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

Saturday, April 16, 2011
Gifts of Spring
It’s hard to write a blog about nature observations on the Outer Banks from Chapel Hill. I realized yesterday that we’ve spent about half of the past month there, between medical appointments and Pete’s surgery, since my last blog on March 11. I missed the spring equinox on the Outer Banks; missed the warmest day of the year so far here; missed the largest moonrise in some 18 years; missed the greening up of the landscape as buds burst into leaf and flower. I can tell you that the dogwood in Chapel Hill bloomed earlier than the dogwood in Colington. I can tell you as well that baby robins hatch, grow and fledge within three weeks—not just because I read it in some book, but because a nest with three newborn robins that Mary Ann, Pete’s daughter, discovered outside her hotel room the day after his surgery had no baby birds in it by our first follow-up visit, almost three weeks later.

The last gift of the ocean right before we left in mid-March for Pete’s surgery was a pod of dolphin cavorting offshore in late afternoon. The single osprey that arrived before we left are all paired up now, working on rebuilding or repairing nests and settling in to the demands of soon-parenthood, demands the Robin family has already successfully met. Blustery early April winds have created some wonderful sky shows so far and some vibrant sunsets over the Sound. Mostly I have been snatching time outdoors rather than enjoying it at leisure. I spent a few windy minutes at the eastern end of the old Manns Harbor bridge recently, watching as terns used the bridge as a sort of windbreak in order to dive into the choppy waters for dinner.

The small apple tree in our front yard was budding when we left in mid-March and was in full flower when we returned. Now I just need to be patient and wait to see if it produces another apple as it did out of season last winter. I have not seen any butterflies here as yet, but I counted about a dozen bright yellow ones on our drive back between Chapel Hill and Rocky Mount, and I saw one dragonfly. Best of all, I had a tip from OBC’s own Woodduck, Mac, who told me he had spied an alligator on the Alligator National Wildlife Refuge in the canal near Milltail Road. We looked for it on our way out of town ten days ago and sure enough, there it was! First one I have ever seen here, despite years of looking. He or she was a big one, too, basking in the warm spring morning sunshine near a waterlogged log. Coming home the next afternoon, we saw hundreds of basking turtles on dozens of logs, but no ‘gator.

Mid-day one day earlier this week, I was headed to the gallery to continue working on the many tasks I need to complete before I can open for the season. I felt like one of my puppy’s pull toys: one part of me realized I could do more than snatch a few minutes; I could deliberately take about an hour and spend it outside, recharging the inner battery that I knew would help me be more productive in the long run. The other part, very Puritanical (rhymes with tyrannical) argued that I had so much to do, taking leisure would be a wasteful use of a precious hour. I’d driven a couple miles south of Yellowhouse at this point on the bypass. I sighed and listened to the production-oriented mental director and turned onto the beach road, headed back north. Just about then, the other part had, or heard, this happy thought: maybe Nags Head Pier is open. Sure enough, it was opening day! I took a deep breath and opted to breathe, and turned in. Grabbed my long lens and walked to the end, hoping for gannets and wishing for dolphin. Dolphin had been there, I heard, but had just left. Don’t worry, one of the fishermen said. They’ve been coming and going all morning. They’ll be back. He sounded so sure…and I did have this hour…so I stayed put. Watched gannets soar and dive. Within about forty minutes, here came some dolphin, well off the end of the pier. It was good to see them. As we all watched and I photographed, they swam closer and closer. Suddenly I realized there was more than one pod; I could see two clearly, maybe even three. A fellow grandmother at the opposite side of the pier called out, hey, lady with the camera, they are over here! I have never seen them so close to the pier, and so many at once I hardly knew where to focus. They were, as the hour was, a gift. Gifts are interesting and I have been thinking a lot about them lately. Gifts are not gifts unless they are received, appreciated, acknowledged, thanked-for. It is the sharing that makes them gifts.

It feels so good to be home, in all ways. It feels especially precious, this April, to share the season and its gifts with all of you.

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This is the pair at the Colington Marina. Mom (Grace) looks like she is saying, what? no fish? No sticks? Where ya been?

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I love the background sky colors at sunset. Makes a nice change-up from blue skies.

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Here's the happy couple. Afternoon Delight.

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And here is another happy couple, silhouetted on a soundside live oak at sunset. Life is good.

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Here's the 'gator. Next time we pass through the Dare mainland on our way to Chapel Hill I am taking my long lens!

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When the dolphin first reappeared they were a good distance away. Seemed some were smaller, like babies.

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As they got closer, it was obvious there were younger ones. They were emerging more often than the larger adults.

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While waiting for dolphin, I enjoyed some closer looks at Gannets, birds that never come to shore here (unless they are beached).

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I still look Up for inspiration. See the Great Wave breaking in the sunlight?

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In the span of a few seconds, I had my favorite scenes: a Great Wave, and Sacred Mountains Beyond. What could be better?

posted by eturek at 9:25 PM

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(c) 2009-2010 Eve Turek & OBX Connection, all rights reserved - read 547836 times

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