CBC Winter Meeting Wrightsville Beach, NC
January 26–28 2018

Katherine Higgins

The Wilmington and Southport Christmas Bird Counts consistently rank nationally in the top five counts for the most number of species seen. The species counts approach 160 each winter for these two areas in the Lower Cape Fear River basin. The field trips at the Carolina Bird Club winter 2018 meeting will cover some of these same areas. The meeting headquarters is at Wrightsville Beach and the dates are January 26 through 28, only a few weeks after the Christmas Bird Count dates. Here is some early information about the meeting.

The Lower Cape Fear offers some of the best winter birding spots in the Carolinas with a variety of habitats including the ocean, maritime forests, saltwater mudflats, freshwater lakes and marshes, pine forests and more.

Wrightsville Beach is just across the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) from Wilmington. The two towns are situated between the Cape Fear River and the Ocean. Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington boast of many fine restaurants along the coast and in the downtown area respectively. The Wilmington downtown River Walk along the Cape Fear River is a great place to hang out for siteseeing, shopping and for great food and beverages. So even though our hotel is on Wrightsville Beach, Wilmington is just across a couple of bridges to our west.

The field trip areas in and around Wrightsville Beach will provide opportunities to see birds such as the Nelson's and Saltmarsh Sparrows, Orange-crowned Warblers, Loggerhead Shrikes, Marbled Godwits, four Rail species, Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Great Cormorant, Anhinga, and three scoter species. Some rare birds which might be seen include Ross's Goose, Dickcissel, Bachman's Sparrow, Razorbill and Parasitic Jaeger.

Ocean watching at Wrightsville Beach will be available from Johnnie Mercer's pier and from the hotel. If you have never watched the Northern Gannets fishing just outside the waves, you are in for a real treat.

We will be near winter birding hotspots that include: Johnnie Mercer's Pier, Airlie Gardens, Greenfield Lake, the Battleship North Carolina area, Ft. Fisher, Kure Beach, Bald Head Island, Oak Island, Brunswick Town, and Boiling Spring Lakes.

We have already lined up two guest speakers that should interest you. Friday night we will hear from David Blevins. Dr. Blevins is a nature photographer, writer, and ecologist. He combines a sense of wonder with an artistic eye to create images that help tell stories about the meaning and significance of the natural world. He received a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of British Columbia, as well as M.S. and B.S. degrees in forest science from North Carolina State University. His newest book, "North Carolina's Barrier Islands", reveals the natural character of barrier islands, the forces that shape them and the sense of wonder they inspire. His previous book, "Wild North Carolina", is a visual journey to the best remaining examples of natural communities across the State.

To prepare for Saturday night's speaker you might want to watch “The Big Year” movie one more time. Laura Keene will entertain us with her photographs and tales from her big year chase in 2016. Laura holds the current ABA record for number of birds photographed in one calendar year.

Our meeting site headquarters and host hotel is the Blockade Runner Beach Resort on Wrightsville Beach. Half of the rooms have ocean and sunrise views and half have views of the Intracoastal Waterway and the sunset. Room rates respectively will be a bargain: $95 and $85 plus taxes. A full chef-prepared breakfast is included in the room rates.

The hotel will also host our Saturday night buffet and their chef is highly rated and recommended by frequent visitors. The rooms have king or queen bed(s), 42″ Plasma TV, WiFi, refrigerator, coffee maker, and hair dryer. Check out their website and ocean cam at: http://blockade-runner.com.

The address of the hotel is: 275 Waynick Boulevard, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480.

For reservations call 910-256-2251 and make sure to tell them you are with the Carolina Bird Club.