Dreaming of Summer on the Water


Summer in Bogue Inlet

It does not take much of a brush with winter to get me dreaming of the warm waters of Bogue Inlet.  As much as I enjoy going to the beach any time of year, a winter beach scene just cannot match the colors of a summer day on the beach or the waters Bogue Inlet shown in the picture above.

That we have a relatively mild winter is little consolation when you know that the water is just too cold for the kind of boating that we love.  Boating here on the Crystal Coast often involves jumping out of the boat and wading in the warm salt water.  Getting in the water while boating is just part of the fun.  Most of us do not consider we have been boating in the summer unless we get wet.  Sometimes getting wet is the only way to stay cool in the heat of summer.

I love riding down the river and boating through the marshes almost any time, but it is just not the same when I know that I have to keep dry if I want to avoid turning blue.  While we are lucky to have waters that often stay warm well into December, once the waters have picked up a chill, it takes a lot of warmth to get them to the point that you can jump in without a little shock to the system.  Usually the waters warm by late April or early May.  You might not choose to swim in them at that time, but you will not freeze if you happen to get wet.

Some years the waters warm earlier than others, and then there are days when you just cannot wait any longer.  The blue sky and warm air can be so nice that you just have to take advantage of the weather.  My wife is not too keen on me going out into the ocean by myself so I am always happy to have someone who is good with a boat to ride with me or even better take the helm so I can focus on capturing some great pictures.  A good boat partner makes the water at least ten to fifteen degrees warmer.

Here in the middle of February it seems like boating weather is years away but the truth is that in a good year, we often enjoy the water in March and April.   In 2012 March started out warm but cooled by the end of the month.  The cool weather lasted into early April, but by the third week in April it was warm enough to fish and get out in the ocean.  A trip out beyond the beaches is always a treat especially when it happens in April.

It is a rare week that I am not out on the water at least a few minutes in my skiff.  As much fun as that is, it just is not the same as a warm weather trip on water that is approaching swimming temperatures.  While the water temperatures were hovering in the mid to upper fifties in the middle of February, the cool weather that hit us the weekend of February 16-17 will drop them down a lot.  There might even be a light skim of early morning ice on Monday, February 18. (updated: picture of ice from February 18)

I would not be surprised to see the water temperatures get back down to around 50F but I will just have to guess until I get a chance to take the boat out on the river later this week when we get past this cool spell.

I pretty sure I no longer own enough clothes to go for a 30 MPH boat ride when the air temperature is in the thirties. The forecast for the week has us back touching the sixties by the middle of the week so I will wait until then to check the river water temperature.



There Are Lots of Egrets, But There Is Only One Frank

Frank, The Great Egret

Frank, The Great Egret

We live on White Heron Lane just up the White Oak River from Swansboro, North Carolina.  We are just off Hampton Bay on the river map.

Great egrets used to be called white herons.  It should be no surprise that a home on White Heron Lane has more than a few great egrets in the marshes around it.  We saw them before we moved here in the summer of 2006 and they have become favorite visitors over the years.

Sometime before our waters started cooling in December, I was returning from a kayaking trip on the river and saw a great egret with two reddish spots on his wings. He looked a little shy and was far away.  It was also late in the day. Even with the great zoom on my Nikon P500 beach camera and the even more powerful zoom on my video camera,  I could not tell what the spots were on the egret’s wings.

Only a few days later, I saw the egret in better light and he was a lot closer.  I figured out that he had been tagged.  I posted his picture on Facebook, and Mary, a friend from Beaufort, North Carolina, found someone who had seen our bird in Morehead City.

It turned out that he enjoyed visiting El’s Drive-In.  However, he would refuse any handouts except for fried shrimp.  Someone there gave him the name Frank.  We saw Frank a few more times in December and early January.  Around the end of January, Frank became a regular visitor and took up residence behind our home.  I could see his tags very well.  I even figured out that he had a metal leg band.

My wife and I became very curious about Frank and I sent an email to Jim Craig, a local bird expert who writes a birding column for the Tideland News.  Jim wrote me that Frank was likely tagged by someone either in Ontario or New York.  He mentioned the New York Ornithological Association’s homepage.

As soon as I got Jim’s note I did some searching and eventually sent a note to Susan Elbin of the New York City Audubon.  Susan wrote me back quickly that Frank was likely one of Chip Weseloh’s birds from Canada.  It was not long before Chip confirmed that and gave us a little of Frank’s history.

Chip related that Frank was “banded on 29 June 2012 as a nestling on Nottawasaga Island near Collingwood, Ontario – about an hour and a half drive NW of Toronto on the south shore of Georgian Bay, Lake Huron.”

“It (Frank) has been resighted twice: once on 27 August 2012 at the Pfefferlaw Peat Bog near Sunderland, Ontario, which is north of Oshawa, Ontario, 50 km east of Toronto; and then 3 times in one day (including once by me) at Cranberry Marsh in Whitby, Ontario, about 35 km east of Toronto.”

All of us who have been involved with Frank are pretty excited to start pulling the pieces of his history together.  I have put together a slide show of some recent pictures of Frank.

After much searching I found the video that I took of Frank on his first visit.  It has now been posted on YouTube.  It is not an exciting video unless you enjoy egrets and their very deliberate moves, but I am happy to have found it since it marks Frank’s first visit to our cove on December 20, 2012.

I have posted maps of where I have sighted Frank29x.  These two are from February 8, 2013, and February 5, 2013.  Frank also has a new Facebook page where I will post information.  This is the link for Frank’s page- https://www.facebook.com/Frank29x .

I am sure Frank would appreciate being “liked.”