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Field trip descriptions.
“Out to the Banks”
CBC Winter Meeting—January 26-28, 2007
By Susan Campbell
of the meeting
List of birds seen during the meeting
The Carolina Bird Club winter meeting will be headquartered at Kill Devil Hills on the North Carolina Outer Banks January 26–28, 2007. Registration will begin at the Ramada Inn at 7:00 PM on Thursday, January 27th. We are looking forward once again to an action-packed weekend at one of the CBC's most popular meeting locations.
The eastern shore of North Carolina offers outstanding birding, and winter is probably the best season. Some winters (such as 2003 and 2004) have seen large invasions of alcids. We should see all three Scoter species and possibly Long-tailed Duck as well as perhaps Common Eider. We will search for a Ross's Goose among hundreds of Snow Geese. Eurasian Wigeons are winter regulars at Pea Island, and scattered Horned Grebes can be seen from the beach. With any luck we could see Iceland or Glaucous Gull at Cape Point and possibly a Thayer's or California Gull. Although a pelagic trip is being offered, remember that the above species may be seen on shore. Interesting passerine observations have included species such as Ash-throated Flycatcher, Lark Sparrow, Snow Bunting, Lapland Longspur and Dickcissel. We should be able to get good looks at both species of Sharp-tailed Sparrow.
A variety of field trips will be offered; each led by an experienced birder. None will require strenuous walking. Friday field trips are scheduled for the Nags Head/Pea Island area and also at several hot spots convenient to routes leading to the Outer Banks.
Friday night's program will be preceded by a social hour beginning at 6:30 PM hosted by the North Banks Bird Club. At 7:30 PM a representative from the US Fish and Wildlife Service will welcome the group and provide an update on activities at the local refuges. Our main speaker, Dr. Ted Simons from North Carolina State University (NCSU), will follow with a presentation entitled "10 Years of American Oystercatcher Research on the Outer Banks of North Carolina." NCSU has a long history of conducting shorebird research on the Outer Banks, and Ted will outline the findings relating to oystercatchers and the implications for conservation and management on the seashore. Afterwards information on Saturday's field trips will be provided.
Saturday night's program will be a program by Dr. Stephen J. Dinsmore from Iowa State University. His talk, "Prairie ghosts—Mountain Plovers in the Great Plains" originates from his dissertation work. Many of you may remember that Steve conducted his Master's research through NCSU in the early 1990s on Sanderlings along the Outer Banks. We are certainly looking forward to hearing what he has been up to since he left North Carolina.
The Ramada Plaza Nags Head Beach on the south side of Kill Devil Hills will be our headquarters for the weekend. The hotel is located on the old beach road, state Highway 12 near Milepost 9 1/2. The address is 1701 South Virginia Dare Trail This Ramada boasts lots of amenities including private balconies, in-room refrigerator and microwave as well as a heated pool and Jacuzzi. It is easily visible from Highway 158 at the Neptune Drive intersection. The hotel has made available special double occupancy rates for CBC members attending our meeting: $50 per night for dune view and street view rooms and $70 per night for those overlooking the ocean. You must inform the Ramada that you are with CBC to receive the special rate. For more information, visit http://www.ramadaplazanagshead.com/ . (Google Map). To make a reservation, call (252) 441-2151 and identify yourself as a CBC meeting participant. The deadline for reservations is January 12th. Rooms reserved after this date may or may not be available at the reduced meeting rate.
A $4.99 breakfast will be available at the hotel beginning at 6:00 AM both Friday and Saturday, and a buffet dinner is planned for Saturday night at 6:30 PM. A vegetarian offering will be available. The cost is $20.50 per person, including tax and gratuity. This amount must be paid at least 10 days in advance to CBC (along with your event registration). The evening meeting will then follow at 7:30 PM. Please note that our meeting activities, including registration, Friday evening social and Saturday buffet dinner, will take place in the fourth floor meeting area.
In the event the Ramada Inn fills early, there will be a few other motels open including the Quality Inn Sea Oatel, (252-441-7191 or toll free at 800-782-9722) Milepost 16.5 Nags Head, Comfort Inn South Oceanfront Milepost 17 in Nags Head (252- 441-6315 or toll free at 866-398-3633) and the Duke of Dare Motel in Manteo (252-473-2175).
Brian Patteson will be offering two all day pelagic trips. There will be a Friday (with no weather date) and a Saturday (Sunday weather date) trip. Cost will be $135/person with a limit of 20 people per trip. Brian is offering an early booking special of $125/person for those registering for one or both pelagic trips before December 15. After December 15 the trips will be open to the general public as well as CBC members, and the price will be $135/person.
The departure point, possibly Wanchese or Hatteras, will be announced prior to the trip based on the weather. Likely species include Manx Shearwater, Northern Fulmar, Red Phalarope, Great Skua, Black-legged Kittiwake, Razorbill, Dovekie, and Atlantic Puffin. Less likely are Black-capped Petrel, Greater Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Audubon's Shearwater, Pomarine Jaeger, and Parasitic Jaeger. There should be many Northern Gannets, and we can always hope for Yellow-nosed Albatross, which was seen in early February 2000, and which was seen at Cape Hatteras in April 2004 and 2006. Sometimes participants see thousands of gulls, with Glaucous, Iceland, Thayer's, and California Gulls all having been tallied on pelagic trips here. Additionally, Little Gulls are located on most of the winter trips, and there is a chance to see Humpback Whales and Loggerhead Sea Turtles as well. Payment must be sent directly to: Brian Patteson, PO Box 772, Hatteras, NC 27943. For more information, check out Brian's web site: http://www.seabirding.com/. Brian can also be contacted by phone at (252) 986-1363, or e-mail: email@example.com Please remember to indicate on your registration form that you plan to participate in one or both of these trips, even though Brian is handling the reservations.
Your registration packet will contain a list of restaurants open at the time of our meeting. Be aware that at this time of year many shops and restaurants are indeed closed. If your Saturday field trip schedule is such that you will be between Nags Head and Hatteras around midday it is highly advisable that you carry a lunch and drink. Furthermore, the area around each of the coastal wildlife refuges is rather remote so you should plan ahead and have plenty of food and water along while birding these areas.
Registration packets will contain directions to the locations of the field trips offered during the course of the weekend as well as some other hotspots participants may want to visit before or after the meeting. Details on these outlying areas will also be posted before the meeting at the CBC website. You will then be able to access the information so that you can make stops on the way to the Outer Banks if you wish.
Additionally, participants may find it helpful to have A Birder's Guide to Coastal North Carolina by John Fussell as well as Mike Tove's Guide to the Offshore Wildlife of the Northern Atlantic. As many of you know John and Mike, both CBC members, have spent countless hours on the Outer Banks pursuing birds. Their publications are indispensable to anyone who is serious about getting to know the birdlife of the region.
The weather will undoubtedly make the weekend. It is common knowledge that winter weather on the Outer Banks can be rough. But sometimes the roughest weather can produce the best birds. On the other hand, there are often "blue bird days" in January. So either way the weather will be good. Just be prepared for either situation, meanwhile thanking God there will be no mosquitoes. Well, not many.
The winter Outer Banks meetings are often some of the best attended seasonal meetings, and for good reason. The delicate strand of sand that makes up the "Banks" not only offers superlative birding, but also plenty of great seafood, charming lighthouses, and history.
Any questions or concerns about this meeting should be directed to the meeting coordinators, Ed Toone (910) 686-5035 or Susan Campbell, at (910) 949-3207 or firstname.lastname@example.org.