Atlantic Beach Field Trip Schedule and Descriptions
Click ==> Map of meeting and field trip locations
|Wednesday, January 27|
|Bonus Pelagic Trip from Hatteras, NC — 6:00 AM|
|Friday, January 29||Saturday, January 30|
|Half-day Morning||Half-day Morning|
|Half-day Afternoon||Half-day Afternoon|
Essential Planning Notes for the Atlantic Beach Meeting!
- Many of the planned trips are to sites on the NC Birding Trail (NCBT) and the site numbers are noted at the beginning of each trip description. Check the NCBT – Coastal Guide or the NCBT website for additional site information.
- Come prepared for all weather circumstances! Bring boots, rain gear, hats, gloves and layers for warmth that can be shed if we luck out with beautiful warm sunny days we often see in January. Do remember, however, that our coastal breezes can put a chill in the air even when the sun is out. Pay careful attention to the clothing cautions for trips involving boats.
- To accommodate boats and tides, some trips depart at unusual times – read carefully!
- Plan to bring food for the all-day trips since some are in areas without food service (but perhaps you'll find a local eatery with the best clam chowder on the coast right at lunch time!) Even the half-day trips are tightly scheduled, so be prepared with your own food in case time does not allow a restaurant stop between trips.
- All trips will have toilet facilities at some point on the trip unless noted otherwise but remember many of these sites are in remote areas so plan accordingly.
- All field trips have a participation limit of 15 unless otherwise noted, so register early to be sure you get your trips of choice.
- All trips will leave from the hotel but may meet the trip leader at the site – one person will be asked to guide to the appropriate location. Details will be provided at registration.
Winter Meeting Field Trip Descriptions
- Trips 1, 19 (These trips are full): Bogue Banks – Mid-island Marshes & Maritime Forest – NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, Roosevelt & Hoop Pole Creek Natural Areas
- (NCBT – East Carteret Group – Sites 1 & 2) The Aquarium and Roosevelt State Natural Area provide two walks of interest. The Roosevelt Nature Trail passes through maritime forest and dunes as it winds west toward Bogue Sound. This 265-acre maritime forest is one of the few remaining expanses of maritime forest on North Carolina's barrier islands. The 0.5-mile Alice Hoffman Nature Trail, which leaves from behind the Aquarium, extends east in the opposite direction and passes along the marsh edge, before entering a forested area. One trail spur extends out to a brackish pond. From the Aquarium, continue on to the 0.5 mile Hoop Pole Creek trail that follows the creek out to Bogue Sound, passing through maritime forest for much of the walk but ending with views of coastal salt marsh. The interpretive trail guide gives information about a number of plant species associated with this type of habitat. On each of these trails, a variety of songbirds may be found in the wooded areas including Hermit Thrush, Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and Gray Catbird. Scan the creek and marsh areas for Northern Harrier, Marsh Wren, wading birds, and rails.
- Trips 2, 7, 20 (These trips are full): Fort Macon State Park
- (NCBT – East Carteret Group – Site 3) Fort Macon offers opportunities to view a variety of shorebirds, ocean birds and waterfowl. Winter can be an especially good season to bird here. Walk the beach in a wide arc from the sound side around to the southfacing beach. As the shoreline swings east, it parallels Beaufort Inlet, with views of Shackleford Banks. Watch for loons, Red-breasted Merganser, and waterfowl in the near shore waters. The occasional Harlequin Duck, Common Eider, or alcid species may be found in the rough surf around the jetty at the southwest corner of the point; look for Purple Sandpiper on the jetty rocks. Scan the horizon for passing gannets, scoters and possibly a jaeger. At high tide when the weather is bad, small flocks of shorebirds may congregate here; these may include a couple of Wilson's Plovers. Walk over to the fort and the surrounding forest and shrub areas to look for songbirds. Spotting scopes are useful for ocean scanning. Wear appropriate footwear for beach walking and deep sand.
- Trips 3, 18 (Trip 18 is full): Calico Creek Boardwalk
- (NCBT – East Carteret Group – Site 4) Calico Creek is a nice spot for birding, considering its relatively urban location in Morehead City. The best birding opportunities are at low tide, and this trip is scheduled accordingly. Walking along the boardwalk, look for migrating shorebirds and wintering waterfowl including Green-winged Teal, Hooded Merganser, and Bufflehead. Keep an eye out for the occasional glimpse of a Clapper Rail amongst the marsh grass. Other opportunities to view the creek are at the ends of 17, 13, 11, and 7th streets in Morehead City and may be explored as time allows. No toilet facilities.
- Trips 4, 15 (These trips are full): Cedar Point Tideland Trail & Emerald Isle Woods
- (NCBT – Onslow Bight Group – Sites 3 & 4) The Cedar Point Tideland Trail provides opportunities to view salt marsh and upland pine/hardwood associated bird species. A combination of raised boardwalks and paths cross the marsh and pine/hardwood communities as the trail winds along the edge of the White Oak River estuary. Snags throughout the area offer good chances to view woodpecker species, including Red-headed Woodpecker. One short dead-end spur provides a nice view of the tidal marsh, with opportunities to view herons, egrets, and Osprey. Continue on to Emerald Isle Woods, on the south shore of Bogue Sound where trails wind through both pine woodlands and maritime forest interspersed with several small wetlands which may have Wood Duck. A raised wooden boardwalk snakes across ancient dunes and offers views of Bogue Sound and the Intra-coastal Waterway. Extending across broad tidal wetlands, the boardwalk leads to a floating dock. Scan the wetlands and shoreline area for terns, shorebirds, wading birds, and wintering waterfowl.
- Trips 5, 13, 17 (Trip 17 is full): Rachel Carson National Estuarine Research Reserve
East Carteret Group – Site 5)
The Rachel Carson site is a complex of islands across
Taylor's Creek from the Beaufort waterfront. The islands
at the western end of the site - Carrot Island,
Town Marsh, Bird Shoal, and Horse Island - are more
than three miles long and less than a mile wide, covering
2,025 acres. The site is an important wintering area
for Piping Plovers, and occasionally one or two Wilson's
Plovers may overwinter as well. A loop trail
across the island covers a small beach, the western end
of Town Marsh, follows along Taylor's Creek, then
heads through a salt marsh and a break in the shrub
thicket to the top of a sand berm for views of Beaufort
Inlet, Shackleford Banks and mud flats. Time will be
spent exploring the mud flats where a wide variety of
shorebirds often can be seen probing the mud, including
Ruddy Turnstone, Willet, Short-billed Dowitcher,
Sanderling and possibly a Long-billed Curlew. A
spotting scope will be useful for scanning. Wear boots
suitable for wading in ankle deep water. No toilet facilities
on the Reserve.
Cost $13, pay at ferry. Plan to jump from the ferry into the soft sand of the beach to disembark.
- Trips 6, 14 (These trips are full): North River Farms
- This privately owned land is typically quite birdy. Participants will look for raptors including Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and Merlin as well as other open country birds, a variety of sparrows, and maybe a few marsh birds. Rarities turn up at this site occasionally. No toilet facilities.
- Trips 8, 16 (Trip 16 is full): Taste of the Croatan National Forest Millis & Pringle Roads & Patsy Pond
- (NCBT – Onslow Bight Group – Sites 1 & 2) Millis and Pringle Roads present some of the best birding opportunities in the southern portion of the Croatan National Forest. Participants will drive the dirt roads making frequent stops for birding. With recent burning in the area, there is the possibility for both Bachman's and Henslow's Sparrow. A short 0.5 mile hike along a forest service road leads back to the headwaters of a tributary of the Newport River for forest species. The Millis Road Savanna makes this road especially appealing. Red-cockaded Woodpecker can be found here year round and a walking trail leads past several cavity trees. Other birds that might be seen include Red-headed Woodpecker and Brown-headed Nuthatch. Continue on at the Patsy Pond Nature Trail which winds through an open woodland of longleaf pine forest where Red-cockaded Woodpecker can be found along with Wild Turkey, Red-headed Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Pine Warbler and other species. No toilets available.
- Trips 9, 21: Cape Lookout & Harkers Island Nature Trail
East Carteret Group – Sites 6 & 7)
Cape Lookout, on Core Banks, is the southern tip of a
natural barrier island accessible only by boat. The
point of the island includes extensive dune systems
that stretch three miles south of the lighthouse and
then northwest to a dramatic hook. Participants will
take a ferry across to the lighthouse and then hike to
the point while scanning the ocean for pelagic species
as well as exploring the beach, dunes and sound side
marshes for other species. This out and back trip will
allow participants flexibility in the distance they chose
to walk. Returning to the mainland, the ferry will
swing by Shackleford Banks in hopes of seeing Longbilled
Curlew and Reddish Egret, specialties occasionally
seen at this location. After returning from Cape
Lookout, participants will take a quick visit to the
Harkers Island Nature Trail. This trail leads through
pine stands and maritime forest for a chance to see
songbirds, and the salt marsh may provide additional
species of wintering waterfowl. With many diverse
habitats, this challenging trip is sure to hold some surprises
for the intrepid explorer!
Cost $20, pay at ferry. Be prepared for salt spray and low wind chill values. To reach the point, plan to walk about three miles through sand. Shallow water may be encountered to fully explore the point and sound side marshes. Bring food and water. A spotting scope will be useful for scanning the ocean. Limited toilet facilities are available between the lighthouse and the point.
- Trips 10, 22: The Real Down East Local stops along NC 12 and Cedar Island NWR
- (NCBT – East Carteret Group – Site 8) This easy tour of various habitats in the scenic Down East area of Carteret County will end at the Cedar Island ferry terminal. Among other locations, it will include Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge, which consists of approximately 11,000 acres of brackish marsh and 3,480 acres of woodland habitat. Dirt roads and firebreaks provide visual access to the marsh and woodlands, as well as the bays and sound. The firebreaks serve as walking trails. The marsh and estuary provide wintering habitat for thousands of ducks. Raptors can be seen hunting over the marsh, and songbirds are viewed along the fringe habitats and uplands. On rare occasion, elusive rails may be spotted in the marsh grasses along with Marsh and Sedge Wren. Limited and sporadic toilet facilities.
- Trips 11, 23: Hammocks Beach State Park
A venture to Bear Island in Hammocks Beach State
Park provides a unique opportunity to explore one of
the most unspoiled and uninhabited barrier islands on
the coast. Participants will take a ferry to the island
from the mainland visitor center. The ride provides
great views of marsh habitats, wading birds and shorebirds,
especially at low tide. If lucky, an overwintering
Painted Bunting may be seen near the boat
dock on the island and the walk across the island to the
ocean side will provide chances to locate birds in the
beach and dune habitats. Once on the ocean side, participants
will walk about 1.5 miles to Bogue Inlet to
search for wintering shorebirds and wading birds. The
deck of the closed bathhouse will provide a nice elevated
location for scanning the ocean for seabirds.
Cost $10, pay at ferry. Be prepared for salt spray and low wind chill values. To reach the inlet, plan to walk about 1.5 miles through sand. Bring food and water. A spotting scope will be useful for ocean scanning. No toilet facilities are available.
- Trips 12, 24: Exploring the Croatan National Forest
- (NCBT – Onslow Bight Group – Sites 3 & 4; Lower Neuse Group – Site 2) This trip will explore the Patsy Pond Nature Trail, Millis and Pringle Roads as described in Trips 8 and 16 in addition to various lakes, ponds and the Neuse River estuary for a variety of waterfowl. At the northern outskirt of the Croatan, Island Creek Forest Walk will provide a short hike within mature hardwood and pine habitats along the creek where outcrops of coquina limestone make for a very rich site and adds to the plant and bird diversity. Look for Brown Creeper and Winter Wren as well as the potential for an occasional wintering Evening Grosbeak, Purple Finch or Pine Siskin. Limited and sporadic toilet facilities.
- Bonus Trip from Hatteras, NC
Wednesday January 27, 6:00 A.M.
Join a Seabirding Pelagic Trip with Captain Brian Patteson.
Brian's trips aboard the Stormy Petrel II are no
secret to Carolina birders, and this is a great opportunity
to check out our offshore waters for winter visitors.
Brian will share his knowledge and skills with
CBC members on this trip in hopes of finding some of
our special winter visitors that could include Northern
Fulmar, Manx Shearwater, Red Phalarope, Great
Skua, Black-legged Kittiwake, Atlantic Puffin, Razorbill
and Dovekie among others. The "up close and
personal" sights and sounds of Northern Gannets are
another highlight of this trip. The trip is offered to a
minimum of 10 and a maximum of 20 CBC members
for a discounted price of $150. In the event of cancellation
due to weather, participants will receive a full
refund. For additional lodging information and general
details about pelagic birding, check the Seabirding
To sign up for the bonus pelagic trip, mark the appropriate box on the registration form on page 9 and remit a separate check for $150 made payable to Seabirding Pelagic Trips. Individuals registering for both the pelagic trip and the winter meeting should remit two checks, one for trip registration(s)/buffet(s) made payable to the CBC, and one for the pelagic trip made payable to Seabirding. Be sure to include your e-mail address on the registration form as additional information will be sent to you closer to the date of departure.