Saturday, September 23, 2017

COROLLA NORTH CAROLINA TRIP - 7TH DAY - 9-7-17 - PINE ISLAND AUDUBON NATURE TRAIL



Corolla, North Carolina Trip 
Seventh Day
Wednesday, September 7th, 2017
Pine Island Audubon Nature Trail



It is 12.14 p.m. and Gregg and I are walking along the Pine Island Audubon Nature Trail.  We come to a gate but it is closed.  We go down the road that is open to the left of the gate, and we come to a large building, which is the Pine Island Raquet Club and Fitness Center.  A little further on we find the trail.  It is lovely and quiet (I am recording today's journal to my note app on my phone while walking along.  It is easier remembering a few basics rather than wait until the end of the day, and then the photos jog my memory for the rest).



We encountered only one jogger as we began our walk, and he was heading  towards the gate we just came through. There was no one else, just us and the trail of butterflies.  I have never seen so many along the path.  There are a few wildflowers but I would not have thought there were enough for the many I see.  It is a butterfly rush-hour.   Very hard to get a decent photo because they are always on the move, fluttering over our heads, past our faces.  



But one or two settled for a while, not for long but it was enough to get a memory.



One perched on my hat and stayed long enough for Gregg to take a photo.  It only moved when I continued walking.  



All different types and maybe some might actually be moths. I didn't recognize them.  



The trail is a little muddy in parts, it rained the night before.  I shouldn't have worn sandals.  My walking shoes are in the boot of the car.



Must remember to wear my walking shoes next time. Sandals are not good for this. I keep collecting tiny pebbles and my toes have been jabbed with small branches. I stopped a few times to jiggle my shoes free of these annoyances. Gregg was much more sensible with his footwear.



I have lost Gregg around the bend.  We go at our own pace and I have been fascinated by what I see and stop to take photos.  He is taking his own.  



We eventually catch up with each other.  At the end of the trail was a platform overlooking the Sound.



Gregg arrived first and he saw a Great Blue Heron, but on his approach it flew away.  He came back and yelled down to tell me he had found the water, and where he would be.  I was still taking photos of those wildflowers.



As far as I can tell from looking online, these are Leafy Elephants Foot Carolina Tobaccoweed, also called Devil's Grandmother!  Where do these names come from?  It belongs to the Aster family.  You can look here to see if you agree with me.  I would love to get a correct ID.



Below is Meadow Beauty.  On my online search I found this page.



We stayed for almost an hour on the platform.  It was very pleasant and peaceful.  There weren't any birds to see but I think the more experienced might know the best time of the year to view migrating birds.  It didn't detract from our enjoyment.  



There were two levels to the platform.  We were sitting at the top where there was seating.  One level down it was for the birder to stand behind cover, an open 'blind'.  There were slats on hinges which could be lifted for binoculars or camera lenses.



And the views were outstanding.




I could have stayed there for another hour but it was time to get moving.  This was the sign on the platform and I am adding it for the birders out there.



On our way back, not more than a hop, skip and a jump from the platform, pardon the pun, Gregg spotted a rabbit, bigger than the small cottontails I normally see.  On looking at its photo on my laptop later, I was surprised to see he had very small ears compared to other rabbits.  



He was a cute one!



Gregg took several photos before he scampered away.  



I took one of his footprint in the mud with my cell phone.  



(Those short ears intrigued me so I did a google search and found this.  Our little friend was a Short-eared Marsh Rabbit.  As you read down the page at the link, you will see that when alarmed, these marsh rabbits leap into the water.  It is said they can outswim a large dog.  They have been seen to swim strongly 700 yards from shore.  



They can also elude predators by floating motionless among water plants, ears tucked down, with only noses and faces above the water.  They will stay like that until the threat has gone away.  Or if they are seen they will swim away as fast as they can which, if they can outswim a dog, must be pretty fast.  Such a neat little guy, one we were both happy to come across.



We are making our way back to the car now and still walking the trail.  Gregg spotted something on the ground.  When I looked closely, it was a tiny turtle and it looked like a newborn, a hatchling.  It had a fine coating of sand all over it, so I don't think it had been out of the nest for very long.



It is a baby snapping turtle.  







Took our photos and left it in peace, to continue its journey to wherever.  A couple of paces along there was another tiny turtle. Took photos of that little darling and also left it in peace.  



We didn't see any more but now I am walking along looking at the ground, wondering if any more will be on the trail, but this was the only spot we found them.  



If you want to take a look at what they are like fully grown, you can go here.  If you ever decide to help one out, say if you saw one crossing a road, it is important to know how to pick them up, as mishandling can cause irreparable harm.  You might not want them to harm you either as they have a powerful bite. The following YouTube video will show you how. 


If the video doesn't open up for you, you can watch it here.  One last look at our turtle who has a very important message.


unless you are trying to outrun a predator that is!


The only other thing we found on the ground was this, and I gave him a wide berth.  He is a Bald-faced hornet.



One last look at the trail and we head to our car.



5.40 p.m. We have been home for a little while.  Our son and daughter-in-law called, and so did my niece in Germany.  Lovely catching up with them, as always.

6.10 p.m. Gregg and my brother-in-law left to pick up pizzas and a salad for dinner tonight.  We spent another pleasant evening with the family.  



Friday, September 22, 2017

COROLLA, NORTH CAROLINA TRIP - SIXTH DAY - 9-6-17 - THE SOUND


Corolla, North Carolina Trip 
Sixth Day
Wednesday, September 6th, 2017
The Sound



9.41 a.m. We are watching the weather channel, and Florida is gearing up for Hurricane Irma.  Thinking of all our family and friends, for everyone down there.  People are still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.  We are having such mad weather.  



Today started with Gregg going for an early morning beach walk with his sister.  Too late for the sunrise, just a pleasant stroll along that beautiful beach, worth visiting at any time of the day.  



When he came back we went out for a few hours of looking around.  As we were leaving a little later than usual and it was near lunchtime, we grabbed a bite to eat at a sandwich shop in Corolla, and it also had a very large wine selection.  Bacchus Wine and Cheese.  I can't remember what we ate now.  Their wine selection was impressive but we didn't buy any.



We wanted to explore the area near the Currituck Beach Lighthouse.  When we were visiting the other day we noticed a walkway to the Currituck Sound. On each side of the wooden path there were grasses that towered over us.  



I can't remember their name but they were invasive grasses that had run amok, this from a description on a marker. They did make a pretty picture though.  




At the end of the walk was a seating area with half a dozen people holidaying from Pennsylvania, all members of the same family. 



They had been crabbing and made us aware of two small blue crabs that were nearby. 



They were catching them by tying raw chicken wings onto string, dropping the string over the side and the crab would grab on.  



The person holding the string slowly brings it up along with the crab.  They were letting them go but watching them as they walked themselves back into the sound.  The water was so high that it was lapping over the deck, and it was an easy escape.



It was a chance for me to study them, as well as listening to the family tell me how they were catching them.  I was glad that these feisty little crabs were making it back into the water.



A young Great Blue Heron was standing on the rail.  One of the ladies said it had landed on the rail only a few moments ago.  It looked a bit bedraggled, and at first I was wondering if it was molting. 






He was still a wonderful looking bird to me...


and I felt very lucky to be this close to one, without him being bothered by everyone's presence.  



We chatted to the family for a while and finally left them to their crabbing. 



We made our way to the nearby education wildlife center.  I may be wrong but it didn't look the kind of place the general public could walk around, more of a research place I think but didn't investigate it too much.  We did, however, walk behind the building.  It was built up on solid looking stilts and I spotted this parked underneath.  

It reminded me of the story our guide told us a few days earlier when we were looking for the wild horses.  On the beach we had passed two sites with sea turtle nests.  They had been blocked off by a fence, and we were told the man-made channel that we saw going down to the water, were for the newly hatched turtles to give them safe passage.  There were volunteers taking care of these turtle nests.  



There were other interesting things underneath the building.



I noticed a boat with a large container inside.



A closer inspection revealed these.



I thought it looked like a huge vertebrae but, it wasn't until I saw the following that I understood what it belonged to.  



Sadly it was from a young whale that had been stranded on the Southern Shores.





Next we made our way to a public gazebo built on the water.



We sat for a while. It was very pleasant with a cool breeze. 



From there we walked over to the historic Whalehead.  There were tours of the building but we didn't feel like it today.


  
The Whalehead is a restored 1920's building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 
On one of those trips we hope to make to this area again we will explore further, but for now it was time to make our way back to the house. 



That evening after another lovely dinner, we played Trivial Persuit with the family. Gregg and I haven't played it in years and we had fun, but then it was time to call it a night.  Not sure what we will be doing tomorrow but that's part of the enjoyment of this holiday, playing everything by ear.