Pungo Spring

That is one good thing about this world…there are always sure to be more springs.

― L.M. Montgomery

As luck would have it, I spent a few afternoons at the Pungo Unit of Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge the last week or so of April. I wish I lived closer, so I could make more impromptu runs down that way, particularly in certain seasons, like spring (although winter isn’t too bad either). Spring on the refuge is usually less crowded, and the stifling heat of summer has not yet arrived. The light green of the emerging leaves filters the sunlight with tints of yellow and shadows that aren’t quite as dark as in a few more weeks. Everywhere you look, there is life – an almost solid band of yellow of ragwort flowers along many of the roads; zebra and palomedes swallowtail butterflies by the hundreds flitting along the roadsides; birds singing and searching for insects in the dense pocosin vegetation; frogs and toads calling from the canals; turtles basking on logs and mud banks; and, of course, bears. Here are a few more images from a great time of year at my favorite refuge…


Muskrats seem to be more active this time of year (click photos to enlarge)

late tundra swan

There were still two tundra swans on the refuge in late April

Bald eagle in snag

An adult bald eagle surveys the marsh

Wild turkey in wheat field

Wild turkey are abundant on the refuge in spring

prairie warbler

Prairie warblers were seemingly everywhere in the thick vegetation

prairie warbler hunting for bugs

A foraging prairie warbler looks over each twig for a tasty treat

prairie warbler hunting for bugs 1

It spies something…

prairie warbler hunting for bugs 2

…and grabs it. The quick snack may have been a scale insect of some sort.

American toad calling

American toads called from many of the canals

Eastern box turtle

I’m always amazed that box turtles seem to survive so well here with all the bears

Palomedes swallowtail on thistle

Palomedes swallowtails are abundant in these pocosin habitats

Palomedes swallowtail on thistle close up

Thistle pollen covers a butterfly body

Yearling black bear standing

A yearling cub stands to check us out

young black bear running after crossing canal

Another yearling swam across a canal, climbed up into the road, and decided to go elsewhere when it saw our car

Sow black bear eating grass

A sow black bear contentedly grazes on lush grass along the roadside



10 thoughts on “Pungo Spring

  1. a delightful mixed post..with a little something for everyone…butterflies, Box Turtles, Bears, and birds! A joy to read about your adventures.

  2. Curious your location. What road were you on to see bears. I’m camping on OBX at Rodanthe and will drive back to New Bern tomorrow thru that area.
    Bill Gewain
    Roadtrek Hatteras Rally

    • Hey Bill:
      This time of year, the bears are likely to be seen about anywhere. Best times are still early and late, although I have been seeing them throughout the day. My pictures were taken on the Pungo Unit but I saw other bears on the road that connects Hwy 94 to the south shore of Lake Phelps and runs through other portions of Pocosin Lakes NWR. Alligator River NWR should also be good this time of year. With all the rains we have had recently, there could be some muddy areas on the roads at Pungo. Good luck.

      • Mike

        I arrived at Pungo unit area this morning at 9:45. Saw bear along South shore of Lake Phelps and roads in surrounding area.
        Since I was returning home (New Bern) from Hatteras I didn’t have my good camera and tripod for this unplanned side trip.

        I plan to go back soon and camp at Pettigrew State Park and start out 30 minutes before sunrise.

        While camping in western Canada and Alaska (mid May 2013) I saw many lethargic black bear and a few not so tame grizzly. Black bear can be difficult to see in the dark and I would walk up on them unintentionally.

        Thank you for sharing your photos.

        Bill G

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