North Carolina Pelagics & Pineywoods

USA
Land Tour
Highlights

Highlights

  • An incredible opportunity to observe deep-sea pelagic birds and mammals not normally seen from shore like petrels, shearwaters, jaegers and pilot whales.
  • Breeding terns, shorebirds and waders along the barrier islands of the Carolinas.
  • To see the successful efforts of the conservation work of the Pineylands and observe the critically endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker.
  • A chance to see southeastern breeding bird specialties like Swainson’s Warbler, Painted Bunting, Brown-headed Nuthatch and Bachman’s Sparrow.
Map

Map

Tour Overview

A short but bird-filled run to the Southeast US, this tour is centered around two days of pelagic birding in search of seabirds like Black-capped Petrel, Great, Cory’s and Audubon’s Shearwaters, Wilson’s and Band-rumped Storm-Petrels, Long-tailed and Pomarine Jaegers, South Polar Skua, and Bridled and Arctic Terns and good chances for other rarities. Marine mammals like Short-finned Pilot Whales, Atlantic Spotted Dolphins and Bottlenose Dolphins are also regularly observed on these pelagic trips.

We then head to the Pineywoods of the coastal plain for a couple of days of birding targeting the highly endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker, as well as more common species like Brown-headed Nuthatch, Prairie and Yellow-throated Warblers and Bachman’s Sparrows. Other southeast specialties to track down include Swainson’s, Worm-eating, Kentucky and Prothonotary Warblers, Acadian Flycatchers, Blue Grosbeak and Painted Bunting. We will also take some time to bird the coast looking at shorebirds, terns and waders like Wilson’s Plover, American Oystercatcher and Least Terns.

Itinerary

Day 1: Norfolk, Virginia

Arrival in Norfolk, Virginia. We will meet that evening at the hotel for a meet and greet over dinner. Night in Norfolk, Virginia.

After breakfast we will make the 3 hour drive to Hatteras, birding the coast of the Outer Banks along the way at locations like Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and Cape Hatteras National Seashore. We’ll settle into our hotel in the late afternoon, and after dinner, turn in early due to the early meet time on the docks the next morning. Night in Hatteras.

The first of our two back-to-back pelagic trips! We will be getting up early to head to the boat dock for a 5:15 meeting time. We will head out on the Stormy Petrel II and be on the ocean all day, getting back in around 5-6pm. We will likely see a good selection of seabirds with Black-capped Petrel, Cory’s and Audubon’s Shearwaters, Wilson’s and Band-rumped Storm-Petrels, Long-tailed and Pomarine Jaegers, and Bridled and Arctic Terns all likely to be encountered. Truly rare species are encountered with quite some regularity with birds like Trinadade and Fea’s Petrels, South Polar Skua, tropicbirds and Brown and Masked Booby! We’ll head for dinner afterwards and head back to the hotel to rest up for a second day of pelagic goodness! Night in Hatteras.

We will head back out to the ocean for round two of our deep water adventure. Being that conditions can change from day to day, it’s certainly possible that we’ll see a striking different selection of seabirds and other ocean creatures. Marine mammals like Short-finned Pilot Whales, Atlantic Spotted Dolphins and Bottlenose Dolphins are also regularly observed on these pelagic trips. Again we’ll return to the docks by 5-6pm and go out for dinner. Night in Hatteras.

We’ll have a leisurely start to our day and then leave Hatteras via a car ferry to head down to Morehead City. We should have some good opportunities to see near-shore animals like Sandwich and Royal Terns, Brown Pelicans and Bottlenose Dolphins from the ferry. It will be a couple hours each of driving and on the ferry, but we will do some coastal birding before and after the journey. We’ll turn in a touch early tonight as the next morning will be another early day. Night in Atlantic Beach.

We’ll be rising early to head out to the Croatan National Forest to spend the day in the beautiful Pineywoods looking for southeast goodies like Red-cocked Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Bachman’s Sparrow and Swainson’s Warblers. Other species we’ll try to locate include Worm-eating, Kentucky and Prothonotary Warblers, Acadian Flycatchers, Blue Grosbeak and Painted Bunting. If we are feeling so inclined, we may try for some night birds like Eastern Screech Owls and Chuck-wills Widow. Night in Atlantic Beach.

For our final day of the tour, we will bird Fort Macon State Park in the morning and spend the afternoon driving back to Norfolk, Virginia for a final dinner/tour wrap-up. Night in Norfolk.

Our North Carolina Pelagics & Pineywoods birding tour concludes today. You can depart for fights home anytime today.

What's Included

Tour Includes

  • 2 full-day pelagic tours
  • Good quality accommodation
  • Includes all breakfasts and lunches
  • Guides
  • Gratuities for pelagic tour
  • All park, conservation and entrance fees

Tour Does Not Include

  • Flights to and from start of tour
  • Travel Insurance
  • Evening meals
  • Items of a personal nature

What to Expect

The climate of North Carolina is most certainly warm in early June. Daytime highs average from the mid 70s-mid 80s (22-30°C) with nighttime lows dropping to the low 60s (15°C). However we will be on the coast a bit and it can be windy so having a long-sleeve shirt may be handy at times. Certainly it can be cooler over the ocean and a light jacket for our pelagic may be needed. Rain is certainly possibly and raingear with boots to keep your feet dry will be possibly needed. Most walking will be easy to moderate on trails and some sand.

We will have mostly early morning departures to observe the dawn movements of birds and be having continental breakfast at the hotel before departure each day. Picnic lunch will be supplied on most days, perhaps one day we will break for a restaurant lunch. All dinners will be at restaurants. Each night at dinner, we will compile the bird list for the day and finalize our plans for the next day.

Featured Wildlife

Even though we cannot guarantee a sighting of the animals below, we feel quite confident that an encounter with the ones listed below is quite likely.

  • Black-capped Petrel
  • Red-cockaded Woodpecker
  • Great Shearwater
  • Cory’s Shearwater
  • Audubon’s Shearwater
  • Wilson’s Storm-Petrel
  • Band-rumped Storm-Petrel
  • Bridled Tern
  • Pomarine Jaeger
  • Long-tailed Jaeger
  • Bachman’s Sparrow
  • American Oystercatcher
  • Brown-headed Nuthatch
  • Yellow-throated Warbler
  • Prothonotory Warbler
  • Swainson’s Warbler
  • Acadian Flycatcher
  • Painted Bunting
  • Wilson’s Plover
  • Short-finned Pilot Whale
  • Atlantic Spotted Dolphin
  • Loggerhead Sea Turtle

Past Tour Checklists

View the list of birds and other wildlife we encountered on our past tours.