Our field trip to the Maine Wildlife Park

painted turtles
We save all our change for our homeschool field trips.  It’s gotten to the point where Summer will fish the coins straight out of his Daddy’s pockets to put in the pickle jar that now serves as a coin-bank.  Papa saves his change for the boys too; and between the two jars I rolled a total of $53 Sunday to fund our field trip to the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray.
From Anson it was 88 miles, mostly on the highway, and it took us an hour and forty minutes.  The kids were super excited, and surprisingly well behaved.  The park charges $7 for adults, $5 for children, but we had a coupon so we only ended up paying for the adults.  
Check it out:

 This is in front of the Eagle habitat; I couldn’t get a good picture of the birds through the glass–but they were beautiful and awe-inspiring.  A woman who was there with her own kids told us that if we were from the area we could see an eagle over in Windham, and I relayed that we were from “up-North” and we actually have several nesting along the Kennebec.  Bald Eagles have made a good come-back in Maine.

 This wild turkey seemed to like the camera and the attention.

The park has numerous display cases like this set up throughout the park, each one corresponds with the animal habitat you are about to enter, and hosts little mini-exhibits, with animal bones, feathers, nests, egg-shells, and facts about the animal you will see.  This was the display for the turtle exhibit, so it held several turtle shells and fragments of turtle eggs.

Painted turtles are quite common in Maine, but we also have Snapping turtles, Spotted turtles, Wood turtles, Blandings turtles, Musk turtles, and Box turtles. And turtle sculptures.

This is part of the wetland habitat; there were several trails through their wetland, and numerous birdhouses of varying sizes to suit different types of birds, as well as a bat house, and owl house, and a wood duck house.  And obviously birds are not the only creatures that live here, there was a nice little stream that we speculated could be a place where a raccoon might stop to wash his food.

Just beyond the wetlands habitat there was the fish hatchery (sorry-no pics!); where we saw Brown Trout in various stages of growth, and even got to feed a ravenous school of trout.

After hiking down to the lower end of the park, we returned to the picnic area for a cold treat from their snack shack–and a picture.
Then we went into the Visitor’s Center, where it was shady, to play with some interactive exhibits about Maine’s animals and their habitats.  This one was about the different types of tracks you might see when walking the Maine woods.  Winter couldn’t resist making “Winter Tracks”.
This was a sorting puzzle where you had to match the animals to one of four habitats.
 When Winter had finished, Summer took a turn.

After that nice respite, and after we’d refilled our water bottles, we walked through the woodland trail to check out various native trees to Maine woods, we solved all the riddles posted along the trail, and when we came to the end–we saw THIS!
You may not know this about me–but I’m a moose fanatic.  I think they are just magnificent, and I love their big, clumsy yet graceful style.  They remind me of creatures of the ancient world, like the Mammoth-all of which fascinates me–go figure!

Unfortunately I didn’t get very good pictures–and, while we were standing there observing him he chose to relive himself.  It was very rank–which made it a very memorable experience–to say the least!

Summer had been looking forward to the deer habitat; most of the deer were laying down during the heat of mid-day, but we did get to feed this little doe.  She was so sweet!

We saw the raccoon and watched him eat his lunch.

The fisher.  And their old Albino Porcupine (he was hot too! though I think porcupines are largely nocturnal).

It was feeding time, so I didn’t get very good pictures of the lynx–with the exception for this one below–eating what the animal keepers told us was chicken and rabbit.

The website for the Maine Wildlife Park offers a number of printable educational resources, including a map of the park, animal descriptions, an observational checklist, a scavenger hunt, and more.  It was a wonderful experience, not expensive, and one that I would highly recommend to any family who loves nature and animals and Maine!  But you don’t have to take my word for it–go to Gray and see for yourself!