For bird lovers, the Outer Banks is hard to beat. This delicate chain of barrier islands is not only home to dozens of different native shorebirds, but also thousands of migrating birds who make a rest stop on the Outer Banks every year. Add to this the fact that the islands have hundreds of miles of deserted beaches, maritime forest, and marshlands for species to quietly flourish, and it's clear that the Outer Banks is literally for the birds.
While the Outer Banks certainly is known for its fishing, not everyone is aware of the fabulous birding opportunities available here. This includes viewing pelagic species, or ocean-going birds, which nest on oceanic islands. Join Brian Patterson, who has been organizing and leading pelagic birding trips for more than 25 years, on a Seabirding Pelagic Trips adventure.
Venture to the Gulf Stream to view nine to 15 species including four gadfly petrels, Cory’s, Greater, Sooty, Manx, and Audubon shearwaters, Wilson’s band-rumped, Leach’s and white-faces storm petrels, white-tailed and red-billed tropicbirds, masked booby, red-necked phalarope, south polar skua, pomarine, parasitic and long-tailed jaegers and Artic, bridled and sooty terns.
The nearness of the Gulf Stream and the edge of the Continental shelf’s edge and a confluence of currents makes the area waters dynamic, which attracts seabirds.
Two to five experienced leaders staff each trip. Most trips take place on the 61-foot Stormy Petrel, a Coast Guard inspected vessel. It can hold up to 41 people, but generally limit passage to 30 birders. Area trips leave out of Hatteras and Oregon Inlet.
Binoculars are essential. Photographers need a 300-400mm telephoto lens with shutter speeds of 1/1000 second or higher. Dress in layers. Two-piece rain suits are invaluable as are soft-soled shoes. Bring a hard cooler with all food and drink.
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