October 17 thru 22, 2017 (main session) and December 8 thru 10, 2017 (WOW Encore session)


Brian VanDruten

​Brian has worked at Alligator River and Pea Island NWR's since graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in Biology in 1997.  He currently serves as a Fish & Wildlife Biologist.  Growing up on the Outer Banks, Brian has vast knowledge of the area and its resident and migratory wildlife.  He loves all types of outdoors activities including hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, competitive archery, paddling and doing these things with his wife and two boys, ages 2 and 7.  One of Brian's most influential outdoor experiences was serving as an intern working with Emperor Geese and Spectacled Eiders on Yukon-Delta National Wildlife Refuge in 1995.


Stuart Wescott

Capt. Stuart Wescott, an 11th generation Outer Banks native, started his maritime work as a mate on charter boats out of the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center in 1966. He and his wife Ramona have two sons, a daughter and four grandchildren. The two sons reside on Roanoke Island and are both licensed boat captains. The family shipwrecked here in the late 1700’s. 2014 will be the 20th season for Stuart’s business, Outer Banks Cruises. Capt. Stuart enjoys spending time with the grand children Ashton 12, Keaton 9, Noah and Adlyn 5. They all frequently work on the Capt. Johnny in the capacity of Cruise Director for the Dolphin Watch and Sunset Tours run several times a day June thru October. Stuart has participated in WOW since it started in 1996. He is the captain of the pontoon boat that takes participants on the Pelican Island Safari tour. For his historical narrative to and from Pelican Island, and his knowledge of the area and waters, those alone make the trip worth taking!

Audrey Whitlock

Audrey Whitlock is a Virginia transplant now living in South Nags Head since her retirement from Healthcare in 2005.  She started birding casually during college in the early ‘70s which led to what her husband terms, ‘obsessiveness.’  Her North American Life List is over 650 species, but has also birded parts of Hawaii, South America, Africa, Vietnam and West Papua New Guinea.  She says "everyday you go into the field, you will learn something."  Audrey has been a trip leader for WOW since 2009 and enjoys sharing her knowledge of the local bird life with others.

John Wright

John was born and raised in eastern North Carolina, where he started birding on his own as a young teenager.  His birding horizons were expanded considerably while attending N. C. State University, where he met, for the first time, others with similar interests.  With degrees in Wildlife Biology and Science Education, John spent his working life as a high school science teacher.  His leisure time has involved birding all of North Carolina and the rest of North America.  A regular visitor to the Outer Banks for over fifty years, he has been a trip leader with Wings Over Water since its inception, 20 years ago. He makes his home in Wilson, N.C. with his wife and birding companion, Paula.

Carson Wood

Carson Wood, Biologist, Coastal Plain Conservation Group, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. In 2011, Carson co-founded CPCG with his father Andy Wood, to help support their work with rare and imperiled plants, wildlife and their habitats. Carson holds a USGS Master Bird Banding Permit, and USFWS Section 10(a)(1)(A) Recovery Permit for Endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker. In addition to contributing to conservation planning for Swallow-tailed Kite, Black Rail, Carolina Gopher Frog, and Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, Carson also serves on advisory committees for long-leaf pine restoration and Red-cockaded Woodpecker management. He is the coordinator for the Holly Shelter/Lea-Hutaff Christmas Bird Count, and is piloting a new circle for 2016 specifically targeting large adjacent tracts under conservation. Carson’s professional work experience includes coastal plain habitat monitoring and restoration with attention to at-risk, threatened, and endangered species, including all aspects of Red-cockaded Woodpecker research and management.

Simon RB Thompson
Simon RB Thompson owns and operates his own bird watching and natural history tour company, Ventures Birding Tours, based in Asheville, NC.  http://birdventures.com/  Ventures Birding offers tours within Western North Carolina, North America and to many locations throughout the world.  Born in Malta and educated in England, Simon has lived in Yemen, Ghana, Kenya and Lebanon, where his interest in birds began. In addition to traveling extensively in the US, he spent six months in China studying the crane and bird of prey migration as a member of the British “China Crane Watch” expedition.  He is also the on the board of the Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society in Asheville, North Carolina, where he has lived with his partner, Chris, for the past 20 years.

Peter Vankevich
Pete Vankevich is the compiler of the Ocracoke and Portsmouth Island Christmas Counts and has led Wings Over Waters fields to these two islands almost since the beginning.  He has written monthly nature columns, Spotted on Hill when he lived on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC and currently Spotted on Ocracoke. After a long career with the Copyright Office at the Library of Congress, he fulfilled a 30-year dream and moved full-time to Ocracoke Island where he is, among other things, the co-publisher of the Ocracoke Observer newspaper. During the winter of 2014, he helped more than 250 people see and photograph the Snowy Owls that spent more than two months in various locations up and down the island.

Curtis G. Smalling
​Curtis is a 1985 magna cum laude graduate of Appalachian State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and in 1996 received a Master of Arts in Appalachian Studies  A life-long bird watcher, Curtis began watching birds with his grandfather, who was very interested in Purple Martins. His current position with Audubon is that of Director of Conservation.  He is currently responsible for the Working Lands, Coast, and Bird Friendly Communities programs for Audubon North Carolina. He is a member of several species working groups including the Cerulean Warbler Technical Working Group, International Wood Thrush Conservation Alliance, and the International Golden-winged Warbler working group including working on these species and others on their wintering grounds in Nicaragua. He is a contributing author or editor for several books and publications. He resides in Boone, NC with his wife of 34 years, Mary, and has three children and a granddaughter

Nate Swick
Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog. He has been writing about birds and birding at The Drinking Bird since 2007, but can also be found writing regularly at 10,000 Birds. In the non-digital world, he's an environmental educator and interpretive naturalist. He is an eBird reviewer for the state of North Carolina, and a member of the NC Bird Records Committee. Nate lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children, who not yet aware that they are being groomed to be birders. Nate is the author of, Birding For the Curious: The Easiest Way for Anyone to Explore the Incredible World of Birds. And his latest book is the well-received, ABA Field Guide to Birds of the Carolinas. Nate has been with Wings Over Water since 2012.

John & Cathryn Sill
John has been a freelance artist and illustrator for 40 years. His subject of choice is birds, but he also paints other wildlife. John works primarily in watercolor. His paintings have been exhibited in “Birds In Art” at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, “Art of the Animal Kingdom” at the Bennington Center for the Arts, and “Birds: The Art of Illustration” at the North Carolina Arboretum. Among the books John has illustrated are 21 natural history children’s books, written by Cathyrn, in the “About” series published by Peachtree Publishers. For more about John and his work go to http://johnsill.com/

​Cathryn Sill began birding with her mother as a preschooler. She became interested in birding by ear while participating in a breeding bird survey.  Having trouble spotting birds in the dense foliage of the forest, she realized she needed another way to identify them. Now listening for birds brings her as much joy as watching them. With her husband John as the illustrator, Cathryn has created two award winning series of nonfiction books for children that now include 24 titles.Type your paragraph here.