Posts Tagged ‘golf cart’

NC Island attracts feathered and furry friends

July 22, 2010

During a recent visit to Oak Island, NC, we could see Old Baldy, the lighthouse on Bald Head Island, in a distance. We have fond memories of our 2008 visit to the island. Read on for the story published August 24, 2008, in the Boston Globe.

Old Baldy, or the Bald Head Island Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in N.C.

BALD HEAD ISLAND, N.C. – Golf carts glided by as our small group stood by the road listening to Maureen Dewire, our guide, play one of her favorite songs: the high-pitched call of the painted bunting. She aimed her iPod with attached speaker toward where she thought one of the brightly colored birds was perched.

“Let’s see if we can get his attention,” she said.

The bird answered back, and she spotted him high up on a newly leafing limb. “They’re here all summer, but you don’t see them because the males stop singing by late July,” Dewire, 30, said of the painted buntings, which winter in South Florida, Cuba, and the Bahamas.

Maureen Dewire (on left) gets attention of painted bunting with bird sounds on iPod

The painted bunting’s rainbow of colors – red chest, blue head, green back – make it arguably North America’s most spectacular songbird. That’s according to the National Audubon Society. Myself, I had never heard of them until the day before, when I arrived. Bald Head Island’s maritime forest preserve has one of the country’s largest populations of breeding buntings, so I decided I had to see one.

For years I had ignored this car-free island on the southeast tip of North Carolina because I assumed it was all one big development with a golf course. I was partly right. At the bottom of Smith Island, measuring one mile wide and three miles long, there are some 1,060 homes and condos, and about 1,000 more to come, most being built by Bald Head Island Limited.

But that’s only part of the story. I discovered on a springtime visit that 10,000 of the island’s 12,000 acres have been set aside for conservation. And what is being preserved is worth checking out.

Old boathouse on Bald Head Creek

Our painted bunting sighting came after a two-hour hike filled with natural treasures. We were on the Creek Trail in the Bald Head Woods Coastal Reserve, where you can hear waves crashing on the beach in the distance. The nearly mile-long trail had been cut recently by volunteers and staff at the independent, nonprofit Bald Head Island Conservancy, where Dewire is senior naturalist. The conservancy runs programs year-round, has a gift shop and visitors center, and is raising money to build a barrier-island research facility. It also coordinates the nationally recognized Sea Turtle Protection Program, since the island is an important nesting site from May through October.

(more…)

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