Category Archives: Birding

GetOut! Your Friday Nudge for Weekend Adventure

As we noted in Wednesday’s post, February is a great month for hiking because of its link, in the Southeast at least, between the last of the best of winter and the beginning of spring. One particular upside of February is that you can start thinking about heading back up to the mountains. Sure, maybe not the highest peaks, where winter will hold court into late March, but certainly along the Blue Ridge Escarpment — and not far beyond.  read more

Getout! Your Friday Nudge for Weekend Adventure

We live less than a half mile from Occoneechee State Natural Area in Hillsborough, and I either hike or run there a couple times a week. Though I generally like to mix things up on trail I do regularly — hiking clockwise one time, counterclockwise the next — I have the same routine at Occoneechee: I enter from the neighborhood entrance off Eno Mountain Road, then take the Occoneechee Mountain Loop Trail, Overlook Trail and Chestnut Trail back to the Loop Trail, which brings me around the west side of the mountain to the Eno River for the hike’s highlight: a 75-yard stretch beneath a north-facing cliff that is perpetually green. Green with holly and ferns, which are common in these parts, but also with mountain laurel, with rhododendron, and even a narrow carpet of galax. For this brief stretch the trail leaves the Piedmont for the Southern Appalachians. read more

This weekend: winter curious?

Carolina Beach State Park along the Cape Fear River

The natural world presents many questions in winter. This weekend, you have a chance to learn many answers.

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When you head to the coast, hiking often isn’t atop your list of things to do. It should be, especially this time of year. The bugs are at bay (or at least at a minimum), the temperatures aren’t stifling, and, perhaps most significantly, it is serene, the calm before the summer crowds descend.

And because it is the more temperate coast, nature is more alive than it is in colder reaches of the state.

Take Carolina Beach State Park, for instance, where the park’s website states, “Several coastal ecosystems are present in the park. Forests dominated by longleaf pine, turkey oak and live oak occupy the dry, coarse soil of a series of relict sand dunes. Between the dunes are dense shrub swamps, called pocosins, populated by pond pines, loblolly and sweet bay, yaupon and evergreen shrubs. Brackish marshes consisting primarily of cordgrasses and sedges can be found beyond the relict dunes adjacent to the river.”

That’s a lot to take in on your own. Fortunately, the park periodically holds a Biological Wonderland Hike, the next one of which is Saturday. Let a ranger help you identify these adjoining ecosystems and understand how they interact. The hike begins at 2 p.m., from the Flytrap Trail Parking Area.

Logistics: Biological Wonderland Hike, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2 p.m., Carolina Beach State Park, Carolina Beach. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Sunny with a high of 70 at hike time.

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Looking ahead: U.S. Open Fat Bike Championships, March 11, Blockade Runner Resort, Wrightsville Beach. More info here.

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One of the joys of winter in North Carolina is that it serves as the overwintering grounds for a goodly number of waterfowl. Most folks think this phenomenon is limited to the coast, where tundra swans, northern pintails and others by the hundreds of thousands spend the mild coastal winter in lakes, marshes and other wetlands. But the interior of North Carolina also gets its share of feathered visitors.

Learn about these migrants as well as the native avian population Sunday on a Waterfowl Birding Boat Tour on Lake Townsend in Greensboro. A naturalist leads this hour-and-a-half tour conducted on a pontoon boat.

Logistics: Waterfowl Birding Tour, Sunday, Feb. 26, 3 p.m., Lake Townsend Marina, Greensboro. $7. Learn more and sign on, here.

Saturday forecast: Sunny with a tour-time temperature of 58.

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Looking ahead: Not a boat person? Take in the lake from the Palmetto & Nat Greene trails on a March 4 hike, also sponsored by Greensboro Parks & Rec. $2. More info here.

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Are you taking the North Carolina State Parks 100 Mile Challenge? Are you aware of the Challenge?

The Challenge is N.C. State Parks effort to get folks to hike 100 miles or more in their great parks during 2017. Log your hikes, complete the Challenge, get a cool commemorative pin. Learn everything you need to know about the challenge here.

Intrigued? Start your march toward 100 Sunday at Lake James State Park with the Fox Den Loop 100 Mile Challenge Hike. Ranger Kevin Bischoff leads this 2 1/4-mile hike to help you find out what the park’s permanent residents are up to in winter. Complete the hike and you’ll be 97 and 3/4 miles closer to meeting the Challenge.

Logistics: Sunday, Feb. 26, 11 a.m., Fox Den Lopp 100 Mile Challenge Hike, Lake James State Park, Nebo. More info here.

Sunday forecast: Hike time high of 49 under sunny skies.

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Looking ahead: Streamside Hike, March 18, South Mountains State Park, Connelly Springs. More info here.

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Those are our thoughts on the weekend. Find more options at the sources listed below. 

Coast

CapeFearCoast.com
Comprehensive calendar for the Cape Fear/Wilmington/southern N.C. coast searchable by date and event name.

Coastal Guide
Comprehensive calendar including nature programs from a variety of coastal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs. Covers the entire coast.

Crystal Cost Tourism Authority
Comprehensive calendar focusing on the Crystal Coast. Good source for programs offered by N.C. Coastal Federation, Cape Lookout National Park, N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve and other costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs.

NCCoast.com
Comprehensive calendar including programs for the Outer Banks and Crystal Coast.

North Carolina Coast Host
Comprehensive calendar for the entire coast that lets you search for events by day, by region, by county, by city or by event (based on key word).

This Week Magazine
Primary focus is the Crystal Coast (North Carolina’s coastal midsection).

Mountains

Asheville Citizen-Times
From the main page, click on “Outdoors,” then WNC Outdoors calendar.

Blue Ridge Outdoors read more

Your weekend: More seasonable, more options 

Jones Lake

The snow and bitter cold are gone. Time to get back out and explore!

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There’s something extra special about the Coastal Plain in winter. The still air, the open views, the absence of flying biting things. All of which makes it a great time for a hike, to learn, perhaps about the phenomenon known as Carolina Bays.

What are Carolina Bays? you inquire.

Sorry, you’ll have to head down to Jones Lake State Park Saturday morning and find out from a ranger on a hike that circles the park’s namesake lake.

Logistics: Intro to Carolina Bays, Saturday, 10 a.m., Jones Lake State Park, Elizabethtown. More info here.

Saturday forecast: High of 52, mostly sunny.

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Looking ahead: 9th Annual Cold Stroke Classic, Jan. 21, Wrightsville Beach. More info here.

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One of the many great things about winter outdoors: you can see things. Like birds, who in warmer months are shielded amidst a mass of greenery.

Now, seeing birds is one thing. Knowing which ones they are is another. Learn to put names to beaks Saturday morning at Eno River State Park, when an experienced birder leads a hike in search of the park’s avian residents.

Logistics: Saturday Morning Birds, Saturday, 8:30 a.m., Eno River State Park/Fews Ford Access, Orange County. More info here.

Saturday forecast: High of 45, cloudy.

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Looking ahead: Silent Hike (no talking!), Jan. 29, 2 p.m., Hanging Rock State Park, Danbury. More info here.

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“What does a forest look like after a wildfire?” That’s the question to be answered Saturday, when a ranger at Chimney Rock State Park leads in the Rumbling Bald area of the park. Rumbling Bald was part of the 7,154-acre Party Rock Fire that burned in late fall. On this hike, various experts will be on hand to explain what happened, and what happens from here. A great opportunity to learn first-hand about the role of fire in the forest.

Logistics: Four Seasons Hike: Rumbling Bald Trail, Saturday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Chimney Rock State Park, Chimney Rock. More info here.

Sunday forecast: High of 51, 30 percent chance of rain.

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Looking ahead: Snowshoe Hike, Jan. 29, Grandfather Mountain State Park. More info here.

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Those are our thoughts on the weekend. Find more options at the sources listed below. 

Coast

CapeFearCoast.com
Comprehensive calendar for the Cape Fear/Wilmington/southern N.C. coast searchable by date and event name.

Coastal Guide
Comprehensive calendar including nature programs from a variety of coastal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs. Covers the entire coast.

Crystal Cost Tourism Authority
Comprehensive calendar focusing on the Crystal Coast. Good source for programs offered by N.C. Coastal Federation, Cape Lookout National Park, N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve and other costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs.

NCCoast.com
Comprehensive calendar including programs for the Outer Banks and Crystal Coast.

North Carolina Coast Host
Comprehensive calendar for the entire coast that lets you search for events by day, by region, by county, by city or by event (based on key word).

This Week Magazine
Primary focus is the Crystal Coast (North Carolina’s coastal midsection).

Mountains

Asheville Citizen-Times
From the main page, click on “Outdoors,” then WNC Outdoors calendar.

Blue Ridge Outdoors
Searchable calendar lets you extend your reach to events throughout the mid-Atlantic and Southeast (or you can just limit it to North Carolina). Also lets you search a boatload of categories, ranging from Hiking, Mountain Biking and Climbing to Trail Running, Triathlon and Road Walking.

The Mountain Times read more

Your weekend: Go (run) and jump in a lake

go-Jump-n-the-lake-1024x576

Labor Day weekend — the last hurrah of summer. Make sure you make the most of it.

Coast | Coastal Plain

Any event of athletic endurance should end with a flourish. Few end with the flourish of the Go Jump in the Lake 5K, 10K and 15 K in Boiling Springs.

The course is mostly around Spring Lake, site of a summer triathlon known for its heat. It’s not likely to be much cooler for Saturday’s GJITL 5/10/15K. However, in the spirit of flourishing finishes, this race ends with contestants eagerly fulfilling the race’s intent, and jumping into the lake. Talk about incentive!

Logistics: Saturday, Sept. 3, 8:30 a.m., Boiling Springs. $15-$35. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Sunny with a race-time high near 70.

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Looking ahead: Wilmington YMCA Sprint Triathlon, Sept. 17, Blockade Runner, Wrightsville Beach. More info by calling 910.256.2251.

Piedmont

Sometimes, what we need to motivate us to move is motivation that’s not about moving.

That logic is for the birds, you say?

It is in the case of Saturday’s Birding with Vernon at Lake Crabtree County Park in Morrisville. “Join our bird enthusiast, Vernon,” states a description of the event, “for an easy walk while looking and listening for our feathered friends. Discover different types of birds and their habitats.​“ (And get a healthy walk in, to boot.)

Logistics: Saturday, Sept. 3, 8:30 a.m., Lake Crabtree County Park, Morrisville. Free. More info here

Saturday forecast: High in the upper 60s, chance of rain.

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Looking ahead: Nature at Night, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 7-8:30 p.m., Lake Crabtree County Park, Morrisville. More info here.

Mountains

Nothing like an organized bike ride that recognizes all levels of preparedness. Been riding all season and in top form? Then the 100-mile and 100k (62 miles) options of Labor Day’s Tour d’Apple out of Hendersonville is for you. Likewise, if you’re in pretty good shape, but not that good of shape, you could try TdA’s 45-mile route. Haven’t dusted off your bike yet this summer? Perhaps you’d best be advised to do the 25-mile version.

All good options with plenty of rest stops and great scenery on this ride(s) that begin and end from Blue Ridge Community College. Sugarloaf Mountain, Bearwallow Mountain, Terry’s Gap, Pinnacle Mountain, Jump Off Rock — all some of the features you may (or may not) encounter, depending upon your route. Proceeds benefit the various charitable efforts of the Henderson Four Seasons Rotary Club.

Logistics: Monday, Sept. 5, 8 a.m. Blue Ridge Community College, Hendersonville. $55. More info here.

Monday forecast: Sunny with highs in the 70s.

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Looking ahead: Elk Knob Headwaters Community Day, Elk Knob State Park, Saturday, Sept. 10, 11 a.m.. More info here.

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Those are our thoughts on the weekend. Find more options at the sources listed below.

Coast

CapeFearCoast.com
Comprehensive calendar for the Cape Fear/Wilmington/southern N.C. coast searchable by date and event name.

Coastal Guide
Comprehensive calendar including nature programs from a variety of coastal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs. Covers the entire coast.

Crystal Cost Tourism Authority
Comprehensive calendar focusing on the Crystal Coast. Good source for programs offered by N.C. Coastal Federation, Cape Lookout National Park, N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve and other costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs.

NCCoast.com
Comprehensive calendar including programs for the Outer Banks and Crystal Coast.

North Carolina Coast Host
Comprehensive calendar for the entire coast that lets you search for events by day, by region, by county, by city or by event (based on key word).

This Week Magazine
Primary focus is the Crystal Coast (North Carolina’s coastal midsection).

Mountains

Asheville Citizen-Times read more