Register Now for the Carolina Bird Club Winter Meeting on the Beautiful Outer Banks!
Skip Morgan and Jeff Lewis
The Carolina Bird Club winter meeting will be held in Kill Devil Hills/Nags Head on the North Carolina Outer Banks January 27–30, 2011. Registration will begin at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 27th at the Ramada Plaza Nags Head Beach hotel. The CBC and the Outer Banks extend a warm welcome to members and guests to join us for a fun-filled weekend of birding!
The northeast coastline of North Carolina offers outstanding birding, and winter is probably the best season. In recent winters have seen Common Eider and Harlequin Duck. We should see the three North American scoter species and possibly Long-tailed Duck. 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. Interesting passerine observations have included species such as Ash-throated Flycatcher, Lark Sparrow, Snow Bunting, Lapland Longspur and Dickcissel.
The meeting plan calls for a variety of field trips, interesting speakers, and a new feature—the first ever CBC Birding Round Up contest. More on that later! There is a new field trip route that includes Audubon's Pine Island Refuge and points north. Also included are some suggestions for birding on the way to and from the coast.
Friday night's dinner is “on your own” with a new twist to the social hour. The North Banks Bird Club is sponsoring a “pack a snack” station during the social hour preceding the program. You will be able to have a dessert for the evening and also prepare a snack bag to take with you on Saturday's trips. Following a welcome to the meeting, Sean Edward Gough, a former student at East Carolina University, will present a program on his research done in Eastern North Carolina that was supported by a grant from the Carolina Bird Club. His study is entitled “Investigating the Relationship between Habitat Disturbance and the Reproduction of American Bald Eagles in Eastern North Carolina”, and the findings have implications for ensuring the future growth of Bald Eagle populations in this area.
On Saturday, the program features Mike Murray, National Park Service (NPS) Superintendent of the Outer Banks Group which includes Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Wright Brothers National Memorial, and Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. He will be presenting an update on the effects of the “consent decree” on the birds and turtles breeding on NPS seashore lands. Superintendent Murray and his staff have worked through the development of the Off-road Vehicle Management Plan that is currently under review in Washington, D.C. Mike's perspective on this controversial issue is unique, and we are fortunate to have him as our keynote speaker.
The Ramada Plaza Nags Head Beach will be CBC headquarters for the meeting. For you GPS users, the physical address for the hotel is 1701 South Virginia Dare Trail in Kill Devil Hills. If you “migrate” by the seat of your pants, turn east off the 158 by-pass when you get to “French-fry alley” (Neptune Drive) and go over to the beach road (route 12, near 9–½ milepost) and look for the tallest hotel you see. This Ramada boasts lots of amenities including private balconies, in-room refrigerator and microwave, as well as a heated pool and Jacuzzi (just what you need in January!) The CBC rates for this meeting are $75 per night for an ocean view room or $55 per night for the street side. Please add 12.75% to the total for local taxes. When you call (800) 635-1824 or (252) 441-2151 to make your reservation, let them know you are with the CBC to receive the special rate. For more information on the hotel go to www.RamadaPlazaNagsHead.com. Please register by January 1 to make sure you receive the special rates and your room type preference.
The hotel restaurant is called Peppercorns and is located on the second/third floor. They plan to open early for breakfast on Friday and Saturday. The CBC will hold our usual buffet dinner on Saturday evening beginning at 6:30. A cash bar will be available at 6:00 and during dinner. Advance reservations are required for attending the dinner in order to facilitate planning. The buffet cost is $21 per person, which is due with your meeting registration. Please note that January 23, 2011 is the last date for any refunds for registration or dinner cancellations.
Brian Patteson will offer an all-day pelagic trip on Friday, January 28 with a Sunday, January 30 weather date. Cost is $150 per person with a limit of 20 people on the trip. Sign up early for this trip, as Brian will offer it to the general public after January 1, 2011. The departure point will be Hatteras or Wanchese depending on weather conditions. The departure location will be announced and communicated to those who have registered. On Brian's winter trip you may see Northern Fulmar, Manx Shearwater, Red Phalarope, Great Skua, Black-legged Kittiwake, Atlantic Puffin, Razorbill and Dovekie among others. This time of year the Northern Gannets put on quite a show when on a school of fish, and they are also frequently close at hand for the chum provided, making for excellent photo opportunities.
Please send your $150 per person payment (preferably by check) directly to Brian Patteson, P.O. Box 772, Hatteras, NC 27943. For more information about Brian's trips, expected birds, and preparations see www.patteson.com. Brian can be reached at (252) 986-1363 or by e-mail at Brian@Patteson.com. Please remember to indicate on your CBC registration form that you plan to do the pelagic trip, even though Brian is handling the reservations.
In winter on the Outer Banks, there are lots of birds, but fewer open restaurants than in the tourist season. The hotel is located close to fast food places, and we will provide information about some of your favorite seafood places open at that time of year in your registration package. If your Friday or Saturday field trips put you on Pea/Hatteras Island during the mid-day hours, we recommend you carry your lunch.
Registration packets will also contain directions to the locations of the field trips offered during the course of the weekend. Some local reference books are recommended. The North Carolina Birding Trail—Coastal Plain Trail Guide can be used to study up on the Outer Banks sites you will be visiting, as well as planning your trip to and from Kill Devil Hills. John Fussell's A Birder's Guide to Coastal North Carolina and Mike Tove's Guide to the Offshore Wildlife of the Northern Atlantic are standards for birding this area of North Carolina.
We are going to try something a little different at this CBC meeting. On Saturday afternoon there will be a team birding contest that we hope will be fun and a learning experience. Members with all levels of birding experience are encouraged to participate. Each team will be made up of different levels of birding ability, with points awarded for sightings accomplished by each member of the four-person team. This will be a great opportunity for birders that want to improve their skills to be teamed with the “experts”, and good scores are dependent on how well the most experienced help the less experienced. As part of the registration process, when you sign up for the event you will indicate on the form your ability level. Teams will be assembled in advance of the meeting and posted at registration. Teams will be allowed to do a “shotgun” start at 1:30 p.m. with each team having to use one vehicle. Your team's strategy may be to start at North Pond and work south, or start in Alligator River and come east. Speeding tickets will result in disqualification! The team score card has to be turned in by 5:00 p.m. Jeff Lewis will be the chief competition judge and will have final say on all issues.
Attendees at the last winter meeting in Atlantic Beach were tested with some extreme weather. Even then, some of the more hardy souls were treated to some great ocean watching. Let's hope we have better weather this year, but come prepared for anything. Please direct any questions or concerns about this meeting to Skip Morgan (252) 216-6808 or firstname.lastname@example.org.