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The Carolina Bird Club is a non-profit organization that represents and supports the birding community in the Carolinas through its website, publications, meetings, workshops, trips, and partnerships, whose mission is

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The Carolina Bird Club, Inc., is a non-profit educational and scientific association open to anyone interested in the study and conservation of wildlife, particularly birds.

The Club meets each winter, spring, and fall at different locations in the Carolinas. Meeting sites are selected to give participants an opportunity to see many different kinds of birds. Guided field trips and informative programs are combined for an exciting weekend of meeting with people who share an enthusiasm and concern for birds.

The Club offers research grants in avian biology for undergraduate and graduate students, and scholarships for young birders.

The Club publishes two print publications (now also available online). The Chat is a quarterly ornithological journal that contains scientific articles, reports of bird records committees and bird counts, and general field notes on bird sightings. CBC Newsletter is published bimonthly and includes birding articles and information about meetings, field trips, and Club news.

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Other Resources (NOT sponsored by Carolina Bird Club)

Oregon Inlet

by Steve Shultz

North Carolina's Oregon Inlet, separating the mainland peninsula that includes Nag's Head and Kill Devil Hills from the barrier strand of Hatteras Island, produces consistently interesting birding. This short introduction to birding the Oregon Inlet area directs beginning birders, or birders new to the area, to some of the more productive locations immediately adjacent to the inlet. Named after the first ship to pass through the waterway after its creation during an 1846 hurricane, Oregon Inlet is the only navigable ocean passage between Virginia Beach and Hatteras Inlet, a distance of over 100 miles. The inlet is spanned by the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, built in 1963, and features a rocky groin on its south side to protect the roadbed for NC Highway 12. Accordingly, the inlet area provides a diversity of habitat ranging from ocean beach to rock-lined shoreline to inlet salt flats, with relatively easy access afforded by the bridge and highway. This diversity of habitat, along with the geographical features associated with the inlet, attracts a number of birds as well as fishermen, shell-collectors, birders, sightseers, and the merely curious.

Birders visiting the area often stop at the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center on the west side of NC 12 just before the northern terminus of the Bonner Bridge. From the parking lot, scope the shallows to the south for seasonal sea ducks, loons, grebes, pelicans, cormorants, terns and gulls. Near low tide large bars become exposed and may attract flocks of shorebirds during the migration and winter months. A scope will be needed to get a reasonable view as most of these flats are some distance away. During poor weather birds often enter the marina itself, and close looks at ducks, grebes, and loons may await visitors.

Standing near the large bronze ship propeller at the south end of the parking area, birders gaze across a thick forest of salt marsh vegetation. During migration the tidal marsh may produce all three species of maritime sparrow common to the coast (Seaside Sparrows may be found all year), and birders adventurous enough to wade through the shallows may discover an American Bittern or Clapper Rail lurking about. While much of the area is covered by shallow water during low tide, be aware of deeper channels and holes that can surprise the unsuspecting visitor.

Leaving the fishing center, look to the grassy area separating the parking lot from the highway. After storms this area often floods and becomes attractive to shorebirds and gulls, which come to feed and bathe respectively. Visitors with 4WD vehicles may explore the northern inlet flats by crossing Highway 12 and taking the marked ramp onto the beach. Roped off areas near the inlet often provide looks at numerous loafing gulls, terns and shorebirds.

Crossing the Bonner Bridge, visitors are treated to the spectacular sight of the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Pamlico Sound to the west, and the thin ribbon of Hatteras Island extending south. Exiting the Bonner Bridge to the south, turn left into the marked parking area a few hundred feet past the bridge's end. A short walk from the lot will introduce visitors to most of the habitats in the area, including the inlet, sand flats, and a stand of shrubbery that fall migrants just cannot seem to pass up.

Catwalks extending out over the inlet on both sides of the bridge provide an interesting vantage point from which to scope for waterbirds, and make an excellent perch for studying the difference between Common and Forster's Terns during the summer. From the soundside catwalk scan the sandy island to the west, most of the time a number of pelicans, gulls, and cormorants loaf here. Frequently one or more Great Cormorants can be found during the cooler months, and occasionally an unusual shorebird puts in an appearance. A spotting scope is normally necessary for viewing these birds, and the light is poor in the afternoon, making a morning visit more productive.

From the base of the soundside catwalk, walk along the shore for a few hundred feet to the south. During migration (which begins in July for shorebirds) and in winter this spot usually attracts a small number of shorebirds, and while the numbers may not be great, diversity is often high and the birds typically allow close study. American Oystercatchers can often be found on the short rocky groin, and the small bits of marsh harbor a rail from time to time. If you are visiting during the fall migration season, check the power wires overhead frequently. This is a good spot to find something like a Western Kingbird.

From the parking lot a short footpath leads through the phragmites reeds to the location of a former Coast Guard Station boat basin. Active as recently as the late 1980s, the inlet's dynamics have now filled most of the basin with sand. Where large cutters and smaller near-shore boats used to dock, fisherman now wade in the shallowest of water. When few people are present, like during poor weather, the small basin can be attractive to sea birds looking for shelter from the elements. Even in good weather the occasional duck, grebe, or loon can be seen at close range within the basin, and the wooden pilings make favorite perches for gulls and terns during the summer. By walking straight ahead through the dunes, one comes to a wide sandy flat several hundred yards wide. Prior to the placement of the rocky groin to the north, this area was under water. Accretion of sand formed the "new land", and the ocean is now a short walk away. During the warmer months much of this area may be roped off to provide protection for nesting birds including Common Tern, American Oystercatcher, Willet, Black Skimmer, and others. Being careful not to trespass on any closed areas, scope the flats from outside the perimeter rope in hopes of finding nesting adults, or newly fledged young. During the cooler months a number of gulls can usually be found resting here, possibility including one or more Lesser Black-backed Gulls, but more likely the expected trio of Ring-billed, Herring, and Great Black-backed Gulls. The winter months are also an opportunity to find the threatened Piping Plover, which winters in small numbers some years on the open flats.

By now you should be facing the ocean, with the rock groin to the left (north). Scanning the ocean may produce sea ducks (Surf Scoter and Bufflehead are most common), grebes (Red-necked are at least occasional here in late winter), and loons. Walking over to the groin, check the seaward tip for Purple Sandpipers, a couple are often here from late fall through spring. From this point birders can retrace the path across the sand flats toward the parking area, or walk along the top of the groin to the old boat basin. The dunes between the groin and the rapidly deteriorating Coast Guard Station buildings to the south are one of the easier places in the state to find the "Ipswich" form of the Savannah Sparrow. This large, pale race of Savannah Sparrow breeds in the Sable Island area of Nova Scotia and winters exclusively among the dunes of the southeastern U.S. coast. Time spent examining the numerous Savannah Sparrows in the area often results in finding one or more of the "Ipswich" variety. Consult a field guide for identification details.

Oregon Inlet can be a very exciting place during the fall passerine migration in September and October. Birders who find themselves in the area soon after a cold front passes often find the bushes and shrubs near the "Old Coast Guard Station" just south of the inlet dripping with migrants. While it seems strange to look for migrants on the south side of the inlet instead of the north, the birds appear to be attempting to get back on track by heading northwest after finding themselves too far to the east and over the ocean. The birds hesitate at crossing the inlet, and collect in the nearest suitable habitat, which happens to be along the old entrance road to the Coast Guard complex. By walking (carefully) along NC 12 south for a few hundred yards from the public parking lot, one soon comes to a road leading to the east. Walk along this road slowly, scanning the vegetation on both sides. With just a little luck you may have drop-dead looks at a variety of passerine migrants. From mid-October through November sparrows rule the roost, with uncommon species like Clay-colored and Vesper seen here as often as anywhere else on the Banks.

Whatever the season, Oregon Inlet is sure to have something on tap for the beginning, intermediate, and advanced birder. But be forewarned, a quick stop can easily take up half your day as you explore all the inlet has to offer.

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