By Will Cook
Overview: When water level is low, this is one of the best areas in the Piedmont of North Carolina for seeing shorebirds. The mudflats begin to appear when lake level is below 214 feet above sea level [current report]. Access is not easy, but it's often worth the long trek. If you want to spend all day looking at mudflats, you can also visit the New Hope Creek mudflats on the other side of the peninsula.
Getting there: Park near the gate at the end of Old Hope Valley Farm Road.
Coordinates for Google Earth/Maps: 35 51 37 N, 78 59 26.25 W
Where to go: Continue walking past the gate 1 mile to the next gate. A few hundred yards past that gate, the road forks. Follow the right fork, which is an old RR grade. Follow the RR grade trail until you see a trail going off to the right. Follow that until you can see the lake through the woods. Walk to the water and follow the shoreline to the right until you get to the mudflats. It's a hike!
When you get to the area, explore up and down the lakeshore until you find the birds. Plan on spending at least 3-4 hours here. This area is part of the New Hope gamelands and a favorite of hunters, so it's best to avoid it during deer gun season (mid-November - January 1) except on Sundays.
What to look for: Most species of shorebird that have been seen in the Triangle have been seen here. The mudflat area can also be great for egrets, dabbling ducks (especially Blue-winged Teal), migrant passerines (especially Palm Warblers and N. Waterthrushes), and migrant raptors.
Facilities: None. Bring plenty of water!
When to visit: Whenever there are mudflats, usually in late summer and fall. The area is closed during the first half of the year because of nesting Bald Eagles.
Revised 12/29/2008 firstname.lastname@example.org