We are fortunate in North Carolina to have 11 National Wildlife Refuges. They are great any time of the year and the wildlife you'll find there vary with season. Winter is a great time for waterfowl on the coast and the refuges are a must-stop for anyone interested in waterfowl photography or waterfowl watching.
I had the pleasure of joining a few friends on the Outer Banks in December. Pea Island and Alligator River National Wildlife Refuges were tops on our list of must-visit places. Alligator River is an excellent place to photograph Norther Harriers. There seems to be several that hunt near the roads. It's a great place to see waterfowl, black bears, and possibly a red wolf. Waterfowl are the main attraction at Pea Island. Many species of diving and puddle ducks, Snow Geese and Tundra Swans are easy to find. It's a great place for winter NC rarities like White Pelicans, Eurasian Widgeon, and possibly a Ross' Goose. A Roseate Spoonbill had been sighted prior to our visit, but was nowhere to be found.
The waterfowl are fairly used to seeing people walking the dike that separates two of the impoundments. They are still wary, as all waterfowl are, but they can be good photography subjects if your patient at your approach and letting them come to you. The American Wigeon above paint no attention to me as they fed along the marsh.