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

Sunday, June 28, 2015
Love and Learn...
When you love a place, you learn a place.

I’ve said this here before, but every year, my mother marked on our kitchen calendar the date the first daffodil bloomed, and spring’s first Robin in our yard. That seemingly small ritual became something I looked forward to and continued once I had daffodils of my own to watch. Since we see Robins all year on the Outer Banks, I gradually learned other spring signs, and then, signs of other seasons as well.

I’ve learned that wetter Junes mean later-blooming sea oats and that hotter, drier Junes bring the seed heads to maturity a week or two earlier. Over the years as I have watched their emergence, I’ve also learned they tend to appear a few days fuller at the Baltic Street beach access, which used to be located just south of the Beacon Motel. Now that the motel has been torn down and the dunes there reshaped, there are comparatively few green stalks—but they still seem ahead of those at other nearby spots. I did check Curlew Street this week and those grasses are definitely greening up and sporting new, tight, bright seed heads.

We’re in the season of longest days and shortest nights officially now, and the sun is rising straight off the ends of the piers, due east. Come winter, it will rise way to the south and make a much lower and shorter circuit across the sky. It is setting further north now than it will in winter.

The osprey that returned in March to spruce up their nests and re-unite with their lifelong mates now have sizeable babies. You can tell the young osprey by their orange eyes and the pattern of their feathers, each of which appear edged in white. You can hear them too, whistling for mom or dad to hurry home with fish for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Young osprey fledge at 7-8 weeks; that all-important first-flight is preceded by days of wing stretches and flapping, all of which help to strengthen the muscles needed for flight. There’s a nesting pair within calling distance of our house in Colington and at dusk, the male often perches atop a dead tree right on our property line, sometimes with dinner. The pair I’m most familiar with nests in the Colington marina and has been together for at least 18 years. Typically they live no more than 20-25 years in the wild, so we hold our breath every spring until both return from their long migratory flight. They nested successfully again this year; I saw two babies in the nest earlier this week. I also had a chance to check on the nest at Sandy Run park in Kitty Hawk.

By late June, the farm fields on the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge on the Dare mainland have soybeans, wheat or corn growing, and I try to arrange my schedule to make several trips over to drive the refuge roads near dusk to spot Black Bear. Pete and I drove the refuge earlier in June and saw six or seven, one of which trotted at the side of the road right past our car. I took a friend over earlier this week and we spotted four, three of which were far across the fields. She was amazed at how fast the bears run. They can sprint faster than a human can, which is why I never stray far from my open car door if I do step out of the vehicle at all. I try to approach the natural world with both love and respect. I’ve deliberately invested in a long lens to help me get a closer view without getting physically close. Not only do I want to stay safe, I want to set a good example for others who may see me in the field, or see my work and try to get their own, close-up photographs. And I want the wildlife whose world I have entered to feel safe as well. I do believe wildlife can sense our presence and whether we are calm or agitated, whether we pose any threat to them or project a sense of safety. My goal is to communicate that respect and calm, to thank them for their presence and the gifts embodied in the photographs I can then share with others. I’ve learned “please” and “thank you” go a long way, with wildlife as well as with humans. Looking for bear, we were treated to female Wood Ducks, a male Blue Grosbeak, a high-perching Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and a bright yellow Prothonatary Warbler that flew by our car so fast I could scarcely say “there it is!” before there it went. Although this is the right time of year to see cubs, I have not spied any as yet. That gives me reason to return.

Learning a place doesn’t mean you can’t still be surprised or awed.

I’ve had in mind for some time going down to Frisco Pier while it still stands and photographing the pier under the Milky Way. I was able to do that during a night a week ago when we had relatively clear skies, fairly light breeze, and a new moon. Although that stretch of beach is relatively dark, there are occupied houses north and south of the pier with plenty of lights on, enough to illuminate the pier somewhat in the 25+/- seconds my shutter was open for the Milky Way. For some images I lit the pier with a high-powered mag flashlight, a photographic technique called light painting. After a couple of hours the air began to be foggy and hazy and the stars went from pinpoint-clear to haloed. That was my cue to pack up and drive back north. I rarely go out with a particular image pre-visualized. I’m a more opportunistic photographer in that I typically just show up, and look around to see what or who has shown up along with me. That often makes for happy surprises.

When my friend and I left Alligator River this week, after already being surprised by the birds, we saw some amazing cloud iridescence. I still had my long lens attached and pulled over to photograph the clouds for the brief minutes the shimmer lasted. I drove back into Colington as the rains began with lightning all around. That’s another predictable sign of summer: evening thunderstorms and afternoon squalls. The cloud and light shows they produce are among my favorite skyscapes all year and we had a doozy of a show this past Thursday night. I did not have a chance to photograph it, but Ray Matthews did and you can check out the Yellowhouse Gallery Facebook page to see his image there. As I write this Saturday night, the thunder I anticipated all day is finally beginning. We may be in for another spectacular light show. That’s my cue to finish up here. Enjoy!!

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The 2015 crop, at Curlew Street in Nags Head.

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This is a parent with one of the babies in the Sandy Run park nest, in Kitty Hawk.

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This large bear came strolling down beside the road toward our car. I simply leaned out the window with my long lens. Sharing the experience with Pete was precious.

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My friend and I did not see bear that close on our return visit, but she did spot these Woodducks swimming in the canal alongside the refuge road.

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Frisco Pier and the Milky Way. One wish my friend expressed was to see a shooting star. We didn't--but my camera sensor picked one up!

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This is the image with the light painting technique to illuminate the pier. I call this, House Not Made With Hands, a reference to a verse in the New Testament, in which our earthly impermanent dwelling is compared with an eternal, heavenly one.

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I hope you can see the iridescence on your monitors. Look for shimmering pinks and even blues and yellows. In real life the sight was amazing.

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A friend posted on Facebook that a Mourning Dove had nested in the Wandering Jew plant on her front porch. She graciously gave me the okay to come photograph the babies. I call this, Peace Doves.

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Something I've learned over the years is that raccoons share my yard. The outdoor kitties have learned to co-exist and share. That's a rule I have: everybody gets along. This little one perched in the live oak tree out front, watching me watching it.

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My house has large west-facing windows and I can sometimes tell through the trees that a vibrant sunset is likely. The actual sunset fizzled; the show happened earlier with this beam and a heart-shaped cloud. Glad I was out to see it.

posted by eturek at 4:40 PM

Comments [3]

Thursday, June 4, 2015
Fog Is Magic
I love fog. I love the mystery fog creates, the invitation to hush hurried thought and tiptoe, whispering, every sense alert. We’ve been treated to a week of towering clouds in the west, most of which peaked right during peak afternoons in the gallery, so I missed being able to be outside right then. Two afternoons ago a magnificent fog bank rolled in quickly only to turn the entire landscape a deep, damp, drizzly gray by the time the workday ended. Foiled again!

I’ve learned over the years to be patient and that the photographs calling to me will come at the right time, when I and the landscape and its wild inhabitants are meant to intersect. Sometimes I forget what I’ve learned, and need gentle reminders. One of those came earlier this week right in my own front yard. I’d gone out with the dogs, spied at last some clouds in the east, and figured to head to the ocean once the dogs decided I was finished with my (read, their) evening excursion. I thought those clouds might turn a towering pink in the setting sun. Meanwhile, the dogs lollygagged. Just as I began to think impatient thoughts, I spotted a hummingbird atop my little dogwood tree! Hummingbirds signal “joy” to me. They are a reminder of all I am, in fact, grateful for—including these dogs, including a busy gallery-owner’s life. I took a deep breath and shifted over to really feel that joy. The dogs suddenly hurried up. Now I had a choice. I could head to the ocean and watch those clouds, or I could stay put and watch the hummingbird. I opted to stay put, and enjoy the gift at hand. Good decision; the clouds dissipated in the east and the sunset fizzled in the west—but not before bestowing a parting gift. Just before disappearing behind a gray cloudbank, the sun gave enough light as the hummingbird turned to reveal that I was in the company of a male Ruby-throated hummingbird, its bright red, iridescent throat unmistakable. Before that, mostly silhouetted, the bird showed only a dark neck.

Helped by my hummingbird’s lesson, I opted to keep patient and positive even while missing some of the best cloud shows of the season so far (well, mostly patient and positive). Yesterday afternoon all that positivity paid off.

Back in May 2010 we had a day much like this Wednesday. Foggy for much of the day, the fog lifted a little in late afternoon, just as I was leaving Yellowhouse, and the sun began to shine intermittently. That day I went to peek at the ocean, which was calm, and was startled to see a white rainbow overarching the sea! A fogbow is created in much the same way a rainbow is, but the finer mist merely bends the light without refracting it into rainbow colors. There is sometimes a hint of orange at the end(s) of the fogbow. I told a couple of customers to keep watch for the possibility, and I dashed to the ocean as soon as I closed the gallery. There were plenty of high rollers in the fog and after a few minutes, there was what I came hoping to see: another fogbow! I had the great joy of pointing it out to a couple of gals who were out on the beach but had not noticed the phenomenon. And happily, my going out means I now can share it with you.

So if you are out in fog, and the sun begins to shine either earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon, look to the opposite side of the sky (as you would for a rainbow) and see if you can see a fogbow’s white glow. It is a sight you don’t want to miss. Fog is magic.

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Most of the time I was looking at the bird in shadow, almost silhouetted. I'd boosted ISO and exposure way beyond what I normally would, knowing I'd be dealing with "noise" (digitals' equivalent of grain). Worth it all for this.

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When I first reached the beach, I was startled by how rough the breakers were. I hadn't heard their roar. Fog mutes sound as well as sight.

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At first, before the sun really broke through, I concentrated mostly on the waves.

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At last I noticed the characteristic glow of a fogbow. The glow is usually my first clue that a fogbow is forming. What I did not notice until I processed the photo is that there appears to be the start of a double bow here.

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Here is the view I came to see. A full fogbow, appearing like an alabaster rainbow over the wild ocean.

posted by eturek at 11:22 PM

Comments [5]

(c) 2009-2010 Eve Turek & OBX Connection, all rights reserved - read 547832 times

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