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One of the best places for birding on the entire Atlantic Flyway is North Carolina's Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge. In this sparse landscape of water, sky, and grass punctuated by pine and pond cypress, waterfowl from as far away as the Arctic Circle indulge in a feast that lasts from November through February.

Lake Mattamuskeet, the largest natural lake in North Carolina, is actually nothing more than a shallow depression that collects rainwater; it has no natural inlet or outlet. According to Native American legend, the depression was formed by a peat fire that burned for 13 moons. These shallow waters encourage the growth of aquatic plants which nourish the tens of thousands of waterfowl that visit Lake Mattamuskeet every winter. During a recent December, for example, the lake hosted nearly 17,000 tundra swans, 17,000 pintail ducks, and 11,000 teal.

Boating and sport fishing for largemouth bass, striped bass, catfish, bream and other species is permitted on Lake Mattamuskeet and adjacent canals from March 1 through November 1, or as otherwise designated. Fishing for bass, catfish and bream is excellent in the canals and along the lake shore in the spring and fall. herring dipping and blue crab fishing at the water control structures is a very popular sport enjoyed by all age groups.

 

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