Raleigh Field Trip Schedule and Descriptions
Click ==> Map of meeting and field trip locations
|Friday, May 4||Saturday, May 5|
|Half-day Morning||Half-day Morning|
|Half-day Afternoon||Half-day Afternoon|
Raleigh Meeting Field Trip Descriptions
- Trips 1, 21: Eno River State Park Trips 1 and 21 are full
- With 4,131 acres of rugged and varied Piedmont terrain, a variety of migratory birds can be expected. The centerpiece of the park is the Eno River and its chain of shallow and rocky riffles and pools. This 1-¼ mile walk will pass through old fields, lawn, forest, and riparian habitats creating opportunities to see a diversity of birds. 31 warbler species alone have been recorded in the park, and Kentucky, Prothonotary and Hooded Warbler are possible along with Scarlet Tanager. Moderate, restrooms available.
- Trips 2, 23: Mid-Pines Road & Historic Yates Mill County Park Trips 2 and 23 are full
- Readers of Carolinabirds will recognize Mid-Pines Road as a site for rarities in Wake County. The gravel road traverses NC State University agricultural research farm fields and barns where Bobolink has been found along with Eastern Meadowlark, Indigo Bunting and sparrows. The road crosses a creek with a nice riparian area that has also hosted an assortment of flycatchers. The fields along Mid-Pines Road border the 174-acre Yates Mill park that features the only gristmill (circa 1756) still standing in Wake County. The mill pond forms a wetland area at the upper end that provides good habitat for waterfowl, wading birds and songbirds, particularly during migration. A series of trails and boardwalks allows easy access and great views of the wetland area as well as the hardwood forest. Over 160 bird species have been documented in the park. Easy, restrooms available.
- Trip 3: Bird Banding—Prairie Ridge Ecostation for Wildlife & Learning
- Join John Gerwin, Curator of Birds, along with several assistants of the Museum of Natural Sciences for a morning of bird banding at Prairie Ridge, the Museum's outdoor classroom. The site consists of a 10-acre restored Piedmont prairie, several acres of planted hardwoods, a permanent pond, and vernal pools that are an additional attraction for wildlife. Mist nets are opened early in the morning so participants will be able to observe all phases of the banding procedure. Participants will also have the opportunity to enjoy Prairie Ridge's mowed loop trails, where American Goldfinch, Indigo Bunting, and sparrows are abundant, and pass several vernal pools through the field of early successional hardwoods which often has Orchard Oriole, Blue Grosbeak, and some migrants. Another option is to use the outdoor classroom deck and watch the bird feeders for any notable visitors. Easy, restrooms available.
- Trip 4: Lake Crabtree County Park & William B. Umstead State Park (Reedy Creek Lake Trail) Trip 4 is full
- Only minutes from the hotel, Lake Crabtree Park is a versatile 735-acre recreation site with a 520-acre flood control lake that dominates the park. Trails pass through a variety of habitats offering outstanding birding opportunities during migration. Bald Eagle is likely, and Osprey are occasionally seen during migration and summer. Continuing on to the Reedy Creek portion of the 5,579-acre Umstead State Park, participants will explore the park trails, Crabtree Creek and Reedy Creek Lake in anticipation of finding woodpeckers and warblers. Dating back to the 1940s, Umstead Park is a treasure in the highly urbanized Triangle. This trip will focus on migrating and returning songbirds that nest in the park such as flycatchers, vireos, warblers and tanagers. Easy, restrooms available.
- Trips 5: Discovering Durham's Birdy Secrets— West Ellerbe Creek Trail/17 Acre Wood & Sandy Creek Trail Trip 5 is full
- Ellerbe Creek is a small urban woodland preserve and an excellent migrant trap that routinely hosts a variety of migrating warblers. With sightings of approximately 115 species, including 26 species of warblers, Ellerbe Creek is a good place to explore. This flat, paved trail extends eastward, passing through a rich patch of floodplain forest that includes the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association's 17-Acre Wood Preserve. The preserve's nature trails meander through moist floodplain forest and connect back to the main paved trail that follows the creek. The next stop is Sandy Creek Trail, another small but productive birding site worthy of exploration. In spring, the swampy area along the paved trail usually hosts Prothonotary Warblers and Wood Ducks, while the upland woods may host a few Wood Thrushes. Northern Roughwinged Swallows also may be seen at the pond. Easy, restrooms available at Sandy Creek.
- Trip 6: Birding in the Footsteps of CBC Founders—Walnut Creek, Lake Raleigh & Lake Johnson Trip 6 is full
- In the 1930s when the Brimley Brothers, Charlotte Hilton Green, and other CBC founders birded in Raleigh, it was often at Walnut Creek, Lake Raleigh and Lake Johnson. They birded in what were then undeveloped areas. Later, CBC member Dr. Tom Quay took many of his Ornithology students, John Fussell, Mike Tove, Harry LeGrand, John Connors, and others to these areas for his laboratories. This trip, while looking for migrating birds, will focus on the history and the changes to this area. Walnut Creek and the surrounding wetland has grown from a poor, neglected area to a Nature Center with access to Raleigh's award winning greenways where resident and migrant birds continue to find suitable habitat. The resident Red-shouldered Hawks are sure to greet birders on this trip. Lake Raleigh is now an integral part of NC State's Centennial Campus, but land has been preserved and continues to provide outdoor classroom experiences for biology classes. NCSU graduates among the group will be amazed at this progressive campus. If time permits, the trip will continue to Lake Johnson, a Raleigh park, that is now the most urbanized of the three historic birding sites. A nature trail surrounds the lake and gets considerable use, but the park continues to offer good habitat for Wood Thrush, Great Crested Flycatcher, Orchard Oriole and Eastern Kingbird. Our trip leader has birded in these areas since his college days with Dr. Quay and will provide great insight into changes over the years. Easy, restrooms available.
- Trips 7, 15: Mason Farm Biological Reserve Trips 7 and 15 full
- Mason Farm, possibly one of the most talked about birding locations in the Triangle, is a 367-acre tract managed by the NC Botanical Garden for long-term ecological research, teaching, and the quiet enjoyment of nature. Biologists have discovered a rich diversity of 216 species of birds and 800 species of plants. With migration and the approach of breeding season, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-breasted Chat, Field Sparrow, and Indigo Bunting are possibilities. The bottomland forest swamp area of the preserve is home to Barred Owl, Pileated and Downy Woodpeckers, Wood Thrush, and Hooded and Kentucky Warblers. Vehicles must cross a small stream with no bridge to reach parking and access the Reserve. To learn more about the rich history and wildlife of the Reserve, read John Terres' From Laurel Hill to Siler's Bog: The Walking Adventures of a Naturalist. Easy, no restrooms at Mason Farm. Restrooms available at Botanical Garden Totten Center after 8 a.m.
- Trips 8: NC Museum of Art Park and Audubon Gallery
- The NC Museum of Art is surrounded by a 164 acre art-and-nature park. Inside the original building is a gallery devoted to America's greatest nature artist, John James Audubon. The Museum's original, complete Audubon collection, recently treated to restore its condition, is displayed with bird specimens on loan from the Museum of Natural Sciences. After examining a selection of the pieces for their artistic, ornithological, and historical value with the former curator, you will venture outdoors for a walk along the easy trails of the park. Along the way through fields and forest habitats, we will visit the resident bluebirds and any other spring species present. Surprises in the form of nature-inspired sculptures are installed at strategic points on the trails. These include art you can go inside of, art that moves, and art that responds to the environment, including the memorable Cloud Chamber for the Trees and Sky. Easy, restrooms available.
- Trips 9, 17: Swift Creek Greenway & Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve Trips 9 and 17 full
- Down the hill and across Swift Creek from Hemlock Bluffs is a greenway that offers excellent birding opportunities with a different perspective from the bluffs. We'll take a walk along the greenway and explore Hemlock Bluffs. More than 130 bird species, including 28 warblers, have been documented at this 150-acre nature preserve in southern Cary. It is particularly well known for excellent birding opportunities during spring migration. There are trails with a system of overlooks along the bluffs and boardwalks that provide vantage points along Swift Creek opposite the greenway. The overlooks offer exceptional tree-top looks at migrants. The upland trail moves through mature oak-hickory forest that supports Ovenbird, tanagers, and Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos. The floodplain loop trail holds the possibility of flycatchers, Wood Thrush, and Louisiana Waterthrush. Easy, restrooms available at Hemlock Bluffs.
- Trips 10: Bird Collections, Museum of Natural Sciences Trip 10 is full
- From seabirds to mountain birds, from Carolina Chickadee to Carolina Parakeet, the bird collection at the Museum of Natural Sciences holds the evidence of North Carolina's rich bird heritage. John Gerwin, Curator of Birds, and Brian O'Shea, Bird Collections Manager, will provide a tour of the bird collection that is housed in the lower level of the Museum building in downtown Raleigh. Not open to the public, this is a rare opportunity to see the collection and learn how specimens are used more than ever in today's changing climatic, scientific, political and physiographic environment. The collection consists of more than 23,000 specimens, including study skins, skeletons, eggs, nests, tissues, spread wings, and a variety of taxidermy mounts for over 1000 species, including a few hundred from the 1800s. Collections staff will demonstrate making a study skin and discuss how you might add to the collection for birds you find in the wild. A variety of the cabinets will be opened to show what is inside, and discuss why. Bring cameras and questions. No eating/drinking in the collections space. Easy, restrooms available.
- Trips 11, 25: Howell Woods
- This trip requires a 1:15 drive from the hotel, but it is well worth the time. Located in a rural area along the Neuse River, more than 170 species of birds have been documented at this unique 2,856 acre property that is actively managed for the benefit of wildlife, conservation education and outdoor recreation. There are more than 25 miles of unpaved roads and trails, and the site is dominated by over 1,600 acres of bottomland forest along the river. There are also longleaf pine woodlands, a variety of mixed hardwood/pine forests, and abundant early successional habitats. Breeding species include Mississippi Kite, Red-headed Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, a variety of wood warblers, Summer Tanager and Orchard Oriole, among others. Easy, restrooms available at entrance. Must bring own food, water and snacks.
- Trips 12, 26: Jordan Lake Tour
- Fed by the Haw River, the 46,768 acres of Jordan Lake, with 150 miles of shoreline, make it a popular destination for Triangle birders. The lake is a great place for viewing Bald Eagle, and in spring large numbers of migrating songbirds often congregate in the forests adjacent to the lake. With six sites on the NC Birding Trail around the lake and other public lands that are also available for birding, this field trip is designed to explore the lake through the eyes of some of the Triangle's most experienced Jordan Lake birders. Whether soaring eagles or skulking Wood Thrush, you're sure to enjoy the tour of Jordan Lake and learn about those special birding sites and birds you read about so often on Carolinabirds. Easy, restrooms available at some sites. Must bring own food, water and snacks.
- Trips 13, 27: Falls Lake Tour
- Falls Lake was created in 1981 as a flood control project on the Neuse River. The resulting 12,000-acre lake is both the primary water supply for Raleigh and a recreation destination. Public lands around the lake host seven NC Birding Trail sites as well as a portion of the statewide Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Diverse habitats from open water to woodlands, sandy beaches to successional fields, makes Falls Lake an excellent destination for birds and birders. This all-day trip is designed to explore the best birding spots around the lake with experienced Falls Lake birders. Migration season always brings a few unexpected species, so don't be surprised if a rarity is found on this field trip! Easy, restrooms available at some sites. Must bring own food, water and snacks.\
- Trips 14: Birds, Botany and Butterflies
- This trip covers a lot of territory and is not a hard-core birding trip but rather a leisurely glimpse of the region for anyone interested in natural history. Lots of time will be spent botanizing, looking at butterflies, dragonflies, and of course birds. Emphasis will be on sites close to the Cape Fear and Deep Rivers and other stops not listed here will be at the discretion of the trip leader. Starting at White Pines Nature Preserve, home to the most easterly known population of White Pine in the state, participants will hike the preserve, botanizing along the way. White Pines is located at the confluence of the Deep and Rocky Rivers and has steep, rocky terrain and bluffs along the rivers. Continuing on, the trip will head to Jordan Lake dam to explore the hiking trail in the woods just below the dam to check for waterbirds. From there, this mean- dering trip will work east down NC 42 to Corinth, and then Buckhorn Road to the Cape Fear River, for birds, butterflies, dragonflies and other critters. Turning back north along Christian Chapel Church Road (which had Bachman's Sparrows 15 years ago), there will be a brief stop to check out Harris Lake. Moderate, restrooms available in some locations. Must bring own food, water and snacks. Parking is limited at some locations so carpooling is essential for this trip.
- Trip 16: Stagecoach Road and Nearby Waterfowl Impoundments
- Stagecoach Road, southeast of Durham and just 15 minutes from our hotel, is a good starting point for exploring the woods and wetlands at the edge of Jordan Lake. We'll start with what's called the Eagle Spur Rail-Trail, which follows a former railroad bed for a little more than 2 miles through thick bottomland forest to the shore of the lake. Along the way we'll expect to find a variety of woodpeckers, thrushes, and warblers, as well as the waterbirds of the lake. Time permitting, we will also visit one or two of the nearby waterfowl impoundments, where waders have nested in the past. Easy, no convenient restrooms.
- Trip 18: Duke Forest Trip 18 is full
- With over 7,000 acres of land, Duke Forest provides extensive teaching, research and recreational opportunities along its network of roads and fire trails. From clear cut research plots to mature oak-hickory stands, creeks and field edges, Duke Forest provides many excellent birding opportunities. Migration is a great time to explore the forest for migrants as well as residents. Creek crossings throughout the forest can be a great location for waterthrush and others. Easy, no restrooms available.
- Trip 19: Bolin Creek Trip 19 is full
- Bolin Creek meanders through Chapel Hill and Carrboro and provides sometimes surprisingly wild and natural habitat. A portion of the land along the creek has been used as a sewer line easement, but a flat, paved trail called the Bolin Creek Greenway makes a pleasant walk with lots of birds possible in the brushy vegetation. Another section of Bolin Creek, heavily forested, has been protected by the Town of Carrboro and the University of North Carolina for wildlife and recreation. If time permits, we will explore a couple of the trails through the forests and along the creek. Easy, restrooms available at one end of the Bolin Creek Greenway.
- Trip 20: Schenk Forest and William B. Umstead State Park Trip full
- Schenck Forest is a 245-acre forest managed for timber production and wildlife habitat by NC State University, College of Natural Resources. A visit provides easy access to view a variety of tree stand types and ages. Schenk attracts migrating songbirds, while nesting Yellow-breasted Chat, Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak and Ovenbird may have already returned in various sections of the site. The north and east sides of Schenck Forest are bordered by pasture, where American Kestrel and Eastern Meadowlark are common. Continuing on, the Crabtree Creek side of Umstead State Park will be visited. Hiking trails, small lakes and several miles of creeks offer a variety of different habitats to explore for residents and migrants. Easy, restrooms available.
- Trip 22: Birds in Art through the Ages and Around the World, Museum of Art
- Birds have inspired artists since the Egyptians conceived the sun god as a high-flying falcon. This mostly- indoor tour of the NC Museum of Art visits both the Audubon Gallery in the original facility and the worldwide collection in the spectacular recent building. You will search for birds that range from symbols of freedom and power or wings of angels to astonishingly accurate plumages in paintings dating from Renaissance France, Baroque Flanders, Holland and Spain. The birds will be viewed as both art and observations of nature. Then we will cross the connecting plaza to the Audubon Gallery in the other building. See the description for Trip 8. Audubon led an adventurous, pioneering existence that can serve as a great chapter in American history. Whether camping with Osage Indians, dining with Andrew Jackson, or hawking his work to the kings of England and France, Audubon's life was momentous. His Double-Elephant Folio original edition is considered the greatest achievement in American publishing. Easy, restrooms available.
- Trip 24: Bond Park
- Bond Park in Cary is one of the largest municipal parks in Wake County. Like an oasis in the midst of the city, the park design preserves the environment and offers opportunities for many types of recreation as well as birding. Whether walking the loop trail that surrounds the lake, other trails throughout the park, or simply meandering through the woods, a number of special bird species have been found in the park as you've likely seen posted on Carolinabirds. Now if the Barred Owls will just make an appearance for this field trip?! Easy, restrooms available.
- Trip 28: Raven Rock State Park
- Raven Rock, the bluff for which this park is named, is exceptionally tall for the Piedmont, with an elevation of over 100 feet above the Cape Fear River. The park's unique bluffs are representative of its location in the fall zone, separating the Piedmont region's more resistant rocks from the sediments and softer rocks of the coastal plain. The habitats in the park include maturing, successional communities representative of the eastern Piedmont, as well as a number of unusual natural communities derived from the fall zone interface. This trip will focus on the Campbell Creek Trail for about a 4-mile roundtrip hike to look for Acadian Flycatcher, Red-eyed (and possibly Yellow- throated) Vireos, Wood Thrush, Ovenbird, Louisiana Waterthrush, Northern Parula, and a full assortment of warblers. Pileated Woodpecker, Broadwinged Hawk, and Bald Eagle are also possibilities. If time permits and there is interest, the Raven Rock Loop Trail can also be hiked. It travels through a hardwood forest on its 1-mile trip to the parks centerpiece, Raven Rock. Wooden stairs down the face of the river bluff lead to the base of Raven Rock where the river bank provides a place to examine the area beneath the overhang. The park is approximately an hour's drive from Raleigh. Moderate, restrooms available. Must bring own food, water and snacks.
- Trip 29: Jordan Lake for Eagles—by Canoe & Kayak
- Birding by canoe and kayak is what Ginger Travis enjoys most -- and has been doing on spring bird counts since 1999. Ginger will guide this trip on her regular Chapel Hill count route. This all-day trip requires careful planning and has some constraints, so please read carefully if you are interested. Eagles have congregated at the north end of Jordan Lake almost since the moment the lake filled in 1982. Since the late 1990s eagles have nested near the Mason Point peninsula. Our destination is the Morgan Creek side of the peninsula, 4 miles north of the Farrington Point boat ramps, our point of departure. May is a great time to see both adults and newly fledged youngsters. Besides eagles we should also see Redheaded Woodpeckers, Yellow-throated Warblers, Brown-headed Nuthatches, Prothonotary Warbler, and other cavity nesters. King Rails are a long shot but we might hear some. The best way to reach the birds and cover a lot of shoreline is by paddling. Long-time local outfitter Frog Hollow Outdoors will provide kayaks and canoes—please indicate your choice when you sign up. Kayaks are easier to paddle but you may prefer a canoe if you have a regular canoeing partner. Note: everyone who has signed up for this trip is bringing their own boat, or boats have been borrowed, so Frog Hollow is no longer involved in renting boats to us. If someone still wants to go on this trip, they will need to provide their own boat. The roundtrip will be 8 miles over open water. We'll move slowly as we look for birds, but this is not a trip for first-time paddlers. Please be sure you can do the distance. The weather is usually good, but if winds are forecast to be 10 mph or above, the trip is subject to a change of location or cancellation. Also, be aware that there is no shade; if the sun is out we'll be in it all day. If canoeing, you must designate your paddling partner on the registration form. We will not assign paddling partners. We may have an additional local paddler/ bird spotter. Frog Hollow also will provide one guide. Bring water, food, hat, jacket, footwear that can get wet, sunscreen, and a smile. All participants will be required to wear a life vest (provided by Frog Hollow). Moderate to strenuous. No restrooms but plenty of bushes along the way! Cost: $36 per person (based on 10 participants, more if trip does not fill) Limit: 10 people