Pamlico osprey family

Near the mouth of Whitaker Creek, which is near the mouth of the Neuse River, which on clear days is in sight of the Neuse River’s junction with Pamlico Sound, three young osprey are stretching their wings in preparation for a life beyond their nest. They were photographed in the early morning hours of July 4. Common to the area, ospreys are occasionally mistaken to be eagles because of their white head feathers. But they have a dark stripe running from their yellow eyes to the back of their heads. Unlike eagles, ospreys do not have white tail feathers. They are also much smaller than eagles, weighing about 4 pounds.

Sometimes referred to as sea hawks because they are also birds of prey, ospreys dine almost exclusively on fish. Diving to the water from heights as much as 200 feet, they strike the water feet first to snare their prey. This “air fishing” is enhanced by reversible front toes which assist in clutching a slippery fish on the return flight to nests.

Like bald eagles, osprey often use the same nest after refurbishing them each season. Those 3 years or older generally mate for life. The female lays 2 -4 eggs about 3 days apart. The chicks hatch in the sequential order in which the eggs are laid, thus the first hatched grows faster than its siblings. The chicks fledge in about 55 days. The young birds are characterized by bright orange eyes.

A necklace of brown spots across the breast is more pronounced in females. The upper tails on males is dark brown with paler bands. Females have darker heads than males. Males and females share household duties while the eggs are incubating.

Sound People: The book has been released.

Ben Casey explores a threatened way of life in Down East Carteret County, NC

Sound People presents Casey’s interviews with fishermen, boat builders and tradespeople. Families that have lived on Core Sound for generations, and even those that chose to leave. All add to the story in Sound People

Buy the book.

Wind tides prevail over lunar tides along the inner banks

Mention tides, one immediately thinks of the moon’s gravitational pull on the earth’s seas. But in Coastal Pamlico County, the seas are often creeks and rivers flowing into sound waters. Connected to the sounds, but not directly connected to the inlets where sounds meet ocean, the lunar impact is almost nil on inland coastal waters. So why do these inland waters sometimes fluctuate with pronounced effects?
Local rivers and creeks that flow into the Pamlico Sound are impacted by wind. When winds in this area are from the southwest, the water is pushed out of the creeks and rivers into the sounds and ultimately into the ocean. This locsl waters are impacted by wind tides. When the sind is from the northeast, the water in the sound is pushed up into the rivers and creeks, often causing disastrous flooding during the first half of a hurricane visit, or a nor’easter.

Spring winds, often from the southwest, push the water out, often curtailing ferry service because the water is too low for the ferries to dock with the ramp in a position to accommodate vehicle traffic. In exceptionally high southwest winds, boats at docks can be left grounded until the winds shift more to the north allowing the water to flow back in from Pamlico Sound.

Keith Bruno’s fishing skiff tied up to the sand in Oriental on February 7, 2020 during a southwest gale that featured winds more than 50 mph.

Heber Guthrie poem & Cape Lookout Lighthouse print for sale

Harkers Island native, Heber Guthrie, who now lives in Gloucester across The Straits from The Island, wrote a documentary style poem in 2003, What would the lighthouse say? The poem records the first person voice of the Cape Lookout light describing the transitions it has witnessed over the decades. Heber’s family heritage is embedded in Core Sound culture, boat building and fishing. His brother, Will, his father, Chauncey, and his late uncle, Julian, all deceased, were once icons in rack-of-the-eye wooden boat building.
A general carpenter and boat builder, retired from MCAS Cherry Point, he has constructed over 100 Core Sound skiffs and workboats. He recently designed and constructed the Frances Mae, a juniper, strip-planked replica of a Core Sound workboat of the type used in long haul netting. This vessel will be both a classroom and documentation of a fast disappearing craft that once dominated the Down East Carteret County landscape. Parallel to the rapid decline in commercial fishing was the advent of manufactured fiberglass boats. This combination has virtually eradicated traditional wooden boat building. Guthrie’s heritage in boat building is somewhat defined by his observation, “I like working with hand tools more than with power tools. I can feel the wood when I use hand tools.” Visit the projects page of this website to learn more about the Frances Mae and Heber Guthrie.
Beyond his legendary skills in a boat shop, he is widely known as a civic leader and champion of programs to help youth understand and appreciate their Core Sound heritage. He has spearheaded a number of projects for scouting groups and conducted heritage boat building workshops, many sponsored by the North Carolina Coastal Heritage Association.
Family, friends, and neighbors describe him as a sensitive man deeply connected to his native Core Sound, salt marshes, creeks, and Core Banks. His poem in the voice of the lighthouse and imprinted in a collection of Cape Lookout images recently experienced a revival both locally and beyond. He was persuaded by many to exhibit it for sale in the Down East July 4th celebration. It’s popular demand has pressed his personal picture framer into overtime during the holiday period. It is available unframed as a 12 X 18 print or matted, framed, and signed by Guthrie. This poem is presented in a format that expresses Heber Guthrie’s profound appreciation for his native culture and his passionate desire to share this heritage.
This treasure is from a man who himself is a treasure. Unframed prints shrink wrapped with an acid free foam core backing are $45.00. Framed and matted prints are $95.00.
A purchase of this print of What would the lighthouse say? also supports the work of the NC Coastal Heritage Association. Order a print by emailing

Sunrise ... sunset     West Side of the creek

Average, run-of-the-mill sunset, mouth of Dawson’s Creek, waning days of winter.
Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze
Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears

The Poetry of Jazz

Willie E. Atkinson & The Transitional Jazz Quintet

Craven Community College
Exploration of the Arts Series

Willie Atkinson, veteran blues and jazz singer from New Bern, performed in concert at Orringer Auditorium on the Campus of Craven Community College, Friday, February 15, 2019. He was accompanied by the Transitional Jazz Quintet, Stephen Anderson, piano, Phil Owens, guitar, Doug Trammel, bass, Michael Hanson, percussion, and Jeff Bair, saxophone.

In a news release about the concert, reviewers of his work said, “Atkinson uses his talents as a jazz vocalist to provide audiences with a fluid interpretation of jazz and blues standards”

“Whether exploring the syncopated rhythms of a swing tune or telling the story of a lonesome wanting heart, Atkinson offers a fresh approach and seizes every moment in his performance to make the songs his own.”

Atkinson’s vocals were intertwined with several solos from each member of the Transitional Jazz Quintet.

Willie and his wife, Jacquelyn, are noted historians as well as musicians. They teach in the Lifetime Learning Continuing Education Program at Craven Comunity College. Willie is also the archivist for the NC Coastal Heritage Association.

Old fishing boats don't die

They just rust, and piece by piece, flake away …

2019 NCCHA membership drive and meeting scheduled

North Carolina Coastal Heritage Association to meet in Atlantic, NC

Through the ages, hurricanes have defined a significant part of coastal heritage. Hurricane Florence impacted many non-profits. Keith Bruno, president of the NC Coastal Heritage Association, witnessed Florence totally destroy his seafood business and damage his home. Vice-president Joe Miller’s home was severely damaged by flood waters in Fairfield Harbor. But recovery and rebuilding are well underway, paving the way for NCCHA to build on its past accomplishments.

More members translates into more people becoming more intimately aware of the state’s coastal heritage. A larger membership base including more talent and enthusiasm leads to improved efforts in documenting and preserving that heritage. The board is beginning the new year with a membership drive. Each new member or old member renewing membership through February 9 will receive a copy of All in One River, a photo essay on the Neuse River published in 2002. Those who already have a copy can use this membership reward as a gift to friends who appreciate NC waterways.
Membership fees are $25 per year for individuals, $35 for families. See the join/donate page to join now or remit dues to
NC Coastal Heritage Association
3325 Hwy 306 South
Grantsboro, NC 28529
Prospective members and the public are invited to attend the association’s annual general membership meeting scheduled for 1:30 PM, Saturday, February 9, at the Hunting Quarters Museum/Church in Atlantic.
Atlantic, at the eastern end of US 70, is approximately 25 miles east of Beaufort. The village was once known as Hunting Quarters. The name evolved from the Core Sound waterfowl hunting heritage of the early 20th century. At the end of US 70 in Atlantic, turn left at the Atlantic Fire Department on School Drive, proceed to Atlantic Elementary School, turn left on Shell Point Road, Hunting Quarters Museum is about 1/4 mile on the right.