Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Miscellaneous Wildflowers at the Beach

 As most of my favorite birds have migrated back north, I have been focusing on documenting the wildflowers that I have found on the island which is composed of Carolina Beach and Kure Beach and is called Pleasure Island (an unfortunate name I think as it always seems like the name of a porn movie!).  I first starting doing this as I was seeing so many different wildflowers growing in my "lawn".  This one is the Common Vetch which was found in my yard..

This is  the Evening Primrose which wasn't even in my wildflower book -- maybe it's considered a perennial(?).  We actually planted this at home in Rochester but it is growing all over lawns down here. The flowers are short lived and literally disappear doing the heat of the day.

This is another view of the Evening Primrose.

There were two mounds of these growing in the empty lot across the street.  I have no idea what it is but it has these heart shaped leaves.  
Again this was growing all over the back yard here as well as in the empty lot and wasn't in my wildflower book.  

   Again growing in the lawn.  I think it is a Skullcap but not certain.

This is  Gaillardia and grows all over everywhere down here in the dunes, lawns and empty lots.  It blooms from April through the fall.

The next several pictures were taken down at Ft. Fisher (the south end of the island).  These and the purple flowers were growing along the side of the road -- literally filling the area with color. I believe this white one is called Star of Bethlehem.

My dear husband identified these as Blue Eyed Grass.  It is sold as a perennial.

There was a field of these by the ferry in a field. I believe these are called Baby Blue Eyes.

Down in Carolina Beach State Park, I saw lots of Fetterbush and Scatterbush.  This white flower was also down there and I think it is Ground Oak.

This is a Spiderwort.  It is a smallish flower but reminded me of trillium with its three lobes.

I also saw this one in the park but haven't identified it.  Any help??  Of course in the park I also saw the  beautiful Yellow Pitcher Plant and the Cinnamon Ferns.

The next two I found down at Ft. Fisher along the walkway.  I believe this is Leopards Bane.
I think this is Coastal Puccoon but according to the book skips over NC but is found in Virginia through Florida.  Maybe it doesn't skip NC after all!  However, I could have it wrong!!

Wisteria is super common (a pest vine) down here but haven't seen much on the island except this down by Carolina Beach Lake.  It is so pretty though.

Monday, April 29, 2013

An Evening of Fireworks

In celebration of the opening of our new community center in Kure Beach, there was a fireworks display.  As the center is just a half mile from my house, I can sit on my porch and take pictures.  I think my view may be better than sitting by the pier!  They started a little early as drizzle was starting to come down.  It was really nice although not as spectacular as the New Year's Eve fireworks.  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Walk in the Park -- Carolina Beach State Park to be Exact!

As most of my ducks have gone back north and my sea birds have disappeared also, I decided to take my walk today down at Carolina Beach State Park.  How cool is it that I live on an island that has state parks at either end (Ft. Fisher is at the other end where I walk about half the time)!!  

Within a 70 mile radius of Wilmington NC, are the only native Venus Flytraps and one of the trails in the park is supposed to have these plus other carnivorous plants.  The soil down here is very poor and acid.  As usual I didn't spot any Flytraps but did see this gorgeous Yellow Pitcher Plant (another carnivorous plant).  The picture does not do it justice as it is about two and a half feet high and the flowers are brilliant yellow.  I had seen the plant before but never in bloom anywhere!  What a treat.

Not a very good picture, but this is another carnivorous plant -- the Bladderwort which is just tiny tiny and grows in the water.  Flytraps are very small as well and hard to spot.  It may be too early in the season as well.

This was blooming all over and I think is Fetterbush but may be wrong.  There were two flowers that looked very much alike but some were white and these were pink. 

This is the white version and I believe this is Staggerbush..  Their leaves looked very similar.  I am getting a wildflower book which will hopefully help me along here. 

I haven't seen ferns before that have these brightly colored spikes of orange.

I couldn't resist taking a number of pictures of the swamp area at the end of the path.  After a couple of days of pretty awful (for here) cloudy windy days, it was back to our expected gorgeous days!  I loved the juxtaposition of light and dark in the swampy area.

This is a closeup of the Yellow Pitcher Plant

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Day at the Azalea Festival

The Azalea Festival is the biggest festival in downtown Wilmington, held around the first of April each year (although a little later this year).   There are about 200 vendors, a parade and all sorts of entertainment for young and older.   We capped off our day of touring the Festival vendors by taking a horse drawn carriage around downtown Wilmington to see some of the wonderful old architecture and azalea gardens.  It was a near perfect day and here is me with my friend Debi (to the left) with Mike (the horse).  All the horses they use for the rides are rescue horses.

The John Harper House.  All these  old houses were basically derelict 25 years ago (much like Charleston where there has been so much urban renewal).  Now there are just one or two that need refurbishing.  Even the new houses look like the old houses and blend right in.

There were lots of beautiful azaleas and dogwoods blooming.

More azaleas.  The azaleas down here have much bigger flowers than the ones I am  used to further north.  

A beatiful dogwood in bloom.  Unlike Charleston, you can see all the houses in downtown Wilmington as they don't have the large walled in courtyards.  They do have earthquake bolts though (like Charleston) as there was a fear of earthquakes although there really has been none here (except for very small).

A view on River street with the Cape Fear River in the background.  This was taken from the balcony of the Riverfront Cafe where we ate lunch.

My friend Debi is studying the menu for lunch!

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Visit From a Rochester Friend and a Bald Head Island Nature Tour

My friend Debi from Rochester came down to visit me for a few days just to keep me company as I have been alone since my dear husband left a couple of weeks ago and left me to cat sit while my oldest daughter is in Rio.  We started the day by getting up at 5:30 to make sure we got the first ferry to Southport so that we wouldn't miss our ferry to Bald Head Island.  From the ferry terminal we were taken by golf cart (no cars on Bald Head Island) to the Nature Conservancy headquarters.  For some strange reason, the building (which is painted white) has many of these Polyphemus moths hanging on the side.  This moth is 3.5 to 5.5 inches across and is the commonest giant silk moth.  It was really quite pretty and we actually opened up the wings so we could see the spots.  It could not have cared less!  I actually spotted three more varieties of moth hanging on the side of the building as well.

I am assuming this is a moth but could be a butterfly and I haven't identified it yet.  It might be a Noctuid moth of some kind.  It was about 3 inches across.

This might be a Spear Marked Black but again don't know for sure.  It was quite small -- probably only an  inch, inch and a half long.

This was a very bedraggled moth -- again can't identify but might be in the Sphinx family.  It was about the size of the second of the moths.

Our very first stop afforded us a view of this beautiful Green Heron in his mating plumage.  I have never seen one awake much less in this colorful plumage!

Another treat was a Black Crowned Night Heron adult also awake!!  Maybe this sudden wakefulness during the day is due to the mating season?

This is a juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron which is what I usually see down here.  He is also awake!

We spotted this Little Blue Heron high up in a tree!  This is the first of those I have spotted down here this year.

Even one of the resident alligators was up and swimming around.  It was a beautiful day of near perfect weather!

We spotted this Red Tailed Hawk off in the distance on a rooftop.

Later we suspect that it was the same Red Tail who was looking down from one of the most expensive houses on the island rumored to have sold for $15 million.

Cape Fear is known as such as ship wrecks were very common because there are significant shoals (sand bars) at the tip of the island.  This is Frying Pan Shoals and the waves go out forever.

On the ferry on the way back to Ft. Fisher I spotted all these seabirds and tried to get decent enough pictures to identify them.  The main bunch are Royal Terns but there may be some ringers in there as well.  They were just white dots with the naked eye.

One of the Terns in flight still pretty far off!  It was a beautiful day and we had a nice lunch at Fishy Fishy in Southport out overlooking the water  -- no sweatshirt necessary that day!!