Monday, September 28, 2009

More vacation highlights...

As I told you yesterday, we spent a lot of time watching, feeding and ducking the many birds that made our deck their lounge during the day. I'm just really pleased with the way this shot of seagulls turned out. They were just a few of a deluge of about 25 birds at that moment!
This little guy and his companions were constantly hanging about but were a little more shy than the gulls and grackles. I'm not sure what he is. He has a black body with a lighter brown head and chest and was similar in size to the grackles. They only came close when they actually saw food in our hands and would only take it when we sat on the rail. Anybody know what kind of bird this is?
On Thursday, we made the long trek (about 70 miles) down to the southern tip of Hatteras Island. We do this every few years. The last time we were down there was the year they moved the Hatteras Lighthouse.
While everyone associates the Outer Banks with the beautiful sand dunes, most do not realize that the dunes were actually man made. Prior to the 1930s, the islands were fairly flat with the exception of Jockeys Ridge in Nags Head and the dune the Wright Brothers flew from in Kill Devil Hills where the Wright Brothers Monument now stands. (History says they flew in Kitty Hawk but they actually flew a few miles short of that town. Kill Devil did not exist at the time of their flight but grew up around the actual sight later.) The dunes were created by the CCC (as part of Roosevelt's Depression recovery efforts to put Americans to work)) in the belief that the dunes would curb beach erosion. This has since proven NOT to help the beach and requires constant refurbishment to maintain the dunes.

The two dunes I mentioned above in Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head are two of the three "living" dunes along the Outer Banks. These dunes grow, shrink and move with time and weather conditions. They are truly awesome to behold.
I'd love to say an osprey allowed me to get close enough to take this picture but it is a shot of a stuffed one on display at the Natural Resources center at the Hatteras Lighthouse. This was the first time we had ever stopped in there and enjoyed the informative displays about the wildlife found on the island. (I still could not locate a pic of that little bird I'd like to identify!) I was surprised to learn that seals beach themselves on the area beaches from time to time. In all the years we've visited this area, I never realized seals were found this far North!

We took time to sit in on a talk given by one of the park rangers (Hatteras National Seashore is a national park.) and learned a lot of interesting things we had not heard in the many years we've wandered the area. One of the biggest surprises was that a few coyotes and foxes now live on the island! (This is a fairly recent development.) I did not think to ask how they believe the coyotes got there. I mean, did they simply stroll across the long bridge, stowaway on a ferry or swim? Are coyotes great swimmers? It's a pretty long swim from across the Sound.
Of course, we did take time to admire the Hatteras Lighthouse. I loved the way the light was shining in this shot. We didn't climb the lighthouse this time for the fantastic view from the top. I believe there are something like 275 steps and these old knees struggled enough with the steep steps at the beach house!

This lighthouse was originally built something like 1024 feet from the waterline but the shifting coastline and eroding beach left it standing only about 200 feet from the waterline a few years ago. Due to its historic significance, the decision was made to literally pick it up and move it a few years ago. They built an elaborate dolly system and slid it under the lighthouse and then rolled the dolly along some temporary portable tracks (like railroad tracks) a few feet a day until they moved it back about a half mile from the waterline. We actually went down to watch them move it one day and it was totally fascinating to watch the process. That was the last time we had gone down to Hatteras while at the Outer Banks.
Look how blue the water at the Oregon Inlet was that day? It was absolutely beautiful!! As it was very calm at that time, there were numerous fisherman standing waist deep in the water there.
This is a picture of the Bodie Point Lighthouse near the Oregon Inlet. I have never gotten any closer to that one than Highway 12 and we didn't break tradition this year either! Well, there's always next year!

If you are not a coastal person, you may be surprised to know that lighthouses each have their very own paint design and can be identified by that design. You might note that Bodie Point has wide horizontal stripes, Hatteras has the diagonal striping and the lighthouse a little further to the south at Cape Fear has a diamond design (although, officially, that is deemed a checkerboard design.) All working lighthouses also have a very unique and individual light sequence.

I hope you've enjoyed my little tour of the Outer Banks. It's an area I hold near and dear to my heart and always want to visit and revisit as often as possible. I don't believe you can beat this area for beauty and relaxation. (The seafood restaurants aren't bad either!)


Christie Cottage said...

I love the lighthouse photos.

DJ said...

What wonderful photos. Thanks for sharing :)

Found your blog via Etsy forums.