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Previous Tours - NORTH CAROLINA OUTER BANKS

TOP 10 SPECIES
NORTH CAROLINA OUTER BANKS:
30 August 4 September 2007

  1. WHITE-TAILED TROPICBIRD--Great looks at a full adult on our Gulf Stream pelagic trip, in flight and sitting on the water.
  2. Great Horned Owl--from one to three birds seen daily on a communications tower near our motel. On the first evening there were two young begging for food from an adult.
  3. Clapper Rail--saw one, heard several on our final evening at a nearby marsh.
  4. Black-capped Petrel--excellent views of this Gulf Stream specialty on the pelagic trip.
  5. Brown-headed Nuthatch--several feeding flocks were quite cooperative near our motel.
  6. Tricolored Heron--adults and juveniles in fresh plumage were seen regularly.
  7. Piping Plover--fine looks at this handsome, not-so-common bird at Pea Island.
  8. Red-breasted Nuthatch--a nice surprise at Bodie Island. An early migrant this far south.
  9. Prairie Warbler--close up views at several locations in and around Pea Island.
  10. Pine Warbler--Several responsive individuals in the heat of the afternoon at Bodie Island.

We had several non-avian sightings of interest:
We watched a Green Anole (a lizard) during our picnic lunch. It went from green to brown before our eyes. There was a Red Bat and a Bobolink on our pelagic trip, both about 25 miles at sea. On a typical North Carolina Tour, folks are happy to see one or two Marsh Rabbits. See saw them daily, as many as 20 at a time!

COASTAL NORTH CAROLINA
August 30 - September 4, 2007
Trip Report by Beverly Smith, Tour Participant
Tour Leader was Bob Schutsky

Our trip began with a 6:00 AM start from the Inn at Nottingham in Pennsylvania. We made our way down the Delmarva Peninsula, passing many tempting birding stops en route to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Kiptopeke State Park was our stopover for a picnic lunch and a Summer Tanager before birding the islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge & Tunnel complex, accompanied by the required CBBT police escort. Highlights included a Seaside Sparrow and a family of Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, along with several species of gulls and terns.

Our first stop on the Outer Banks was the Wright Brothers Memorial at Kitty Hawk, looking with no luck for grassland sandpipers. Our next and final stop of the day was the Dare Haven Motel in Manteo, our home for the next five nights. Manteo is on Roanoke Island, the birthplace of Virginia Dare, the first English child born in America in 1587. But it was not the end of our dayís birding, with the discovery of Brown-headed Nuthatch behind the motel. We then found two Great Horned Owls begging for food from an adult, perched high up on a communications tower down the street from the motel. We saw at least one owl in the same spot every morning and evening for the next five days! For the next four days we explored the Cape Hatteras National Seashore from Nags Head to Ocracoke Island.

Friday began with a quick look at the Great Horned Owl on the way to breakfast. We encountered a small flock of Magnolia, Black-and-white, and Prairie Warblers on the drive to Bodie (pronounced "body") Island. Bodie Island gave us our first looks at White Ibis, Little Blue and Tricolored Herons, Marbled Godwit, and Short-billed Dowitchers. Our next stop was Coquina Beach for Sanderlings, Willets, and Black Terns. We continued on to Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge with a stop at Oregon Inlet and the North Pond Wildlife Trail for Piping and Semipalmated Plovers, along with Western, Bairdís, White-rumped and Semipalmated Sandpipers, Black Skimmer, Least Tern, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, and Great and Snowy Egrets. And, of course, we had another look at the Great Horned Owl on the way back to our motel. Tonight was an early one in preparation for our 4:15 AM start the next morning.

Saturday was our all-day pelagic adventure to the Gulf Stream off the Hatteras coast on board the Stormy Petrel II, captained by Brian Patteson. White-tailed Tropicbird flying directly over the boat was the bird of the day, but it was not to be outdone by Black-capped Petrel, Bridled and Sooty Terns, Pomarine Jaeger, Wilsonís Storm-Petrel, Coryís, Greater, and Audubonís Shearwaters, and migrating Bobolinks. While we were watching birds, the crew caught Wahoo and Dolphin (fish = mahi-mahi) on which we feasted for dinner - - an excellent end to an exciting day at sea!

Our third day took us to Ocracoke Island, where legend has it the pirate Blackbeard plied his trade. On the way there we stopped again at Oregon Inlet and Pea Island for more shorebirds. Our lunch stop at Buxton Woods Picnic Area gave us a Green Anole lizard that we watched turn from green to brown. The Hatteras-Ocracoke Ferry brought us to the island and, after exiting the ferry terminal; a nearby pond produced a rookery of nesting White Ibis and Caspian, Royal, and Sandwich Terns. We stopped to see the Ocracoke Ponies, a once roaming herd of wild ponies now corralled to protect them and the fragile island habitat. Legend has it that they are survivors of European explorers shipwrecked during the 16th and 17th centuries. These ponies are physically different from other ponies as they have a different number of vertebrae and ribs than other horses, along with a distinct shape, posture, color, and size. We drove through the picturesque Ocracoke Village before returning by ferry to Manteo.

Our last full birding day started at Pea Island NWR where we saw several banded Royal Terns. A walk along the North Pond and New Field Impoundments yielded several female American Redstarts, Prairie Warblers, and Cedar Waxwings. Pied-billed Grebes were seen at the North Dike. The road to Bodie Island produced Prairie and Black-and-white Warblers, Great Crested Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, and an early Red-breasted Nuthatch. An after dinner walk through a marsh a few miles from the motel yielded several Clapper Rails that were seen and heard responding to our taped calls. While watching for the Clapper Rail, we were serenaded with the hoots of Great Horned Owls calling back and forth. A fine ending to a fine trip!

Tuesday was our travel day to return to the Inn at Nottingham. We had our final look at the Great Horned Owl after leaving the motel. After crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge & Tunnel, we stopped at the Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR for a quick stop for Clapper and King Rails, which eluded us. We arrived tired but happy after five rewarding days of seabirds, warblers, shorebirds & more shorebirds!

NORTH CAROLINA OUTER BANKS:
31 August-5 September 2000

  1. Buff-breasted Sandpiper
  2. Great Egret eating a large crab
  3. South Polar Skua chasing a second Skua
  4. Sooty Terns on a floating board
  5. Black Skimmer-mass flocks
  6. Long-tailed Jaeger feeding on barnacles
  7. Large mixed feeding flock of herons, egrets and ibis
  8. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
  9. Virginia Rail calling at close range
  10. Roseate Spoonbill

NORTH CAROLINA OUTER BANKS
3 - 8 September 1998

  1. Brown-headed Nuthatch
  2. Cory's Shearwater
  3. Hudsonian Godwit
  4. Black-capped Petrel
  5. Clay-colored Sparrow
  6. Black Skimmer
  7. Piping Plover
  8. Carolina Chickadee
  9. American Golden-Plover
  10. Clapper Rail
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