Lower Cape Fear River – Bald Head/Smith Island

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Lower Cape Fear River – Bald Head/Smith Island

Description: The site is located on the eastern bank of the lower Cape Fear River, south of Wilmington and east of Southport. It includes an area from "The Basin" south to Cape Fear Point, including open water, sand flats, mud flats, marshes east of the main river channel, and adjacent waters of the Cape Fear River. Thousands of shorebirds (19 species) stop over during migration and winter in the area, utilizing the extensive tidal flats, marshes, and beach. Approximately 10,000 acres are protected as part of the NC State Park system and NC Division of Coastal Management. This includes all marshes, Zeke's Island, Bluff Island and portions of Bald Head Island. The majority of Bald Head and Middle Island are privately owned.
Type 1 habitat includes the shoals around Battery and Striking islands, the outer beach from Fort Fisher to Cape Fear Point and the sand and mudflats along the eastern side of Cape Fear River between Fort Fisher and Cape Fear Inlet. With funding for a field tech, NC Audubon could coordinate surveys of this site (Walker Golder).
Survey Method: Access is by boat, except the barrier beach south of Fort Fisher, which can be surveyed by car. Surveys on the outer beach and at the islands should be done within two hours of high tide. Boat surveys should take 3-5 hours (Walker Golder).
Selection Bias: Uncertain. Shorebirds may make use of the marsh system north of Cape Fear for roosting. This area is difficult to access.
Measurement Error: Unknown.
Measurement Bias: Unknown.
Pilot Studies: A study will be needed to determine best survey time and method for the marsh/mudflat system between Cape Fear and Fort Fisher.
Local Contacts: Walker Golder, NC IBA Coordinator, NC Audubon

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