By Sam Bland

OCEAN – Spring is a great time of year to get outside and see some of the magnificent birds that fly along the N.C. coast. Join local birding expert Joanne Powell and the N.C. Coastal Federation on March 16, April 13 and May18 for a birding cruise on the White Oak River in Swansboro. Each cruise departs at 10 a.m.

Fall trips are also planned for Sept. 28, Oct. 19 and Nov. 16.

The group will slowly cruise for about two hours on a covered ferry boat through the estuaries in and around the White Oak River and Bogue Sound, looking for resident birds and migrants that might include shorebirds, warblers, raptors and waterfowl.  Birds are most common in and around our coastal estuaries, looking for food, water and shelter. In addition to birds, the cruise offers great views of the marshes, Bogue Inlet and Bear Island. The cruises also offer the opportunity for sightings of dolphins, sea turtles, river otters and alligators.

Participants will meet at the Hammocks Beach State Park visitor center in Swansboro around 9:45 a.m. to check in. Please bring your own binoculars, water and a snack and remember to dress appropriately for the weather. The fee is $20 a person.  All ages are welcome, though the program is geared toward adults and older children. Registration is required, and the cruises are likely to fill up fast. Register online here.