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

Thursday, September 17, 2009
Change Is In The Air...

 We’re having weather that is more typical of September now, after our nearly two week bout of stormy, windy, rainy, grey days: low humidity, cooler evenings and mornings, deep blue skies, and regular cloud shows.  I saw my first small “V” of ducks flying south the other morning, and saw another evening before last. Sea Oats are all of a sudden much more golden than yellow; the green tint is all gone now.  My daily midsummer morning Robin, calling with its worm from the telephone wire across the street, is as absent as my morning Osprey flying overhead.

Local artist E.M. “Liz” Corsa, and photographer Karen (shellgirl) Watras both told me a couple of weeks ago about seeing dozens, even hundreds of yellow butterflies—Cloudless Sulfurs—flying on the beach; most were flying north. We all did some research. These butterflies drift north every spring and settle in a long range of the eastern seaboard for their summer; they migrate south in much more numerous congregations in the fall and that is what we are seeing now.  I saw them the other morning in Nags Head, and just like Liz and Karen, I saw the majority flying north, which is not a good direction for Cloudless Sulfurs in September.  Biologists don’t know why some fly north instead of south; what they do know is that those butterflies will not survive the cooler temperatures. I hope something, some inner magnetic sense, turns these back around before the mercury plunges.

Several fellow photographers have reported to me that the baby Black Skimmers are officially juveniles now, having fledged within the past few weeks.  I learned earlier this week that a large flock has been consistently present on the very north end of Pea Island, hanging out around the dredge spoil piping there.  I went down this morning to see for myself.  The actual point behind the terminal groin (technical term—it’s built like a jetty, but is much shorter) is still roped off, and I could see what appeared to be hundreds of Skimmers near the rocks; they all blasted off at once and went in several directions, with a good number settling right back down in the same spot, a couple of times. I walked south of the roped area and reached the beach in about 15 or 20 minutes from the parking lot at the bridge’s southern end.  Groups of Skimmers, adult and juveniles, flew by repeatedly, working the shoreline as the youngsters learn how to feed themselves.  What will become their characteristic black plumage in adulthood is now a bit paler and nondescript; their bills show a hint of the bright red to come.  Adults or teens, they are all fun to watch.

I also spied a “who’s that” while I was out there, a lone somebody that I think might be a black-bellied plover—either a juvenile or an adult that is no longer in breeding plumage. I saw an adult still wearing its black and white formalwear in South Nags Head a month or so ago but it was too far away for me to get a good photograph.

Yellowhouse’s own baby bunnies are getting bigger; I’ve seen two at once hunkered down in front of my car on a couple of late afternoons. Earlier this week I saw only one; it seems completely calm in my presence now and responds to my voice. It stops moving and goes statue-still anytime anyone walks by in the adjacent parking lot, a good defense if you are a rabbit. I’m happy it does not feel defensive around me. The other evening I watched it nibble tall grasses, intently scratch its left ear, and then lick its paw, all while looking me in the eye.

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This Cloudless Sulfur was bucking the trend...and flying south, which is the proper direction, this time of year. Sometimes you have to go against the crowd.

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That's the dredge at Oregon Inlet in the background; the nesting area is still roped off. This is one of those occasions where having a long lens is handy.

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What a sight! Hundreds of Black Skimmers take to the skies.

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Here they come! These are all juveniles. See how pale their heads are?

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All but one of these is an adult. You can really see the difference in a mixed group.

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I named this photo "who-dat" until I could confirm, in my Sibley's bird guide, that this was indeed a Blackbellied Plover.

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This hoppy-toad was doing what its nickname implies, hopping away as soon as I spied it. I guess all the recent rains gave it good habitat even around sand dunes.

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Ghost Crab near its burrow.

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This sand castle is obviously guarded by a Ghost Crab. See its hole? See its tracks in the moat? What a great guardian! Sir Crab, I presume?

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Adult Pelicans are losing their dark stripes in back of their heads and down their backs now that breeding season is over. Here they fly in and out of the misty waves.

posted by eturek at 9:47 PM

Comments [9]

Monday, September 7, 2009

Merriam Webster’s online dictionary defines rambling as

1 a : to move aimlessly from place to place b : to explore idly
2 : to talk or write in a desultory or long-winded wandering fashion
3 : to grow or extend irregularly

I’ve been doing a bit of the first sort outdoors, lately, so here is your forewarning that this blog will be much more like the second definition, more reflective than educational, perhaps. There is so much to learn, so much to share, that sometimes, as lately, I feel overwhelmed by all that I know I still don’t know.  Eve the Naturalist likes to go outside drawn by life, the Real Lives within the landscape, all the critter connections I feel and find—or that find me. Eve the Photographer likes to go outside drawn by high contrast (I started with black and white film, so contrast still gets my focus, pun intended), wild skies, stark form, vibrant color, afternoon light, and yes, all the critter connections I feel and find.  And Eve the Person, the Human Being rather than the Human Doing, just flat out likes to go outside.

Over and over I hear folks who come into the gallery say, there is just something special about the Outer Banks. One gal recently defined that “something” as mystery, and called our special place mesmerizing. It is that.  When I ramble outside here, when I explore idly rather than with a set purpose, when I wander, I find the third meaning of Webster’s terms: I grow. I extend. And yes, irregularly, meaning, in unexpected ways and directions.  The Great Outdoors in these Outer Banks brings me my solace, my peace, my comfort, renews my purpose and passion which in turn helps energize Eve the Naturalist and Eve the Photographer, all the human-doing that is an outworking of my human-being-ness.

As recently as mid-August, I spied both an adult and a juvenile osprey, hanging out in the same snag-tree, about an hour apart, but I have not heard any osprey calls in the morning now for days. The sky seems strangely silent with only the blue jay’s imitation cries, which fool me still, even though I know better (usually).  Mothers and fathers leave before the babies do, so there could still be a few late-fledged juveniles about, but they will begin their long flight south any day now, if they haven’t all left already.

In my recent rambles, I’ve found a myriad of treasures you might find engaging, too.







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I went to witness the purple martins flying in to roost at the Manns Harbor bridge recently. It starts quietly enough, a bird or two...

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...until the sky is full of them. They come from as far away as 150 miles, a hundred thousand strong, night after night during the peak times of July & August, at dusk.

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Juvenile pelican practicing its belly-flop. At this age, they are not yet kamikaze flyers, plunging from an unseen high dive into the ocean for their perfect 10: lunch. But you have to start somewhere.

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This is the morning when Hurricane Bill was forecast to pass offshore by later in the afternoon. The clouds and the swell were already showing up.

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Avalon Pier, looking south, the morning Hurricane Bill was set to arrive. Glorious light.

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What a difference a day makes: Avalon Pier, looking south, the next morning, same time. Very foggy at dawn. The glassy seas surfers favor didn't return until later in the day.

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By afternoon, this was the cloud show over the sound as the sun began, slowly to break through the clouds in the east.

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I love how the sea not only changes form but reveals all the colors of its personality as the light changes.

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It's the season for mothers to be about with their babies. This juvenile Ruddy Turnstone, left, imitated its mother's every move. I wonder how much was instinct and how much was true imitation.

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After nearly a week of northeast wind, grey, mist, drizzle, and just-plain-dreary, the season's best sunset Friday night presaged our most brilliant sunrise in months Saturday morning. Glad I got up to see and share.

posted by eturek at 12:41 AM

Comments [3]

(c) 2009-2010 Eve Turek & OBX Connection, all rights reserved - read 547834 times

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