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OBX Field Trip Schedule and Descriptions

Friday, January 27 Saturday, January 28
Half-day Morning Half-day Morning
Trip #1Palmetto Peartree Preserve and Alligator River NWR—6:45am
Trip #2Pea Island NWR/North and South Ponds—7:15am
Trip #3Pea Island NWR/Bodie Island and Oregon Inlet—7:15am
Trip #4Pine Island Sanctuary and Points North—7:00am
Trip #5Roanoke Island—7:30am
Trip #6Ocean Watching—7:30am
Trip #7Beginners Birding—8:30am
Trip #22Palmetto Peartree Preserve and Alligator River NWR—6:45am
Trip #23Pea Island NWR/North and South Ponds—7:15am
Trip #24Pea Island NWR/Bodie Island and Oregon Inlet—7:15am
Trip #25Pine Island Sanctuary and Points North—7:00am
Trip #26Roanoke Island—7:30am
Trip #27Beginners Birding—7:30am
Trip #28Shorebird ID Workshop/Field—7:15am
Half-day Afternoon Half-day Afternoon
Trip #9Palmetto Peartree Preserve and Alligator River NWR—1:00pm
Trip #10Pea Island NWR/North and South Ponds—1:00pm
Trip #11Pea Island NWR/Bodie Island and Oregon Inlet—1:00pm
Trip #12Pine Island Sanctuary and Points North—1:00pm
Trip #13Roanoke Island—1:15pm
Trip #14Ocean Watch—1:15pm
Trip #15Photography Workshop/Field—1:00pm
Trip #30Palmetto Peartree Preserve and Alligator River NWR—1:00pm
Trip #31Pea Island NWR/North and South Ponds—1:00pm
Trip #32Pea Island NWR/Bodie Island and Oregon Inlet—1:00pm
Trip #33Pine Island Sanctuary and Points North—1:00pm
Trip #34Roanoke Island—1:15pm
Trip #35Ocean Watch—1:15pm
Trip #36eBird Workshop/Field—1:00pm
All-day All-day
Trip #17Mattamuskeet—6:45am
Trip #18Hatteras Point, Hatteras Island & Pea Island—6:45am
Trip #19Pocosin Lakes NWR—6:00am
Trip #38Mattamuskeet—6:45am
Trip #39Hatteras Point, Hatteras Island & Pea Island—6:45am
Trip #40Pocosin Lakes NWR—6:00am

Trip Tips

You may obtain more information on trips thru this web site and The North Carolina Birding Trail Coastal Plain Trail Guide and on other internet websites of the above parks and locations.

There are many diversions in the area for non-birding spouses. Aside from the beautiful beach as far as you can see, the Wright Brothers National Memorial in nearby Kill Devil Hills and historic Manteo, with the Elizabethan Gardens, are just a short drive away. Three lighthouses, Currituck Beach, Bodie and Cape Hatteras, are less than an hour away. Manteo also has a reproduction of the lesser-known Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse.

Winter on the Outer Banks is always special. Bring warm clothes, a sense of humor and adventure. We hope to see you there.

Please note: South Pond on Pea Island is off-limits at all times. We will have access for this meeting, but only if you are on the specified trips. No one is allowed in that area at other times. Also, certain impoundments around Lake Mattamuskeet are off-limits and have signs posting such. We will have access to some of these areas, but only on designated trips

OBX Meeting Field Trip Descriptions

Trips 1, 9, 22, & 30—Palmetto Peartree Preserve and Alligator River NWR.
“P3” as the locals know it. We will look among the seven species of woodpeckers present for the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker. During our search we should see a good assortment of woodland and edge species including kinglets, warblers, nuthatches, and sparrows. Red-shouldered Hawk, Barred Owl and Bald Eagle are real possibilities. Learn more about P3 by visiting its website. After birding P3, the group will drive through Alligator River NWR searching primarily for raptors and sparrows, although many species will be possible, including waterfowl and shorebirds. This refuge may be the best place in the state to find Ash-throated Flycatcher. Rough-legged Hawks and a Swainson's Hawk have wintered here in the recent past. Black Bears, Bobcats and Red Wolves are all possible. Another possibility is Short-eared Owls over the fields just before dusk. You would need to stay later than the afternoon trips are scheduled.
Approximate Travel Time: 1:10
Facilities: There are lots of birds but few restrooms in this part of the world, but they can be found (Visitor's Center on Roanoke Island, service station at western end of Alligator River bridge, and porta-johns at entrance to Milltail Road in Alligator River NWR.)
Access: P3 walking on uneven surfaces. Alligator NWR partial driving routes and walking on occasional trails with potentially uneven surfaces.
Trips 2, 10, 23, & 31—Pea Island NWR, North and South Ponds.
Drive down to the entrance area of South Pond. Park carefully along the roadside. If you are there in advance of the guide, wait by the road. We will scan flocks of common birds hoping for such species as Eurasian Wigeon, American Avocet, Marbled Godwit, American Bittern and American White Pelican. In the grassy strips and in the shrub edges along the way, we should find sparrows and warblers. After leaving South Pond, we will visit nearby North Pond to continue our search. This area has seen quite a few rarities over the years, including Glaucous Gull, California Gull, Hudsonian Godwit, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, Cave Swallow and Brewer's Blackbird, just to name a few. Anything is a possibility at Pea Island! We'll scope the ocean across from the Visitor's Center for sea birds. If time permits, we may stop by Oregon Inlet or Bodie Island on the trip back. A spotting scope comes in quite handy in these areas. Even in January, mosquito protection may be advisable. Remember: South Pond is off-limits except with the approved guide.
Approximate Travel Time: 30min
Facilities: Restrooms at Pea Island Visitor Center
Access: Mostly improved trail, potentially uneven surfaces of grass and sand.
Trips 3, 11, 24 & 32—Pea Island NWR, Bodie Island and Oregon Inlet.
At the north end of Pea Island are the Oregon Inlet and the Bonner Bridge. We'll check the inlet out to the rock groin, looking for species that include Great Cormorant, Common Eider, Harlequin Duck, Purple Sandpiper, Piping Plover, Glaucous Gull, “Ipswich” Sparrow, Razorbill and many more. This is “hallowed ground” to birders and many rarities have shown up here over the years. On the north side of the bridge is the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center, where we will scope the inlet for Long-tailed Duck and other diving ducks. Common Eiders and Brant have been seen here as well. We'll continue on to Bodie Lighthouse Pond where we will scope for waterfowl, shorebirds, and waders from the observation platform. Eurasian Wigeon and Cinnamon Teal have been seen here. The boardwalk that cuts through the marsh is good for rails and marsh wrens.
Approximate Travel Time: 25min
Facilities: Restrooms
Access: Bodie Island boardwalk/observation platform. Pea Island improved trails. Oregon Inlet walking on soft to hard packed sand.
Trips 4, 12, 25 & 33—Pine Island Audubon Sanctuary and Points North.
We will explore this former hunting mecca for waterfowl, shorebirds, marsh birds and raptors—Bald Eagle is a distinct possibility. Afterwards, we'll head north and bird around the Currituck Lighthouse and N.C. Center for Wildlife Education. A boardwalk will take us to the edge of Currituck Sound where we will scan for waders, shorebirds, terns and waterfowl. King Rails and other marsh birds are a possibility. The forest edge can be good for overwintering passerines as well. Time permitting; we may scan the nearby ocean for scoters, loons and grebes. If you have not ever birded this area of the Outer Banks, this field trip will provide an experience you will be able to use in your future trip.
Approximate Travel Time: 40min
Facilities: Restrooms
Access: Improved trails potentially uneven surfaces.
Trips 5, 13, 26 & 34—Roanoke Island.
We'll begin at the north end of the island where we will search the woodland edges for winter species such as Golden- and Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-headed Vireo, Brown Creeper, White-throated Sparrow, and hope to turn up over-wintering warblers. Ovenbird, Northern Parula, Black-and-white, Black-throated Blue and Black-throated Green Warblers have all been seen in recent winters, as have Baltimore Oriole, Painted Bunting and Western Kingbird! Wintering Ruby-throated Hummingbirds should be present as well. After that, we will visit the Roanoke Marshes Game Lands in search of saltmarsh species such as Marsh Wren, Seaside Sparrow, and Clapper and Virginia Rails. The freshwater impoundment should hold a few shorebirds and waterfowl for us to view, along with Belted Kingfisher and a raptor or two. Then we will stop by the harbor in Wanchese Village at the south end of the island and scan the surrounding sound and marina for gulls, loons, grebes, and diving ducks. In the past, two Glaucous Gulls were spotted. Wear comfortable shoes because you are going to cover a lot of ground on this field trip.
Approximate Travel Time: 25min
Facilities: Restrooms
Access: Sidewalks and trail with potentially uneven surface
Trips 6, 14 & 35—Nags Head Ocean Watch.
A scope is essential for this trip to scan the Atlantic for the winter birds that feast on the bounty of the ocean. If you don't have a scope, there should be plenty in the group. Your leader will select some premium locations from which to watch the action, including Jennette's Pier. Loons, grebes, scoters and other sea ducks, gulls, gannets are likely. A fee of $2.00 is payable at the time of arrival to walk out onto Jennette's Pier.
Approximate Travel Time: 15min
Facilities: Restrooms Access: Beach/Boardwalk Pier
Trips 7 & 27—Beginning Birders- Workshop/Field.
The first half of the workshop is held at the Ramada followed by a field trip. This is designed for those new to birding, but all levels of birders are welcomed. Birding techniques will be discussed including how to view a bird, what type of diagnostic marks to look for, how to “pish”, the importance of habitat, how to act, and even what to wear. The leader will explain what to look for in binoculars, scopes, field guides and answer any questions you may have.
Approximate Travel Time: Starts at Ramada
Facilities: Restrooms and heat
Access: Field portion to be determined
Trip 15—Bird Photography Workshop/Field.
“Getting the most out of the camera you already own.” Provided by guest speaker Keith Kennedy a brief classroom discussion on the following topics: Equipment options for beginning bird photographers especially lens selection; composition/cropping; sun angle; exposure consideration; importance of background; backing up—saving your images. After the classroom session and weather permitting, we will take a small group of people to a nearby location for an in-the-field bird photography experience with hands-on instruction.
Approximate Travel Time: 5 min. Field Trip-To be determined
Facilities: Heat and restrooms
Access: Field portion to be determined, will be reasonable
Trip 28—Shorebird ID Workshop/Field.
Workshop — The shorebird workshop will focus on key characteristics, such as overall profiles, foraging behaviors, and habitat, which can aid birders on all levels to quickly and confidently identify a species. We will review all shorebird families, but our primary focus will be Charadriidae (plovers) and Scolopacidae (sandpipers). If you're interested in refining your “peep” identification skills, then please join me in this discussion-based workshop. Field Trip — Bodie Island Lighthouse and the north end of Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. These barrier island locations can offer ideal foraging habitats for many resident and migratory shorebird species. Bodie Island Lighthouse is the most northern site on Cape Hatteras National Seashore and offers an observation platform, which overlooks a freshwater marshland. Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, a refuge managed by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, provides an excellent shorebird foraging habitat on the northern end. Both sites provide a great opportunity to focus on silhouette and foraging behavior identification. Target species at both locations will be American Avocet, Black-bellied Plover, yellowlegs, Marbled Godwit, Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, and Purple Sandpiper! Other shorebirds we may observe include Willet, Dunlin, Wilson's Snipe, Sanderling, dowitcher, and Whimbrel.
Approximate Travel Time: 30 minutes (Bodie Island), 45 minutes (Pea Island)
Facilities: Restrooms
Access conditions: This trip will involve moderate walking, boardwalk/observation platform at Bodie Island Lighthouse; trail with potentially uneven surface at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Trip 36—eBird-Workshop/Field.
The first half of this workshop will be held within the Ramada Inn. This workshop will explain the many features, functions, and accessibility of this free, on-line checklist program. eBird has revolutionized the way the birding community reports and accesses information about birds and where to find birds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society launched eBird in 2002. You will still need to bring your outer gear as you will go outdoors the second half and apply your new skills.
Approximate Travel Time: 5min
Facilities: Heat and restrooms
Access: Field portion to be determined.
Trip 17 & 38—Mattamuskeet NWR.
A birder's paradise, Mattamuskeet can be incredible. One of the best spots in the state for Golden Eagle, we will bird the Lake Landing area for Tundra Swans and other waterfowl, shorebirds and waders, sorting through the more common species and hoping for something rare, such as Cackling Goose, Ross's Goose, Eurasian Wigeon, or “Common” Teal. In recent winters American White Pelicans have been seen here. There is a good chance we will be allowed access to some of the off-limit areas. We will also bird along the causeway, famous for its overwintering passerines. In just the past few winters the causeway has hosted at least 13 species of warblers, including Ovenbird, Black-throated Blue, Yellow and Nashville. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Baltimore Orioles are to be expected; in the past we have had Ash-throated Flycatcher and Bell's Vireo. A Black-headed Gull is present most years, too, usually seen near one of the culverts that pass under Hwy. 94. Side trips on the way back to the coast may include Stumpy Point Bay and Alligator River NWR.
Approximate Travel Time: 1:30
Facilities: Restrooms
Access: Driving and walking on potentially uneven surfaces.
Trips 18 & 39—Hatteras Point, Hatteras Island, Pea Island.
The guide will rendezvous with the CBC party at the lighthouse parking lot. We will cover the Point Campground, the Salt Pond and the beach, sorting through the gull flocks in search of Thayer's, Iceland, Glaucous and California Gulls. Lesser Black-backed Gulls should be common. Peregrine Falcon is often seen here as well. We will scan the ocean for loons, grebes, scoters and other water birds, hoping for alcids or other rarities. Common Eider, Black-headed and Little Gulls and Eared Grebe are also possibilities. In the past we have had great looks at Iceland Gull, Dovekie and Razorbill. The salt pond usually hosts good populations of birds. Snow Buntings, Horned Larks, Hudsonian Godwits and a Sprague's Pipit may be present. Your leader will plan some side trips on the way back depending on what has been seen that morning at points north. Please note: We will be walking to Hatteras Point, about two miles round trip.
Approximate Travel Time: 1:10
Facilities: Restrooms
Access: Packed and soft sand
Trips 19 & 40—Pocosin Lakes NWR.
Pocosin Lakes is famous for huge flocks of wintering Snow Geese. We will search through them for Cackling, Ross's, and Greater White-fronted Geese. Red-winged Blackbird flocks can number in the thousands, a spectacle in itself. We will look through them with hopes of spotting a Yellow-headed Blackbird. Overhead, we'll keep an eye out for Golden Eagles—this is one of the most reliable spots in the state for these awesome birds. Other possibilities include other waterfowl and farm field and edge species, such as sparrows, pipits and Horned Larks. There is a lot of territory to cover on this trip with potential side trips on the way back.
Approximate Travel Time: 1:45
Facilities: Restrooms
Access: Trail with potentially uneven surface