“There’s a party goin’ on right here.
A celebration to last throughout the years.
So bring your good times, and your laughter too,
We gonna celebrate your party with you.”
Lyrics from the song “Celebration”, by Kool & the Gang.
I was enjoying the waterfront in Southport this past Thursday and a song was playing on my radio. While gettin’ my groove on with Kool & the Gang, I took a moment to focus on the southwest point of Battery Island. There was a White Ibis celebration going on! For more on these and other Battery Island goings-on, read below. Then get on down to the river and, as Kool and the Gang would say, “Celebrate good times, come on!”
Beginning in early spring, visitors to the Southport waterfront can witness the early-morning departure of thousands of white ibis as they leave Battery Island for inland foraging grounds. The sky off Southport is again filled with ibis during the last two hours of daylight as flock after flock, of from 20 to 200 ibis, return to roost.
Battery Island is a 100-acre natural island situated across the shipping channel from Southport. Many years ago, Battery Island received deposits of dredged sand, which formed the southern upland area of the island, commonly referred to as the “South Colony.” This is where the majority of wading birds gather to nest in the red cedars, yaupon and other shrubs. Battery Island is the site of North Carolina’s largest colony of nesting wading birds, supporting 9,000 to, in some years, more than 15,000 nesting pairs of 9 wading bird species. The site is globally significant for white ibis, the most abundant wading bird nesting on the island. The number of nesting ibis alone can be as high as 15,000 breeding pairs. Some of the other species include oystercatchers, willets, numerous clapper rails (a.k.a marsh hens), seaside sparrows, and marsh wrens.
Battery Island is an Audubon Society bird sanctuary. Disturbance to nesting birds is a primary concern therefore this site is now posted and entirely off-limits to visitors. Audubon wardens patrol the island throughout the nesting season and at various times the remainder of the year. The island is also patrolled by NC Wildlife Enforcement Officers.
(paraphrased content, http://www.capefearaudubon.org)