Saturday, November 07, 2009

From Pungo to Mattamuskeet: Chasing Waterfowl of the Pocosins

It's November (though we're still trying to figure out how), which means the Pocosin lakes on the Albemarle-Pamlico peninsula will soon be filled with thousands of mergansers, wood ducks, Tundra swans, and at least three snow geese.

Eager to see the symphony of flight, we traveled to Pungo Lake to see what was out there. Unfortunately, as with our last visit, the south entrance at Hyde Park Road was blocked off. More unfortunately, the road running perpendicular was also barricaded. More on that later.

There was no sense turning around until we met our objective, so we set the GPS to Lake Mattamuskeet and headed east...and didn't see a single duck. Not one. Nor did we see any swans or the feather of a snow goose. But Mattamuskeet being Mattamuskeet, there was still beauty to be found in her waters and along her shores, including a doe that seemed as curious about us as we were of her:

Because we intend to return to Pungo next month, I called the Pocosin National Wildlife Refuge to ask about the road closures. The admin connected me to the refuge's botanist (Botanist? Goodness, I could have kept her on the phone all day) who informed me the entrance at Hyde Park Road is always blocked. Worse, the dirt road that runs perpendicular is a private road, so we're not at liberty to use it to travel around the refuge.

The botanist, Wendy, I believe, did inform me the observation platform on the south side of Pungo can be reached by turning on Pat's Road from Hwy 45, then right on the first dirt road and left on Hyde Park Canal (north of the barricade). Take a good map or GPS—and four wheel drive—if you attempt this route.

Wendy also mentioned she spotted thirty Tundra swans that morning. Finally! More are sure to follow in the near future. That alone thrilled me, but then she mentioned she planned on taking an aerial survey of the surrounding fields to see if other birds had slipped in unnotice.

Aerial survey? I wonder if they need someone to tag along to take photos....

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