The Wonders of Wintering Waterfowl

One of the things I enjoy most about living in North Carolina is the vast diversity of wildlife that can be found within a few hours of leaving my home.   No matter which direction I travel, there are public lands to explore, teeming with wildlife. Be it deer, bear, elk, birds, butterflies, turtles – every season yields new treasures to be discovered and seen. But I especially love all the wonderful waterfowl that visit NC in the winter.  With thoughts of Snow Geese, Tundra Swan, and hundreds of wintering ducks, I packed my gear and bags, loaded up my car and headed east for the coast.  The excitement built the closer I got.  To me, winter birding at the coast is much like going to Disneyland as a child.  Before I knew it, I was pulling into the parking lot of the Visitors’ Center at Pea Island NWR, just south of Nags Head.   As soon as I parked my car, I was greeted by the sounds of hundreds of Tundra Swan calling!  I grabbed my camera, headed for the trail, and soon I was gazing out over North Pond with a view of hundreds of Tundra Swan, White Pelicans, and a variety of ducks…Northern Pintail, American Wigeon, Blue-winged Teal, to name a few!  If you have never experienced wintering waterfowl along our Outer Banks, I highly recommend it.  I continued my walk along the wildlife trail between North Pond and New Field Pond stopping at the observation decks […]

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My quest to see a Pileated Woodpecker…

Pileated Woodpeckers have fascinated me since I started birding. They are commonly sighted in one of my favorite birding spots, Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve near Southern Pines, NC. I have made the trip down there with my oldest several times and we fell in love with the area (more on Weymouth Woods in another post soon) and the preserve. It truly is one of my happy places. With each trip down there, I would have high hopes of seeing a Pileated! But it wasn’t until I was able to convince my husband to accompany me on a trip down that I finally got eyes on not one but 3 of them! I had been wanting to show him the area for quite some time; to me it has the potential of being our forever home when he finally retires. We didn’t get on the trails as early as I had hoped since we drove around town for awhile so he could see the area. He loved the area as much as I did! We hiked around the preserve on many of the trails and saw many birds, Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Robins, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, to name a few. We spent a few hours looking and enjoying the day but still now Pileated Woodpecker. We decided to give up, head back to the car, and start for home since it was starting to get dark…it was January after all. As […]

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Going way back…

My little brother came into town yesterday, we only had a few hours together but it was so good to see him. I hate that we live on opposite sides of the country. We spent time talking with our dad about our mom and it got me thinking of an old photo of her that I hadn’t seen in years so I’ve been digging around trying to find it but I keep coming up empty. I did, however, find few old gems that I didn’t even know existed! Ready to go back to the 70s? I can’t believe I am actually sharing these but I’m sure we all have photos that should never see the light of day. On the left is yours truly, with my first camera! That was a family trip we took in 1976…a road trip from Southern California to Memphis, TN for a family reunion. I remember that trip fondly. It was back in the day before mandatory seatbelts. My dad had traded cars with a coworker so we made the trip in a big, old van! My brother and I spent the trip playing in the very back of it, getting truckers to honk at us and all the other things one used to enjoy on long road trips. On the right is one of my first photos. I actually don’t even know why my dad kept it, I certainly wouldn’t have. It is from […]

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My pursuit to see Sandhill Cranes…

Ever since I started seriously birding a little over a year ago I have wanted to see Sandhill Cranes. There was just something about them that drew me in. Maybe it was their adorable colts or all the pictures I had seen of the large numbers that congregate in Nebraska during their stopover while migrating? Whatever it was, something bit me and I knew I had to see one! So imagine my excitement when I started hearing about seven of them right here in North Carolina! They weren’t that far away – I mean I can get to either end of the state in under 4 hours. I quickly started to devise a plan and was even able to convince my youngest (19 years old and not terribly interested in birding) to accompany me on this adventure. We set out early for Pocosin Lakes NWR, more specifically Pungo Lake, and spent the next 3 1/2 hours talking about school and life, just catching up (sure do miss her when she’s not around). I’ll admit, we were also hoping to find some of the large black bears that call the refuge home…but no luck! We were, however, greeted by thousands of Tundra Swan and 7 Sandhill Cranes! I actually squealed with delight when I saw them! Mind you, when I have a target bird I am not always lucky enough to find it so I tried my hardest not to get […]

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The Health Benefits of Birding

I know I love grabbing my camera and binoculars and heading outdoors to go birdwatching. Every day of birding is different than the day before, you never know what you’ll see or find next and for me that is exhilarating! Part of the thrill is wondering what bird I may discover that day. There have been a few times that I have come across a rare bird for my area which always adds to the fun. Birding or birdwatching really is an easy hobby to start. You don’t need much equipment and since birds are basically everywhere you don’t have to travel far to watch them. Start by walking around your own yard or a nearby park. The best part is your yard and most nearby parks are free! According to a 2016 survey by the US Fish and Wildlife Service more than 45 million people watch birds around their homes and away from home. If 45 million people are doing it there has to be something to it. Plus, birdwatching can be very beneficial to your health. It is great exercise and great way to get some fresh air – Some days I will be caught up in my birding and photography that I don’t even realize the miles I have walked or hiked. Birdwatching gets me outside enjoying the sun and the fresh air. It is great for your brain – Think of the workout your brain gets […]

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