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

EVE TUREK'S NATURAL OUTER BANKS
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Happy Happy Happy
“Sometimes I just need to make myself happy.” I’ve been saying that sentence, mostly silently, quite a bit lately. Writing it out, I realize it can be read a bit selfishly, as in, I just need to make MYSELF happy (and by implication, the heck with “you” whoever you might be). That’s not exactly how I mean it. I’ve been emphasizing the words “I” and “need” and “make” – meaning, sometimes, my naturally bubbly nature isn’t, and I need to take some deliberate action to shift my attitude over toward the positive.

Usually a failsafe shifter for me is time outside. Well, we all know what this winter has been like. Let’s just say that even here on the Outer Banks, we’ve had more than our share of stormy, rainy, miserable, stay inside weather. Hence the quote that started this blog.

I got my chance this past Saturday. Saturday was, in a word, gorgeous. Warmer, sunny, light breeze. Perfect. And it just happened to be Pete’s and my 17th anniversary. We usually try to have a getaway of some kind, but not this year. We are still in the middle of what has turned into a very long, drawn out gallery and frame shop move, mostly thanks to that miserable weather I mentioned. He really needed to take advantage of both the sunshine and our grandson’s being home on spring break to move more frame shop supplies. I started the day pouty about that, if you want to know the truth. And then I thought, I just need to make myself happy. So I went to the ocean.

Once I actually got out on the beach, my mood lightened considerably, helped by the three pieces of sea glass and seven shell fragment hearts I found. By the time I was picking up the third or fourth heart, I felt immensely loved and profoundly grateful. All the rest were a bonus, emphasizing abundance in a way I could see and touch and put in my pocket to share with Pete later. North of the spot I was walking I could see a good number of what looked like gannets and gulls. I walked a little ways but the birds kept moving north. I headed back to the car and drove to a closer access. When I got to that stretch of beach I was overjoyed to see pelicans, lots of pelicans and most in full breeding colors. They and the gulls were diving for fish. Well, I say the gulls were diving—they were, until the numbers of pelicans increased and the gulls decided it would be much easier to steal the pelicans’ fish rather than do their own catching. I could not see the details until I downloaded the photographs, but at one point, one pelican had two fish in its beak at once and a third had just escaped! Fishing folks will know much better than I do what these fish were. They were all good sized.

The other happy news to report is that by March 12, I saw the first osprey of the season back at the Colington marina. By March 14, the pair that has nested there for at least 17 years was reunited once again. Their nest is in fairly decent shape after our windy winter; the pair across the harbor is not so lucky. They had to begin building from scratch, since their platform had not one limb when they arrived. Both male and female osprey are back in the nest outside the gate; these are the birds that soar over my house in the morning when I am out with the dogs. (On nice days, this is; no soaring in the wind and rain we have had for the past few days). Today I saw one osprey in the tree across from the cemetery on Colington Road, where a pair successfully nested for the first time last year. Seeing the osprey return always makes me believe in spring, even when the weather does not seem to have gotten the memo.

Tomorrow friend Karen Watras and I are headed out for a long overdue day together in some sunshine. If we have any adventures worth sharing, I will let you know. Meanwhile, enjoy below what little sunshine the Outer Banks has had thus far since my last blog, and make yourselves happy.


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First Sighting -- March 12. Only saw one osprey, the male, that afternoon.

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Whew! Here is the female osprey, that Karen named and I now call "Grace." We always hold our breath until we know both Grace and Henry made the trip home safely.

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Here is the devoted couple. I'm not being anthropomorphic here. Osprey, as is true with other large birds, mate for life.

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Lots of pelicans out and about on our warmer, sunny Saturday.

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Lots of Gulls, too…and that is when things began to get interesting.

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I've thought of all sorts of captions for this one, such as "go catch your own fish!"

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No sooner would a pelican dive and come up with a catch, and the gulls would swoop in.

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Sometimes, LOTS of gulls...

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Can you see the fish that is trying to escape?

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Regular readers know just how much I love pelicans, and how connected I feel to them. Every opportunity to watch them, whether resting, perching, preening, feeding, or flying, is a gift.

posted by eturek at 11:19 PM

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Winter Is For The Birds
Here is one thing I have come to appreciate about winter—well, in theory, this is. Since we own a business that is more seasonal than year-round, winter provides a window of time to rest and reflect, to plan ahead, to enjoy some less scheduled time, particularly time outside. As I said, it’s a theory. This year’s winter weather has kept me looking through a window, sure enough, more than I planned for. And the weather has created unforeseen delays in finishing our gallery move, so Pete is not resting at all, and I am not resting as much as I hoped. Nonetheless, despite the seemingly endless round of gray, wet days (we are having another in that series today), winter has given unexpected gifts. Most of these gifts for me have come wrapped in feathers.

I’m not one of those birders who keeps a “life list” although lately I’ve thought maybe I should. Not so that I can check off accomplishments like I do my to-do task list—that feels much more like rote than wonder, to me. But I want to remember where and when I received these life-gifts, how I felt in those moments. Photography helps me do that. Journaling helps me do that. And this blog helps me do that.

A longtime friend who now lives near Wanchese called at the end of February. We hadn’t talked for a while, so we caught each other up on our news and then she said a magic word: bluebirds. Bluebirds? You have bluebirds?!? I have begun, slowly, to feed songbirds again this winter. I stopped several years ago because between me and my next door neighbor, two of our four collective kitties were birders. I felt bad about luring the little birds to breakfast only to have many of them become the lunch special. So I quit putting out seed. But over time, two of the four kitties have crossed the rainbow bridge and the two that remain are more mellow, and more apt to listen when I remind them that I will take care of their needs for food, and that the winged ones are their brothers and sisters. So far, so good. But I have never had bluebirds in my yard. She invited me over and I went! She has several pairs that have wintered with her, and we spent a wonderful ninety minutes, sharing the birds and easy conversation. I left her home more relaxed than I have been in a very long time.

While there, she told me about a friend of hers whose yard has been graced this winter with a pair of Western Tanagers! I’ve heard of these colorful birds but never seen one on my travels out west. She made a call and a couple of days later, I was on my way to another encounter, this time with a gracious hostess and winged ambassadors from the part of the country I think of as my heart’s second home. The Tanagers are spookier than my friend’s bluebirds, so we settled ourselves inside and watched through her windows. The Tanagers would fly in, feed for a couple of minutes, and then disappear for twenty or thirty minutes. Waiting for them, I got to watch a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird just coming into its breeding plumage. In all the days I photographed a mother hummingbird at its nest last summer, I never once got a glimpse of the daddy, so being so close to a male—even from behind glass—was a thrill and a gift.

I’ve seen several ducks this winter I had never seen before. The southern end of the Oregon Inlet bridge has sheltered Harlequin Ducks, and now there are six of those, including two males, in the little flock. When I checked on them last week, I also saw my first White-winged Scoter, a sea duck that is in the same family as Surf Scoters, and I saw my first of those on a CNPA outing at sunrise to Duck Pier earlier in February.

Lastly, I learned of a Great Horned Owl that had been spotted atop the osprey nest on a channel marker near the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center. It had been seen there for a couple of days, so I went down to check for myself. Sure enough, there it was! I assumed at first it was resting, or injured, but since then I have learned more about Great Horned Owls. They take over large nests of other birds, like eagles or hawks or herons. The theory among those birders who have seen it, and have more knowledge than I do, is that this is a nesting female. Why in the world she picked a nest over water, instead of one over land, is beyond all of us. And what in the world will happen when the osprey come home and find their house has been commandeered by our largest owl is beyond us, too. Stay tuned for more developments on that one! When Bald Eagles took over an osprey nest in Kitty Hawk, the osprey gave up trying to reoccupy and built a new nest down the road. Maybe the same thing will happen here.

In the midst of all our wet and gray, which has included another round of sleet since I last wrote, my daffodils are blooming, quince and forsythia are in flower, and I have emerging buds on many of the trees in my yard. We’ve had isolated days of moderate temperatures, and the plants seem to be hop-scotching themselves toward springtime in these warmer spells. Me, too. I went soundside for a sudden vibrant orange sunset a couple of weeks ago after a long gray day, and saw a thin slice of rainbow in the east as the sun lit the sky on fire in the west. That’s another gift of winter, that vibrancy. We just don’t see the same skyscapes in summer’s humidity and haze.

At this point, I’d trade that clear cold vibrancy for some genuine warm sunshine, even if humidity has to come along for the ride. Meanwhile, maybe our winter visitors in their gussied-up breeding wardrobes will gladden your hearts as much as they did mine.



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Here is one Eastern Bluebird pair. I used to enjoy them as a child growing up in VA. I haven't watched bluebirds at leisure since childhood.

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I call this "Winter Visit" partly because these birds visited our area in winter, and partly because I had the chance to visit with the friend at whose home these birds are feeding.

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Here are the Western Tanagers! How great is that?!?

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While waiting for the Tanagers, we watched this male hummer come to the feeder.

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Here is one of the two Scoters I saw. This is the White-winged Scoter at Oregon Inlet. You can see here how it got its name.

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And here are all six Harlequins. When the second male first showed up, the other would not let it near, but I saw them all together one afternoon.

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Here is the Great Horned Owl. I had never seen one in the wild before, although I have heard them at times at night in Colington.

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Sunday afternoon was warm and lovely, and we had our SIL and grandson visit, so we took them out to the beach at Oregon Inlet. There were hundreds of gannets and small flocks of these Bonaparte Gulls.

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I watch for the possibility of a vibrant sunset if the sky is clear at the horizon after an overcast or stormy day. Bingo!

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I got rained on while the sun was setting, which was a cue to turn around and look east. Bingo again! Rainbow! I heard folks in Kitty Hawk by the ocean saw a full double.

posted by eturek at 11:24 AM

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(c) 2009-2010 Eve Turek & OBX Connection, all rights reserved - read 433611 times

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