Experience the best of Southeastern North Carolina this late fall on this relaxed six-day trip.
Southeastern North Carolina offers excellent birding year-round, from its coastline dotted with barrier islands and salt marshes to the wonderful pine savannas where Red-cockaded Woodpeckers reside. The proximity of the Cape Fear, a blackwater river, and its associated hardwood swamps and spoil islands add further birding potential, while a number of ‘Carolina Bays,’ enigmatic shallow basins with a fascinating ecology, await to be explored.
Late fall is a lovely time to visit the area with increasing numbers of waterfowl appearing in rafts on the area’s lakes, ponds, and waterways, while flocks of overwintering gulls, terns, and shorebirds congregate on the beaches and sandbars. Red Knot, Piping Plover, American Oystercatcher, Marbled Godwit, and Great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls are just a few of the many species we should encounter here, while on the rocky jetties we hope to see Purple Sandpiper and Great Cormorant. All 3 species of scoter plus Northern Gannets can be seen nearly anywhere just offshore, and occasionally Parasitic Jaeger or Razorbill are as well. Visiting the salt marshes at high tide will give us the best chance at seeing all three coastal marsh sparrows – Seaside, Nelson’s, and Saltmarsh, while marshes along the river can hold King and Virginia Rails, and Sora. In the pine savannas we will of course pay special attention to finding the federally endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker plus Northern Bobwhite, Brown-headed Nuthatch, and with some luck, Bachman’s Sparrow. Wood Storks and Roseate Spoonbills have both increased in number in the region over the last decade and are still findable along with Anhinga at communal roosts and on lakes and swamps at this time of year. We will also explore parks, gardens, coastal scrub, and woodlands dominated by live oaks, where we should find Red-headed Woodpecker and a good selection of overwintering and straggling warblers, sparrows, and other songbirds.
The entire region has also proven to be a magnet for rarities through the years with Eurasian Wigeon, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Western Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Mottled Duck, Common Eider, and Pacific Loon all having shown up in fall or winter. Join Wilmington native Aaron on this fun tour to his old stomping grounds and some of the top hotspots in the region!
Some of the Birds We Hope to See
25+ waterfowl species including Black, Surf, & White-winged Scoters, Snow Goose, Common Eider, Long-tailed Duck, Common Goldeneye, Northern Bobwhite, Sora, King, Virginia, and Clapper Rails, American Avocet, American Oystercatcher, Piping Plover, Red Knot, Purple Sandpiper, Lesser Black-backed, and Great Black-backed Gulls, Royal, Caspian, Sandwich, & Forster’s Terns, Black Skimmer, Common & Red-throated Loons, Wood Stork, Anhinga, Great Cormorant, American Bittern, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Roseate Spoonbill, Northern Harrier, Bald Eagle, Great Horned & Barred Owl, Red-headed & Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, Merlin & Peregrine Falcon, Loggerhead Shrike, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Sedge & Marsh Wrens, Fox, Seaside, Nelson’s, and Saltmarsh Sparrows, Rusty Blackbird, Black-and-white, Orange-crowned, Cape May, Blackpoll, Palm, Pine, Yellow-rumped, and Yellow-throated Warblers, and many more.