Call of the wildfowl at Mattamuskeet

By on January 20, 2013

A heron, one of the many species at the refuge. (Russ Lay)

If you think there’s nothing to do on the Outer Banks in winter I have some advice: Get outside!

Over the winter and early spring, the Voice will be bringing you some glimpses into how Russ and Rose Lay spend our weekend time.

Sunday Jan. 20 marked the 4th Annual Mattamuskeet Decoy and Waterfowl Festival.

The main attractions took place at Mattamuskeet High School, where vendors displayed decoys, calls and various other geegaws. Outside, retrieving dogs went through their paces in competitive matches while inside, bird calling competitions were also under way.

Decoys were among the items at the festival.

The Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department served up BBQ chicken in the school cafeteria.

Small tour buses also conducted tours within the Lake Mattamuskeet Wildlife Refuge. Most years the tours have access to the portions of the refuge normally closed to the public, but muddy roads canceled that part of the program this year.

We decided to forgo the bus tour since the usually accessible places were open to passenger vehicles and were rewarded with some great views of coots, grebes, pintails, shovelers, marsh hawks, widgeons, swans and more.

Plenty of waterfowl-themed art work was available at the festival.

Simulated duck hunting.

North Carolina Wildlife featured a laser shooting video game where participants could try their hand at the art of targeting ducks on the wing.

The pictures demonstrate some of the wildlife and vendor wares available.

The video shows three youthful competitors in the swan calling competition. Note two of the contestants are doing “mouth calls” while one is using a traditional calling device.

And, of course, duck calls.

Festivals like the one at Mattamuskeet serve many purposes.

Many of our residents here on the beach have never connected with the incredible flora and fauna just across the mainland bridges.

They also preserve many of the cultural traditions of our area; the art of making decoys and bird calls, the training of retrieving dogs and the art of calling in birds and a celebration of waterfowl hunting.

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