On the waterfront

waterfront view in Washington, NC
I mentioned taking a trip recently, which was to Washington, only not that one, and not that one either, but the one in North Carolina – the first town to be named after George Washington, as they proudly proclaim. Well, not the whole town, or really anyone living there that I heard, but on a plaque in a park, anyway. Washington sits on a river delta off the inland waterway, the open expanse of mostly-salt water that sits inside the barrier islands of the Outer Banks, and this delta is known as the Pamlico River even though it was the Tar River not two kilometers away and the flow there is more wind-driven than drainage from upstate, but hey, I didn’t name it. It is a fairly historic area and a relatively small city – in fact I’m not even sure the population makes it to the official definition of ‘city,’ which probably tells you enough. The Girlfriend and I had a little time to poke around the first evening, mostly around the downtown district that I didn’t bother with photos of, but also on the waterfront around sunset. The sky was crystal clear and thus wasn’t promising anything for sunset, but we hung around anyway.

sunset with sailboat on Pamlico River
I’m not sure the cause of the distinct halo around the sun here, but I suspect it was created from the aspherical lens – it was not visible in person. It’s added another experiment to my list, to shoot sunset with several different lenses in my arsenal to see which ones do it and how badly.

I set my alarm for before sunrise the next morning, even though the forecast wasn’t encouraging – we were due for clouds spawned by Tropical Storm Nicole, though when I got up I could see a faint hint of light on scattered clouds and so grabbed the camera and trotted down to the waterfront again (no I didn’t – even though it was only a few blocks from where we were staying, I don’t run, at all, and so only strolled down there.) But there was a thick band of clouds to the east that looked like it was going to be a bully at sunrise. Meanwhile the moon, fully eclipsed only 24 hours before, was riding bright in the twilight.

moon at twilight behind sailboat mast
With first light the seagulls had become active and were wheeling madly throughout the bay, and I realized that with a little patience I might pull something off. It only took a few minutes.

seagull silhouetted against full moon with sailboat, Pamlico River
Could be better, but I’m not complaining, seeing how often I’ve attempted something of this nature (mostly with the sunrise) and how little time I spent trying to get it this session. It was damn chilly out, but the birds were reasonably active, or at least visible, as in the case of a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) just off the docks.

great blue heron Ardea herodias chillin' on Pamlico River
This guy is apparently a routine fixture in the area, at least judging by the comment from a passing resident. By the way, I’m normally a reserved person in public, generally just nodding or muttering a brief greeting even with our own neighbors here, but I was almost forced to blurt out chipper, “Good morning!”s to everyone that passed me on the docks and streets, which was a lot – it’s one of those communities. Nobody seemed in need of coffee. Except maybe this guy.

double-crested cormorant Nannopterum auritum and kayaker on Pamlico River
No, not the double-crested cormorant (Nannopterum auritum) on the piling, but the paddle-kayaker beyond, bundled up against the chill and near-constant breeze out on the water – that’s fisherfolk for you. There were plenty of cormorants though, mostly staking territory on prime pilings while waiting for the fish to get active.

quartet of double-crested cormorants Nannopterum auritum on pilings in Pamlico River
By the way, that’s a rotating trestle bridge for the rail line that crosses the river back there, which I suspected was long decommissioned, but Google Earth shows it in closed position back in 2016 at least, so maybe not – we never saw any trains cross it (or even attempt to) while we were there, anyway, and I was taking this photo from the rail line itself. As well as this one:

seagulls flying over duck flotilla, Pamlico River
Seagulls in the air, ducks on the water, and this was as good as the sunrise got, though later in the day we got scattered sunshine. Having never seen a flock of ducks this large hanging out (and I only have half of it in the frame,) I endeavored to determine what they were, hampered significantly by the fact that they weren’t very close to shore and disinclined to do anything but flap occasionally as ducks do, I suspect to cover their flatulence. Nonetheless, I zoomed in as far as the 18-135 would allow (the only lens I was carrying that morning) and cropped tighter afterward to see what I could.

flotilla of North American ruddy ducks Oxyura jamaicensis snoozing on Pamlico River
Despite the fact that all of the males, which typically have the most identifiable plumage, were keeping their bills tucked in sleep position, the white patches on the face peg these as ruddy ducks, or North American ruddy ducks to be precise (Oxyura jamaicensis,) compact little ‘fun size’ ducks that look a lot better in breeding plumage (wow, that was eleven years ago!) Typically, they’re not in this region except to overwinter.

After the failed sunrise, I wandered around a little just to check out the area, mostly in the historic residential section where we were staying. Plenty of old homes in varying conditions – it’s not technically ‘seaside’ but close enough to be hell on wood buildings – and lots of cats, more than I’ve ever seen anywhere. Some showed distinct signs of ownership, some didn’t.

black longhaired cat under ginkgo tree
I wasn’t shooting architecture, mostly because it’s not my thing, but partially because even though its public, the owners control the rights to publish and I respect privacy. The cat, however, can take me to court if it thinks it has a chance – it would only be a matter of time before it knocked the judge’s water glass from the bench and got a Contempt of Court charge, so have at it.

I’ll close with a little bit more fall color, the tree right next to the house we stayed within, courtesy of Karen and Todd – many thanks, guys! Only a few leaves showed a reddish blush, so I tried to make it look like a normal thing. We will likely return to the area in summer and check it out some more.

changing fall colors on some kind of maple, probably

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