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Humans Welcome

Get in touch with wildlife at ­Patuxent Research Refuge

photo by Emily Carter Mitchell of Bella Remy Photography

Take a summer morning to escape the hustle and bustle in one of the verdant national wildlife refuges created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
    I escaped to the Patuxent Research Refuge South Tract in Laurel. Taking a deep breath as I drove through the long entry way, I felt my mind and body relax.
    The morning song of birds filled the wooded area. I found the brilliant greens and deep blue waters of lakes. Water lilies bloomed and great blue herons were fishing along the shore.
    Other fishermen had joined the herons. On Kids Fishing Day at the refuge, aspiring anglers lined the lake. A young girl caught her first fish, removed from its hook by a park ranger. The look on her face was priceless as she returned her fish to the water and watched it swim away.
    The trail led me to a nesting box inhabited by a pair of iridescent blue and white tree swallows, one peeking its head out of the box, the other standing guard on top. They calmly watched, allowing me to get close to take their picture before one flew off to catch a bug.
    Many of the Patuxent Research Refuge trails are seen by tram. With a yellow ticket, I boarded the tram along with other visitors and two naturalists. The naturalists shared stories of nature and history as we watched for wildlife throughout the varied habitats.
    In a morning, I could only begin to explore the Refuge, so I will have to return. Perhaps for the Wildlife Festival on October 18, when visitors can go behind the scenes to tour the Whooping Crane conservation project.


Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel. 301-497-5580; www.fws.gov/refuge/patuxent.