North Carolina county #11 Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge
Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge is a very well-known area for birders. I had heard about it many times and made sure to choose it for one of my field trips during the Carolina Bird Club meeting both in order to get to know where to go should I ever come back, and to experience the excellent birding to be had there. It is named for Lake Mattamuskeet – the largest natural lake in North Carolina – which it surrounds.
I spent a full day travelling to areas around the refuge and got to spend time with a lot of very knowledgeable birders, including the field trip leader, one of the young birders, and one of the club board members. One of the most exciting points of this whole five-day birding trip for me happened right in the beginning of this field trip. We went to find a Eurasian Wigeon, which is a fairly rare bird on this side of the Atlantic. We were lucky enough to be able to get good looks at it, and then we were able to find an American x Eurasian Wigeon hybrid – a bird that even many long time birders have never seen. I remembered seeing pictures of the possible hybrid in my Sibley field guide, and when I saw it I instantly recognized it.
Those birds were seen at a small side lake called Lake Landing. There were many ducks there and we were there twice during the day. I was able to get Cattle Egret onto my life list, and I spotted an Orange-crowned Warbler there.
Another great moment this day was getting looks at a Fox Sparrow. That’s a bird I’ve been hoping to see for some time. We also went to an area with an observation deck and got lots of great looks at waterfowl.
Northern Pintails are always great to see, but here they were everywhere.
Overall, this was a great day and I highly recommend visiting this excellent National Wildlife Refuge.