Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Love My National Wildlife Refuges

Sunday April 29 – Tuesday May 1, 2018                                                      Most Recent Posts:
Oregon Inlet Campground                                                                           Bodie Island Lighthouse
Cape Hatteras National Seashore                                                               Have You Seen the F Code?
Outer Banks of North Carolina


It was very cold and windy today.  Totally unlike yesterday at the lighthouse.  It was too cold and windy for sunrise.  Not a day to be on the beach so I did an hour’s worth of yoga inside in the only spot that makes that possible, right in front of the door.

Pea Island Wildlife Refuge is as near to the south as Bodie Island Light is to the North so I decided to go over there to check out the visitor center and any possible kayak launches.  To get to Pea Island WRF I had to cross the Oregon Inlet as the refuge is on Hatteras Island

IMG_2152The refuge was established in 1937 by an act of congress and Presidential Executive Order to provide habitat for migratory birds.  It is midway on the Atlantic Flyway.  At one time a majority of the greater snow goose population wintered on what is now the refuge.  Historically they foraged in the natural dunes ande along the sound shore.  In the dunes they found a small plant whose tiny pink and lavender flowers matured to form beans that were packed with energy.  These dune peas provided predictable food for the traveling geese so the the refuge was literally a “pea island” for snow geese..

The boundaries of the refuge extend from Oregon Inlet southward to the village of Rodanthe extending from the ocean to the sound on both sides of  a 12 mile stretch along NC Hwy 12.  The 5834 acre refuge is comprised of ocena beach, barrier dunes, salt marshes, fresh and brackish water ponds as well as tidal creeks and bays.  it also contains 24,700 acres of Pamlico sound waters which are closed to migratory waterfowl hunting.  One thing I love is that there is no driving along their 12 miles of beach so if you want to walk a solitary beach on the Outer Banks this is it.

The VC is on the sound side of the refuge and has 3 windows facing the sound.each with a spotting scope.  It’s a small center but has adequate information about the refuge, a map of their trail and small gift shop.


It really was too windy to expect to see anything out in the ponds or the sound.  BUT way out on the opposite side, very hard to see with scope or my camera zoom lens were a few pelicans and other small birds too hazy for me to identify.  Unfortunately for me, the trail doesn’t go out there.  At the very end of April most of the huge variety of migrating species that give it its reputation as a “birder’s paradise” have flown on.


The trail head of the North Pond Wildlife trail is at the Visitor’s center.  It has a couple of over looks and a two level observation tower with binocular spotting scopes for public use.  The trail is half mile to the viewing platform but you can extend your hike by turning right and going along the service road to the end of North Pond and then crossing Route 12 and coming back along the beach for a total of 4 miles.  


Once I was out in the wind againnothing had changed.  I understood why I was the only one out here even though others had come and gone from the visitor’s center. I was disappointed to have to admit today is not the day for the 4 mile hike.


There was a small amount of wildlife in the nerest pond.

I guess they are trying to soak up whatever sun they can despite the clouds and wind..  These guys are good sized fellows.


Close ups for seeing the shell design.  I love  the look mom no hands in the second shot of the fella on the end of the line.


I think you can see where the turtles are lined up on the left near the water’s edge.  The only other wildlife here is the great egret who is off to the right out of the picture.  I didn’t see him until I came around the corner.



Rounding the corner I see vegetation along the sides and in a short distance over the top,  a welcome buffer from some of the wind which is strong enough to sail your hat away.  I’m glad the slides on the RV are in.  Gaelyn asked about that.  I put them in becasue of the flapping slide toppers and in winds this strong the coach rocks and I don’t want to take a chance on the alignment of the slides being damaged.



I can look through the vegetation and see the VC at a distance.


I zoom in on the building and see folks headed inside but none of them join me later on the hike.


Unfortunately the buffer only last for a short time and then the trail becomes a dike for the rest of the way to the viewing platform.



Looking back down the way I’ve come.


Looking down the path I’d take if it weren’t SO windy in order to hike around and over to the beach.  This would probably be a great hike in the winter with the ponds full of birds.  On a mild day in the winter that is.


Using my zoom lens as a scope I find two lone coots.  I’m still not close enough to capture the group I saw from the VC.

I also spot a second egret but by this time I’m freezing and head quickly back to Ruby and home.


By the evening the wind has died down enough to encourage me to go back to Bodie Island Light and see about a possible picture of the Full Moon coming up some where near the lighthouse.

Boy was I in luck.  I got there just as the sun was setting behind some trees.  As it hit the tree line and disappeared out of sight, it cast this glow on the lighthouse for an instant.  I was trying to get the moon which you can see just at the horizon seemingly coming up out of the water. 

I was touched by grace for sure.  What total luck to be here at that moment.

Despite the continued cool and windy situation I walked out the length of the boardwalk shown in my post of the lighhouse.  The moon of course continued to rise.   So beautiful with marsh in the foreground.



Walking back to the light house and standing in a slightly different spot took these two pictures of the moon rising beside the lighthouse as the light came on.  I wished I could wait until the moon came up in the sky next to the shining light.  It was too cold to be outside in the wind so I sat in my car for a while but by this time it was past 8:30 and it seemed like I’d have to stay for a very long time to get that shot.  I’m an early to bed girl and felt happy to have seen what I did.

Back at Winnona she had her own full moon rising.   What a gorgeous full moon night



Monday is May 1, the merry month of May.  MAY DAY!   Where’s the maypole?  Happy Beltane to those who celebrate!  Why don’t we all celebrate this day of mid spring?  Many places did for a long time. Other places in the world still do. We’re half way to summer today but with the temperatures and wind here you’d never know it. 

I turn over the new page on my calendar.  May is Celia’s month and this picture is from her first birthday party last year.  Her second birthday is coming up in just 19 days.  Can’t wait to see her.

It’s 53 outside when I head out for a look at the beach on its way to 66 they claim.  There is a gathering when I arrived.



I walked a ways down the beach now that the wind was down enough.  Or so I thought.  I was distracted by a HUGE seriously ENORMOUS flock of birds traveling south.  I kept walking north to get nearer to them as they were flying this way.  When I turned to go back sorth the wind hit me.  You don’t notice it much when it’s at your back.

I took a video of the birds flying by.  I stood still, zoomed in a bit and just let them fly in front of the lens.  They went by for a full 2 minutes.  Some stop in the water and then catch up.   I can’t tell who they are.  Terns perhaps?  It was amazing!


And if the giant flock wasn’t enough, I ran into this whimbrel all by himself just moseying along.
How about that bill??  Or is it a beak?  Ornithology.com says there is no difference in the terms.


He gives me the eye as I’m taking pictures


and then walks on by

In my National Wildlife Refuge Quest I head over to Manteo Island where the Coastal North Carolina National Wildlife Refuges Gateway Visitors Center is located.  They oversee a group of refuges.  The  visitor center is large and has a slightly longer trail.  Becasue I only have my phone with me, having left my camera at home, don’t ask me why, many of the indoor pictures are from the Refuge’s website.  They were much better than mine. 

Gateway entrance

A map inside shows that there are 10 refuges in this coastal area if you include the two in Virginia, Back Bay in Virginia Beach and Great Dismal Swamp in Suffolk.  Both of which I have visited.

I’ve visited Pea Island and will visit Alligator River later this week.  I’d like to Currituck but it’s up near the Virginia line about 45 miles north and I’m not sure I’ll have time to get up there.  The others will require another visit or perhaps a campground in their area.

Refuges of Gateway Manteo

Not sure why all 9 of the North Carolina Refuges are not on the map.  They are Alligator River, Cedar Island, Currituck, Mattamuskeet, Mackay Island, Pea Island, Pocosin Lakes,
Roanoke River, Swanquarter

There are wonderful exhibits inside about the refuges and particularly Alligator River and its population of Native Black Bears and Native Red Wolves.  The Red wolf story is sad.   The numerous packs totalling 200 individuals have dwindled to 40 individuals at this point.

Here’s some slightly dated information about the wolves if you are interested. 


They have several films about the history of the area and the bears and wolves which are very worth watching.  The VC is staffed by enthusiastic and friendly volunteer full time RVers who told me they had passed a black bear on their way to work.  How fine is that?  I think National Wildlife Refuges must be wonderful places to volunteer.  They told me their names but my memory won’t recall them.



Main Area Gateway NWR

There is a main trail (yellow) and several cross through trails (red and green) behind the visitor center.  All together they might make a mile and a half.


But I like being outside and after being in the open wind so often, a chance to walk in a forest is a happy prospect for me.  The trail begins right off the back deck of the center.

To Gateway Trail

Into the woods I go.


I’m merrily walking along the path when I look down and can’t believe my eyes.  Do you see them?  Nobody mentioned this inside when I said I was going to do the hike.


Pink lady slippers.  


Now that I’ve spotted them by the trail I look back into the woods and see them all over.
Sure wish I’d brought my Canon.  My phone just won’t do them justice.



Arent’ they just absolutely gorgeous?   So delicate.  There just are  no words for how amazing the Earth and all its creatures are.




How blessed am I to have seen the huge flock of birds, the whimbrel and to have come here on this day totally unaware of the ephemeral beauty I would find.  All I need is a Maypole to make my day complete!


  1. I think I enjoyed the second refuge more than the first. That flat sky and cold wind could be felt all the way out here in Oregon. You are so right about the refuges, amazing treasures, although volunteering at some of them is less delightful than at others according to some of our mutual friends who have done it a lot. Loved the orange light on the lighthouse! Amazing to catch that moment. The whimbrel photo is lovely. Yes, Beltane....back in the day when I had an active women's group in Northern Idaho we celebrated every year with a Beltane Fire. Lovely memories of jumping the fire and leaving all the negativity of the previous year behind us.

  2. Lokks like a great refuge. Great pictures with the moo!

  3. Dang that wind. It's got me rocking today. But with no slides on the truckcamper or toppers on the 5th-wheel that's probably why I don't bring in the slides. Absolutely AWESOME shots of the moon and lighthouse at sunset. Super good plan. Seems NWRes are less visited than other public lands. Glad you had a windless day at the second refuge.

  4. Wow. That lighthouse picture is stunning. Call it skill, not luck. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Our wildlife refuges are such wonderful gems of nature. We've loved the ones we've visited in the west. Thanks for sharing these with me too! I may have enjoyed it more than you as I didn't have the wind to contend with :-) That lighthouse in the gloaming is beyond stunning. What a special blessing to capture that! I've never seen lady slippers - they look like pretty little pillows.

  6. Hoping the weather is clearing up!! However, you really made the best of it. Beautiful photos and great tour. Love the Whimbrel photo:o)))

  7. I'm impressed that you got the moon to cooperate for those great pictures. What's your secret? ;c)

  8. Your lighthouse photo at sunset is extraordinary! What a beautiful area...and all of the wildlife refuges make it even better. Interesting story of how Pea Island got its name. I always wonder when I should say "beak" or "bill," so I'm glad to know that it really doesn't matter! "Duck beak" sounds weird, though, so I think I'll stick with bill in that case. :-))
    The lady slippers were a May Day gift, for sure! Your photos turned out beautifully with your phone.

  9. One of the things I love about your blog is your clear heading which includes the day of the week, date and specific locations. I like to look up your location on Google maps to place your trip in perspective. Too bad it was a bit windy out there today... but you persevered. Here in the Northwest we wear gortex rain jackets and pants. They also work well in the wind.... and repelling bugs. I love the varying sunset lighting on the light house. It really changes the coloring on the light house from orange and black to white and black. Thank you for taking me on your journeys.

  10. The last time I volunteered at those refuges was six years ago. I worked in both of those visitor center. Your photos brought back many happy memories. I hope you get to see the bears at Alligator River and maybe a wolf if you're incredibly lucky! ;)

  11. Great pictures! The lighthouse one at sunset is amazing! The moon ones over the water are lovely too. The frog looks like she's wearing a skirt- lily pad? I have never heard of a whimbrel- he is cute strutting across the sand. I was so pleased to have you take us to see the lady slippers- they were magical.

  12. Wow, Celia is almost two! Happy birthday! Lovely moon shots, especially with that lighthouse.

  13. The refuges are beautiful, and the visitor centers look well set up.

  14. The sunset photo of the lighthouse is beautiful.

  15. That sunset lighthouse photo is seriously amazing. That could win an award and should be framed. Just beautiful. Beautiful lady slippers too. Too bad about the wind, but you still had great adventures which you capture so well. Happy Birthday to the cutest grand daughter ever 😀😀


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