The Black and White of Pungo

To see in color is a delight for the eye but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul. ~Andri Cauldwell

Last Wednesday, I headed to the Pungo Unit of Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge to scout the area for an outing later that week. I’ll report on the outing in the next post, but wanted to share a few highlights of the scouting trip. If only the critters would realize they need to show up when I schedule them so I don’t have to tell people…”well, yesterday…”

There seemed to be a somewhat monochromatic theme to the critters last week, so here are a few of my favorite shots:

Blackbirds in trees

Red-winged Blackbirds in trees at Pungo – note male Northern Harrier streaking by the treetop (click photos to enlarge)

Tundra Swan flyover

Tundra Swan flyover

American Coot

American Coot feeding on submerged aquatic vegetation

Black Bear sow 1

Black Bear sow

When my participants arrived, we again saw all of this wildlife, and more. Unfortunately, I was treated to one spectacle that afternoon that eluded my group during their stay…but such are the vagaries of wildlife watching. They never behave on cue.

Blackbird flock in front of snow goose flock

Blackbird flock in front of Snow Goose flock

I was waiting at a favorite location for bears when thousands of Snow Geese came out of the lake and started circling the field as if wanting to land. In the foreground, hundreds of Red-winged Blackbirds drifted across the corn stubble in dark clouds. The geese landed about a mile away and I started walking in their direction.

Bear with snow geese

Snow Geese circling field where bear was feeding

A young Black Bear had been out in the field when the flock started to circle, and many of the loud birds started landing near the bear. The young bear retreated into cover and the then reappeared a short while later. It fed for a few minutes and then retreated once more, while the flock on the ground grew larger and was moving toward both me and the bear.

Bear with snow geese 1

Young bear approaching flock of Snow Geese

On its next appearance in the field with the geese, the bear must have decided to try to reclaim the corn supply. The next few images show the bear running toward the flock.

Bear with snow geese 3

Young bear running at flock

Bear with snow geese 4

They just won’t leave…

Bear standing looking st snow geese

Bear standing, looking at Snow Geese as they circle and land nearby

A few birds spooked and flew, but more were landing all the time. The bear stood up as more Snow Geese began to circle and land nearby. If only I could read a bear’s mind…The bear then walked off the field, leaving the corn to the growing, noisy flock.

White cloud at sunset

As the sun neared the horizon, the Snow Geese all decided it was time to return to the safety of the lake for the evening. The flock was white against the dark tree line and then appeared black as it crossed the open sky.

Snow Geese at sunset

Snow Geese at sunset

Snow Geese flying over field at sunset

Snow Geese flying over field at sunset

I wish they had waited for my group, but knowing that there is always a chance to witness such a spectacle is what keeps me going back. If interested in scheduling a guided trip to this amazing area, please contact me at

7 thoughts on “The Black and White of Pungo

  1. Wonderful photos. Luckily people can still the spectacle through your great pictures. Not only yesterday, but many more days to come.

  2. mike- i love your picture of the little bear standing looking up at the geese! Such fun! Don’t we all wish we could read animals’ minds?! Thank you for being so diligent and quiet and patient and still…(all qualities that I struggle with) that you are able to capture secret interactions between so many of our world’s animal inhabitants, and then also, for sharing them with the rest of us. =)

  3. Your pictures are incredible, and I adore the bear/geese pictures from Pungo. I go there as often as I can (though my photography skills are very basic) to see the bears. I’m inspired by your work to find more unique compositions!

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