Swamp Maple in bloom in Kitty Hawk Woods.

Swamp Maple in bloom in Kitty Hawk Woods.

After days of rain and rain and rain, we’ve had a good dry spell on the Outer Banks. With things drying out a bit we headed headed to the Birch Lane trail in Kitty Hawk Woods.

The trailheads in Kitty Hawk Woods are not well marked and there’s not much parking, but it’s worth putting up with the frustration because the trails are remarkable in how well the show the beauty and diversity of a maritime forest.

The Birch Lane trail is a low ridge with swamp and marsh on each side. At this time of the year, it is just beginning to shake off its winter slumber.

Swamp maple is one of the first of the trees to flower, and the delicate red petals with with what looks like white whiskers stand out against the dark gray back drop of the trees.

The day was overcast and not as warm as it has been, but not bad at all. It didn’t seem to slow the birds down.

The Birds of Kitty Hawk Woods

Getting a picture of them can be a challenge. In the swamp, two wood ducks, camouflaged amidst the dark shadows and greens of  the water, suddenly explode in a flurry of wings.

Overhead, Carolina wren twitter and flit through the trees. Somewhere, and not too far away, there’s a woodpecker drumming in a tree trunk—the rhythm so fast no human drummer could match it.

A red-bellied woodpecker high in a swamp bay tree.

A red-bellied woodpecker high in a swamp bay tree.

It could be a male or female. Woodpeckers are one of the few species that both male and female signal they’re looking for a mate.

Later in the season the woodpeckers will still be at it on trees, but with a slower beat. It’s food they’re after in the summer.

There’s three or four different kinds of birds high up in a swamp bay.

Camera in hand, trying to get a picture of the birds is a challenge. None of them come too close for a good shot and they are so quick that every click of the camera is a guess.

Picture or not, it’s a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

The Outer Bank is a wonderfully complex environment. Explore what it has to offer with a week or two visit with Brindley Beach Vacations.