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Mattamuskeet Paddling Trip Report
- To: "Carolinabirds" <email@example.com>
- Subject: Mattamuskeet Paddling Trip Report
- From: "John Argentati" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2003 12:04:27 -0500
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This past winter John Connors mentioned to me that one of the most memorable
things he had ever done was paddling on Mattmaskeet just before it closed
for the winter. He remarked on the vast numbers of waterfowl he had seen.
I decided that I needed to share that experience and began planning a
paddling trip when the lake re-opened in March.
I convinced Lena Gallitano and Ginger Travis to join me.
Last Friday afternoon we drove from the Triangle to Ponzer (in Hyde County
on Hwy. 45) where we would be spending the night.
It was cold and rainy and we weren't so sure that it would clear up by
We drove past the location where the Navy is planning to build it's
Of course we saw numerous tundra swans in that same area...
Here are some of the birds we spotted on the drive down.
Tundra Swans - 300 in fields
Kestrels - 2
Turkey Vulture - 20
Black Vulture - 5
Northern Harrier - 1
We stayed at a little bed and breakfast in Ponza called Thomasina's which
Kelly Davis had recommended to us.
The accommodations were delightful and Thomasina made it feel like a home
away from home. It wasn't expensive at $55/room/night. It is an ideal place
to launch paddling trips to either the Pungo river or the west end of
Mattamuskeet. It's only a hundred yards from a boat launch on the pungo and
15 miles from Rose Bay Canal which provides easy access to the west end of
We awoke Saturday morning to a clear sky and a beautiful sunrise. After
breakfast we drove the twenty minutes to the Rose Bay Canal. After paddling
a mile or so up the canal we entered the lake and were greeted by 50 or so
tundra swans. We tried to sneak up on them, but we didn't get very close
before they flew. I've seen few things as breathtaking as a flock of tundra
swans at close range. What magnificent birds. We paddled approximately
nine miles and circumnavigated several of the islands. Most of the day
paddling conditions were good. Although Mattamuskeet is 18 miles long, it's
only 2 feet deep. If we got tired of paddling, we could have walked...
Here's some of what we saw on the lake.
Tundra swans - 75
Osprey - 3 (2 perching on a perspective Cypress tree nest site, one diving
after a fish)
Bald Eagles - 3
Green Winged Teal - 2000-3000
American Widgeon - 8
Shovelers - 50
Ruddy Ducks - 300
Ring-necked Ducks - 20
Great Blue Heron - 10
Great Egret - 3
Canada Goose - 100
Double Crested Cormorants - 125?
- Turtle heads - dozens
- The whoosh of air from the wings of perhaps 30 ducks of unknown species
flying at low level above our heads out in the lake.
- The isolation of sharing the day with 13 people total - 6 early on as they
used their fishing boats to get out into the lake and the 4 that we saw near
the islands. It's hard to find a place in the world with that few humans in
7 hours and I love it.
It was wonderful being out on a lake with such large numbers of waterfowl
and so few other people.
It was a great trip and I'd highly recommend it. If we were doing it over,
I think we might have done it as close to the March 1 opening date as
possible as much of the waterfowl (esp. snow geese) had already left.