Back to the OBX—Winter Birding at its Best! Thursday Through Sunday, January 18–21, 2024
8031 South Oregon Inlet Rd., Nags Head, NC (reservations: 252-441-6315)
Check-in time 4pm
Check-out no later than 11:00am
Head to the Outer Banks and be prepared for some terrific birds!
The Outer Banks are separated from the mainland by immense bays. Here the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean, fueled by the not-too-distant, warm offshore Gulf Stream allows both water and air temperatures on this chain of sandy barrier islands to moderate the winter climate here and on the inner banks. The Outer Banks area is a natural magnet for wintering birds. Overwintering waterfowl find the area ideal as feeding opportunity abounds. Wading birds and passerines, too, arrive for brief stop-overs or over-winter. Yes, these barrier islands' relatively warm conditions provide habitat niches that allow migrating birds to linger, some remaining as they find the area has sources of fuel to survive the winter months. Air temperatures on the NC barrier islands in winter can be five to ten degrees warmer than a few miles inland of the bays. Couple these conditions with the amazing variety of habitats and the setting is ever-present for high daily bird counts. Bird several habitats and daily counts can mount to over 100 on an all-day expedition.
National Wildlife Refuges along the Banks have significant area for migratory waterfowl and wintering resident species but most protected area is impossible to access except by boat, or restricted to the ocean shoreline. However, Pea Island NWR provides the quintessential opportunity to explore a section of the remaining undeveloped wilderness in earnest, and just a short distance from our host hotel. Nearby Alligator River NWR and Mattamuskeet NWR provide additional opportunities for seeking access to habitats for both expected and always hoped-for unexpected species. Over 160 species were recorded last year during the course of the weekend. A Golden Eagle always seems to tease at Alligator River NWR. The winter of 2023–4 had a couple Snow Buntings and an Ash-throated Flycatcher there as well. Of course, gulls were as abundant as ever with even Iceland and Glaucous making appearances on The Point. Wintering Ruby-throated Hummingbirds that spend the colder months along the coast in some numbers, were spotted as well.
The CBC Board is proud to invite you to the Outer Banks. Our host hotel and the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce also extend a warm welcome to members and guests to join us for a fun-filled weekend of birding. There is much information that follows. Please read carefully.
The northeast coastline of North Carolina is probably at its best birding in winter. Your CBC Board has planned Sunday morning trips with the more unusual species that have been observed the goal of more than one trip this year.
Four half-day trips have been planned specifically with wheelchair users in mind. All birding locations have trails designated for wheelchair users or the walk goes to boardwalks. These boardwalks will allow access to soundside and oceanside viewing. These trips are available to all attendees and would be beneficial for those seeking good footing.
Pea Island NWR Is the primary hotspot at all of our winter weekends, seemingly the year-round site for those expected and unexpected birds. We will bird many of the area's best sites from the Currituck Banks Forest at Corolla to Cape Hatteras, and inland in Hyde, Tyrrell and Dare Counties. For so much more see the Trip Descriptions and plan for a full weekend of birding.
The Comfort Inn South Oceanfront will be CBC headquarters for the meeting. This Inn boasts amenities that include private balconies, in-room refrigerator and microwave. More information about the welcoming hotel.
*The CBC rates for this meeting are truly outstanding at $89 per night for an ocean view room or $64 per night for the street side. This cost does not include tax of 12.75%. When you call (252) 441-6315 to make your reservation, let them know you are with the Carolina Bird Club – January 2024 to receive the special rate. This rate will be guaranteed until December 18, 2023 (at midnight). Check-in time is 4 PM and check-out is by 11 AM.
*Please sign up for the banquet buffet dinner on Saturday evening on the CBC website when you complete your trip selections. Sign-up attempts at the registration table will be too late. Advance reservation is required for the banquet. The buffet cost, including gratuity, is $40 per person, again due with your meeting registration.
*Also note that this hotel does not currently provide drink or meal service. Our buffet will, therefore, be catered. There are, of course, nearby restaurants that span the spectrum: from fast food places to very nice, sit-down eateries. Due to the time of year, some of these will be closed for the season. However, we will have a list of all the restaurants that are open at the registration table for participants to refer to. There is also a Food Lion grocery store on the main road (NC 158/Croatan Highway) just north of the hotel. More grocery options are also available further up the beach.
*The deadline for hotel reservations is December 18. Room reservations after this date cannot be guaranteed the CBC conference rate.
Be sure to visit the conference registration table as soon as you check-in at the hotel, and sign in for the meeting. Your meeting packet will include a confirmed event schedule and driving directions for each birding trip, plus your banquet ticket(s)—if applicable.
We will have a presentation Friday and Saturday evening. These will be preceded by a social with cash bar. Friday evening, longtime CBC member and butterfly biologist Jeff Pippen will present Carolina's Wild Butterflies: Identification and Monitoring. This program will introduce you to North Carolina's wild butterflies, how to identify them, and how to become a citizen-scientist butterfly monitor. Because insect populations are declining at alarming rates, long-term monitoring of butterfly populations across the Carolinas will provide valuable data for scientists and land managers. The Carolinas Butterfly Monitoring Project aims to teach interested citizen scientists how to identify local butterflies and establish a fun, easy-to-conduct survey using standardized protocols where you can go for a walk and record the butterflies you see. Data are contributed to a national database for scientists to examine butterfly population trends across the continent.
This Birding Weekend's catered buffet dinner will be on Saturday evening. The banquet will be at 6:30 PM after the social. The evening keynote speaker presentation will begin at 7:30 PM. Our Keynote Speaker will be Cape Fear Bird Observatory's co-founder and managing director, Evan Buckland. Her talk is entitled “Painting by Numbers: Investigating Painted Bunting Populations along the Carolina Coast.” Evan will bring us a status report on the distribution of the Painted Bunting population in North Carolina. Monitoring (including banding) of buntings is one of the current foci of the fledgling bird observatory. She will discuss the project's objectives, methods and most recent results. Come prepared to learn more about one of the Carolina's most colorful songsters!
Online registration begins Saturday, December 9th at 2:00 PM, and closes January 7th, 2024 at noon. Please note that January 7th, 2024 at noon is the last date for any refunds for CBC registration or dinner cancellations. Also, very important—if you have to cancel, please notify the Headquarters Secretary so we can give your field trip space to someone on the waiting list. Walk-in registrations are accepted at the meeting.
All trips will leave from the hotel. Please reserve your room and thank them for their hospitality. CBC greatly appreciates your use of the host hotel. The rate is exceptional and you actually save CBC costs by staying with us.
Registration packets will also contain directions to the locations of the field trips offered during the course of the weekend. 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.
Important note: South Pond (south of the Visitor's Center) at Pea Island NWR, other than viewed from the NC12 shoulder, is ABSOLUTELY off-limits to casual birding. Please do not enter posted areas at South Pond or any other site unless you possess specific, explicit permission. Trespassers are being charged and fined. Our event is registered with the NWR to allow management of the entire NWR and permission into areas limited to the general public. Your leader will know where you are permitted access. If you are unsure, do not enter.
Finally, our trip leaders help the Board before the weekend with important planning assistance. So please thank them for the personal goals of a trip that helps you locate, identify and learn the rich bird life in the area.
As is becoming the tradition, we will have a raffle as part of our weekend. Proceeds will benefit our Young Birders (camp scholarship) Fund. Please consider bringing a bird related item or two for donation at the meeting. And as many of you know that regularly attend our meetings, we will also have bird books and magazines available for a small donation that will also go to the same fund.
Registration: Lobby at entrance to Ballroom. January 18th, Thursday 4:00pm – 9:00pm; January 19 and 20, Friday and Saturday, 6:45 – 7:45am and 12:30 – 1:30pm
Field Trip sheets will be in the registration room. After picking up your registration packet, please put a checkmark by your name on each of your trip sheets, so the trip leaders will know you have checked in for your trip. There will be people available to answer any questions regarding trips. If you are not able to attend a trip, please cross out your name, so someone from the wait list can fill your place.
Departure Times: The field trip departure times are for leaving the hotel. Please arrive minimum 10–15 minutes early. Look for the sign with your trip number and let the leader know you are there. We encourage carpooling. Please consider contributing toward gas expenses if you carpool. Trip leader cell phone numbers will be provided. If you cannot go on a trip, make every effort to advise one of the following: trip leader, meeting coordinator, or advise someone who is on the trip so the group doesn't wait for you.
All Day Trips: Please bring a lunch, snacks, water. Many of the sites are remote with no nearby restaurants.
Hotel Returns: Morning trips should be back to the hotel by noon; afternoon and all-day trips by 5:00 PM.