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

Friday, July 30, 2010
Summertime (A)musings
I’ve been saying for weeks, we have had August in June, now August in July…and I expect we will have August in August—meaning high temperatures, high humidity, and light west winds. Today I checked weather data on weatherunderground, just for the fun of it. In June, we had eleven days of temps in the 90s, and 17 days of humidity over 90%. For July, the month started with cooler weather—upper 70’s—and lower humidity—59% on July 2, before climbing slowly into the record books. With one day to go, July boasts 13 days in the 90s and 10 days with humidity in the 90% or above range. The sweet surprise has been the past few days. While temperatures have ranged from the low 80s to 90 yesterday, the humidity has been under 30%. Today the high did not crest 80 and the humidity was only 16%. All of that data adds up to a warmer and stickier summer with less rainfall so far. The weather system that spawned the severe thunderstorms to our north in southern Virginia on Thursday night helped bring some cooler and drier air our way, a welcome relief.
I have an assortment of gleanings from the month to share below. Some of these I posted on the main message board earlier but for those who missed them, you’ll see how quickly the weather can change here on the Outer Banks. The sunny-to-stormy afternoon shows such a change in the span of about 40 minutes, from 5:50 pm to 6:30 pm one evening early last week, as an incredibly dark brooding cloud overtook the skies.
The sea oats are in full bloom now, nodding their full seed heads in the slightest breeze. We were breezy today—15 mph winds with a 24 mph gust recorded. That’s dancing rhythm for sea oats. The shots below show sea oats in afternoon light in south Nags Head, and with the full moon rising behind them in Kitty Hawk this past Saturday night.
On Sunday evening, I went to Nags Head Pier hoping for a moonrise near sunset. The moonrise itself was too pale to see, until the moon’s disk was a good height above the horizon. What was more interesting to me was this long dark ray escaping upward from a small cloud in the west. The sun behind was filtered by the cloud; in the waning light, the shadowed rays were more noticeable than the brighter ones. So far, so good. I get that. But the ray, instead of shining straight up as I would expect, actually arched over the pier and then appeared as a downward bending dark ray over the ocean, near where the moon would eventually appear. The effect was a little like standing right under the midpoint of a rainbow, I guess, as the ray seemed to be headed straight up into the sky and then down into the water, not bent at all. You’ll see what I mean in the two photos below.
My family likes to call me the Google Queen. Sometimes I am not so sure they mean this kindly! In any case, I had to do a little searching. I think that what I saw was a crepuscular ray—a ray shining out from the sun’s position—turning into an anti-crepuscular ray—one that appears directly opposite where the sun actually is. The link below shows that effect captured with a fisheye lens.
On Wednesday, I went to Colington Harbour’s harbor for sunset. The baby osprey from the marina nest was perched one light pole over. Mama Grace kept calling to it; another osprey whom I presume was Papa Henry flew over repeatedly, calling all the while. The youngster kept flapping its wings but didn’t fly back to the nest the whole time I was there. I guess he stayed out past dark.
As always, enjoy…

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Pre-squall. 5:49 pm. Precisely. At the Atlantic Street beach access, Nags Head.

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I came out of Food Lion after 30 minutes to see this sky. I had to go back and shoot from the same spot.

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I don't usually take "people pictures" but he seemed to fit with the gentle evening.

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South Nags Head sea oats, late afternoon. My favorite time of day at the beach: late afternoon to sunset.

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What's prettier than sea oats in afternoon light? Sea Oats at moonrise!

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Here is the darker crepuscular ray, up from the cloud where the sun is sinking.

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Here's the opposite end over the ocean, the "anti-crepuscular ray" -- which is just the other end.

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I meant to go back the next morning and see if junior spent the whole night out or came home after curfew.

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The wind is burying this lone stand of sea oats near the northern end of Pea Island.

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Gulls soaring on wind currents above the dunes. Jonathan Livingston, I presume?

posted by eturek at 10:09 PM

Comments [2]

Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Scenes of Summer
Fellow Outer Banks photographer Ray Matthews, who I like to say has lived with this area’s light and landscapes longer than any of the rest of us, has learned over his nearly 40 years of photographing the ‘Banks that July typically produces three or four days that harbinger fall: cooler, crisper, with low humidity. I remember those days in late July 2007; Pete and I were headed out of town for a whirlwind overnight trip to pick up some equipment for the frame shop and we left during the best cloud show of the summer. We had that same weather pattern for July 4th and the few days around the holiday this year, and then the heat and haze and humidity returned. Yesterday we had what qualifies as big wind for summer, absent a real storm that is, and this morning has already produced one fleeting less-than-sixty-second rainbow over the sound, as the sun poked through clouds during what will be the first of several showers today.
Since my last blog, we’ve had all sorts of summertime happenings. The wild grapes whose vines have overtaken lots of the trees in the vacant lot across the street from our Colington house are now about the size of hazelnuts. More exciting, the Sea Oats have bloomed and their now-full seed heads show the pale greenish yellow that they sport right after emergence. Their straight stalks begin to swell with seeds right at the end of June or early in July and it does not take long for them to bend and move under their own weight in the least breeze. As hot and dry as it has been, I’m betting they turn their deeper and drier golden color before long. Many of the young osprey have fledged, although some late hatchlings are still in the nest. Their life cycle amazes me: Mom and Dad return in March, repair their nest, and Mom lays her clutch of eggs.       By mid to late May, the baby osprey have hatched and are large enough to be seen peeking over the nest rim. Two months later, they rival their parents for size and take their first flight—that is where, or should I say when, we are now. These next six weeks or so are equally critical: babies must learn to feed themselves, catching their own breakfasts, lunches and dinners, as first one and then the other parent will leave the Outer Banks in August and September. Typically by mid September, the adults have all left, migrating south for the winter. The young birds will stay in the area a little longer but then will begin their own instinctive flight toward warmer weather as the days shorten and grow cooler. Young osprey will spend not only their first winter, but all of next year, summer included, on their wintering grounds. They won’t return here until they are two years old, and will then begin looking around for a suitable lifelong mate and a nesting site that will become their summer place at the beach for the rest of their lives. And how long might that be? Healthy birds can live 30 years in the wild! The nests I watch now may well be occupied by the same pairs when my grandchildren are grown with kids of their own. For all the change we see on the Outer Banks, the rebounding of the osprey is one of the most joyful.
Summertime means full, busy days too for those of us who work in any job that dovetails with our resort season rhythm. Getting time outside in summer is a special treat for us that is more usually reserved for the slower times of spring and fall. That said, I’ve managed to be outdoors on three different occasions in the past few days, for more than 15 minutes that is, and have some images to share with you below. As always, enjoy!

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Just about ready to bloom!

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Here we are about 11 days later. Now it looks like summer!

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Photographer's Summertime Challenge: Seascape au naturelle, without people!

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One way to photograph an empty beach is to go in Big Wind.

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I keep calling this a "gar" but I think it is a needlefish. Caught near Oregon Inlet Sunday.

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I don't have to tell regular readers how much I love pelicans. DIVE!

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The Colington mama osprey and baby, July 1. Within a week the baby was flying.

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Most of the osprey atop channel marker nests headed to Wanchese are flying too. Here is one still living at home, July 10.

posted by eturek at 10:03 AM

Comments [2]

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