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

EVE TUREK'S NATURAL OUTER BANKS
Monday, August 26, 2013
Hum Along With Me
Okay, for all you faithful readers who’ve stayed the course through August, I have a confession to make. The truth is I’ve spent much of the past three weeks falling in love. Pete’s been very gracious about it all, my leaving the house early or coming home late, consumed with my little rendezvous.

End of July, we got a call at the gallery from a framing customer: did we know a wildlife photographer? The customer was asking because she had discovered that a hummingbird was nesting in a tree in her yard. Off I went! And went, and went, and went. For three weeks we watched a tiny jewel of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird mama successfully raise an even tinier baby hummer from a helpless newborn bird to a fully-fledged, how-did-you-grow-up-so-fast young adult. And in the process I’ve learned quite a lot about hummingbirds.

Ruby-throateds are the only hummingbirds that nest in North Carolina. And this is a Single Mom success story. Dads, unlike male osprey or eagles, are uninvolved in the care of the eggs or the young. All the work of incubating eggs and protecting, feeding, and raising a baby bird is on the mother. I looked up Ruby-throateds in every bird book I own, and checked online resources. The nest, which you will see below, is made of lichen, mosses, and spider silk. The egg(s) are about the size of pearls; newborn hummingbirds are about half as long as the average house key. We could not see in the nest of course; it was built handily in the crook of a limb, high up in a tree. One vantage point from the deck of the house gave an unobstructed long-lens view. I learned from observing that the mother had situated the nest so that it was never in direct full sunlight. Baby hummingbirds are born naked, without any feathers. Insulating the baby birds from too much heat or from cooler storm winds is crucial. Yet the mother has to feed herself (at least every half hour) and feed the baby too. Babies are fed regurgitated nectar or tiny insects (for protein). I found it hard to believe what the literature said: that this naked, blind, and unable to move newborn baby bird could possibly be flying and learning to feed itself within one month. But it’s true! And a tiny glimpse of my invitation into the hummingbird’s daily routine is below for you to enjoy.

Now that the baby has fledged, I have not been back to the yard to photograph. The baby needs to feel comfortable in the larger territory it is exploring and learn to make its own way in the world. Hummingbirds are fiercely territorial. The mother will drive the baby away from her established territory once it is strong enough to find its own sustenance—usually in less than a week’s time from fledging! I don’t want to interfere with that process by my own presence there.

While 2013 has included its own challenges—including finding a suitable location to prepare a “new nest” for Yellowhouse—it has also provided the most spectacular gifts and invitations from the natural world. The most recent of those, following (in turn), humpback whales, harbor seal, baby foxes, black bear, a baby hummingbird came back to back this past weekend. First, a mama mouse had three babies in my trash can under Yellowhouse’s side counter (one of which survived after I carried all three and their mother, trash can and all, outside) and second, for only the second time in 30+ years, I got to watch a baby hatchling sea turtle make its way seaward about 9:30 pm last night in South Nags Head. Add to this the fact that a sea turtle chose the beach access directly across from Yellowhouse to lay eggs that should hatch around the end of October and there aren’t enough “thank-you and thank-You’s” to go around.

Life is amazing. All we have to do, seemingly, is show up with our eyes and hearts open, full of wonder and gratitude. So in great thanks, please do enjoy…


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July 30 -- The saga begins. Mother Hummer on the nest. As tiny as the mother bird is, can you imagine the size of the nest? Or what is inside?

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Aug 2 - It is official! We have a baby hummingbird!

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Aug 2 - What mother cannot relate? Now the mother bird must feed herself, keep her baby warm/cool, dry, protected...and fed. Often. A few seconds are as long a nap as she would take.

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Aug 5 - The baby bird is growing fast.

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Aug 9 - Look how much bigger in only four days. We could see real feathers now, too. Its head is definitely fluffier. At this point the baby was still almost always down in the nest until the mother flew in to feed.

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The mother fed herself from a combination of wild-growing trumpet vine, cultivated flowers (these are on the deck I photographed from), and a hummingbird feeder.

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Aug 11 - I love this. First wing flutters and stretches! I can't believe what a huge difference in just nine days.

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In just a little more than a week later, sometime between 11 a.m. when I left the nest and that evening, the little hummer fledged. Here it is taking a nap the next day. Flying and feeding yourself is hard work!

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The mother will show the youngster how to find food sources...then it's own its own.

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I desaturated this picture to reduce the red light in order for the baby turtle itself to show up a little more. What a thrill to watch its determined trek toward its future as it made a slow, sure journey seaward.

posted by eturek at 8:28 PM

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Saturday, August 24, 2013
August Wonders
One of my life-joys is preparing this blog. When a long period of time lapses without being able to get outside, thanks to rain or an over-busy schedule, say, I start to feel antsy. Part of the restlessness comes because I center myself within by going outside. I’ve learned not only that I need to connect, but also what forms of connection work most deeply for me. An outward working of that connecting process is to share what I’ve seen and experienced through both word and image. Blogging helps me process—emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and literally—where I’ve been and what I felt there, what I saw and heard and learned.

Sometimes, as the past three weeks, natural events seem to happen so quickly, one after another, that I can scarcely keep up with the living of them, much less the telling of them. That’s a roundabout apology for not writing sooner. In fact, so much has happened that this is going to turn into a Two-for-One sort of blog…two entries back to back!

We’ve had some doozies of summer thunderstorms; one lightning storm was so intense in Nags Head last week that it knocked out our credit card processor overnight. I photographed that storm from the comparative safety of soundside, looking east near sunset. I don’t think I would have been outside with camera in hand had I gone over to the ocean. A few days before, I was at the beach in Kitty Hawk in late afternoon. I’d pulled over to watch an offshore squall and managed to photograph (hand-held and manually tripping the shutter) my first lightning bolt over the sea. The other eyes-on-the-skies phenomenon occurred as Pete and I were driving back from a celebratory dinner with daughter Faith and grandson Michael. We were celebrating his leaving for his freshman year of college at UNCG in a couple of days, and as we headed north on the bypass, the clouds began to glow with an intense pastel iridescence. The “rainbow clouds” as they are sometimes called usually accompany thunderstorms, and in fact the skies still looked somewhat ominous. Moisture from below is pushed upward and the tiny droplets, refracting the sunlight, create the painterly effect. We found a Nags Head soundside access in time for me to photograph the phenomenon before it faded.

Many years ago, when my now nearly 36-y-o son Jason was young, we witnessed a phenomenon I’ve since come to call Dragonfly Migration Day. I’ve written about it here before, how some dragonflies spend their life cycles here, while others, like Monarch butterflies, undertake long journeys over sea to come ashore in great winged waves. Some years’ migrations are more dramatic than others. The one I saw with Jason was one of those over-the-top events, as we watched literally hundreds, maybe thousands, as far as we could see both north and south, fly across the beach from the sea toward the dunes. I got to experience this again with Pete’s daughter MaryAnn’s son Patrick, when he was about that same age…and since I last blogged, I got to experience it again, in spades, with Jason’s son Gabriel and his mom Misty and her sister Pam. Truly incredible to witness. That was August 9, and since the next day was Misty’s birthday, I got up at 0’dark:thirty and snuck out of the house to catch a sunrise. The sun was late appearing (we have had more than our share of cloudy mornings) but when it did break through, gilding the water, I was so glad I’d waited it out.

Sometimes I think I should be in charge of setting new national holidays. Dragonfly Migration Day would surely be one! And for northerners, First Robin Day would be an annual spring holiday while we on the Outer Banks would celebrate Osprey Return Home Day. I’ve got ideas for summer holidays, too. You already know how I feel about First Sea Oats Blooming Day. Another top contender for the summer list would be Low Humidity Day(s). We get periods every summer where the haze just vanishes and the skies are clear, as they are in fall, and the clouds mount up with magnificent brilliance. We had Low Humidity Days on August 5 and 6 last year and we got a hint of it this year, same week. Usually we get our first taste in July, but not this year. Low Humidity Day was late, just as First Sea Oat Blooming Day was.

Then, as I was driving Colington Road headed to Yellowhouse, I noticed a doe deer and two fawns at the Colington Speedway parking lot. I turned around and pulled in. She watched me. I rolled down my window and talked to her. She watched me. Got out of the car, still talking. She watched me. Opened the back, got out my camera, changed lenses. She watched me all the while, and then ambled across the parking lot over to the marsh grass. Perfect! A much nicer setting! She and one of the fawns disappeared in the taller marsh while one fawn was more curious and began walking and then trotting in my direction before turning to find its mother and sibling.

Now all of this was wonderful and exciting in it own way, but these events hardly add up to an excuse to be missing an entire blog period. But for the fuller story of why that is…you will have to read Blog #2. Meanwhile, before you do, scroll down and see the results of all of these happy adventures.





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First successful lightning picture! I went to the beach because I loved the texture of the approaching storm clouds. Photographing the lightning was a huge bonus.

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Here's the just-past-sunset lightning a couple days later, taken from the soundside in Colington.

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I've seen this radiant iridescence only a few times in my life, and I am glad to know now what creates this uncommon phenomenon, so I can be more alert to the possibility of seeing it.

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I love dragonflies so of course I love Dragonfly Migration Day.

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My favorite morning heralds.

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I hoped to get this laughing gull silhouetted against the sun's path on the water.

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Bambi! Hi, baby! Don't go near the road, now...

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I rarely use my flash, but I have been trying to practice with it more. "Fill flash" is a term for using flash to fill in shadowed areas and bring out detail there. I decided to try at dusk to light up the marsh grass.

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Here is the opposite effect: use a neutral density filter mounted on the lens to deliberately decrease the light without altering the color of the image, softening and blurring moving water.

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I call this The Glassy Sea, because, well, because.

posted by eturek at 9:36 PM

Comments [2]



(c) 2009-2010 Eve Turek & OBX Connection, all rights reserved - read 401685 times

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