Weyerhaeuser's Cool Springs Environmental Education Center
Habitats: Cypress-tupelo swamp, mixed pine/hardwood, pocosin, longleaf pine sand ridges, and pine plantations.
Key birds: Summer: Warblers, including Prothonotary and Swainson's, other passerines. Winter: Brown Creeper.
Best times to bird: good opportunities year-round, especially during migration periods along boardwalk trail through the swamp forest.
Description: Weyerhaeuser's Cool Springs Environmental Education Center is approximately 1700 acres of forest land owned by Weyerhaeuser Company along the Neuse River about 6 miles upriver from New Bern. A three mile trail including a 700 foot boardwalk loops through the swamp and additional trails are located on the longleaf ridge area.
Directions: Cool Springs is located near the crossroads community of Askin in Craven county. Askin is located between Vanceboro and New Bern on US 17. At the town of Askin turn west onto SR 1434, go approximately 300 yards and turn right onto SR 1435 and proceed approximately 2.6 miles to entrance gate marked with a large sign on right.
Birding Highlights: Over 100 bird species have been documented at Weyerhaeuser's Cool Springs. The large yard-like area in front of the Red House conference center adjacent to Swift Creek is an excellent spot to see many species during summer including Prothonotary and Yellow-throated Warblers, and Yellow-throated Vireo. Follow the trail through the pine plantation for woodpeckers, Brown-headed Nuthatch and Chipping Sparrow. Beyond the plantation lies the boardwalk across the swamp. Along the boardwalk there are opportunities to see Acadian Flycatcher and Swainson's and Hooded Warblers in the stands of dense cane and other vegetation along the edges of the swamp. The edge between the pine plantation and the swamp is a good for Ovenbird, White-eyed Vireo, Wood Thrush, Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Gray Catbird. Red-shouldered Hawk is often heard and seen flying above the trees in the swamp. Continuing along the swamp trail eventually leads out to the Neuse River. Osprey are common along this stretch of the trail. The return portion of this trail heads back out of the swamp into an upland mixed pine/hardwood area that is excellent for Red-eyed Vireo and Ovenbird.
General Information: Cool Springs is open year-round by appointment only. No food or drink is available on-site, so be sure to bring what you will need with you. Two picnic shelters border Swift Creek and an additional shelter lies adjacent to the Neuse River. There are no fees associated with Cool Springs.
DeLorme map grid: page 66, D1
North Carolina Travel Map grid: J3
For more information: Site Contact: Cools Springs Environmental Education Coordinator (252) 633-7698; http://www.coolsprings.org/