sandwich tern flying in the surf

Papa Osprey Goes Fishing. And Other Serious Stuff.

We are having our best weather so far this year. It’s been calling me to go outside. Finally yesterday morning I got an opportunity to spend a couple of hours on the beach and in the nature reserve. I needed that quiet time in the midst of everything going on in the outer world. It was simply beautiful. I invite you to come along.

snowy egret, Florida, Sand Key
A Snowy Egret drying in the sun…

Just outside our garden, I was greeted by a Snowy Egret who was enjoying the beautiful morning at the top of a tree. Close by, two Mourning Doves were admiring the sun. I thought they looked like a happy old couple. Content with life. No worries of the world.

mourning dove couple, Florida, Sand Key
Mourning dove couple

Once on the beach I was walking along the water line, watching the terns and gulls play and bath in the surf. And pelicans fly back and forth in search of fish.

sandwich tern bathing 2
A Sandwich Tern baths in the surf…
pelican flyinng low, Florida, Sand Key
A White Pelican glides above the waves…

I also found mama Royal Tern and her teenage offspring…arguing as usual. I had to smile. Some things stay the same.

Mom and juvenile royal tern
Mama and juvenile Royal Tern argue….again.

I was just about to turn towards the nature reserve when I spotted two ospreys. They were on a fishing trip.  Flying high above the waves and peering down on the water. They were far out so I couldn’t see who they were, but snapped a picture of both. And guess what?

 osprey fishing, Florida
Stanley, the second osprey, fishing with P.O.
 osprey over the ocean, Florida, Sand Key
P.O. on a fishing trip with Stanley on Mexican Gulf

That was Papa Osprey and Stanley! They have become pals, it seems. They flew further away on the ocean and I took the path to the salt marsh.

I walked on the north side of the marsh and was greeted by a Great Egret on the very top of a huge tree. I guess having an overview was trending among egrets yesterday.

great egret at the very top of a tree, Florida, Sand Key
A Great Egret on the top of the world…

I spotted many other egrets, a juvenile Night Heron, and Tricolored Heron, among others. And my pal, the Muscovy Duck, who tends to come and greet me whenever I rest and sit on a bench.

tricolored heron Florida, Sand Key
A Tri-colored Heron hunting in the salt marsh…
muscovy duck Florida, Sand Key
A Muscovy Duck swimming in the salt marsh….

I didn’t expect to see Papa Osprey because I’d just seen him over the ocean. But when I approached the nest, there he was. All wet. But with no fish.

wet papa osprey returns from ocean
Papa Osprey is wet…but didn’t catch a fish…

I guess he was disappointed that the dive in the ocean didn’t result in fresh seafood lunch. And he must have been hungry. He turned to look at me as if saying he can’t stay.

osprey Florida, Sand Key
Papa Osprey…says he’s hungry…

I assured him I understood, and that I’d wait for a while. Off he flew  to the drive-thru fish place, aka the intra-coastal bay.

osprey goes fishing Florida, Sand Key
Papa Osprey goes fishing…again.

I wanted to see if he’d catch a fish, so I decided to take a run around the park. I approached his nest again after about 15 minutes. And he was already back! Soaking wet and with a fish  firmly in the talons of his left foot. It looked like one from the lunch menu.

Papa osprey back with a fish
Papa Osprey comes home with a fish…

The second fishing trip was a success. Persistence pays off. After drying himself for a few minutes, he looked up towards the wooded end of the park and talked to someone I couldn’t see. In a friendly voice. Maybe he told his pal Stanley where he had caught the fish?

papa osprey has a fish 2
Papa Osprey starting his lunch…

After checking the airspace around him he started to eat his lunch. Soon thereafter I said my goodbyes. I may not see him until after a couple of weeks due to my upcoming travels.

It was a great little outing. I hope you enjoyed it too. Be good now and enjoy the weekend. <3 Tiny

 

 

 

flowers at sunrise

A Hint from Papa Osprey. Happy Thanksgiving to All Canadian Friends!

This year I have a useless calendar on my office wall. It didn’t say it’s Thanksgiving in Canada today. However, I got a hint from Papa Osprey yesterday. I should’ve understood that something special was in making when he offered me breakfast. At sunrise.

sunrise moon 2
Moon just before the sunrise…

It was a beautiful, cool (FL cool, of course) morning. The waning moon was still high up in the sky when I decided to go for a pre-breakfast, sunrise run on the beach. And then round it out in the nature reserve.

sunrise park 2
Sun rising above the park…

I reached the salt marsh when sun was just climbing above the tree tops. Running along the foot path, I stopped to snap a few pictures of a Great Blue Heron who was wading knee-deep in the water. Beautiful. All other wading birds seemed to be at sleep in their secret quarters. Or so I thought.

blue heron 2 at sunrise
A Great Blue Heron at sunrise…

I was standing under a dense tree admiring and “shooting” the heron, when a sudden, loud “kaa-kaa” and rustling of the branches and leaves just above my head scared me to death! I almost dropped my camera. But I got this nice picture, not edited in any way. It has some fancy colors, but I have no idea what I shot. The spirits of nature?

most artistic bird photo
“Camera art” in the nature reserve…

I discovered it was a Black Crowned Night Heron who had scared me. Or rather, I had interrupted his sleep by sneaking around at sunrise. I’m sure he had just gone to sleep after a night of hunting. I got this shaky, partial picture of him in the next tree…And I said sorry for waking him up.

night heron in a tree scared me
The Night Heron, now awake thanks to Tiny…

That’s when I saw Papa Osprey. He had been up early, fishing in the dark. And was having a big fish for breakfast. I walked closer to the nest. He looked at me with a funny expression.

papa osprey eating big fish at sunrise
Papa Osprey having early breakfast…

Then he took a bite of the fish and dropped it in my direction. Offering breakfast.

papa osprey eating at sunrise
A piece for you Tiny…

I didn’t catch it, but said my thanks for his kindness. I should’ve known it was close to Thanksgiving. For all my Canadian friends. Happy Thanksgiving !!  <3 Tiny

papa osprey  scanning the grounds

Papa Osprey. The Leader with Natural Clout.

I know a leader when I see one. That’s how I’ve made my livelihood, at least to a part. Spotting leadership talent and helping it flourish.  Now I’ve spotted such talent in the nature reserve. Ready to lead. No coaching required.

roseate spoonbill and snowy egret
Community representatives: a Roseate Spoonbill and a Snowy Egret.

That’s Papa Osprey, of course. You knew it, right? Or you may want some proof? I have plenty.

First, he cares about his community. The salt marsh has plenty of fish, from huge footlongs to medium and small. It would be easy to just dive down from the nest and get breakfast, lunch and dinner. Like opening the fridge. But he doesn’t fish there.

Plenty of fish in the salt marsh
Plenty of fish in the salt marsh

He leaves the food supply for residents who can’t fish in the ocean. Like this tiny Tri-colored Heron.

tricolored heron caught a fish
A Tri-colored Heron caught a fish…

Second, he ensures peace in the community. He constantly scans the skies and the grounds for any threats. And warns the residents whenever he detects a potential danger. Like dogs walking their people or bicyclists on the foot path closest to the marsh.

 osprey watching the sky
Papa Osprey watching the sky to the South…
papa osprey watching the sky 2
…and to the North.

Or the two other ospreys, Stanley and Steve,  who have settled in the area. Don’t get me wrong. Papa Osprey lets them thrive in the park. And even allows them to use his favorite dead palm trunk as their breakfast bar.

Stanley, the second Osprey, eats breakfast on the dead palm trunk...
Stanley, the second Osprey, eats breakfast on the dead palm trunk…

But he keeps a watchful eye on their movements. And sends a message of caution, as and when warranted. It’s clear that he has earned their respect.

third osprey flying 6
Steve, the third Osprey, flies above the salt marsh…

Third, he’s on the top of everything in the community. Has the big picture. Gently keeps tabs on the residents’ comings and goings. Like this Great Blue Heron, who periodically takes trips to the bay-side to socialize with fishermen in exchange for free fish.

blue heron flying high up
The Great Blue Heron on his way from the salt marsh…
blue heron flying high 3
…to the bay-side.

Or the Pelicans who fly in shuttle traffic between the ocean and the bay right over the salt marsh.

two pelicans flying
Pelicans flying over the marsh towards the bay…

And the young Night Herons who practice landing at the tree tops with varying degrees of success.

A juvenile Night Heron about to land...
A juvenile Night Heron about to land…

And not to talk about the large Egret population that tends to move back and forth between the tiny islands in search of the best fish.

egret flying
A Great White Egret flies to better hunting grounds…

Fourth, Papa Osprey trusts his gut. I got proof of that just a couple of days ago when I met a nice bird photographer. He was a visitor, not familiar with the nature reserve . So we started to chat and I told him about the nest. After a while I heard Papa Osprey’s warning calls.  Unwanted disturbance too close to the nest.

papa ospreys nest from afar
Papa Osprey’s nest seen from the East end of the marsh…

And then saw the poor guy walk away from the vicinity of the nest. After he left, I went to see Papa Osprey. He was his calm, handsome self and turned to greet me when I walked right under the nest. Not a peep, just a friendly nod. He definitely trusts his gut.

papa osprey saying hi to tiny
Papa osprey says hi…
papa osprey looking at the flowers
…and then admires the flowers on the ground.

Then we both admired the bright yellow wild flowers that had popped up right next to the nest pole. I snapped a picture, he checked on the little worm crawling on one of the flowers.

wild flowers below the nest

My conclusion, based on all this evidence, is that Papa Osprey is a community leader with natural clout. I hope you agree with my assessment.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

 

pelican 3 16x9

Wordless Wednesday: Diving 101. Frame by Frame.

pelican before the dive
Start off by flying as usual. Keep an eye on the water.
pelican dive aa
Once you detect something you want to fetch, choose your dive style (shown below). Then turn your nose down, speed up and prepare to dive.
pelican dive style 11
Dive style 1: The back flip.
pelican dive style 22
Dive style 2: The fighter jet.
pelican dive  style 33
Dive style 3: The torpedo.
pelican dive cc
Whatever style you choose, in the water you go. With a splash.
pelican dive dd
Once you’ve fetched whatever you were after, start the surfacing process immediately by flapping your wings vigorously.
pelican after the dive
Back on the surface, shake off excess water as shown. That’s it. Good luck to you.
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