakers of the wildlife that flourish within them.
South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center (SoFo)
Inside SoFo children can discover interactive habitat exhibits, live native amphibians and reptiles as well as the marine touch tank. Outside there are trails which lead into the Long Pond Greenbelt trail system in the Hamptons.
I also highly recommend looking at their calendar of events which include walks and nature programs for children. I will be writing more about these soon.
SoFo is located in the South Fork of Long Island, NY in the hamlet of Bridgehampton. For more information please look at the SoFo website.
Quogue Wildlife Refuge
The Quogue Wildlife Refuge and nature preserve is near Hampton Bays and just a short drive from the center of the Hamptons area of Long Island. Look at the calendar of events as they also have wildlife camps and various nature programs for children. Cross-country skis and snowshoes are available for hire in the winter to use on the trails through the nature reserve. For more information please look at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge website.
Another place for children to interact with local wildlife, is the Elizabeth A. Moreton National Wildlife Refuge. Wild birds fed from my children’s hands.
The Hamptons are fantastic in the summer with their bays and white sand beaches along the Atlantic Ocean coast, but they are also a winter wonderland for children in the off season with their nature reserves and native wildlife.