Wilmington Field Trip Schedule and Descriptions
Click ==> Map of meeting and field trip locations
|Friday, October 3||Saturday, October 4|
|Half-day Morning||Half-day Morning|
|Half-day Afternoon||Half-day Afternoon|
|Sunday, October 5|
*All trips except for #2, 14, 16, and 29 leave from the meeting headquarters hotel. Trips 2 & 18 meet at the Bald Head Island ferry landing in Southport. Trips #14 & 29 meet at the N.C. Battleship Memorial.
Most morning trips depart in staggered fashion between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m. Most afternoon trips depart between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. and are also staggered to reduce congestion and confusion in the staging area. Please check the registration desk at the meeting hotel to verify the specific time that your field trips are scheduled to depart and to ensure that no last minute changes have been made.
Fall Meeting Field Trip Descriptions
- Trips 1, 15: Fort Fisher/Carolina Beach SP
- Trips 1 and 15 are full This area, dubbed “Pleasure Island” by the chamber of commerce, is a great place to find both land and sea birds as they are funneled down the peninsula during fall migration. The Ft. Fisher area we will bird begins just south of the former Air Force station and continues along Hwy. 421 to its terminus at Federal Pt. and the “Rocks.” North of the town of Carolina Beach is the State Park, and both areas will be covered on the all-day trips. In both areas we expect to see warblers, tanagers, thrushes, vireos, buntings, and arriving wintering sparrows. Gulls, terns, shorebirds, waders, pelicans, and raptors will be sighted as well.
- Trips 2, 16: Bald Head Island
- Trips 2 and 16 are full Bald Head Island is a barrier island located at the mouth of the Cape Fear River and a 40-minute drive from Wilmington. Migrants find all kinds of habitat to suit their needs, including salt marshes, maritime forest, and miles of dunes and beach. We can expect to see shorebirds, terns, skimmers, songbirds (including warblers), possibly Painted Buntings, waders, Clapper Rail, and raptors. Depending on the weather, be prepared to see alligators, foxes, butterflies, dragonflies, dolphin, and spectacular scenery. We’ll bird the island in open golf carts and do some walking on the beach and in the woods, so bring along a light jacket as it can be windy and bug spray just in case. Access to Bald Head Island is by a 20-minute ferry ride. Plan to take the 7:00 a.m. Bald Head Island Ferry; the cost is $15 for a round-trip ticket. Arrive at the Bald Head Island Ferry terminal at 6:30 to allow time for parking ($7 in Lots B and C and $6 in Lot D) and purchasing a ferry ticket. The ferry WILL NOT wait. On the other side, we’ll meet Juanita Roushdy, our island resident and guide. Either bring a sandwich or we can buy one at the Maritime Market grocery and deli on the island.
- Trips 3, 17: Sunset Beach/Brunswick County
- Trip 17 is full Sunset Beach is known for its large colony of Wood Storks, night herons, and other waders roosting on the Twin Lakes and foraging on nearby mudflats. In addition to these target birds, post-breeding wanderers such as Roseate Spoonbills (very rare) and Reddish Egrets may be present. The itinerary will include several Sunset Beach and Ocean Isle Beach areas as well as other South Brunswick sites, depending on bird activity. Good numbers of migrating shorebirds and songbirds should be found.
- Trips 4, 18: Carolina Beach State Park
- Home to a large population of Venus Flytraps, Carolina Beach SP has earned a reputation for being a prime migration hotspot. An early fall cold front can leave the trees and bushes dripping with warblers, thrushes, vireos and other migrants.
- Trips 5, 19: Ft. Caswell/Oak Island
- Trip 5 is full Join this uber-birding tour of Oak Island! From the lawns of Ft. Caswell on the east end to Lockwoods Folly Inlet on the west and the salt marshes and woods in between, participants will be treated to migrating shorebirds, raptors, sparrows, and songbirds plus waders, terns, and gulls. Overwintering species will have started arriving. Ft. Caswell is the next hop for migrants moving south from the Ft. Fisher/Bald Head Island migrant trap. Many species of shorebirds may be found on the massive lawns after heavy rains or during high tide. American Golden Plover and “grasspipers” are possible. Many species of warblers plus other migrating songbirds may be found in the woods. Waterbirds in large mixed flocks at the southern tip of Oak Island could include up to five tern species and dozens of Black Skimmers. Note there is a $3 admission to Ft. Caswell payable at the time of the trip.
- Trips 6, 20: Airlie Gardens
- Airlie is a hundred year old estate now owned by the county as a public garden. Featuring heritage plants including beautiful Live Oaks (one is 461 years old), several large ponds, maritime forest, shrubs and a salt marsh along Bradley Creek, the well kept paths provide wonderful opportunities to see migrating songbirds, some raptors, shorebirds, and waterfowl. Note there is a $5 admission to the gardens payable at the time of the trip.
- Trips 7, 21: Holly Shelter/Poplar Grove
- With an entrance located 4 miles north of Hampstead, the Game Land contains over 10,000 acres of longleaf pine forest that is home to 52 colonies of Red-cockaded Woodpecker as well as Bachman's Sparrows and Northern Bobwhite. Other possibilities include flycatchers, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Pine Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Blue Grosbeak and maybe a Henslow's Sparrow. Holly Shelter also contains insectivorous plants such as pitcher plants, Venus flytraps, and sundews. On the way back to town, if time permits, we should stop at Scott’s Hill to visit the Abbey Nature Preserve which is part of the 60 acre historic Poplar Grove Plantation. There is a well marked trail through a pine/hardwood forest with open fields and a mill pond.
- Trips 8, 22: Migration Hotspots
- The itinerary for this whirlwind tour will be developed on-the-fly based on the most current sightings and Rare Bird Alert information. Potential sites include many that are otherwise not on the meeting's trip schedule, and may include Wilmington International Airport plus Veteran's, Dobo, and Halyburton Parks. In addition to migrating shorebirds and songbirds, Upland and Buff-breasted Sandpipers are always possibilities at the airport and the playing fields.
- Trips 9, 24: Rice's Creek Kayak Trip
- Paddle a primordial blackwater creek in Brunswick County. Many woodpeckers are possible. Kingfishers, Red-shouldered Hawks, Barred Owls, herons and egrets, and migrating warblers are likely. Other wildlife likely to be encountered include butterflies, dragonflies, whirligig beetles, and otters. Reptiles, including sliders and painted turtles, alligators, brown water snakes, rainbow snakes, and cottonmouth moccasins, may be spotted. Paddlers will also be treated to beautiful wildflowers including the indigenous Cape Fear Spatterdock. Level: Easy to Moderate lasting 2.5 to 3 hours. Beginners are welcome. Kayak, paddle, life jacket and basic instruction included in the $45 per person fee. For those using their own equipment, the fee is $25. Each trip is limited to 12 paddlers, the rain date is Sunday, October 5, and the deadline to preregister is September 15. Participants will depart the Holiday Inn at 6:45 a.m. and carpool to the launch site. All should wear shoes that can get wet, bring drinking water and snacks, and bring personal emergency medication as required. Note that the fee for this trip must be paid in advance and is non-refundable except for cancellation due to weather and if the rain date is also unavailable due to weather.
- Trips 10, 26: Ft. Fisher
- Trips 10 and 26 are full These half-day trips explore the Fort Fisher area as described under Trips 1 and 15. Note the Carolina Beach State Park area is NOT covered during this trip.
- Trips 11, 27: Greenfield Lake
- Trip 27 is full This scenic lake, located within the city of Wilmington and surrounded by bald cypress, hardwoods, and pines, can produce interesting bird sightings during migration. Herons, egrets, coots, moorhens, Wood Ducks, Anhinga, and Pied-billed Grebes are to be expected. Migrant warblers, thrushes, vireos, and flycatchers should be found in addition to the resident woodpeckers, nuthatches, wrens, and chickadees.
- Trips 12, 28: NE Cape Fear R. at Holly Shelter
- Trip 28 is full The dike along the NE Cape Fear may be a better birding spot during breeding season, but after an October cold front it can be an exciting birding place too. The mile-long dike runs between the river and a swampforest floodplain. We’ll hope for a Northern Waterthrush, some American Redstarts, Black-and-white and other lingering and migrant warblers. Barred Owl, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-headed, Pileated and Hairy Woodpecker, White-breasted Nuthatch and Wood Ducks can be found year round.
- Trips 13, 23: Boiling Spring Lakes Preserve and Central Brunswick County
- Trip 13 is full We will begin by exploring the inhabitants, plant ecosystems, and the natural history of The Nature Conservancy’s Boiling Spring Lakes Preserve. We will then cover ditch banks and road sides of central Brunswick County to Rice’s Creek. Our targets will be anything that moves and many that don’t! Butterflies, birds, dragonflies, insectivorous plants, and wildflowers are examples. Bring your camera with macro lens and close-focus binoculars if you have them. The Boiling Spring Lakes nature trail offers much more than birds. It is a great place to find wildflowers such as Meadow Beauty, Sand Myrtle, and Narrow-leaved Sabatia; hard-to-find Pine Woods Treefrogs and other herps; and Venus Flytraps, pitcher plants, and sundews. Boiling Spring Lakes is a “hotspot” for woodpeckers—it hosts the seven resident species of woodpeckers that breed in North Carolina plus it serves as winter home for the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. The woodpecker with local “rock star” status, of course, is the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker. The dirt roads to Rice's Creek will feature many species of wildflowers in full bloom with butterflies, bees, and other insects hanging all over them, ideal for macro-photography!
- Trips 14, 29: Black River Boat Trip
- Trips 14 and 29 are full The oldest known trees east of the Rocky Mountains can be found on this meandering blackwater stream: a stand of 1700 year-old bald cypress. North Carolina designated the river an Outstanding Resource Water in 1994. It is home to rare fish species and many rare mussels. Bobcat, river otter, Black Bear and songbirds inhabit its floodplain. The river rises south of Clinton, NC and flows 66 miles before emptying into the Cape Fear River north of Wilmington. Our trip will be a 4-hour relaxing getaway through miles of scenic wilderness. We will board the boat “Capt. Maffitt” from the Battleship North Carolina Memorial at 1:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon and 8:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. ($30.00 fee/person)
- Trip 25: Oakdale Cemetery
- This trip is cancelled Oakdale Cemetery is among the earliest “rural” cemeteries in the country. Authorities recognize Oakdale for its aesthetic richness and historic significance. Its diverse assemblage of monuments, statuary, and funerary art, as well as its fine collection of flora and fauna put it at the forefront of the state’s historic treasures. After early October cold fronts, the cemetery can be good for migrant warblers and other passerines. Veeries and Swainson’s Thrushes can be found then, as well as the resident Gray Catbirds and Brown Thrashers.