Outer Banks: June 2012

Pink and orange streaks spread from the sky to color the glassy still open waters of the marsh that are broken only by a snake swimming, head held high, from one bank slowly across to the reeds on the other side. Five wild horses- one chestnut, two blacks, and two palominos- smooth flanks and flaxen manes glowing in the evening light, graze peacefully, heads deep in the reeds. A frog breaks the silence, and suddenly an exuberant chorus is filling the evening with the music of the marsh, accented by the nearby singing of a Common Yellowthroat from atop his wax myrtle tree. The Yellowthroat, and another across the open water, continue proclaiming their territories in song, but the frog chorus waxes and wanes repeatedly during the time we spend on the boardwalk.

Swimming snake

In the morning, a little ways inland from the marsh, I see the bright yellow-orange colors and domed shell of an Eastern box turtle in the muddy undergrowth- the second I’ve seen while here this week. A female, I think, since the eyes are brown, not red. I love these slow moving denizens of the land, so vulnerable to habitat destruction, cars, and collectors that is a somewhat rare treat to see them these days. 

Box Turtle in the sand near our house here
Such a pretty pattern!

Walking further, Stephen and I are surrounded by loblolly pines and widely spreading, shade-casting live oaks, replete with birds– Robins, Carolina Chickadees, a Red-eyed Vireo, numerous Pine Warblers singing their musical trill, and a red-bellied Woodpecker moving up a pine trunk. A young Boat-tailed Grackle in a treetop begs his parents for food and a Great Egret passes overhead, croaking deeply as he flies.

We step out of the woods to the marsh edge to see rusty red dragonflies zipping over the reeds, devouring mosquitoes. We love dragonflies! Looking across the sound, we see Monkey Island, an isolated island that hosts breeding Egrets and other birds– a rookery. 

All those white spots are Great Egrets- hundreds of them!

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