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Junior Curator Winter Waterfowl Trip

December 18, 2011
Thirteen of the Museum’s Junior Curators spent the weekend exploring wildlife refuges in Eastern North Carolina. This area of the state is the wintering grounds for thousands of waterfowl including tundra swans, snow geese, and many species of ducks. It’s also home to the densest population of black bears in the continental United States. So it’s a great place to experience wildlife. We visited Pettigrew State Park, Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, and Lake Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge.  
 
As we’ve been traveling, we’ve been enjoying some Christmas music from my iPod, and the kids also wanted to be sure to mention their enjoyment of the Sesame Street Christmas version of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Rather than five gold rings, Bert sings “five argyle socks” in his particular, nasal voice. The leaders have been regaled with loud singing of this particular line many times now… 

 

On a more serious note, we spent time today (Sunday) at Lake Mattmuskeet and had a great time practicing our identification of ducks and other waterfowl. We all feel pretty proficient in our ability to identify American Coot with their dark heads and white bills, Double-crested Cormorants with their hooked beaks and propensity for basking in the sun, and Northern Pintails with their white racing stripe and pointy tails. A highlight was watching an anhinga bask on a downed tree in the canal. It showed off the detailed black-and-white pattern on its back and the gray, somewhat funny-looking tufts on its head. 
 
We finished the trip with a quiet time for journaling and reflection on one of the boardwalk trails. We all spread out and enjoyed a moment listening to the sounds of the refuge – the cry of a hawk, the whistling of the swans, the chipping of sparrows, the honking of geese, and the loud cracks of branches as Nick tramped through the woods. Everyone agreed it was good to take a moment to sit quietly away from man-made sounds and enjoy a wild place. 

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