|Sunday, April 8, 2018|
|Not only did March arrive like a Lion on the Outer Banks, it roared most of the month, morphing itself into a Lamb just in time for April 1st Easter Sunday, and then promptly dipped temperatures, upped the windspeed, and mixed in some rain for good measure. By this writing, the evening of April 8th, the sun had come out for part of the day though the mercury never got above the mid-40's, and the brisk winds made it feel as if we were still firmly ensconced in winter. You will see more photos of March's blustery effects below.|
Since March began, despite the colder temperatures, the tundra swan all left, headed back north to their breeding grounds, and the osprey arrived and began to refurbish their summer homes once again. I really feel sorry for the pair beside the Sunset Grille in Duck. Winter winds always seem to strip their platform bare and it is a challenge to begin building all over again.
The Colington marina pair that has nested there at least for the past 21 years arrived safely home also. They began nest building in earnest by early April but a fellow osprey watcher reported the pair being harassed by a younger osprey, perhaps an offspring from an earlier year.
We had a large number of Buffleheads in our little Duck cove this winter again, and I have not seen them for a couple weeks now, so presumably they went wherever Buffleheads go to nest. The Canada Geese have settled back in, and I saw a lone loon the other evening as well. But my happiest unexpected sighting thus far has been a lone pelican sitting on a piling at the end of the dock at the Blue Point Restaurant in Duck. I saw it off and on in late winter and finally had the chance to photograph it before it, too, disappeared, hopefully to rejoin the rest of its colony.
We had our second Blue Moon of 2018 with a full moon at the beginning and end of March and again I was able to be outdoors to watch the month's second moon appear. And a late evening working put me on the dock just in time for a radiant sunset whose most interesting feature was a reflected brilliance in the water that was heart-shaped. Regular readers know I look for hearts in the landscape. You may not know that I began a personal project I have been posting daily on instagram with the hashtag #hearts365 -- if that sounds interesting to you and you are on instagram, check it out.
This past week I had a rare day off the barrier island when artist friend EM Corsa and I ventured over to Columbia to walk the boardwalk and return by way of the Alligator River Refuge. The refuge is a favorite spot, but I had never walked the full boardwalk in Columbia before. Here I finally found evidence of spring in the presence of bright red maple keys (I called them helicopters when I was young), bright green star-shaped gum tree leaves, close-furled fiddleheads, and the blush of pastel greens and pinks in the trees not yet fully leafed out.
We were accompanied partway by a male cardinal; we spotted a red-headed woodpecker who was making a call neither of us heard before at a cavity we presume is its nest; and my friend discovered a skink sunning itself atop a hollow tree stump. The turtles there seemed much more accustomed to walkers than they are closer to home although one decided to hide by turning its back and burying its head while leaving its hind parts fully in view!
While on the refuge we saw a lone bear far from the road who nonetheless raised its head to eyeball us eyeballing it, both a Cormorant and a Great Blue Heron were content to perch and stalk without flying away while I photographed, and we rescued a snake from what we feared might be certain death if it remained sunning itself in the middle of the road, given how fast some folks drive on the refuge. It wasn't too keen on being woken or moved, but I think we managed to convince it we meant no harm, and my friend used the cane I keep in the car to encourage it to slither back into the safety of the water. That snake had ample chances to strike out in our direction but it never did. It coiled itself defensively--smart move on its part--and flicked its forked tongue in warning, but was essentially passive, certainly non-aggressive. Nonetheless we were respectful and cautious, but glad to have spared it potential harm.
The whole encounter, in fact, all the encounters in the past month, reminded me why I so love to go outdoors. First, I usually have some idea, some expectation of what I might see, but am often surprised and delighted by nature's gifts beyond my expectations. Second, I truly love to connect with the natural world, and photography gives me both a reason and a way to do just that. We both returned refreshed to a pace of life that will only increase in activity and intensity as the season gets fully underway.
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|This is the sunset that produced the heart reflected in the Sound water below, though I could not discern the same pattern in the sky above.|
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|If we moved suddenly, either our motion or more likely the vibration our feet caused would startle the skink and it would dart back inside its stump. Patience and stillness were the virtues here.|
posted by eturek at 9:07 PM