Fresh air tingles on my skin. I smell the rain drops still lingering on the grass. Vibrant green. Perky. Reaching up and up. Stretching toward the little bubbles of white in the blue. Respectfully. In silence.
Waking up. Living fully. Present here. Growing with every ray of sun. I breathe. I feel the trees inhale and exhale. I hear the birds sing. I see the face of the wind. And I touch Life. Briefly. Quietly. Between the storms.
It’s a little bit of a summer lull at the salt marsh right now. Residents watch visitors come and go. The older Great Blue Heron, the Mayor, welcomes everyone with open arms.
And Mama Osprey takes the little excitement there might be with a grain of salt. It’s her vacation time. She observes everything from her “watch tower” with dignity, takes baths in the bay, dives for fish, eats and enjoys life.
She is not the least provoked by the younger Great Blue Heron. You know, the one who repeatedly attacked her home last spring, and has now made it a habit to hunt right below the nest.
The other day he even played with fire. He flew low above the nest and settled on a tree top very close to Mama Sandy. Flexed his wings and stared right at her.
But Sandy didn’t care to participate in a staring competition. She was more interested in watching Sindile, who was flying by the nest again. This time she was on her own.
Sandy spends some time at the nest every day making sure others don’t get silly ideas. Like hoping the property had been vacated. Or was offered for vacation rental.
Papa Stanley has moved back to the same resort he favored last fall, on the top of an old palm trunk.
He sits there like a king, and monitors the air traffic between the beach and the bay. And keeps an eye on Sandy, of course.
So life has settled into a summer slumber at the salt marsh. The ten ducklings hang out with other ducklings. They are all in their teens, and prefer to chill out together at various corners of the waterways.
The Egrets and Herons come for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Or just to check out who’s there and what’s trending.
Last night I spotted a few familiar dinner quests. And even had an exchange with the Roseate Spoonbill.
On the bay side, Sandy was basking in the last rays of the setting sun. Her crop was full after a quick dinner, but she was not yet dry. She shook her feathers and then greeted me quietly.
I continued to the bay shore. A Brown Pelican waived good night while flying to his night quarters. And a White Ibis was considering an evening bath. She was not-so-white anymore after the day’s adventures.
While the sun rises over the bay, it sets over the ocean. I walked home through the beach, and saw the sunset wouldn’t disappoint. Mother Nature’s art at its best.
I hope your week’s been going well. Have a peaceful rest of the week.
This week’s DP photo challenge is “Half and Half”. It leaves room for quite a bit of creativity in the interpretation. I like that. Many things in life are half and half. Even today is half rain, half shine. Different from the day last winter, when the view from my terrace was half fog, half sky.
About half of these images are newer, the other half older. Almost half of you may have seen about half of them before. But because my hard disk is only working half and half since Friday, I can’t process brand new ones right now. I’m expecting a whole new hard disk to arrive at half week. I wish everyone a great week ahead, may there be nothing half and half about it.
You can find other responses to this challenge here.
I met this adorable Royal Tern fledgling on the only walk I’ve managed to take between all the thunderstorms and ordinary downpours this week. She looked at me curiously, then decided to demonstrate her newly acquired flying skills. She flew right onto the water’s edge, where quite impressive waves came crashing in. Her mom flew there too, probably to keep an eye on her.Arriving at the salt marsh, I saw a flock of young ducklings on a little islet. I tried to get down to the water through some dense bushes and trees…and discovered I’m not that tiny. I scared them off with all the rustling of the dry palm leaves. Once they were on the water I counted them. Seven. Then I saw another three ducklings swimming off from a neighboring islet. The alarm bells had gone off there too. If, indeed, these were the same ten ducklings I’d discovered in April, then all of them had survived their first three months. That would make the salt marsh an exceptionally safe place for bird babies. Soon they all disappeared together into an area of high grass where I thought their nest had been. That was a treat!
I continued my walk towards the Osprey nest. Mama Sandy was there. Her head was turned towards the skies and she was talking to someone up in the air.I looked up too and saw two Ospreys flying above the nest. I recognized Papa Stanley immediately, but who was the other one? I could see it was a young osprey with whitish edging to its flying feathers. Likely one of the chicks, but which one?Sandy and the two of them communicated back and forth as they circled over the salt marsh. I wished I’d taken osprey speak as an extra curricular activity back in school. I had no idea what they said. But it must have been something important. As soon as the two disappeared from sight, Mama Sandy took off and flew after them.
After this exciting encounter I continued my walk. And spotted another familiar face. The young Night Heron I’ve seen on my recent walks was hiding in a tree next to the deep water.
She looked too cute, with baby hairs on her head standing right up. My hair was almost standing up too when I heard the loud noises. Unfamiliar. Definitely manmade. I turned around to witness the death of a huge palm tree close to the park entrance. I noticed the hard hats had also removed another dead palm tree I had shot a picture of some time back.I was marveling about this park and the good care it gets, when I spotted something very much alive. A dragonfly. It was resting on a broken branch, enjoying the temporary pleasure of bright sunshine. Just long enough for me to snap a picture.Walking towards the beach along the Northern side of the salt marsh, I found the tiniest Moorhen chick I’ve ever seen. She was struggling in the grass with her huge feet, flapping her little wings-to-be for balance, and finally came down to the water where her mom was waiting.Walking home through the beach I spotted more young birds. Mr. Willet was teaching foraging skills to his two juveniles. Mrs. Willet was taking a walk nearby. Just another ordinary family in Mother Nature’s village. Much like us, I mused.I came home just before the storm dragons started dancing in the skies again, in line with the weather pattern we’ve been seeing so far this week.It was a good time to do some detective work based on the pictures I have on the three Osprey chicks in flight. I came to the fairly reliable conclusion that the young Osprey flying with Stanley had been Sindile, the youngest chick who left the nest only two weeks ago. Yay!
I hope you enjoyed this short walk between the downpours. Have a great rest of the week.
This week’s been hot, and I’ve been busy. Since my sunrise walk on Monday, I only went to see my feathered friends around the salt marsh today at lunch time. But wanted to say a quick hello before the end of the week. So you know I’m still alive and well, and looking forward to catching up on your blogs over the weekend.
Mama and Papa Osprey are empty nesters since ten days, as many of you know. But they are staying close to each other, which is a bit unusual for Osprey once the nesting season is over. They’re perching on the bay side – featured image taken from my terrace on Wednesday night at sunset. Or flying together and chatting. Last night when it was too dark for a photo shoot, but not for my new binoculars, I spotted them perching at the Sailing Center. Each at the top of a sailing boat mast, next to each other. That was too cute.
Mama Sandy has been at the nest several times since she came back to the area last weekend. Today she was perching there again. Her crop was really full. She must have eaten a huge fish for lunch. Finally she has time to take care of herself.
And I spotted Stanley too. He was still planning what to have for lunch. Scanning for fish high up on the roof of Marriott Resort on the bay side. That’s one of his favorite spots. Excellent visibility into the clear water below. The fish he craves for is likely to be his.
At the salt marsh, the “Mayor” is back! Some of you may remember the older Great Blue Heron who keeps order among the moorhens, egrets, ducks, other herons, the many ibis families and all the smaller birds.
Not that he needs to work hard. This is usually a well-mannered crowd. There are plenty of nice spots at this resort, and the smorgasbord in the shallow waters has something for everyone.
That’s all I have for this week. I’m still working on the recap of the nesting season. Mama Sandy’s calendar is full of scribbles about all kinds of drama and other happenings, so it’s a bit like detective work to get it all correctly :)
This morning I woke up to a glorious pre-dawn glow. I felt I needed exercise and decided to head out for a walk. While it was still cool. That’s a relative term here in Florida, of course.
This first morning after the July 4th weekend, I wanted to check on the birds after all the fireworks on the beach and around the bay on Saturday, and even on Sunday. I was hoping my feathered friends had been huddling in the salt marsh during the festivities, and not flying in the path of any of the hundreds of “rockets” reaching for the skies.
The salt marsh was quiet and serene. Just me and a few birds. And the sun trying to peek over the horizon, while the moon was still hanging on high up in the sky.
Many of the residents were sleeping in their hidden night quarters, but the Great Blue Heron was already patrolling the shallow waters.
And so were the Florida Mottled Ducks. I think these might’ve been juveniles from the brood I spotted in April.
I also spotted a bird that I couldn’t identify. My friend H.J. thinks it might be a Mississippi Kite – thank you!
Seeing the empty nest reminded me that I thought I’d seen Mama and Papa Osprey flying together on Saturday afternoon. I’d had my binoculars and made a positive ID on both.
I decided to walk onto the bayside to see if I could find them. I walked past the Sailing Center where Papa Stanley used to have his feeding perch when Sindile was still in the nest. He was not there.
I admired the bay basking in newly acquired sunlight, when I spotted Mama Sandy on a lamp-post close to the sea wall! She’d gone away when the two older chicks left the nest, about three weeks ago. I’d been right when I saw the two of them. She was back!
She was turned towards the rising sun, drying her still wet feathers, and eating a big fish with great appetite. And she didn’t look like she’d been on vacation. Her crop looked empty, and she had lost even more weight from the time I last saw her. She may have followed the chicks and been teaching them how to fish…getting very little food for herself.
Now she was back to keep an eye on the nest, exactly like last year. I left her eating breakfast and walked across the marsh back to the beach.
In addition to many gulls, I spotted a Ruddy Turnstone, and a Willet. Both were running back and forth at the water’s edge, busy getting breakfast.
But I also found something left behind by much bigger, and supposedly wiser, bipeds.
TNT Dark Revenge. Very close to a clearly marked Sea Turtle nest. Frustrating, and dark indeed. I’m just hoping the bangs didn’t disturb the 100+ eggs recently laid there by Mama Sea Turtle.
Mother Nature is amazing, but her caretakers not always so. Luckily She is quite resilient. Constantly producing new life for us to enjoy. Like this blue-eyed juvenile Ibis and these fluffy Moorhen babies, both spotted over the weekend.
Thanks for coming along. Have a great rest of the week.