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

Tuesday, November 5, 2019
The Tipping Point
The tipping point, third act. That is the phrase that came when I thought of today’s date. It didn’t help that I glanced up at my calendar only to realize it was still stuck in October. Autumn is like that. To me, fall seems the year’s shortest season. With a prolonged period of mild temperatures, Indian Summer can feel more like, well, summer than fall. And if the first cold snap comes early and persists, then winter seems to have overtaken fall before its appointed time. Autumn is usually my favorite time to photograph the landscape, and in typical human fashion, I try to hold on to the season as long as I can.

To that end, I drove up to Corolla near dusk last Saturday and was rewarded with my first Bald Eagle sighting up that way this season. A vibrant sunset at Whalehead, complete with a Great Blue Heron wading in the waning of the day, was a bonus. Then yesterday morning, tipped off by a Facebook post by friend Brenda James, whose daily sharing of a thoughtful nature quote and photos from her morning walkabouts have become one of my own daily inspirations, I crossed the bridge onto Pea Island. There, just as she said, I found White Pelicans, Tundra Swan and about a bazillion ducks, huge rafts of pintails and I don’t know who else tucked into the midst. I spotted a couple of grebes nearer shore and some Shovelers south of South Pond. The ducks got up in mighty blast-offs and at first I thought a hawk had spooked them, as I spotted a hawk in silhouette flying low over the ducks a bit earlier. But in looking at my images later, I spied the real reason: a Bald Eagle perched on a post in the middle of the ducks. A later blast-off from North Pond revealed a tiny speck of a Bald Eagle, presumably the same one or perhaps part of a pair, flying overhead.

I also drove over to Manteo the Saturday before to rendezvous with artist Deb Hershey and her husband Scott, who had entered two heartrendingly beautiful wooden kayaks in the annual Wooden Boat Show. I tramped around the Manteo boardwalk and poked my nose into the boat shop before heading back home. A large flock of crows settled into the trees near the net house and I had a fun few minutes watching them, too.

Admittedly there is not as much to watch today. Yesterday’s sun has yielded to gray skies and the possibility of a thunderstorm later in the afternoon. Tomorrow the sunshine returns and the warm trend continues with temperatures fluctuating between low and mid-60s for the next several days.

But the tipping point for me comes at this point every fall when we switch back to sun-time, aka standard time and off daylight savings time. We fall back into the rhythms that nature has been keeping all along without regard to human endeavors and our seeming need for daylight later in the day. The sun sets as it always has, and every day this time of year, the hours and minutes and seconds of daylight dramatically shrink. That, perhaps even more than temperature changes, signal birds like the tundra swan and white pelicans that it is time to come south even if winter weather has not hit yet. Winter is however in full force out west, where one grandson in Denver has already had to shovel what is for us an entire winter’s worth of snow off his truck. The official midway point between fall and winter, or the cross-quarter date, falls on November 7 this year. Here is a handy trivial pursuit fact: in September, at the time of the equinox, we lose about 90 seconds of daylight each day. This time of year, we lose just over a minute. But come the winter solstice, when the days begin to get longer again, they do so only by one or two seconds each day! No wonder winter seems so long and dark and dreary! Of course, the same is true at the beginning of summer, too—we lose only a couple of seconds of daylight each day in June. So what is the differential between the daylight on the longest day and the shortest? A whopping 3 hours and 16 minutes and a random number of seconds! No wonder the Night Before Christmas begins with a l-o-n-g winter’s nap.

While I was waiting on Pea Island for something to happen, as in another group of swan flying overhead or the ducks to blast off or for someone interesting to paddle or fly a little closer, I fiddled around with my in-camera settings in order to combine a series of multi-exposures into a single image. The result is more an abstract feeling of whatever is happening rather than a realistic freeze-frame portrayal, but I find it fun with larger groups of moving birds. So you will see a couple examples of that below too.

For me, photography is as much about feeling as it is about seeing. That is why seeing an image, even years later, can bring me right back to the moment of its making. So much sensory input goes into the clicking of the shutter. Knowing that time is fleeting, the season and the year are winding down, and that these particular moments are gifts to be appreciated and shared adds to the joy. The truth is, multi-exposure technique notwithstanding, we are given just one breath, one second, one minute to live at a time. We can’t cram more seconds into that minute, more minutes into this hour. So it behooves us to, in the words that close out the Sunday morning service at All Saints Episcopal Church, be swift to love and make haste to be kind, and to go in peace, to love and serve the Lord.

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One of a pair of Bald Eagles in Corolla. Nesting season is upon us!

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A "sailor's delight" red sunset at Whalehead followed my Bald Eagle sighting. Notice the Great Blue under the bridge -- I did not spot it until I walked closer.

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The Great Blue Heron is a bird of patience and patience is the lesson I remind myself to learn every time I see one.

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I wandered into the net house on the Manteo boardwalk and loved this view of the shad boat through the open door.

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Swan flew overhead singly, in pairs and in small groups of 4-6 birds, crossing back and forth from north and south ponds.

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This is a small percentage of the thousands of ducks in both ponds.

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Here is the oddest sight I photographed: a swan seemingly hitting its brakes midair! I have no idea what caused it to pull up; a few frames later and it regained its usual flight position in the line.

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Here is one example of a multi-exposure of a group of swan flying over.

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And here is a multi-exposure during one of the blast-offs.

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When the constraints of time or space prevent my photographing a grand, sweeping landscape, I like to look closer for vignettes of beauty. Here is a recent one--backlit grasses atop Run Hill shortly before dusk.

posted by eturek at 4:10 PM

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