Field Trip Itineraries
- Southern Croatan National Forest
- Fort Macon State Park and Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium
- Sea Turtle Necropsy and Rachel Carson National Estuarine Research Reserve
- Cape Lookout National Seashore and Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center
- Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Patteson Seabirding Pelagic Trips
This trip will focus on high-quality longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) savanna sites, with carnivorous plants (especially the Venus flytrap
We will drive to multiple areas. The trip will be moderately easy, with short walks to sites. Bring water and snacks, binoculars, scope, and anything else you want for a walk in the woods. Please wear long pants and close-toed shoes. Biting insects are typically not very bothersome in pine savannas, but you might want to bring some repellent to deter any ticks (Dermacentor spp.) or chiggers (Trombiculidae).
6:30 – 7:30 a.m. – Meet at Convention Center and depart to meet our leader, Mr. John Fussell, near Broad Creek, NC (specific directions provided).
7:30 – 11:30 am. – Bird and botanize the southern Croatan National Forest
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Drive back to New Bern, with option to stop for lunch along the way (most options are fast food) or eat on return to Convention Center.
We will observe a sea turtle necropsy with Dr. Matthew Godfrey, sea turtle biologist for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. After a bag lunch, we will meet Ms. Paula Gillikin, site manager for Rachel Carson N.E.R.R., and take an outboard motor boat ride to Bird Shoal and other waterbird and shorebird sites in the Rachel Carson Reserve. Possible species include American Oystercatchers (Haematopus palliatus) and Black Skimmers (Rynchops niger).
A few extra pairs of binoculars and a scope will be provided for the boat trip. Life jackets will be provided by boat driver(s) and must be worn, but bring your own if desired. Wear sturdy shoes that can get wet. Expect to get your feet a little wet and/or muddy. Expect to get on and off the boat(s).
8:00 – 9:00 a.m. – Meet at Convention Center lobby and depart to Piver’s Island where we will meet Matthew Godfrey at the NOAA Beaufort Laboratory
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Sea turtle necropsy
12:00 – 1:15 p.m. – Eat bag lunch on site
1:15 – 1:30 p.m. – Drive to Beaufort waterfront to meet Paula Gillikin
1:30 – 4:00 p.m. – Depart from Beaufort waterfront to Bird Shoal to view American Oystercatchers, Black Skimmers, and other waterbirds
4:00 – 5:00 p.m. – Return to dock and drive back to New Bern
Travel to Bogue Banks to explore Fort Macon at the oldest state park in North Carolina. At the state park, we’ll bird the moderate 3.2-mile round-trip Elliott Coues Nature Trail or the 1.5-mile, one-way Beach Trail. Possible species include terns, skimmers, and shorebirds. At the fort, a museum and guided tour are available. We will eat bag lunches at the fort. The Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium includes fishes, alligators, and birds on display, and our visit will include a special program of the facility’s birds.
Expect to walk on sand. Bring water, sunscreen, sunglasses, and anything else you need to enjoy a birding hike through coastal forest and on the beach.
7:00 – 8:00 a.m. – Meet at Convention Center lobby and depart for Fort Macon; park at fort
8:00 – 11:00 a.m. – Bird the Elliott Coues (3.2 miles round-trip) or Beach Trail (1.5 miles one-way). Fort opens at 9:00 a.m. for visitors.
11:00 – 11:45 a.m. – Take a guided tour of the fort. Tours last about 45 minutes.
11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. – Eat bag lunch at Fort Macon picnic area. Return to vans by 12:00 for ride to picnic area. Otherwise, see map provided and walk to picnic area.
1:00 – 1:15 p.m. – Drive to Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium
1:15 -5:00 p.m. – Tour aquarium, including special bird program
5:00 – 6:00 p.m. – Drive back to New Bern
We will travel by van to Cape Lookout NS headquarters where we will take a ferry to South Core Banks. Options once on the island include a shuttle to the point of the cape for the best birding, shelling, and possibly a walk up the Cape Lookout Lighthouse. On our return, we will eat a bag lunch at the visitor’s center and have a chance to tour the exhibits. Next we will drive the short distance to the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center where we will see a waterfowl decoy carving demonstration (weather permitting) and tour the museum.
Expect to walk on sand and spend time on the beach. Small carry-on items only, please. Bring water, snacks, sunscreen, sunglasses, and anything else you need to enjoy time on an undeveloped barrier island.
7:00 – 8:15 a.m. – Meet at Convention Center and drive to Cape Lookout National Seashore.
8:45 – 9:00 a.m. – Take ferry ride to South Core Banks with Jon Altman, park biologist. Ferry service provided by Island Express Ferry.
9:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. – Explore the island. Take a shuttle to the point of Cape Lookout with Jon.
12:15 – 12:30 p.m. – Take ferry ride back to Harker’s Island, Park headquarters
12:30 – 1:45 p.m. – Eat bag lunch at the Harker’s Island Visitors Center and tour exhibits
1:45 – 2:00 p.m. – Drive to Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center
2:00 – 3:00 p.m. – Decoy carving demonstration at Boat Pavilion
3:00 – 4:00 p.m. – Tour museum
4:00 – 5:15 p.m. – Drive back to New Bern
Rain Contingency Plan
All day trips on September 24 will go to the sea turtle necropsy in the morning and Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium in the afternoon.
- Leave New Bern from Convention Center parking lot
- Box lunch included, but not breakfast, so either bring breakfast food with you or get breakfast earlier in the morning
- Have all your overnight bags, binocs, scopes, tripods, cameras, etc. with you
- Extra baggage not taken with you can be stored at the hotel
- Travel to Cedar Island Ferry by van.
- Ferry leaves for Ocracoke Island. Trip is a 2.5-hr voyage across the Pamlico Sound, so have your binoculars and camera ready to spot loons, gulls, terns and other birds along the way
- You may eat your box lunch on the ferry or on Ocracoke Island
- Vans unload from the ferry, drive onto Ocracoke Island, and park in a central location
- Eat your box lunch or if you ate it on the ferry, you may explore the island (start at the National Park Service Visitors’ Center to get a map, then either join a guided tour or explore on your own)
- Meet at vans, then travel to the Variety Store to pick up lunch foods and snacks for Sunday’s trip
- Leave in vans for the ferry terminal
- Load onto ferry for the 1-hr trip between Ocracoke and Hatteras Islands.
- Arrive on Hatteras Island
- Drive to hotels; check-in and settle-in
- Dinner at selected restaurant on Hatteras Island
- Last trip to convenience store to get things for Sunday’s pelagic trip
- Load into vans for drive to Hatteras Landing Marina; we will meet with the Captain and get our orders at 06:00 AM.
- We will have coolers available for everyone’s food (breakfast, lunch, snacks)
- End of pelagic trip and into vans to hotel to get belongings and to check out
- Travel back to New Bern by way of Highway 12
- Will stop for dinner on the way back (Nags Head);
- Arrive in New Bern and check back into hotel.
- For those staying at the DoubleTree by Hilton (New Bern), you will need to check out on Saturday morning and check-in again on Sunday evening; therefore, you will not be billed for Saturday night. You may store your baggage at the hotel in their offices so you don’t need to take all of your things on the trip to Hatteras and back.
- For those who elect to drive their own vehicle on the trip, you may follow the vans, but you will need to pay your ferry fee (from Cedar Island to Ocracoke; $15 per vehicle; make reservation in advance [https://ferry.ncdot.gov/]).
- We will stay at the Breakwater Inn and Hatteras Marlin Motel. You will need to pay for the room when you check-in (rates range from $80-150/night, depending on room size and type). If you choose to stay at a location different from these hotels, you will just need to catch up with us along the itinerary.
- Ocracoke and Hatteras Islands are very walkable, so it is easy to get around to shops by walking; however, be sure to get back to the vans by departure time. We’ll have some flexibility in the itinerary timing, but this outline keeps us on track.
- If the weather is poor and the boat cannot depart, $150 will be refunded to each person.
- Questions? Contact Lindsay Addison or Sara Schweitzer