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Winter in the Outer Banks, NC

Today's post is all about nature.

My home base in the U.S. is on a narrow barrier island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I love visiting in the summer when the sun shines and the swimming is good, but I also love it in the off-season, when there are more birds than people and I can totally unplug from my hectic life back in Tuscany.

Bare feet, paws, and patterns in the sand, OBX, NC

No museums. No arts and culture. No Romans or Celts (well, sorta). The most profound thing you'll hear me say is: "Hello, birdie." :-)

A Great White Heron stalks its prey in the Pamlico Sound

The Ocean side can be quite wild, with high winds and seas, while the Pamlico Sound side is usually quieter (though not always!!). Here below is a Bearded Gray Heron that I caught in the moment he caught a fish and swallowed it whole. It was very foggy and I was far away so unfortunately the photos are a bit blurry. You wonder how he digests that whole fish!

We also get Canadian Geese in the winter, and they make great silhouettes across the sky.

Sometimes you get bird life close to home (or even ON home!)

The Atlantic Ocean pounds the beach, and offers a lovely expanse of solitude.

When storms move in it can be quite dramatic!

I walked past a whole seagull convention one day and they were not amused. 😄

Another day saw a feeding frenzy the likes of which I had never seen! Gulls, pelicans, and gannets (a type of boobie) dive-bombed repeatedly and created an apocalyptic scene! You can see a cool video of them on this David Attenborough documentary.

I took my dad's good camera out to catch these cute Sanderlings. They all run down en masse to the water's edge to feed, then run away on their little stilt legs again when the wave approaches.

I caught this little guy scratching an itch 🙂

One day it got up into the 60sF (18C) so two local dads were out surfing (and it was so cute to see their daughters go out to greet them).

After a huge storm, the sand was blown way up and over the steps leading over the dunes.

There's a concerted push to preserve the fragile Sea Oats that grow out of the dunes.

Most Atlantic beach resorts get the morning sunrise as they face east, but the Outer Banks also get the sunset as they fact west over the Sound, bringing dramatic skies.

The village of Duck built a long series of boardwalks about ten years ago to encourage foot traffic along the coast and the coastal shops, and it's a great place to watch the sunset.

I caught this Bald Eagle flying overhead and swung my camera up just in time!

The Boardwalk and shops fade away into the fog.

Sunset. Sunfog. 😄

Given the predominance of sand and lack of rich soil, not a lot grows here, but we do get some spectacular trees. Below (click on each separately to see it full format): some massive Live Oaks and a beautiful Bald Cypress

Other wildlife include white-tail deer, who enjoy nibbling on my mother's zinnias (to her dismay!)

And the odd neighbor with their odd Christmas decorations 😄

The biggest historical event in the area (apart from years of pirate shipwrecks) was the first flight by the Wright Brothers, who set flight from atop a sand dune in 1903. There's a small monument with a mock-up of the first functioning airplane, and it's surprisingly small!

Ancient History made a brief appearance in this Christmas gift. Expect a post on the Goths sometime in the future! 😉

The Outer Banks are not known for their rowdy parties and Spring Breakers, which is why we like it. It's a lovely place to unplug and unwind, and I'm lucky to call it Home. ❤️

I hope you enjoyed this breath of fresh air. I'm back in Florence now and am looking forward to a new year and a new tour season (hope! hope! hope!). I'm available to organize and guide whatever tour you'd like (multi-day? half-day hike? museum deep-dive? food & wine smorgasbord?) so drop me a line at to get things started! Tips and donations can be tossed over the transom or slid under the door --> click here.

Thanks for coming along and see you out there!

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I love these photos so much, Claire. They made me very homesick for the OBX. Thanks for this post!

Claire Duiker
Claire Duiker
Jan 16, 2022
Replying to

Glad you enjoyed it Miranda! You should come visit sometime. My parents would love it and we have plenty of room 😍

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