Wrightsville Beach Field Trip Schedule and Descriptions
|Friday, January 26||Saturday, January 27|
|Half-day Morning||Half-day Morning|
|Half-day Afternoon||Half-day Afternoon|
Wrightsville Beach Meeting Field Trip Descriptions
- Trips 1, 19: Oak Island and Ft. Caswell
From the beachfront of Caswell Beach to the lawns of Ft. Caswell and on to the salt marshes and woods of Fish Factory Road, participants will be treated to a broad mixture of seabirds, shorebirds, raptors, sparrows, winter songbirds, ducks, waders, terns, and gulls. This route, borrowed from the Southport Christmas Count, is very productive and usually yields a few surprises! Time permitting and if accessible, a quick stop at the Yaupon Beach Pier may be included. Individuals will be charged $5.00 for a grounds pass at the Fort. There is a lot of walking on this trip. (Restrooms and lunch places are available.) Travel time 60 minutes.
- Trips 2, 20: Bald Head Island
Bald Head Island offers a fun day with more than just birds to look at. This trip may include the Fort Fisher ferry, weather permitting, on the way to the Bald Head Island Ferry. The BHI Ferry is a 20-minute ride with views of the wonderful homes on the island, and both the Cape Fear River basin and the ocean. The birding in winter can be very interesting. Northern Gannets are seen over the ocean, and there is always the possibility for scoters and the occasional jaegers. In the wooded areas of the island you can look for an Orange-crowned Warbler or Blue-headed Vireo. Bald Head Island has an environment unlike other places in North Carolina. Cabbage palmettos are common and this is their northern limit. The flora and fauna of the Island are similar to the coastal areas of South Carolina. The island also features the oldest lighthouse in North Carolina, fondly called Old Baldy. There are additional costs associated with this field trip. The cost of the trip at registration is $60.00 per person. This price includes the BHI ferry, the golf carts and the cost of a BHI Conservancy guide on the Island. Additionally, participants will need to pay the parking at the BHI ferry terminal ($10.00 per car) and the Ft. Fisher Ferry ($5.00 per car). The fee paid during registration is subject to the same no-refund deadline (January 12, 2018) as the registration and banquet fees. (Restrooms available and bring lunch and water.) Travel time 60 minutes to BHI Ferry Terminal or 45 minutes to Fort Fisher.
- Trips 3, 21: Holly Shelter Game Lands
This trip will focus on longleaf pine-wiregrass habitats within the Holly Shelter Game Land. We should find Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and there is a good chance of finding one or more Bachman's Sparrows, even though they become very secretive and mouse-like in the cooler months. Maybe we will get lucky and find a Henslow's Sparrow, although finding this species will be more of a long shot. Walking in these habitats is fairly easy, but if there have been recent rains it will be wet. Participants should be prepared for some wet spots with up to an inch of water. Additionally, we will be checking some privately-owned property for Henslow's and LeConte's sparrows. (Limited restroom availability except at lunchtime, lots of walking in possibly very wet areas.) Travel time 45 minutes.
- Trips 4, 7, 13, 22, 26, 33: Fort Fisher, Aquarium, etc.
We have all-day and many half-day trips planned to Fort Fisher because these well-known hot-spots offer some of the best winter birding on the North Carolina coast. The ocean here is attractive to many birds because of the biologically-rich hard-bottomed areas just off shore. These trips also offer the chance to see winter passerines around the Fort area. At Federal Point we'll look for grebes, shorebirds, terns, gulls, and raptors. Kure Beach offers ocean views that should include gannets, loons and all scoter species. The ocean here has seen rarities including grebes, alcids, rare sea ducks, and possibly Purple Sandpipers. (Restrooms available and restaurants. Driving and limited walking). Travel time 45 minutes.
- Trips 5 and 23: Southport and Boiling Spring Lakes
This trip will include the ferry from Fort Fisher to Southport so be prepared to pay the ferry fees ($5.00 per car). The first stop will be The Nature Conservancy's Boiling Spring Lakes Preserve, known for overwintering songbirds, sparrows, and waterfowl. Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and the other seven species of NC woodpeckers are possible. Afterwards, we will return to Southport and bird as many hotspots as time permits, including the waterfront/marina area, Smithville Burying Grounds, community ponds, and Shepard Road area fields. These sites host overwintering and resident raptors, sparrows, shorebirds, terns, and waterfowl. The exact stops on this portion of the trip will be dictated by Southport Christmas Count results. (Restrooms and lunch spots are available.) Travel time 60 minutes.
- Trips 6 and 24: Brunswick Nature Park, Orton Lake, Funston Farm, etc.
This route may offer Brunswick County's widest variety of winter birds. Winter specialties at Brunswick Town include Rusty Blackbirds, woodpeckers, owls, and many species of overwintering songbirds. Up to seven species of woodpeckers plus American Woodcocks and Winter and House Wrens are possible. Bald Eagles, Anhinga, and several varieties of ducks and scoters are likely on the Cape Fear River or on nearby Orton Pond. After the Brunswick Town stop, we will drive through the Funston Farms area searching for Eastern Meadowlark, Wilson's Snipe, American Pipit, and sparrows. This trip will end at Brunswick Nature Park on Town Creek where species observed may include Golden-crowned Kinglet, Blue-headed Vireo, and Fox Sparrow. (Restrooms and lunch stops available.) Travel time 30 minutes.
- Trips 8, 14, 27 and 34: Wrightsville Beach & Piers
From Mason Inlet on the north end to Masonboro Inlet on the south end, this trip features ocean and jetty scanning for rarities. Targeted areas, observed from the beach or end of Johnny Mercer's Pier, include the legendary loon flock off the island's north end that extends to pier. There are no guarantees, but this flock has consistently produced write-ins on the Christmas Count plus many rare winter bird sightings with birds such as Pacific Loon, Thick-billed Murre, Common Eider, Harlequin Duck, and Razorbills. Shorebirds and water birds observed at the inlets and jetties may include Purple Sandpiper, Piping Plover, and Great Cormorant. There will be some walking on the beaches and it could be cold at the end of the pier. If you have a spotting scope, please bring it with you. (Restrooms and restaurants are available.) Travel time 5 minutes.
- Trips 9, 16, 28, 36: Airlie Gardens
Established in 1901, Airlie Gardens is a valuable cultural and ecological component of New Hanover County and North Carolina history. You'll have the opportunity to view 10 acres of freshwater lakes and the grandeur of the 462 year-old Airlie Oak. Waterbirds such as ducks, egrets, herons, kingfishers, cormorants, and Ospreys are common. Watch for winter passerines as you walk around the well-kept grounds. On any given day it is easy to spot more than 30 species of birds while traversing the gardens. Individuals will be charged $5.00 for a grounds pass (the usual fee is $8). Leisurely walking. (Restrooms available.) Travel time 5 minutes
- Trips 10, 17, 29, 37: Greenfield Lake & Wilmington Winter Hotspots
Wilmington has many great winter hotspots! Following routes that will include many sites on the Christmas Bird Count, we will visit places such as Greenfield Lake and Oakdale Cemetery. Each of the four trips may follow a different route depending heavily on what's being seen the week of the CBC meeting, time of day, and rare bird sightings. Some of the best birds regularly seen include Anhinga, Sora, Winter Wren, Rusty Blackbird, and maybe a rare winter sparrow. Expect extended walks, mostly on paved trails. (Restrooms available.) Travel time 20 minutes.
- Trips 11, 15, 30, and 35: Carolina Beach State Park
Carolina Beach State Park offers varied habitats and birding opportunities. The land is slightly more than a mile wide between the ocean and the Cape Fear River . The state park's unique setting will have you scanning the marina area to check out the Cape Fear River and the Intracoastal Waterway. There are shrubby spots to look for winter passerines. Waterfowl will be viewed at freshwater pond sites. You may have the opportunity for some ocean watching from the pier. With sites close together, you'll spend a lot of your time birding and less time driving between stops. (Restrooms available.) Travel time 30 minutes
- Trips 12 and 31: Burnt Mill Creek
This field trip will follow Burnt Mill Creek, a tidal creek located in the heart of urbanized Wilmington. The creek is bordered by widely variable habitat, including an intact cypress swamp, mowed open grass areas, several distinct historic neighborhoods, the Wilmington National Cemetery, and small engineered wetlands. This is an easy “out and back” walk along a City-maintained greenway, for a distance of 1.3 miles (one-way). We have a good chance to see Red-headed Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, and a variety of raptors and sparrows. Painted Bunting, Baltimore Oriole and Rufous/Allen's Hummingbird have been recorded in adjacent neighborhoods in prior winters. Time permitting, we may detour to a nearby rugby field, retention pond, or backyard feeder if there is a visiting rarity. We will plan to meet and park at the Port City Java directly adjacent to the Creek, so there will be an opportunity to get a good cup of coffee before or after the walk. Travel time 20 minutes.
- Trip 18 Novice Birders
If you are a little intimidated by some of our fast-paced birding trips, you might want to come on this trip. You will be with an experienced birder who will give you some tips on finding the birds and seeing the birds. This will be an instructive trip and activities will be based on the skill levels of the attendees. Limited Driving. Bring binoculars and good walking shoes. And have fun!
- Trip 25: Young Birders Ramble
This trip will be led by a young birder with great birding skills. Be prepared for some fast-paced chasing of special birds that have been seen so far during the meeting. The only thing I can promise about this trip is that you will have fun and you will see birds. Be prepared for anything and everything. Be prepared to go anywhere.
- Trip 32: Workshop for Photographing the Natural World
David Blevins will lead a discussion about nature photography and address the questions and interests of participants. This can include technical aspects of cameras and lenses, postprocessing, working with natural light, photography techniques for everything from landscape to bird photography, as well as broader discussions about the creative process, finding and working with subjects, and developing your own personal style. Bring one or two of your own images if you would like feedback on your own images. Depending on the size of the group, the workshop may include outdoor practice and experiences. Photo workshop at the hotel.