Carolina blue all week long

Published 9:29 pm Tuesday, March 14, 2017

By Susan and Biff Andrews

If God is not a Tarheel, then why is the sky Carolina blue?

No, it’s not because it’s ACC tournament time and March Madness. The sky really is Carolina blue.

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And so were many other aspects of our visit to Hatteras Island last week.

On the way south — we go through Edenton, Columbia and Manteo to Hatteras Island to keep our blood pressure low — it seemed as though every bluebird in the state was determined to commit suicide on our windshield. Three or four times birds in flight nearly collided with our car before veering off in a flash of orange/blue at the last second.

Our Virginia Wildlife Calendar says it’s time for bluebirds to be finding nests. Maybe that’s what has them so addlepated. Fortunately there were no casualties.

After settling in at our destination, we noticed that the live oaks — and the wires above them — were jammed with bluejays (not Carolina blue but that darker shade the jays are so proud of). And they were all big, big birds.

Back home in Virginia, we put out “wildlife nuts” from the Wakefield Peanut Co. all winter and occasionally see maybe eight bluejays at a time — but not this size. These Carolina jays were big, authoritative creatures commanding the wires and shaking the dense trees 10 at a time. Quite the show!

But that paled in comparison to the blue-gray spectacle the next day at the beach. For the first time in nearly a year, we saw bottlenose dolphin everywhere, not in huge pods but in small groups out far and in close.

Our favorite group was a family of four — two adults acting like adults and two children acting like children — that exactly matched our pace as we walked a mile or so along the beach.

The parents fished leisurely just outside the surfline a hundred yards out, occasionally swirling through bait, tail-slapping and feeding like they knew where their next meal was coming from. No hurry at all.

The teenagers, au contraire, acted like teenagers, surfing the incoming waves — easily visible through the clear blue water — and then leaping out to splash back and go back out to find another wave. Sometimes they’d hunt and eat with Mom and Dad, circling the baitfish, but then it was back to surf jumping.

Technically they are gray in color, but when sleek and wet and leaping into a Carolina blue sky, they look like wet blue steel — slippery wet blue steel.

Our 20-minute walk along the beach observing this Tarheel family was the highlight of our “Carolina Blue“ stay.

Then, home after three days through gray rain showers alternating with bright blue skies and sun — and then gray again followed by blue skies.

But the dominant color for the trip was blue, Carolina blue.

Susan and Bradford “Biff” Andrews are retired teachers and master naturalists who have been outdoor people all their lives, exploring and enjoying the woods, swamps, rivers and beaches throughout the region for many years. Email them at