Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mud Fiddlers

There is an old saying on Ocracoke that when mud fiddlers start crawling across the paths and sandy lanes that storms are on the way.

These last few days I have been walking on the Hammock Hills Nature Trail, across from the NPS campground. It is shady and cooler than the beach. I was surprised as I neared the sound to see dozens and dozens of mud fiddlers scurrying across the footpath. When they retreated under the pine needles, into their holes, or between the bark of nearby trees their claws made a rhythmic clicking noise.

Mud Fiddler

As with most traditional weather predictors, I am more than a tad skeptical. It seems to me that the mud fiddlers' natural cycle likely includes a mid-summer explosion of these critters who then scurry across the mud flats and adjacent footpaths in great numbers. Of course, hurricanes occur most frequently shortly afterwards, in August and September.

So I agree with Francis Bacon (1561-1626) who observed that, "the general root of superstition is that men observe when things hit, and not when they miss; and commit to memory the one, and forget and pass over the other."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Molly Lovejoy's 2012 Ocracoke School Valedictory Address. You can read it here:


  1. OcracokeFan9:24 AM

    When it comes to hurricanes I always remember: "June, too soon. July, pass by. August, a must. September, remember (the bad ones). October, all over."

    Sure, there are exceptions but it has proven accurate most years.


  2. Anonymous9:51 AM

    That Bacon quote made me think of the Bear Fat barometer. If rendered bear fat in a mason jar can be used as a weather indicator seems to me, animals, what are left of them on the face of the Earth- when nothing else was a available --their behaviors are suitable observation. Now I have to locate my copies of Foxfire and see if the mountain folk have a chapter of old timey weather prediction methods.

  3. Anonymous9:26 AM

    Love all the folk stories! I think every region has their own! Here in Richmond, we hear the fuzzier the caterpillar or the bushier the squirrel tail, the harsher the winter!
    Looking forward to my Ocracoke visit in 20 days!

  4. Anonymous7:47 PM

    This really isn't about the creatures of Ocracoke but I have a question. I was browsing through a North Carolina "trivia" book and read where there is a large collection of shells of species from aroung the world. The book called it the Alta VanLandringham Collection and it is supposed to be somewhere on Ocracoke. Where might this be as I would like to see it during my next visit.

  5. Alta Van Landingham did have an extensive shell collection. She lived in the house that is now Oscar's House B & B (Oscar Burrus was her father). Alta moved off the island more than 30 years ago. I do not know what became of her shells.

  6. Anonymous7:13 PM

    Thans for the info., Philip.