Wednesday
Aug012012

Sunset Beach Island

Description

The Sunset Beach site encompasses six locations in and around the town of Sunset Beach and on the mainland. A full description of the suggested route is available in their brochure, but an annotated description is provided below.

After crossing the Mannon C. Gore Bridge to the Island, the bridge causeway ends at a T-Junction at Main Street. Directly across Main street is public parking allowing access to the beach. In the winter, walk to the beach to look for scoters, loons, Horned Grebe, Northern Gannet and other wintering waterfowl. Explore the East end of Sunset Beach by turning East on Main Street from the T-junction. Main Street forms a "U" with Canal Drive at the entrance to a gated community. Return on Canal Drive for 0.5 miles, then turn right on Cobia Street and then right on North Shore Drive East. Listen and watch for Painted Bunting and Loggerhead Shrike in the shrubby open areas. Parking in right-of-ways along the street will afford views of the surrounding saltmarsh. A spotting scope is useful. Returning to Main Street, head to the west end of the island, where a small parking lot on the right affords views of the saltmarsh directly ahead (see detailed directions in brochure). Scan for wading birds and rails. Here you will find views of tidal marsh habitats where you can watch for Wood Stork from late spring to mid-fall, and Seaside, Nelson's and Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrows in the marsh grass in fall and winter. On the flats, watch for shorebirds, wading birds and American Oystercatcher. Use the beach access to cross the dunes and explore farther west toward Bird Island, scanning for Wilson's Plover and Least Tern.

Return to the mainland to explore nearby lakes. Go right as you exit the Mannon C. Gore Bridge, take the first right turn onto shoreline Drive, travel 0.5 mile to the East Lake of the Twin Lakes on your right. A new bird walk provides the perfect place to enjoy the scenery. Check the trees for a daytime roost of Wood Storks in summer. Black-crowned Night Herons, White Ibis, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Green Herons all roost on the lake during their respective seasons.

Continue west to West Lake and you'll see a big daytime roost of wading birds, including Wood Storks. keep an eye out for American Alligators sunning on the banks.

Species of Interest (Full Bird List)

Horned Grebe, Wood Stork, American Oystercatcher, Black Skimmer, Painted Bunting, winter sparrows

Habitat

salt marsh, maritime shrub, beach and dune

Special Features/Concerns

Do not climb on any sand dunes. Do not disturb nesting bird colonies. Observe roadside parking designations closely

Access and Parking

Public parking is available in the lot at the T-junction, and as designated on streets throughout the island. Roadside parking is also available in many places. During the high season, the traffic waiting at the single-land swing bridge can be quite heavy in both directions; take advantage of early-morning arrival. Public restrooms are available at the public beach access at the T-junction of Sunset Boulevard and Main Street.

Directions

From the intersection of US 17 and NC 904, go east on NC 904. Travel for 3.5 miles to the second stoplight. Turn right on Sunset Boulevard. At 5.3 miles, stay straight where NC 179 Business turns right. There is a light before a single lane bridge that leads onto the island of Sunset Beach. After passing along a causeway, Sunset Boulevard ends at a T-junction with Main Street on the island. Detailed directions available on their recent brochure.

Google Directions

Delorme Gazetteer Page

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Bird List

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