Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Jockey's Ridge

In spite of the weather reports that spelled out gloom and doom all week, the weather in the norther Outer Banks wasn't all that bad last week. So we went for a trip out to Jockey's Ridge State Park.

This is the largest natural sand dune on the East Coast and is visible for miles around the area. I've never taken the opportunity to visit until now, and I can tell you, I'm really glad I didn't come here in the summer. The sand goes on for miles and I can only imagine how hot that would be in August. Sand temperatures tend to be much hotter than the surrounding air, so if it's 100 degrees outside, expect the sand you're walking on to be at least 120. Ouch!

Coming in October was good idea for cold-weather folks like us. Made for a much more enjoyable visit. Maybe next time, I can convince The Missus to let me go hang gliding!

Enjoy some more pictures from our hike around the park:

Above and below: Satellite dunes on the western side of Jockey's Ridge facing the Roanoke Sound. These smaller dunes move around a lot, and around the park in many spots you can see where some of the larger ones have swallowed up trees and shrubs. The more stable dunes provide shelters for tree groves and shrub thickets that become home to a wide variety of birds, mammals and reptiles. Walking along the nature trail, we were able to identify tracks from Raccoons, Possums, Egrets, a Hog Nose Snake, and field mice. In the air we saw Egrets, Cormorants, Geese, Ospreys, and Cranes. Thankfully, we had a steady 10mph wind that day so there were no mosquitoes buzzing around our heads.

Below: Roanoke Sound front at the western edge of the park. We found Brine Shrimp in little isolated pockets of still water along the edge and a fish or two jumping out of the water to greet us. Dragonflies were buzzing all over, darting in and out in search of prey.

Above and below: My attempts at photographing interesting sand formations along the dune face. For the most part, these are "raw" photos with no intense digital enhancements, only minor color adjustments to even out the saturation. My only accessory is a circular polarizing filter on my lens to clean up the sky and bring the clouds out.

Below: There is a semi-permanent brackish-water marsh in the Wadi at the base of Jockey's Ridge that is a favourite landing point for many species of migratory birds and also is home to a wide variety of other animals and plants.

all photos copyright
2009, The Smoking Gnu
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