Bird Watching

North Carolina is a state well known by bird watchers. The state’s location along the migration path for a number of bird species has resulted in a large selection of bird watching sites.

Lake Mattamuskeet

Lake Mattamuskeet is the largest natural lake in North Carolina, and a winter stop for thousands of migrating Tundra Swans. A shallow coastal lake, the average depth of the lake is 2-3 feet. 7 miles at its widest, Lake Mattamuskeet stretches 18 miles along the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula.

A good time to visit Mattamuskeet NWR is in December, for Swan Days, the local birding festival. Take a guided van tour around the various impoundments and pools. Waterfowl often spooked by humans on foot are less nervous when approached by vehicles. Tours last about an hour, during which time vans slowly wind through the roadways, giving ample time to view and photograph the thousands of ducks, geese, and swans nearby in the water.

Gull Rock Game Land

Located east of Swanquarter refuge, Gull Rock Game Land contains a diversity of wetland habitats, including brackish marsh, pond pine woodland, nonriverine swamp forest, and low and high pocosin. The natural area is home to 63 breeding birds, black bear, and American alligator. Canoeing and boating are great ways to see these marshes, offering good viewing of the waterfowl, but windy days can make for rough water in the more exposed areas.

Swanquarter National Wildlife Refuge

Swanquarter National Wildlife Refuge is composed of islands and coastal marshlands containing potholes, creeks, swamp forests, and tidal drains. This brackish marsh ecosystem is dominated by black needlerush and other marsh grasses. Tens of thousands of canvasback, scaup, bufflehead, redhead, and ruddy ducks winter in adjacent bays and are visible from the Swan Quarter/Ocracoke ferry as it leaves Swan Quarter and passes by refuge waters.

These top bird watching sites are all within a short distance of the Inn on Bath Creek.