What is it that I truly love about winter here despite the lack of snow? Well if you havnt guessed it for yourself just yet, its the waterfowl. For starters its what makes the Outer Banks and eastern North Carolina so unique this time of year. Its what has shaped the human history and even economic development of much of this region. Its what towns are named after and the schools in those town are named after famous ducker hunters that were from there.
Well being that this is eastern North Carolina, swans are not the only game in town this time of year. In facet, another species that is just as visible and comes in even greater numbers each year are the snow geese. If Mattamuskeet has 10,000 swans right now, than you can be sure that places like Poccosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge right next door will have 60,000 snow geese piled up in the corn fields feeding on grain.
Now historically, the snow goose was one of the primary drivers of our economy. People came from all across the East to hunt these birds here. However, as numbers have rebounded, winters have warmed, and agricultural feilds hold so much food even up north, the majority of these birds began short stopping a few decades ago. Instead of the Outer Banks, the began stopping at the Eastern Shore along the Virginia / Maryland border. Now however, there is some evidence that suggests we may be witnessing yet another shift in major wintering grounds once again – this time in to Pensilvania. Only time will tell though and the verdict is still out on this one.