Cape Lookout National Seashore



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Cape Lookout National Seashore




Description: Cape Lookout National Seashore is located in the central coastal area of North Carolina between Beaufort and Ocracoke Inlets. Barden Inlet and New Drum Inlet divide the park into three barrier islands. The northern-most island, North Core Banks, is approximately 24 miles long and extends from Ocracoke Inlet to New Drum Inlet. South Core Banks extends southward from New Drum Inlet 25 miles to the Cape Lookout Bight area. Both islands have a northeast-southwest orientation, exhibit a low profile landscape and are made up of low dunes, shrub zone and salt marsh. The third island, Shackleford Banks, is 9 miles long and has an east-west orientation with a higher dune system, some freshwater marshes and approximately 90 acres of maritime forest. A cross-section of the ecological zones on North and South Core Banks would include: beach, berm, dunes and grasslands, shrub thicket, salt marsh and sound-side beach. Shackleford Banks features freshwater marshes and maritime forest in addition to the zones on Core Banks. Nearly 400 plant species occur in the park, although sea oats, wax myrtle and Spartina alterniflora account for most of the vegetation. Elevations range from sea level to 10 feet on the Core Banks and from sea level to 35 feet on Shackleford Banks.

Significant numbers of PIPL (70-80), REKN (500-3,000), SAND (2,000-3,000), WILL (500-800) and SBDO (200-500) move through in spring and fall. Data is from NC Audubon IBA.



No comprehensive shorebird migration surveys are currently underway in the Park. According to Jeff Cordes, efforts can be mounted with additional staff and funds, but logistical challenges involved at the moment are great.
Selection Bias: In addition to the sites identified below, much of the sound side of Cape Lookout National Seashore contains potential shorebird habitat. Access to most of this area is not feasible from the ground and water levels are generally too shallow for boat traffic.
Measurement Error: Unknown.
Measurement Bias: Unknown.
Pilot studies: Aerial surveys will be required to determine additional high-use shorebird areas and the extent of potential Type 1 and 2 habitats within the National Seashore.
Local Contacts: Jeff Cordes, Park Biologist, Cape Lookout National Seashore

Site 1: Portsmouth Flats




Description: The Portsmouth Flats are on Portsmouth Island and form a large (1x3 mile) mudflat at the northernmost end of the North Core Banks near the village of Portsmouth. Water levels at Portsmouth Flats are wind-driven and shorebirds may be scattered throughout the flats. The entire mudflat is probably Type 1 habitat, but it is not all visible from the survey point.
Survey Method: Ground surveys. Access to the site is by ferry from Okracoke Island. From Portsmouth, take the walking trail south to the edge of the flat.
Selection Bias: Since the entire mudflat is not accessible from the survey area, the survey is biased to the visible Type 1 habitat.
Measurement Error: This can be a problem when viewing birds, such as yellowlegs, which are visible at greater distances than small “peeps.” A pilot study may be needed to determine how measurement error varies among species at this site.
Measurement Bias: Unknown
Pilot Studies: Initial ground survey will be needed to identify what percentage of Type 1 habitat can be surveyed at various water levels.

Site 2: New Drum Inlet Shoals




Description: New Drum Inlet is located on the north end of the South Core Banks. Many of the shoals are visible from the point on the south side of the inlet, but a boat will be needed to survey the site fully. Shorebird numbers are not available for this site, though David Allen of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission suggests this is an important site. Type 1 habitat includes the shoals on the inside of the inlet
Survey Method: 1) Ground surveys: Access is by ferry from Davis, NC, then by ORV to the survey point at the north end of the South Core Banks. Surveys should be conducted at high tide. 2) Boat surveys: Use a small boat to move between shoals to fully survey this site.
Selection Bias: No selection bias if a boat is used. If surveyed from land, the outermost shoals will not be readily visible.
Measurement Error: Unknown.
Measurement Bias: Unknown.
Pilot Studies: None.
Local Contacts: Dave H. Allen, NC Wildlife Resources Commission; Jeff Cordes, Park Biologist, Cape Lookout National Seashore.

Site 3: Old Drum Inlet



Description: Old Drum Inlet is located at the south end of the North Core Banks and about two miles north of New Drum Inlet. Old Drum Inlet has recently re-opened (1999) and does not show up on most maps. Species data is not available for this site. Type 1 habitat includes the shoals on the inside of the inlet, which are visible from a point on the north side of the inlet.
Survey Method: Ground survey. Access is by vehicle ferry from Atlantic, NC, then by off-road vehicle (ORV) to the survey point. Surveys should be conducted at high tide.
Selection Bias: None.
Measurement Error: Unknown.
Measurement Bias: Unknown.
Pilot Studies: None
Local Contacts: Dave H. Allen, NC Wildlife Resources Commission

Site 4: Cape Lookout




Description: Cape Lookout is located at the very southern bight of South Core Banks. The sand flats and runnels at Power Squadron Spit on Cape Lookout are heavily used by shorebirds. Cape Point, just three miles to the south, is not as heavily used and supports gulls and terns more often than shorebirds. Type 1 habitat includes the ends of both points: the sand-flats on west side of Cape Point and the mudflats on the inside of Power Squadron Spit (see map). There is good visibility at this site.
Survey Method: Ground Survey. Access is by ferry from Harker’s Island, NC, then by off-road vehicle to Cape Lookout Point and Power Squadron Spit. Surveys of roosting flocks should be conducted at high tide.
Selection Bias: None, as all Type 1 habitats should be accessible.
Measurement Error: Unknown.
Measurement Error: Unknown.
Pilot Studies: None.
Local Contacts: Jeff Cordes, Park Biologist, Cape Lookout National Seashore.

Site 5: East end of Shackleford Banks




Description: Type 1 habitat at this site includes the mudflats on the inside of the point and the beach and sand flats on the ocean side. No known visibility problems at this site.
Survey Method: Access is by boat. Surveys should be conducted at high tide. The mudflats can be surveyed from a small boat on the way to Shackleford Banks. Anchor on the sound side of the point and survey the beachfront.
Selection Bias: Unknown
Measurement Error: Unknown
Measurement Bias: Unknown
Pilot Studies: An initial boat survey will be needed to determine which islands and mud flats contain the best habitat at this site.


Site 6: West end of Shackleford Banks – Beaufort Inlet




Description: Type 1 habitat at this site includes the ocean beach around the end of the point and the mud flats on the sound side of the point. No known visibility problems at this site.
Survey Method: Ground surveys. Access is by boat. Use the Park Service dock. All of the Type 1 habitat at this site can be surveyed by walking around the end of the point and down along the mud flats on the inside.
Selection Bias: None.
Measurement Error: Unknown.
Measurement Bias: Unknown.

Pilot Studies: None.
Local Contacts: Jeff Cordes, Park Biologist, Cape Lookout National Seashore.

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