stories from the road

Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge

In National Wildlife Refuges, North Carolina on July 7, 2012 at 7:06 pm

After spending a week in the Smokies last summer, my sister DeDe and her kids and I were headed toward Ocean Isle Beach in North Carolina when we stopped at Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge in Wadesboro. DeDe had been poking some well-deserved fun at me for my nerdy upkeep of my little Blue Goose Passport book, where I dorkishly collect ink cancelation stamps from all of the national wildlife refuges I visit, but I nevertheless managed to convince her that we should make a quick stop to explore Pee Dee. (Perhaps it helped that the refuge’s name sounds almost exactly like her own? Believe me, I tried to work every angle to get her to stop there. This involved some begging/whining/cajoling that I’m not terribly proud of, but it got the job done.)

I think she secretly enjoyed our little jaunt along the interpretive road loop as we drove through marshes and bottomland and mixed pine woods. I’m not saying she’d rave on and on about it for hours, or, like, spend time creating a blog post about it — as some nerdy types would do (ahem) — but our short visit was a worthwhile diversion from the road. We drove along with the van’s side door open so our lungs could get a break from the air-conditioning that we’d been appreciating in the July heatwave, and the kids seemed to have fun snapping pictures out of the open door. (Although, if I remember correctly, Quentin’s pictures were all of the streaky glare of the backseat window, which he thought was so hysterical that he took, oh, like 20 of them.)

We did spot tons of birds on our quick drive through the 8,500-acre refuge, and I managed to capture a few of them with my camera — a beautiful male indigo bunting and several great egrets posing in the marshes or fluttering away to the trees as we approached. Sadly, my longest camera lens only gets me to 200mm, which just isn’t enough for any serious bird photography.

Have I whined about my extreme lens envy before? I’m dying to upgrade to something with serious zoom capacity that lets me get really close — you know, like National Geographic close — but I just can’t justify the expense. I don’t have that kind of frivolous cash to spend on such a luxury. And those amped-up longer lenses are mighty expensive. So, until that day, I’ll have to be satisfied with photos that require me to explain that the bird-shaped spec of blue you see is, in fact, a male indigo bunting, or that the graceful great egret you’re seeing was really far away from us, which he was. In the meantime, though, I’ll continue to covet a lens that is so powerful that it enables me to count individual eyelashes on an elk cow or investigate the curly swoops of a bison’s rangy mane. A girl can dream, right?

 

I had slightly better luck trying to photograph a dragonfly that let me creep up really close to him on the ground. I managed to get his bulgy, space-invader eyeballs in decent focus, which, I guess, is saying something. Now if only I could get this close to an indigo bunting, I’d be happy as a lark. (Ooh! Or maybe as happy as a lark bunting! That black-feathered beauty of the Great Plains seems to be a right happy fellow.) 

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