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Fall Birding 2014

16 Sep Posted by in north carolina birding, shorebird, Special Trip | Comments Off on Fall Birding 2014
Fall Birding 2014

Autumn is a time of change. The leaves on the trees change colors, people start wearing jackets and long pants, and if you look at our coast closely enough, you will notice different species of shorebirds inhabiting our sandbars and beaches at low tide.

The best place to see the change up close and in person is from the decks of the Shamrock. With the experienced eye of the Cape Fear Naturalist to guide your binoculars, expect to see the normal gulls, terns, cormorants and pelicans, but be on the lookout for these new arrivals:

Black-bellied Plover


"Pluvialis squatarola (summer plumage)” by Hans Hillewaert – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Black-bellied plovers are the largest plover species found in North America, and have recently arrived on our coast. They breed in the spring and early summer in the Arctic islands on the northern coast of Canada and Alaska, and spend their winters with us.

Red Knot


By DickDaniels ( (Own work)

If you thought flying from the Arctic was impressive, then consider the migratory pattern of the Red Knot, a bird known to stop over on our coast. Every year they fly a preposterous distance- nearly 9,000 miles- from the Canadian Maratimes near Nova Scotia to Tierra Del Fuego, a region in Patagonia at the very southern tip of South America. They boast one of the longest migrations of any bird in the world.

Caspian Tern


By DickDaniels ( (Own work)

With it's stunning red beak and black headed plumage, the largest tern in the world is a sight to see. To truly understand how big the Caspian Tern is, you need to see them in a flock of assorted terns. They absolutely tower over the least tern, make the royal tern look like a court jester, and could eat the sandwich tern for lunch (except their diet consists of exclusively fish. That was just a metaphor.)


Birding trips depart from our dock across the street from the Blockade Runner Hotel (275 Waynick Blvd, Wrightsville Beach, NC) seven days a week at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Please call ahead at (910) 200-4002 to make your reservation. $40 per passenger.

Additionally, we have three trips scheduled to visit the rarified waters of Hutaff Island sanctuary, just north of Figure Eight. This dedicated nature reserve is home to several rare species of bird, including the elusive Piping Plover. Trips leave the dock at 9 a.m. on September 26th, October 10th, and October 24th. Again, space aboard the Shamrock is limited to only 18 passengers, so please call ahead to make a reservation.