We just returned from two days in Ocracoke, our second trip in a month. Ocracoke is an easy escape for us and we love going there in the fall and spring; it's quiet but always offers up something to discover. We like driving on the beach and while out on Ocracoke Inlet spit, we found a huge field of sand features I'll call Sand Hoodoos (like those found in Bryce Canyon). They were shaped by water running through the tire tracks in the sand and smoothed by the wind. The hoodoos were everywhere and no two were the same. I had fun with my ultra-wide angle lens - lots of interesting shapes, shadows and textures. Can you see a face and hands in this one?
(note clicking on any of these images opens them in their gallery - use your back button to return to this blog)
To get a better idea of what these hoodoos were like, watch this short video taken with my camera flying over and around them (turn down the sound all you'll hear is the wind).
What we did expect to see this time of year in Ocracoke were the cormorants, and we were not disappointed. We found them at sunrise the next morning in the same place as the hoodoos. Thousands and thousands of Double-crested Cormorants crowded on over a mile of beach. The flight action was frenetic but strangely quiet - just the sounds of the waves and gulls. We've seen this action before but have never been so close. You can get a sense of the scene from the picture below, but pictures really don't capture it. We watched in awe - a dramatic display of nature.
Actually as I write this, I realize that this stretch of beach has been special before. During our first visit this year, we were surprised to twice find this Peregrine Falcon hanging out in the same area. We both checked each other over and I was able to capture enough shots before we got bored and drove away (how often do birds pose so patiently?).
And years ago, we were driving the same stretch of beach on a windy Mother's Day when we notice purple Marginal Sea Stars at the water's edge. No one else seemed to have noticed as they were crushed in the tire tracks. Lying on the ground, with my wide angle lens in hand, I captured one of our most favorite images ever, these Marginal Sea Stars with a wave just about to run over them. I got up just in time to save me and the camera from a soaking.
As you can see, this spot on the Ocracoke inlet spit is a magic place for us - one we're sure to go back to.