Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
|Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge|
Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is a national wildlife refuge located on Pea Island, a coastal barrier island and part of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The ponds at Pea Island attract large numbers and variety of waterfowl from autumn through winter.
The refuge's objectives are to provide nesting, resting, and wintering habitat for migratory birds, including Snow Geese and other migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, raptors, and neotropical migrants, as well as habitat and protection for endangered and threatened species. Objectives also include providing opportunities for public enjoyment of wildlife and wildlands resources. Public use programs focus on interpretation, environmental education, wildlife observation, wildlife photography, and fishing.
Photographers and beginning birders will appreciate how close you can get to a lot of the waterfowl, thanks to the impoundment ponds. Ducks frequently swim right next to the highway in the northeast corner of North Pond, and geese often feed next to the highway at New Field and elsewhere.
In autumn, when the population of American Wigeons peaks, one more more Eurasian Wigeons can usually be found. Similarly, Eurasian Green-winged Teals are sighted a couple times each winter. Ross's and Greater White-fronted Geese also make occasional appearances.
Split Pea is a great spot for the maritime sparrows (Seaside, Nelson's/Saltmarsh, Savannah Sparrows) and the marshy wrens (Sedge, Marsh Wrens). For a history of how Split Pea was formed, see Wikipedia:New Inlet.
To access this area, drive south on NC 12 through Pea Island refuge. Pass North Pond, the visitor center, New Field Pond and South Pond. Just south of South Pond is a low trestle bridge; park along the roadside just before this bridge. Walk south under the bridge to the midpoint and then west towards the sound. The sparrows like the cordgrass near clumps of needle rush. Light wind is essential. About a half mile walk round trip.
- Fussell III, John O (1994). A Birder's Guide to Coastal North Carolina. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0-8078-4453-5.
- Shultz, Steve (11 Dec, 2021). "Re: Pea Island Today". carolinabirds (Mailing list).