Mike Dunn head shotI owe my love of nature to my father, who took me fishing, hunting, and camping when I was growing up. While attending college at Virginia Tech, I studied aquatic ecology, and then pursued a graduate degree in environmental sciences at the University of Virginia. I started my career with the NC State Parks System, where I spent 8 years as a naturalist/educator. I moved to the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and had 24 wonderful years of teaching others about the incredible natural diversity of North Carolina. I was also fortunate to have the opportunity to explore and help others experience the natural world in many outstanding areas beyond our state’s borders, from Belize to the Arctic, and in my favorite destination, Yellowstone. I retired and went back to work for 3 years as an educator with the North Carolina Botanical Garden (NCBG) in Chapel Hill, where I enjoyed connecting people with nature in a beautiful setting. I am now re-retired (is that a thing?) and enjoying time in our woods and traveling to amazing natural areas via truck camping, backpacking, and canoeing with my wife, Melissa.

I am outside as much as possible, observing and learning about the natural world. Through photography, writing, and guided trips, I hope to share my love of nature with others and inspire people to conserve the beauty and diversity of this planet we call home. Join me in this journey and see what lies just beyond the end of the road.

Mike in kayaqk

45 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi Mike, it was nice to meet you at Slaughter Beach. Thanks for telling us about your blog. We are headed back to East Tennessee on Saturday. Here’s the link to the Gray Fossil Site and a YouTube promo video.

    Best wishes on the rest of your nature outings for this trip!
    Jeff Supplee and Martha Copp

    • Great seeing you both on the beach as well. Thanks for the tips on birding in your neck of the woods. Maybe I’ll run into you at Roan Mtn or the vicinity. If you ever want to come down to NC, look me up.

  2. When I was watching birds the other day, a gentleman, who was running on the trail, told me about your blog. I fully enjoyed your blog and am looking forward to your future posts! Thank you for sharing this site.

  3. Thanks to friends who like to visit the USA and nature I went to search for your website. They Recently went with you through the Pocosin lakes wildlife refuge they are like me from the Netherlands (M & K). We will be visiting Pettigrew SP next summer and I am very curious if you or another nice guide can help us spot bears, snakes, special birds and other special creatures….. and tell us about it.

  4. I am interested in joining your Matamuskeet/Pocosin NWR tours in late January or February and would like more information. Thank you!

  5. Mike when you come out of the natural world, check you email. Have enjoyed the guided Museum of Natural Science trips to Pocosin you provided in the past and am interested in Yellowstone May 2014.

  6. Hi- I am the Eastern Carolina Coordinator for the CNPA. I have heard from the Triangle region members that you give a wonderful presentation on macro and photography in everyday locations such as your back yard. I was wondering if you were available for speaking engagements in the Greenville area, and want topics you present upon? If you could email me I would greatly appreciate that.

    Thank you for your time,
    Nicole Deen
    Eastern Carolina Coordinator

  7. Hi Mike–

    Thanks for your photos and inspiration today. Much needed, and much appreciated.

    Humbly yours,
    Dorothee Alsentzer

  8. Thank you so much for sharing the accounts of your outings and wonderful pics! I am especially interested in Canbrake Rattlesnakes. It has been my obsession for few years now. I am a sculptor and my interest is artistic and I am looking forward to observing one in nature. Do you think the wildlife refuge in both Pocosin and Alligator River to be a great place to go observe one? Thank you so much!

    • Thanks for the kind words. While I have seen several of these magnificent reptiles over the years, I’m not sure it is a place you can really count on seeing one (I don’t see them more often than I do). For artistic purposes, your best bet may be something in captivity as in a zoo or museum.

  9. Thank you so much for replying, means a lot! I have gone to zoos and nature centers to see them up close, but the next big step is to see one in its natural habitat. I am determined to see and meet one soon. I really appreciate what you do and your blog posts.

  10. On 5/23/17, while walking along House Creek on the Marshall Park trail I saw dozens of crystal clear mucous blobs of gelatin from nickel to 50 cent piece size spread along the asphalt. Any idea on what animal or plant was the source of this unusual material? At age 69, it is interesting to see something new like this. Phil Ashburn

  11. Enjoyed your talk today at the AG Center. I like to take pictures of things blooming or changing in nature as I walk my dog in Fearrington Village. I’m amazed how many people don’t realize the beauty around them.

  12. Love your blog! Thank you for thanking the time to publish it.
    I would like to do a black water canoe/camping trip. Is there information out there on the rivers and camping platforms? Who owns/maintains them?
    Thank you!

  13. IMG_0383.JPG

    I hope this photo will open.

    In trying to identify these pupae in the picture.

    I came across the amazing photos on your website and hope you can assist me.

    The pupae are hanging on a sugar maple trunk where the bark is missing from an old scar. I live in central New York State between Utica and Syracuse.


    Katrina Bratge

  14. Hi Mike, Love your blog! Great photos too! I am doing a seed propagation workshop and wondering if it would be Ok if I can use one of your ant/seed photos? (myrmecochory)

  15. Hello,

    I have two small shrubby trees in my backyard that I was curious if you would help me identify. I’m assuming they are invasive but before I cut down I wanted to ask. One i just leafing out and really pretty at the moment. The other has had leaves all season and small black hard seeds/berries.

    Thank you

      • Hi Mike! The revamped website (same URL, seedstosaplings.ca) for Seeds to Saplings is up, and we have also begun an Instagram! Would it be alright if I featured the float test photograph on our Instagram as well? Happy to tag you if you have an Instagram.

        All the best,

  16. Hi, Mike. I enjoyed your article about chipmunks in O’Henry magazine. I moved to a 30 acre farm north of Greensboro in October. I started feeding the birds again in December. I had a brief sighting of a chipmunk in January, and then not again until a warm day in early Spring. There were 4 – 2 kids and 2 adults (possibly the parents). One of them was curious about me, and would climb on the rock wall and stare at me from about 15 feet, The other 3 wanted nothing to do with me. I started putting seeds on the wall where he frequented, and when he was comfortable with me watching him while he ate, I moved the seeds to about 5 feet in front of the front steps of my cabin. Within a couple days, he was eating sunflower seeds just a few feet from me. I gradually started moving the seeds closer, step by step, until last week he started eating out of my hand. I am now feeding him every morning, and I think it is the highlight of the day for both of us. The first time he put his little paws on the palm of my hand while he vaccumed up sunflower seeds, it was one of the best moments of my life. Perhaps, you might want to try it, too.

    • Sounds like a beautiful place, Jan. But, I must say, I try to not get the critters too used to me as I don’t want them to think they can trust all humans…may not be good for their longevity:)

  17. Mike, I would like to get in touch with you about your possibly presenting a program to the Carol Woods Bird Club — as one example, on the birds and bears of Pungo. I don’t use Facebook Messenger, and I don’t have your email address. If you could email me, that would be great. Let’s connect!
    PS I’m just back from a Windsor to Plymouth paddle and camping trip, 22 miles. So beautiful. Prothonotary Warblers everywhere!

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