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

Thursday, July 19, 2012
Just July
It's hot. It's hazy. It's humid. Clouds build up in late afternoon and sometimes dump quick rain, dampening spirits and beach towels if you are unwary, but if you are savvy, you understand. It's just July.

Some folks love the hot, hazy days of summer, especially if those folks can laze around a pool or even better, at sea's edge. Others hate it: the heat, the days on end without a breeze, the sudden squalls, the busier pace of an Outer Banks life.

If you haven't figured this out by now, I can usually find something to be grateful for, something to love, even in the midst of less-than-ideal conditions. One reality of hazy, hot, July for me is that this makes for, typically, lousy photographs. Clearer, cooler air tends to mean more vibrant sunrises, more gold and rosy sunsets, not to mention prettier seascapes in general. We always seem to get a couple of days every summer, often in July, of much lower humidity, days that look like fall. I'm still waiting for those. Hot and Hazy means anything but lazy for folks like me who are fortunate enough to live here year-round and own a business geared toward providing something--a service, a product--for our summer visitors.

So this blog is mostly about what I have found over the years to love about July even in the midst of the heat and the haze, with one exception that I'll go ahead and get out of the way first.

Every year on July 4, which also happens to be Pete's birthday, we go down to the Yellowhouse Gallery parking lot and enjoy the official Nags Head fireworks. There are also plenty of unofficial ones that are not nearly so enjoyable, being uncontrolled and therefore dangerous. I'm sure nobody on vacation here, or nobody living here, sets out to deliberately cause damage on July 4. However...well, I am getting ahead of my story. On the night of July 4, fireworks watchers were also treated to an accompanying sky show in the guise of a one-night-past-full orange moon. The one-night-past-full meant that the moon rose, not right at sunset as on the night before, but an hour later...just in time to hang and glow in the sky along with the show. I set up my tripod just off the beach access right across the street. From that vantage point, the only way to get both the moon and the fireworks in the same frame was to put on my widest lens, so that is what I did. That photo is below.

Next morning, headed out to the gallery, I was astounded to see clouds of thick billowing smoke. The marsh just east of Colington was on fire. In fact, several marsh islands were burning. The dry, windy conditions made the fire more dangerous and the fire department chose to control the burn by setting back fires. The strategy worked and the fires burned themselves out without setting any houses afire. But the view of the marsh burning, set off by careless individuals with fireworks, was a heartbreak. I framed my documenting picture with a stand of marsh on Big Colington Island in the foreground as a reminder of how precious these islands are.

A couple days later, the Photography Association folks reserved a dolphin tour boat and we headed out in the sound for what turned out to be an enjoyable ride searching for dolphins. Birds fly, dolphin swim, and they don't always stay put where they were an hour ago. Our captain was diligent and he found them as the light was fading. On the way, we passed an old fishing club on a small marsh island in the sound. The setting sun made a beautiful golden light path on the water and I decided to silhouette the building as the boat passed by. Just as I began to click the shutter, here came a low line of pelicans crossing my photograph. They had flown from the opposite side, and I had not seen them coming. They were a gift. Pelican eggs are mostly hatched now and both Mom and Dad pelicans are freer to leave young pelicans as they grow, get out of the house so to speak, and do a little fishing. Or even just a little gliding. We are seeing longer and longer lines of pelicans now and that trend will continue as the baby pelicans grow. That is a prime joy of July for me--more pelicans in the skies and over the sea.

Another is fully bloomed sea oats. The dunes are now clad again in their summer coat of yellow-green seed heads. These will eventually dry and turn golden, one of the joys of fall. But right now they are the paler, greener color they show for just a couple of weeks in early-mid July.

Another summer joy is the Return of the Dragonflies. Dragonflies are migratory, although their journeys don't get nearly the study and attention that the monarch butterfly migration gets. Nonetheless, I rejoice when they show up in large numbers. Some are born here and stay here, but others literally fly in over the ocean, sometimes in migratory waves that are hard to miss. We've been having some of those waves of dragonflies this year. I first saw them flying in over the beach late in the afternoon of July 5 -- and hoped the smoke would not bother them any. So far I seem to have a good number all around, both here at our Colington home and at the gallery. Monday I had a choice hour to sit at the beach and just watch pelicans. I saw a couple of dragonflies there but not many. But when I downloaded and examined my pelican pictures, I have one image with a dragonfly right above a pelican! Great evidence of their flying in over the open ocean!

Today, I saw more at the beach and finally had the right lens (a moderate wide-angle to slight telephoto) to translate for a later viewer what I could see in real time. A whole cloud of dragonflies was swirling around the deck of the house next to the beach access.

July has surprises too. One of the surprises this year was a customer telling me that frogs had erupted, literally, at Jockey's Ridge. The several days of rain near the end of June left large tidal pools in low-lying areas all around the dunes. A TripAdvisor reviewer wrote on July 3 about seeing "thousands of tiny frogs" and tadpoles in the pools. By the time I heard about the frogs, it was July 13 and there were none at all around any of the little ponds I examined. The Ridge is a good-sized park, huge if you are looking for tiny frogs. Just when I could not make up my mind where to go in the 20-30 minutes I had available to try to find some, three pelicans flew overhead from west to east, directly above one of the little nature trail sand paths. Thank you, I said, and I began to walk up that path. Didn't go very far before the sand hopped at my feet, a fraction of an inch. I squinted and squatted. TINY frogs. My customer, also a photographer, had advised me to take my macro lens. Good thing! I was anticipating baby frogs about the size of a quarter. Nope -- these were more like the size of my thumbnail (those were the big ones). A greatly enlarged picture is below. What amazed me was how far these little frogs had already come, how far they seemingly had to go, and why they were hopping away from the only fresh water sources on the Hill. If I find out the answers to any of those questions I will report in a later blog.

Meanwhile, I am going to stop writing so I can post some pictures of all of these events and treasures, so you can enjoy them too.

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Full Moon and Fireworks at Nags Head Pier.

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A good reason to enjoy the Official Fireworks Displays and not try to set off your own. Marsh Fires off Colington, July 5.

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Even in low light, sighting dolphin...and having dolphin sighting me...is a joy.

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Maybe someone else will remember this building...I think it is the old Duck Island Hunt Club, in the Sound off Wanchese. On this evening, sun-kissed and pelican-graced.

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This is what Dragonfly Migration looks like, with dozens, or hundreds, or thousands, of dragonflies coming ashore, all up and down the beach.

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I see all kinds -- the only one I know for sure is the Carolina Saddlebags. This isn't one of those. It's...well, it's a pretty red one.

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It's worth clicking to enlarge this photograph. That seeming speck over the pelican's head up in the sky isn't "just" a speck. It's a dragonfly!! Of course I could not see it in real time...but my lens, wide open and zoomed out, opened the gift.

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This baby frog is TINY!

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Such a long climb up for such little legs...

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Long lines of pelicans...another joy of July.

posted by eturek at 9:32 PM

Comments [5]

(c) 2009-2010 Eve Turek & OBX Connection, all rights reserved - read 561368 times

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