Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lake Mattamuskeet

Our final birding destination during our February 2011 trip was pilgrimage to Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge on the North Carolina mainland behind the Outer Banks. Mattamuskeet was one of my first exotic birding destinations.  John Trott took us seventh graders on a birding trip there in the fall of 1960.  Fall is the best time to visit the refuge.  Waterfowl numbers had already peaked when we visited.  We enjoyed Tundra Swans, possibly the same individuals we had seen migrating near Brownsville, Minnesota, last fall. (An American Coot laughs at us in the foreground.)

We also listed a few other ducks, like the pintail pair below.  Pintails are capable of phenomenal migrations.  When I wrote Birds of South Dakota (with David Swanson and Jeff Palmer), I included banding records from that state.  Pintails banded in South Dakota have been recovered all across North and Central America. Two pintails banded in South Dakota were later recovered in the Midway Islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (one banded on 21 June 1955, recovered on 21 October 1955, the other banded on 20 June 1955, recovered on 1 September 1955)!  Another Pintail was banded on 31 August 1955 was recovered in Russian Asia 12 May 1982.

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