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

Thursday, February 21, 2013
There Be Whales Here!
Admiral, there be whales here!

Any Star Trek fans out there? That’s my favorite line from The Voyage Home. Scotty’s exuberance seems a little overstated, perhaps, until you realize that in the script, humpbacks have gone extinct on earth and the crew of the Enterprise is tasked with going back in time and fetching some to communicate with a space alien that only knows WhaleSpeak.

I’ve been quoting Scotty numerous times over the past couple of days and with exactly the same exuberance! Indeed, there be whales here – good numbers of whales, too, whole pods of them, apparently.

Considering that I saw my first whale ever in 36 years of living here just last February, and that yesterday I saw dozens stretched out over a whole day, my life list has all kinds of happy faces doodled all over it this morning.

My first call was from Jennette’s Pier in the morning; they were seeing humpbacks straight out and to the south. At one point there were at least four spouting or showing their humps at one time all over that part of the big wide ocean. Later in the day I got a call from our very own Limulus; they were gracious to let me photograph from their deck as the whales were closer in to shore than they’d been in the morning.

Since they were headed north, I headed north, but they never came as far up as Jennette’s again in late afternoon; instead, while I was waiting for them, I saw at a great distance south what I believe was my first ever breach – too far to get anything other than a huge splash (that was still pretty small even with my long lens). I abandoned Jennette’s and went back down the beach and photographed a little more from there until it was time to go in since I was about to lose the light.

Anyway, here are some water mammal pictures from the last few days: dolphins and whales, oh my. Life is wonderful.

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What I learned to do was to look out for the spouts. Right after the whale exhale, I would see the characteristic rounded back with its tiny dorsal fin. The spout showed me where to focus.

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Here is another photo of a longer length of back showing.

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Here is one from earlier in the morning. The water is brighter but photography was trickier. Whales too far south disappeared in the sun on the water. Notice the spout further out from the whale I focused on. Two whales in evidence!

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I love this picture for what is in the frame. Can you see the dolphin a little further out? They are beyond the white splash (not the spout). Swimming with the Big Boys. Or Girls.

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This is the breach splash. You can see how far away it was, and how comparatively huge. Gannet diving splashes are much smaller and tighter. Spouts tend to be mistier and rounder.

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Here is a late gift of the day, whale wave! I'd like to think it was saying, bye! See you later! This is its pectoral fin, the long fin on its underside.

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I got up for sunrise a few days earlier and saw dolphins before the sun came up. It was too dark for a decent picture. I boosted my ISO which made the image "noisy" (grainy, in film days) but I love seeing how many were in this one image.

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When the sun did rise, it was bright! Now the dolphins were mostly silhouetted. But I was given a treat to share: sunlit surfing dolphins. Of all the many pods I saw, this was the only one to surf.

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I've longed for a pelican and dolphin in the same frame. Here they are!!! As with everything else I see and experience outside, it was a Gift.

posted by eturek at 11:04 AM

Comments [3]

Sunday, February 3, 2013
Fourth Anniversary: Blog as Blessing
Hopefully I'll be forgiven, or at least tolerated, for a little reminiscing as I begin this blog. Exactly four years ago, come Tuesday, I posted my first blog here! How little I realized then what a gift this sharing space would become in my own life.

So often now, I go outside with all of you in mind...my readers, many of whom remain anonymous and unknown to me, others of whom I have met and grown to know and love. I'm always on alert outside anyway: what gifts does the day or evening hold? What will I notice or experience? Who will I see? The fact that I am able to share all of that makes each encounter and each experience all the more precious.

So thank you, Will, for hosting this blog, and thank you, all of you, for reading and supporting it. Please do use the comments section, particularly if you have questions, or if there is a location you'd like me to include in my trampings about the 'Banks, especially now in the off season when I have some time for adventures.

Since I can't drive south to the next county (ferry channel clogged to Ocracoke), I've been taking more excursions north to the next county. Pete and I celebrated 70+ degrees by driving up to Carova last Wednesday. A few days before that, I was as cold as I have been in a very long time, with 29 degrees of temperature and 35+ mph of steady winds from the west. I was soundside to photograph the sunset and nearly frostbit my fingers! Since my last blog, we've had a dusting of snow, winds gusting as high as 57 mph, and temperatures above 70 -- all in the same week!

My most exciting adventure occurred midweek this week; I had a late errand at the UPS shipping center near the Manteo airport, and woke that morning with the impulse to leave early and go check out Alligator River refuge. I was hoping for bear. They seem to elude me!! I thought perhaps late afternoon would be the time to spot them. I'll let you know in advance that I did not see any bears (I don't think; there was a moving somebody waaaaaay up the edge of the road at one point, but it vanished mighty quickly in the trees). No, my adventure is much more exciting than bears!! (Are you curious yet?)

Friend and artist EM Corsa had come along for the ride. We both noticed a little waterway -- and we noticed in a way I can best describe using audial terms rather than visual ones. It was as if that little part of the landscape had the volume turned up. The trees along this little waterway, which branched off to the side of a larger canal, formed a kind of tunnel. It looked like the sort of place a child would find magical, or a person very in tune with nature, such as our area's earliest Algonquin residents, might have called sacred. We both thought it looked like sacred space, and I drove backwards to take a closer look, and a photograph. Then we both spotted mistletoe. I stopped again and we both got out of my car a second time.

That's when I saw...something...down the road where I had just driven up. Too big for fox, wrong color for bear. I thought I was seeing a red wolf at first! Its back was toward us and it was walking away from us. Look! I said and we both tried to figure out what it was. She had binoculars, I had a medium range lens. The Somebody turned sideways, walked to the opposite side of the road, walked back, and spent a good while sniffing at the road's edge. I began to sing, softly, a two-note call. Somebody looked up and walked a few paces toward us, turned around, sniffed some more, and stepped off the road into the forest. Click click click went my camera. What WAS that?? Turns out we saw a bobcat! A shy, elusive, solitary critter, bobcats are found in the coastal plain, although I had never seen one here before. What a thrill! The pictures are poor quality as it was very far away, but I am so grateful for the gift of its presence. As is often the case, I learned so much from the photos, and that is how I was able to identify what it was. Its short tail had black and white at the tip and its front legs had black stripes on the inside. Its face had a significant amount of white fur, more than I would have expected.

We walked back to where the bobcat had left the road and found its tracks: four-toed, without a heel pad showing; about as wide as the back of my hand, and toes positioned about where my knuckles are in relation to each other. We outdid each other in our "wow wow wow's."

Later, driving back toward 64, we saw these columns of flying insects in the sunlight, swirling vortexes of bugdom. Google time. Turns out little insects of the gnat or midge category -- non-biting little flying somethings -- form these columns of males for mating. Females typically comprise a tiny percentage of the column; they fly in, meet their mate, and fly out to lay their eggs. Judging from the size of the columns and the numbers of them, we're in for a buggy spring!!

Speaking of, we both noticed twigs and branches showing red tips, telltale signs of spring to come, which seems to agree with Pa. Phil the Prognosticator. Either way, early spring or more winter, the 'Banks is beautiful this time of year, and offers its own gifts unseen in summer. Enjoy!

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Jan. 23 sunset - spectacular pink sunset stretching from horizon to horizon.

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The most vibrant color was to the south. Straight on, the sky held a hint of pink and the wave wash's foam gave evidence of winter winds.

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Our overnight dusting of snow left a little evidence seaside in Kitty Hawk the next morning.

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I cannot begin to describe how cold this was! Northerners, scoff away! But 29 and blowing a gale is cold for this southern-ga!!

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I sure do wish Bobcat were closer, but I am thrilled to have seen and identified it at all.

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Bug Vortex!! Really, this was weird to see. Almost like a sic-fi movie. I got out to photograph at one point and these were not biting insects. They had more important things on their...minds?

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Now we come to our Carova adventures. The first thing we noticed was the prevalence of stumps much closer to the beginning of the 4wd area.

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We saw horses under trees, eating acorns; horses on dunes, horses by the water. All in all a great day. Partly cloudy but then the sun would break through, as here, and the light was magic.

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One group of five we saw had two stallions. I think one may have been a son, now full grown, of one of the mares. Wonder if this is the spring Dad will kick him out of the harem to live on his own. He's here with two mares.

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Here's the family we spent the most time with. Bay stallion in the lead, three mares, and the other stallion.

posted by eturek at 4:51 PM

Comments [14]

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