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Wildlife Observation

Duck Pen Trail-millsX512

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Early mornings and late afternoons are the best times to observe wildlife.  Bear and deer can often be observed along refuge roads or feeding in farm fields in the Pungo Unit. Large concentrations of waterfowl can be viewed in the late fall through the winter in impoundments (a manmade pond), farm fields, or Pungo Lake. The best way to observe wildlife is via a vehicle or bicycle. Not all roads are open to vehicular traffic.
 
Although waterfowl can be seen almost anywhere on Pungo during the waterfowl season (November – February), we have designated five observation areas/points that usually provide good waterfowl observation opportunities.  All of the agricultural fields and moist soil units on the Pungo Unit are closed to all public entry during the wintering waterfowl season (November – February).
 
Hyde Park Observation Point
This area features one of our moist soil management units.  Often, millet is planted in part of this impoundment and it sometimes attracts large concentrations of ducks. From November through February, most of the section of Hyde Park Road south of the South Pungo Road intersection is closed to all public entry to prevent waterfowl disturbance in this moist soil unit. However, you can park at the Hyde Park/South Pungo Road intersection (please do not block the gate or roads) and walk a short distance south on Hyde Park Road (to the “Closed Area” signs) to look at the birds.
 
Pungo Lake Observation Platform and Charles Kuralt Trail Site
This elevated platform on the southern tip of Pungo Lake provides unobstructed views of Pungo Lake and the surrounding pocosin. Large concentrations of waterfowl can sometimes be seen from the platform, usually when the wind is from southerly directions. A Charles Kuralt Trail kiosk is located in the parking lot. The Kuralt Trail connects a number of refuges in eastern North Carolina that native North Carolinian Charles Kuralt visited in his time “on the road”. For more information on the Charles Kuralt Trail visit www.northeast-nc.com/kuralt/.
 
Pungo Lake Observation Point
Take a stroll on the Duck Pen Wildlife Trail out to the Pungo Lake Observation Point on the south-central side of Pungo Lake. Park along the shoulder of South Lake Rd near the trailhead; do not block the road or trail, but be careful to not get off of the road bed as you could easily get your vehicle stuck. The trail is approximately ½ mile long leading to an observation/photo blind on the shore of Pungo Lake. Large concentrations of waterfowl can usually be seen on this part of the lake from November through February. Be very quiet as you walk the trail and while in the blind to avoid disturbing and scaring the birds away. Stay on the trail and within the fenced areas; all of the surrounding areas are closed to all public entry to protect wildlife. The trail and observation point are open for foot travel only during the waterfowl season; bicycles and pets are not allowed on the trail.
 
West Lake Road Observation Point
Located at the south end of West Lake Road (near the intersection with South Lake Rd), this point is a great location for watching waterfowl flying back and forth between Pungo Lake and the foraging areas to the west and southwest during the winter. Early morning and late afternoon are often the best times to see these flights.
 
North Lake Woods Observation Area
The wooded area between North Lake Road and Pungo Lake provides a naturally concealed area for visitors to see large concentrations of waterfowl on the lake. To prevent disturbance to the birds, you are not allowed to go out of the woods and into the open lakeshore area. Park at the gate on North Lake Road near the D-Canal Road intersection (please do not block the road or gate) and walk east on North Lake Road. About one mile down the road (see a farm road going off to the left) there’s a trail going into the woods on the right leading to Pungo Lake. Less than ½ mile further east on North Lake Road is a small road on the right that also leads to Pungo Lake.
 
Page Photo Credits — Duck Pen Trail by Jacob Mills
Last Updated: Aug 11, 2015
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