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Outer Banks Guide > Outer Banks Blogs > Eve Turek's Natural Outer Banks Blog

Saturday, May 27, 2017
May Days
Several folks have asked about the Colington osprey and how they are doing.

Once the Colington marina new nest platform was in place, the osprey pair quickly began building a rudimentary nest and within a few days, the female was sitting on the nest while her mate dutifully brought more sticks and fish. Eggs typically hatch within 6-7 weeks, but as of Memorial Day Saturday, I still could not see any baby in the nest, and an adult was no longer staying on the nest fulltime. Perhaps there is a young chick too small to be seen yet. I won’t know for sure until another couple of weeks goes by. I hope they nested successfully but it may be that their nesting late thwarted their efforts and we will have to wait another year for babies.

Meanwhile, the Kitty Hawk eagles nested again this year and I have had one glimpse of at least one eaglet. The day I was there, I could never get a clear angle for a photograph of the baby but I did witness two crows harassing the parent eagle. The aerial acrobatics were amazing to watch.

In early May Pete and I made a quick day trip over to Washington NC to pick up some pottery for both galleries. A couple of old homesteads on the way caught my attention and I will share one of those below.

I just concluded co-leading a three day photo workshop that was based at the Sanderling Resort in Duck. One benefit of teaching is that I have the chance to be outdoors photographing while instructing my students. The two mornings we got up in the dark in order to be on the beach at first light revealed an entire ghost crab village in front of the resort! I relished the challenge of trying to photograph scurrying crabs in low light; a high ISO helps here. Meanwhile, the ghost crabs would run towards the wave wash, hunker down, and let the water run over them. I saw only one crab act as if it were eating something. At first I worried the waves would overpower them, but I would see their little eye stalks sticking up as they swished and swirled and came to rest in a new spot. It was easy to imagine they were playing in the surf and enjoying it as much as we do.

Both mornings, the sun rose in an essentially clear sky, with little to reflect the color. I taught my students to look down into the wave wash for patterns of texture and color and to find their vibrancy there. Later, fellow instructor Chuck Almarez from VA taught the class how to create mandalas and twirls from their photographs; I will include an example so you can see what I mean. Fun. Workshop coordinator and our third instructor Nancy Sander brought props for the group to practice with; I found her hourglass compelling enough to use for what I hope is an emotional image that tells a different story than The Homestead does about time passing.

After the official workshop concluded those who were staying longer in the area got the treat of a private horse tour with Rick Romano of Corolla Outback Adventures. A Corolla resident, Rick shared his love and knowledge of the herd with us. As we expected, the May flies were out and the horses sought some relief at the water’s edge. More fun to watch than the flies were the dragonflies that came up the beach in huge swarms the second afternoon we were at the Sanderling. I am so glad the students had the chance to experience a Dragonfly Migration Day. I will share some of our horse tour photos and perhaps some additional workshop images in the next blog.

For Memorial Day weekend, as we play in the sun, picnic, go to the pool or beach or lake, or gather with friends and family for a cookout, let us pause and remember those whose sacrifice gives us the opportunity to enjoy such simple pleasures in freedom.

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There seemed to be a dense congregation of ghost crabs right in front of the Sanderling. I imagine eating is as good on the beach here as in the restaurant!

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See those eyestalks in back? Wave after wave would wash over them...

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...and they would keep coming back for more. When the sun rose they scurried back to their holes to rest.

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Here, Henry, the male, brings a fish to his mate Grace. She flew off with it while he settled down in the nest, presumably incubating eggs.

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This Bald Eagle pulled some fancy aerobatic maneuvers to outrun these harassing crows.

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Eastern Carolina character in an old homestead.

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Another view of time passing.

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Rick Romano and Corolla Outback Adventures give a great tour!

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The intense, vibrant glow and patterns in the wave wash got my full attention at sunrise.

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Here is the mandala and the swirl I created from the sand pattern photograph, above.

posted by eturek at 1:07 PM

Comments [4]

Wednesday, April 12, 2017
A Love Story
Those of you who don’t like the Hallmark Channel, where romances typically undergo a rough period and smooth out just in time for a happily-ever-after ending probably won’t enjoy this blog.

For more years than I can recall, I have watched the Colington Harbour osprey return each spring, raise a family of young osprey, and fly south in the fall, only to repeat the cycle the next year.

Twenty years ago, as Pete and I got married and settled into our own daily lives, a cousin of Pete’s—Karen Watras—came to stay with my aging, ill parents. We all lived in Colington Harbour less than five minutes from one another and from the osprey pair who had taken up nesting on a light pole in the harbor’s marina parking lot. Karen, who loved osprey before she came to Colington, christened the pair Grace and Henry. She had more time to watch them than I did in the early years of my marriage, and I learned a lot about the pair from her.

Henry was—and remains—a devoted lifelong mate and osprey daddy. While most osprey share the duties of nest building and incubation, Henry is more involved than most. He nearly always finds something special to decorate the nest—one year it was police tape; one year, construction tape. Sometimes we see remnants of bulkhead filter cloth, flags, pennants, rope, or netting. I began to joke that the pair has a fabric fetish. Every year they would arrive within a few days of one another, often either on Karen’s birthday or anniversary, both of which are in mid-March. Karen and I both have photographed the pair and documented their lives over the past twenty years. The two of them are older, as we are. Every year we hold our breath that both will make the long journey from their winter grounds—likely in Central or South America—safely back to their summer home in Colington.

This year, when I went to the marina to see if either had arrived yet, what I noticed first was that their nest was missing. I don’t mean that the sticks they carefully place every March and April had blown away in winter winds. I mean the entire platform had been removed from its light-pole setting, where it had rested securely for more than 20 years. I hope you can imagine my shock when I learned that the former manager had directed its removal, perhaps in ignorance of the migratory patterns of osprey. The nest was not abandoned, any more than a house can be said to have no children when they are merely in school. I talked to association staff, officials, and a wildlife agent with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. Eventually all the phone calls bore fruit, and the association president (who was out of town when the nest platform was taken down) as well as the chairman of the board contacted Dominion NC Power, asking if they could set a new pole nearby for the osprey.

Meanwhile, Grace arrived first. If you think I was startled by seeing no nest, imagine how she must have felt. Not only do osprey mate for life, often remaining unmated if one of the pair dies an untimely death, but they return to the exact same nest year after year. Once Henry also arrived, the pair began to try to balance sticks on their old light pole home. Of course the sticks simply fell off. Next, they flew to an old climbing tower in the soundfront park and playground that is adjacent to the parking lot. With its slick, sloping roof, the tower was not much better as a permanent home.

Meanwhile, Dominion NC Power graciously agreed to donate manpower and a pole, having replaced an older pole nearby. Colington maintenance personnel built a sturdy platform and affixed it atop the pole, and the power crew set the pole on Tuesday morning.

Now the big question was, would the pair spot the new platform, and abandon their attempts to nest atop the tower? I admit, I called out to Grace several times in the days before the new pole arrived, telling her a new home was coming. I also prayed. The old hymn—and Scripture—asserts God’s eye is on the sparrow. I reckon God cares equally for osprey.

The next afternoon, the president of the association called to tell me the pair had been at the new nest site all day. The pull to return to the vicinity of their old home was so strong, they began nest building less than 24 hours after the pole was in place.

Now the pair has a sturdy new home, and boaters who reportedly had been disturbed by the nest’s proximity to their docks have no reason to complain. Thanks to the quick and generous work of Dominion NC Power, all is well that ends well.

This is one of those times I am grateful to be a photographer. The fact I had a multitude of images over many years showing the same pair, building their nest, raising their young, and struggling to do the same this year without their nest site in place helped tell their story to community officials and ultimately resulted in Dominion’s efforts to give the pair a new home. Those images would not have been possible for me in my film days, because the lenses I had then were not long enough to give sharply focused images of wildlife or birds from a distance. Having telephoto lenses in my lens kit helped me tell their story, and ultimately helped me advocate for them.

I’ve recently learned about a new camera technology from a company called, aptly, Light. https://light.co/camera       Its camera bodies look like the smallest compact cameras, but boast up to 16 different camera modes that purport to replicate a variety of lenses, from close-ups to wide-angle to telephoto. I haven’t seen one in person, much less tried it out, but I am always intrigued with how computing technology makes bigger results out of smaller packages possible.

When Pete and I married and I began paying closer attention to Grace and Henry 20 years ago, digital photography was still in the future. Eventually we bought a point-and-shoot that had all of 2 megapixels and could not stop any action. Today, I carry a 20 megapixel Nikon body and an extremely heavy telephoto lens (either a 400mm or a 600mm). Who knows? Ten years from now when that lens may be impossible for me to tote around, you might find me carrying a Light camera and obtaining amazing results!

The bottom line is, you never know what your photography might do, today, or years from now. You may not realize today what an impact your photograph might have tomorrow. The important thing is to get in touch with what inspires you, learn all you can about your craft, and make images. Grace and Henry would surely agree.

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Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Wonder if that is true for osprey? They don't spend the winter together but return to the same nest to mate every spring.

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Here is Grace in 2014, coming back to the nest.

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I usually see them first in this pine tree near the marina.

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Here they are a year later. Grace, like all females, has more speckling on her breast than her mate does.

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This image always makes me laugh. Here is Henry, with a young osprey, presumably calling out for Grace. Yes, osprey dads babysit!

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It is the male's job to bring fish for his mate, and the young osprey.

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Grace, waiting for Henry, and at this moment in mid-March, homeless.

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Henry tried valiantly to bring sticks for a nest atop the tower, but they kept sliding off.

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Dominion NC Power and Colington Harbour maintenance staff to the rescue!

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Now we just have to wait for the babies to arrive!

posted by eturek at 11:35 PM

Comments [9]

Thursday, March 16, 2017
A Year of Waves
I notice that this month's Photo Contest is Waves. So I thought it might be a fun change to share 10 different wave photographs from last year, all showing different moods of our beloved Atlantic, from quiet to roaring, from warm summer afternoon to cold winter evening.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did in each moment.

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We start our series off with a wave photo from early last year. I loved the way the morning light created this arch with the spray.

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Here is another effect of light and spray I love to watch for: rainbows as the wave breaks.

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Where is the horizon? Shrouded in fog! This was on the 4wd Carova beach in May.

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As the fog began to burn off just a bit, I was treated to this magnificent view of towering clouds and fog over the ocean.

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I call this, High Surf at Jennettes.

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These were wave sets created by Hermine.

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I love to aim my long lens at breaking waves. You see texture and color you miss without the close focus.

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A summer image from the "wrong" time of day. But this was the time I had, so I chose to go. Glad I did!

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A long exposure at sunrise.

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Sometimes, of course, our waves are backdrops for other action. This charging out from the breakers stallion is a good example. Long lenses are a must here!

posted by eturek at 9:44 PM

Comments [4]

Thursday, February 16, 2017
A winter surprise
2017 has been a roller-coaster year so far, and I don’t mean just the weather (or the nightly news). In early February first Pete, then I, caught bronchitis, sidelining both of us for the first half of the month. We did manage to sit outside on our front porch for an hour or so on that record-breaking warm Sunday afternoon, but that is as far as we got.

Midway through January our photo club outing was an inside playful date with macro. Photographer Dan Beauvais brought fun props and gave good advice to those of us who are intrigued by macro photography but don’t do macro that often. I had an enjoyable few hours that Saturday morning and then the weather turned cold again.

Good thing the end of January held an exciting adventure. Fellow photographer and gallery staffer Phyllis Kroetsch took off for two nights to Seagrove, NC, with two aims: we wanted to bring home some fresh NC pottery offerings for both Yellowhouse and SeaDragon galleries, and, being photographers, we had plans to soak in a landscape more rolling and rural than we see every day. The morning we left boasted the prettiest sunrise I’d seen in a long time and we visited the beach before heading west.

Seagrove did not disappoint—so much so that we plan to return this fall if possible. Our biggest challenge was to stay on task, as the folks there are so friendly and welcoming that it was easy to spend a couple of hours in any one pottery studio, getting to know the potter and his or her processes and picking just the right pieces to bring back home.

Before our trip, I had the impulse to google “Timbavati White Lions.” (If you have no idea what that is, I encourage you to google for yourself!) What does that have to do with Seagrove pottery? I first read about the recessive gene that causes some tawny lions to have pale cubs, with blue eyes similar to white tigers, some 30 years ago. The gene has surfaced only in the Timbavati section of Africa’s Krueger National Park, which happens to be a nature preserve; nonetheless, as word got out about the rare lions, they became targets for illegal trophy hunting. All remaining existing white lions were brought into captivity and placed around the world in refuges or zoos to preserve the genetic line about 2005. Meanwhile, a few more white cubs have been born in the wild since. Perhaps a dozen or so exist in the wild now. Fast forward to my google search. I have looked repeatedly hoping to find an American refuge where one of the lions was housed, to no avail. But now, great news! A tiger rescue just an hour’s drive from where we were staying houses one of the Timbavati white male lions! I could scarcely believe we would be so close, after all my years of longing to see one, and I made arrangements for us to visit.

Michael, as he has been named, was every bit as magical and majestic as I could have imagined. Being able to look into his blue eyes, and whisper “Asante” – Swahili for “thank you” – was a thrill I will not soon forget. The rescue is small and depends completely on donations and volunteer help. Do I wish Michael could be free to run across his native land without fear of being hunted illegally before even reaching maturity? Indeed, yes. Am I glad I got the chance to be in his presence at all? Again, yes. And thanks to the wonders of photography, I can share his beauty with you.

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One bonus of roller coaster weather is fog as the temperatures fluctuate between warmer and cold. Under Nags Head Pier one foggy afternoon in January.

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Winter sunsets are the prettiest!

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What do you get when you mix food coloring, water, and oil? A new universe--through a macro lens, anyway!

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This is actually a composite of two images, one with smoke, one with fire.

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One thing I love about this sort of macro is that the photographer is free to create, using props at hand. Time for Love is a good example.

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Back to reality...here is the over-the-top vibrant sunrise on the morning we left for Seagrove.

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Picturesque houses and barns were everywhere!

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Meet Michael, one of the few remaining Timbavati White Lions.

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My favorite children's books are the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis, in part because they led me to faith. For years I've imagined meeting God as both Jesus AND Aslan. Perhaps He will look like this.

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Here is Michael with his lioness, Star. I obliterated the background and any evidence of confinement in order to isolate the pair as they might appear in an African night.

posted by eturek at 9:08 PM

Comments [4]

Thursday, January 12, 2017
Roller Coaster Weather
So far, 2017 has been a rollercoaster, weather wise. The year began with mild temperatures that quickly rose to spring-like and a high of 63 degrees by the 3rd. All that unseasonably warm and damp air produced thick fog over the Sound. I had an errand in Duck and was thrilled to spot a Great Blue Heron tucked into one cove on my drive up. Normally his little perch is cluttered with background shrubbery and rubbish in the water. Fog brings simplicity, and actually heightens focus in an otherwise muddled scene such as this one. Up at my little cove at the Waterfront Shops, the Canada Geese and Tundra Swan were paddling and resting. One swan duo was even sleeping but without tucking their heads under wing, behavior I had not photographed before, and didn’t realize until I enlarged the images back at home. I was there in late afternoon, which usually sees a lot of coming and going as geese fly in and out, and the whole group of geese suddenly took off right as I was photographing them. Great timing!

A scant week later we were under the same winter storm warning as the rest of the east, but the predicted snowfall mostly missed our area. Instead, we got a nor’easter with windy gusts and temperatures in the mid-30s, not enough to snow and but definitely raw and miserable outside. (Just ask my two dogs). Later in the afternoon, the temp dropped just before the moisture moved out. Rain transitioned to sleet and then a dusting of snow. I had to meet a framing customer at Yellowhouse late that afternoon; the timing of the appointment was perfect, as I was leaving the gallery shortly after the sleet ended and the snow (what there was of it) began. Areas to our north got walloped; even the northern Outer Banks got more than Nags Head or Kill Devil Hills.

But on my way back home I veered off course down Soundside Road to take a quick look at Jockeys Ridge with a wee bit of snow. I actually like those early moments of snowfall, when the white lays in pockets against the golden sand. I like the contrast of the white and gold, even before the dunes get turned into miniature snow-covered mountains, which never happened this time. And yes, I was disappointed. I figure, if it is going to be as cold as 35 degrees, with a nor’easter sending wind chills down into the teens, then it should snow already! The least the winter storm owes us is some pretty scenery! I strayed one more time closer to home to photograph a little more snow at Run Hill. By then I had groceries in the car so I merely rolled down the window.

With all that northeast wind, the Sound was driven out, so when the deep freeze came later that night, with temperatures in the mid-twenties, the resultant frozen Sound wasn’t quite as pretty as it might otherwise have been, at least not along Colington Road where I finally got a look at it just before it thawed out on Tuesday.

As I write this, the temperature has climbed into spring again, and is in the mid-60’s! That just might be a recipe for another brilliant sunset. I saw glimpses out the window last night but just couldn’t get there. Meanwhile, here are the two looks we have seen so far this year: fog, and a dusting of white.

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When I climbed out of my car at Jockey's Ridge with the wind blowing, it was COLD! Snow was just beginning to fall.

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A wide view of the back side of Jockey's Ridge shows little pockets and drifts of snow against the sand.

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In the time it took me to walk back to the car and drive back up Soundside Road, the south-facing slopes were beginning to be more white than gold.

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You can see (I hope) how hard the wind was blowing.

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Here is a snowy Run Hill. We didn't get much more snow than this in Kill Devil Hills.

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Great Blue Heron, fishing in the fog.

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These Tundra Swan were napping, which I did not realize until I enlarged the image back at home.

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These two look as if they are striking out for the great unknown. I call it, To Boldly Go. (Yes, I am a Trekkie.)

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The Canada Geese blasted off right when I was there. I love how you can tell how dense the fog is here.

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This was fun! Between the fog and dusk, the lights at the Waterfront Shops began to glow and drip in the damp.

posted by eturek at 11:40 AM

Comments [4]

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