Friday, December 16, 2011

More From Day 2 - Mattamuskeet

I got an early start in the morning heading to Mattamuskeet.  When I departed the outer banks, none of the fast food chain places were open for breakfast.  I finally passed a little gas station/grill combo place and since the parking lot was filled with trucks and most pulling boats, I figured if the local's come, it is okay.  I was very aware of eyes watching as a stranger had arrived, female to boot.  I found a table, ordered and pulled out my road map.  Before long, one gentleman asked where I was headed.  That broke the ice.  I replied to the refuge but was deciding on the next leg of of my trip.

We were soon discussing the lack of waterfowl this year.  Consensus is that with all the warm weather, there simply has not been the cold weather up north to drive the birds further south.  If you are looking for good intel on what is where, the locals and hunters in particular are an excellent source.  By day 3....I should have listened to them.  Lesson learned.

When I first arrived at the refuge, the deer had just come out of the marsh.  I don't think they knew whether to go back in or run along the grass.  I pulled the car over, cut it off  and watched.  Within just a few minutes they went back to grazing on the grass paying no attention to me.

The doe started coming closer and closer to the car.  I tried to be very still not to spook her.  As she was getting fairly close, one of the little deer did the foot stomp and snort warning.  It was so cute I just had to laugh.  I guess finally the doe had sufficiently checked me out and she turned and walked on.

The chatter of the Kingfisher's could be heard everywhere as they went about diving, eating and returning to watching for the next tasty treat.

I saw a group of Widgeon's and using the brush as cover attempted to ease up enough to try and get a decent shot.  I failed miserably on my first trip.  They are very spooky ducks.  I was able to get one semi-decent shot as they swam away.  I guess I need a little more practice on my stealth techniques.

Still only a few Northern Pintails.  One of the most curious things I watched was a Northern Harrier that kept flying over the lake.  It would swoop down into the marsh grasses and sometimes glide over the water.  Where ever it was, there were  always either crows or Red-Winged Blackbirds, not sure which,  chasing it.

The Cormorants were numerous.  Almost every tree out in the lake had one or more sitting in or around the bottom knees.

One of the things that tickled me the most was a Loon that came up while I was in the photo blind.  It stayed and stayed.  I stepped out a couple of times and it never showed any fear and would look me right in the eye.  If only everything were that cooperative.

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