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

EVE TUREK'S NATURAL OUTER BANKS
Friday, December 6, 2013
Comes the Calm...
Balm has always been one of my favorite words. I love that it rhymes with “calm” and I’ve used the pair in lyrics and poems several times over the years. Sometimes, for all of my gentle exterior, I deal with a wound-too-tight interior, and it is those times that I most need to simply go outside. A deep salt air breath expands my heart even as it inflates my lungs. My pulse slows; my thoughts adopt the contemplative pace of my footfalls. If a bird or a critter chooses to share space and time, the excitement and glee I feel in that instant jogs happy circles around my feet, much like my puppies greet me when I arrive home at the end of the day. (Ok, I admit they are not strictly “puppies” any more, at ages 11 and 3. But they are still my babies, so the label has stuck.) The glee doesn’t destroy my serenity; rather the serenity acts as a firm foundation for the joy that overlays. This happens in my best moments, mind you—the ones I remember, and the ones I most often am able to share photographically. For it is in these moments of balm and calm that the greater gifts arrive.

I’ve had need of “balm and calm” lately, caught up in the seemingly endless details and physical labors of moving the gallery portion of Yellowhouse from its historic Beach Road location into our new home, two miles south on the Bypass. We opened Thanksgiving week in our new space, yet still have much work ahead to empty out the old cottage and re-establish the frame shop in its new spot.

I’d planned for weeks to go to Ocracoke for a long day in November in order to photograph the moonrise from there, but the weather didn’t cooperate; the one evening I wanted to go, when the timing of sunset and moonrise would be optimal, Ocracoke’s forecast was for overcast skies and rain. Instead, I went to Jennette’s Pier the evening before. I’ve been longing for a moonrise image that would couple pelicans with the moon, and conditions were perfect for that photograph! By giving up on the location I’d originally planned for, I received something even more precious, as you will see below. The next day, while we had thick fog in Nags Head, I walked down toward Cottage Row, seeking a moody, misty portrayal of the historic houses there.

I also had a chance earlier in November to spend a little time at the northern edge of North Pond on Pea Island. I’d heard the White Pelicans were back, and I did see them there. By late November, the South Pond was filling up with ducks and snow geese and swan, happy wintertime heralds.

And then came amazing, astounding news: A Snowy Owl was hanging around the beach at Cape Point! Snowy Owls are northern birds, rarely venturing this far south, and I was eager for the chance to see and photograph my first one. On December 1, Pete and I took his daughter MaryAnn and our grandson Patrick for their first-ever visit to the Point itself, hoping for at least a glimpse. We parked and Pete waited while we walked…and walked…and walked. We would have been better off, that day, to park at the next ramp down, and in fact I called Pete and advised him to drive around to that parking area to shorten our walk back. But our efforts paid off when we spotted the Snowy on the beach ahead of us. It had not picked the most picturesque spot, and was resting in an area of mid-beach, between the water and the toe of the dune line, with a lot of nearby flotsam and jetsam: wood, some broken shells, and a decidedly non-natural tire! Two photographers had worked themselves into a good photographic position by crawling forward on their knees,
s-l-o-w-l-y, so as not to spook the bird, and Patrick and I emulated their strategy although we did not get nearly as close before we stopped. That whole adventure was so much fun (we also spotted nearshore dolphin and more whelks than I can recall seeing on the beach since I was a kid), I decided to do it all over again on Tuesday.

This time I took fellow photographer Pat Draisey with me. We arrived much earlier (read, up at 0’dark:30) and there was no owl in sight anywhere. We stayed out on the beach a while, photographing shells and willets for the fun of it, and finally decided to walk back to the car. Just as we were about to leave the beach and walk up the access, we turned back for one more look down beach. Right then, a large white Somebody flew low over the sand and landed on the beach where we’d just been. Who is that? I asked, using my long lens like binoculars. Aha! The Snowy Owl! We turned around and trudged back. I’d promised to call other photographers that we’d met earlier in case we spotted the owl; they’d promised the same. I kept my word and soon there were seven of us grinning like young children and snapping away. Once again, the owl had chosen a section of beach with some debris, and once again it had landed near a tire! I was challenged to find angles to photograph it without all that distraction in the image. It eventually flew further down the beach and we opted to head back north rather than walk after it—a good and wise choice, turns out! That was the day the Bonner Bridge closed abruptly in the afternoon. We made it across about an hour before all traffic was halted. Whew!

I say often, right place/right time. If I had not turned around at that exact moment, we’d have missed the encounter. Leaving the beach also meant we were right on time to see a few deer grazing at the edge of the road leading back to the lighthouse parking lot. All in all, a banner day. One more in a series of banner days, in this banner year of amazing encounters.








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Pelicans, Sunset, Moonrise. Doesn't get much more beautiful than this.

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Here is a closer view, while the moon was still somewhat hidden in the clouds.

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The sky in the west was just as beautiful.

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White Pelicans are larger than our Brown Pelicans are. They don't mind hanging out together although their feeding strategies are totally different.

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Here is Cottage Row in fog, late November. I love the emotion that the fog adds to these historic houses, with their decades of stories to tell.

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Here's the buck with his growing antlers.

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Here is the Snowy Owl as we saw it resting on Sunday. It never did fully open its eyes the whole time I was there that day.

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Snowy Owls are most active at night and at the edges of the day, so midday, when we were watching it, is naptime.

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It's a Plane, it's a Gull, it's a...Snowy Owl! I love this. Peek A Boo, Mr. Snowy. I'm so glad I got to see it with its eyes open on Tuesday!

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This is about as close as I was able to approach. So grateful for the chance to witness, and to share. Some other photographers got to spend much more time there than I did, and their images are spectacular. Worth a google if you want to see more.

posted by eturek at 11:21 PM

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