Sunday, June 28, 2015

High Plains Summer: Lincoln County, Colorado

This weekend, we went up to DIA to pick up SteveO, who was returning from his visit with grandfolks in Phoenix.

On the way back, we stopped off I-70's exit 348 (CO 134) for some photos of the high plains. Lincoln County is usually lushly green in comparison to southeastern Colorado, even with all the rain we've received in the southeast. As you can see from the photos below, it is.

CO 134, looking southwest toward Pikes Peak, some 80 miles distant. The haze is blocking the view of the mountain, which is often sharply detailed despite the distance.

Leece setting up for some photos.

Bull thistle.

Leece shoots the thistles.

Amber waves of grain, off CO 71, south of Limon.

South Rush Creek, from Lincoln County Road 2d.

Lincoln County Road 2d, looking to the east.

Crested Prickly Poppy, off CR 2d.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

British Cemetery, Ocracoke Island

There is a British cemetery in the village of Ocracoke. It's off the main road, but it's easy enough to find.

Here are some photos:

Four members of the crew of HMS Bedfordshire are buried here. Bedfordshire was an armed trawler, operating out of Morehead City on antisubmarine duty.  Her captain was Lieutenant Russell Bransby Davis, RNR. On May 12, 1942, she was torpedoed by U -558, and lost with all 34 (some sources show 37) of her crew. The four crewmen buried here washed up from the sea on Ocracoke over the next few days. A fifth was found on Hatteras Island and is buried there next to a British sailor from the merchant ship San Delfino, torpedoed a year earlier.

The British cemetery here is maintained by the US Coast Guard; the one on Hatteras is maintained by the National Park Service.

U-558 was a Type VIIC boat, skippered by Kapitänleutnant Günther Krech. A little more than a year after U-558 and Krech sank Bedfordshire, U-558 was sunk in the Bay of Biscay on July 20, 1943. Krech and four of his crew survived the sinking - they were either on the bridge or part of the gun crew - and were captured. Krech died in 2000.

Bodie Island Light Station

Bodie Island is the northernmost part of the Outer Banks. Once upon a time, it was a true island, but the inlet that separated it from the Currituck Banks peninsula closed, and now it is an extension of that peninsula.

'Bodie' is properly pronounced 'Body,' though you will often hear it as 'Boh-dee.'

Part of the island belongs to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The Bodie Island Light Station is at the southern end of the island, just north of the Oregon Inlet bridge. The Light Station is part of the national seashore.

The lighthouse is the third such structure at this site. For a history of the lighthouses, please click here.

Here are some photos from this year's trip:

Further up the island, you'll find Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and the Wright Brothers Memorial, as well as Jeanette's Pier. The Pier is now part of the North Carolina aquarium system.

Willow Pond, Harkers Island

Willow Pond is behind the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center, at the east end of Harkers Island. There is a nature trail that wends around the pond, and ties in with a trail over by the Cape Lookout Visitors' Center.

Here is a link to a WRAL video about Willow Pond.

On this trip, we saw - among other critters - a Little Blue Heron. As we entered the blind, he took off. We thought we had spooked him, but I managed to get a few shots as he flew off. But it wasn't us.

Backtracking a moment. As we quietly approached the blind, frogs were sounding off in a noisy cacophony. There were some white ibis lurking in nearby trees - that's not uncommon; we refer to them as 'the ubiquitous white ibis' - and some squirrels next to the blind. There were some terns flitting about, and a couple of egrets. The frogs, however, were the thing ...

The heron had targeted a frog out in the lily pads and grasses. He swooped in and took up the frog.

The rest of the frogs instantly went silent. Leece snickered and said you could almost hear an amphibian gasp of shock and dismay.

The heron took the frog back to his original spot, and worked the frog around till he could swallow it headfirst.

Here are some photos Leece taking flower shots by the museum entranceway, and then out at the pond:

And more:

Leece's Willow Pond shots from 2010

Willow Pond 2011

Core Sound Waterfowl Museum 2012 (includes some of Willow Pond and the nature trails)

Willow Pond and the soundside trail 2013

Core Sound Waterfowl Museum 2013 (includes decoys and boat models)

Willow Pond 2014

OBX Laughing Gulls

Laughing Gulls - Leucophaeus atricilla - are probably the most common gulls on the North Carolina coast.

They are shameless moochers, always looking for handouts. Here are some from our Cedar Island to Ocracoke ferry trip, and some others on Shackleford and Core Banks.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Pea Island NWR

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is on Hatteras Island, just south of the Oregon Inlet bridge.

It is part of the Charles Kuralt Trail -  On the Refuge Road, which comprises several NWR's in northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia.

Pea Island is one of our favorite stopping points on NC Highway 12, the Outer Banks roadway that runs from Corolla and the Currituck National Estuarine Reserve in the north to the outskirts of the Down East village of Sea Level in Carteret County. It makes up 148 miles of the Outer Banks Scenic Byway.

Here are a few shots of the beach, and from the nature trail that runs out into the salt marshes on the sound side.

Shackleford Banks

Shackleford Banks is part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore; it is the southernmost island in the park. Barden's Inlet is at the east end, with Beaufort Inlet at the west.

Shackleford is one of Leece's favorite places.

Here are a few shots of our most recent visit, in June 2015:

At the west end of Shackleford, with Beaufort Inlet in the background.

Some of the famous Shackleford ponies. They have a Facebook page.

Snowy egret. The island is a haven for a large number of shore and marsh birds.

Leece in the dunes behind the maritime forest.

Looking up the island, ocean-side, to the Cape Lookout lighthouse on Core Banks.

New foal on the western end.

Looking across Barden's Inlet to the lighthouse on Core Banks.

Shelling in the shallows, in the bight of Cape Lookout, east end of Shackleford.

Juvenile laughing gull probing for eats.

Sand dollar heaven.