Recalculating. Birds and Drones over the Salt Marsh.

This report from the salt marsh actually covers only the first half of the week, up until Wednesday. But don’t you worry, there’s been a full week’s worth of excitement. As you read this I’ll be traveling. And hoping a little osprey chick would have arrived by the time I’ll be back next week :)

female osprey sitting on the eggs
Mama osprey sits on the egg(s) February 21st

That brings me back to my calculations of the “due date”. I have now gone through my pictures from February. And I can say, with a high degree of certainty, that Sandy was incubating on February 21st. She may have laid the first egg on February 20-21. If that is correct, we would expect a hatchling anytime from this weekend to Monday-Tuesday next week.

Mexican Gulf sunset Sand key beach clearwater
Sunset over the Gulf.

Last weekend I took a walk at sunset time. It was a beautiful evening. The salt marsh was quiet, most birds had already gone to their sleeping quarters. The only one still feeding in the shallow waters was a Roseate Spoonbill clad in hot pink breeding colors.

roseate spoobill
A Roseate Spoonbill looks for dinner.

Mama Sandy had eaten her dinner and was sitting on the eggs.  She raised her head to say hi. I didn’t see Papa Stanley. So I went looking for him. And found him in his man cave finishing dinner.

mama osprey at sunset
Mama Osprey sits on the egg(s) at sunset time…the sun no longer reaches the nest.
osprey eating at sunset
Papa Osprey finishes a meal in his still sunny man cave on the other side of the road.

It was getting dark, and I had started my walk home, when I heard a faint humming sound. I looked up and saw a manmade bird, a drone, flying above the park. It was small, but I managed to get a photo when it turned and was lit up by the sunset’s afterglow.

a drone flies over Sand Key park
A drone flies over the park.

From a distance I heard Sandy sound a short alarm. I’m sure Stanley flew right away over to the nest to protect her and the egg(s) from this unfamiliar danger. I’m assuming this was their first time to see such a strange “bird” fly in the skies over the marsh. It certainly was for me. And I can’t say I liked it. I definitely prefer birds made by nature. Like these little fellows.

MOTTLED DUCK COUPLE
A Mottled Duck couple basking in the midday sun.

The beginning of the week was peaceful. Lots of birds in the marsh. Many of them pairing up and working on their nests.

ibis in flight
A White Ibis flies to the bay side.
red-bellied woodpecker in the pine tree
The Red-bellied Woodpecker works in a pine tree close to his condo home.
Boat-tailed Grackle
A Boat-tailed Grackle observes the goings-on in the marsh.
red-winged blackbird
A Red-winged Blackbird is a new resident in the marsh.
a juvenile pied billed grebe
This tiny Pied-billed Grebe lives in the marsh with her mom and dad.

As to Sandy and Stanley, they have spent the week doing what matters most. Family stuff. Protecting the nest, incubating, bathing, preening, exercising, inspecting the egg(s) and feeding. The other day I happened to witness a food transport. Papa Stanley was returning from a fishing trip over the ocean. Delivering a nice fresh fish to Mama Sandy.

papa osprey brings fish to mama
Papa Osprey delivers fresh seafood…a small fish.

They quickly changed shifts. Stanley sat on the eggs and Sandy took the fish and flew off to the  lamp-post close by to enjoy it.

 osprey eats on a lamp-post
Mama Osprey enjoys her food on a nearby lamp-post.

She then returned to the nest and did her pilates balancing on the edge. Stretching her arms and legs in turn. Followed by light flying exercises around the marsh.

mama osprey does her workout
Mama Osprey does her pilates…
Mama Osprey flies around the nest
Mama Osprey flies around the marsh just to get some exercise.

I wish them…and you all a wonderful weekend! I’ll catch up on your blogs next week as soon as I return.

Reporting from the salt marsh on Wednesday, Tiny

 

Wordless Wednesday: Shake Baby, Shake. Frame by Frame.

Start by shaking off all anger. So it doesn’t poison your being.
Then shake off your fears. So that love can come to your heart.
Then shake off your fears. So love can come to your heart.
reddish egret shaking off water Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Next, shake off all your worries. They won’t do you any good.
Next shake off all remaining negativity. So you make room for positive thoughts.
Then shake off any remaining negativity. So you make room for positive energy.
osprey shaking off water Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Next, shake away and leave behind old baggage. It will just weigh you down.
snovy egret shaking off water Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
And finally, shake some more to get rid of any lingering doubts. So you can go on trusting life.
Time for a happy dance on a lamp-post? Shake baby, shake :-)

 

Detective Work and a New Condo Building. In the Salt Marsh.

No baby news as yet for the Osprey Family.  Mama Sandy and Papa Stanley are still sitting tight on the egg(s), taking turns. Sandy sits from sunset until sunrise, then gets a nice break after breakfast for bath and exercise.

female osprey drying herself Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Mama Osprey does her morning exercises. She has specialized in greeting me her head upside down   :)

She also gets a short break in the afternoon, and a last long one just after dinner before sunset. The shift change is quick and smooth, well practiced by now.

shift change for incubating ospreys Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Shift change, Mama Osprey goes back to sit on the egg(s) after her morning break…
shift change for incubating ospreys Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…Papa osprey leaves for his break…
male osprey leaves the nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…and to get the next meal.

Just a little later this day, on my way home, I found him on Marriott’s roof looking for fish in the bay, but also checking on Mama every now and then. It’s quite far from the nest, but I’m sure he could both see and hear her.

osprey on the roof of sand key Marriott resort
Papa Osprey’s lookout on the roof of Marriott Resort.

But I’ve seen some indications that hatching is imminent. Sandy gets up, exercises a bit and inspects the egg(s), which she hasn’t done before. She’s counting the days, I’m sure.

Mama osprey checks on the eggs Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Mama Osprey checks on the egg(s)…

And Stanley has moved his perch closer to the nest. Last few days I’ve found him on a lamp-post just south of the park border and only 30 feet from the nest. I took this picture of him on St. Patrick’s Day through some thick trees. He was sleepy after eating the head of the fish and was just guarding it until Sandy would tell him she wants to eat.

osprey sleeping with a half eaten fish Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…while Papa is sleeping with full crop on his lamp-post.

A wonderful little couple. But has their week been just peace and quiet? Of course not. Osprey Steve has flown by a few times, but heeded the warnings and disappeared quickly. Maybe he’s finally learning. But that’s not the case with the Great Blue Heron who attacked the nest couple of weeks ago. He did it again.

young great blue heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
The culprit, a young Great Blue Heron is hiding close to some tall grass.

This time I had just left to go home and had reached the opposite end of the marsh when I saw a Great Blue Heron fly right over me from the beach towards the nest. I saw Papa Osprey intercepting him in the air about ten feet from the nest. I scrambled with my camera that I had already shut off and placed in my bag. And saw a wild chase over the salt marsh. The culprit was fleeing and Papa was chasing him. I managed to get them both in one of my wild shots from very far. You can see Stanley coming back towards the marsh and the Blue Heron flying over the marsh trying to find a hiding place.

Papa Osprey (on the upper left) chases the Great Blue Heron (on the right)

I just had to return and do some detective work. I couldn’t believe the culprit was the resident Great Blue Heron, whom I had named the Mayor of the Marsh, and seen around for the whole year. And I was right. Little detective work sometimes pays off. There were two Great Blue Herons in the marsh! The youngster (pictured above) who just flew in and attacked the nest, and the older gentleman. He was watching the drama from a small islet, and I had not seen him earlier. That explains a lot.

great blue heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
The Mayor of the Marsh checks on the residents…

I have one more funny thing to report.  You remember the old palm trunk where Papa Stanley has his man cave penthouse? Now that he’s moved closer to the nest and is not using it much, it has become a very busy condo building for nesting birds.

nanday parakeet Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
A Nanday Parakeet couple has the upper unit…
european starling
A couple of European Starlings have the middle unit…
redbellied woodpecker in his nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…and a Red-bellied Woodpecker has the lower unit on the other side of the trunk.
Two residents are on their balconies, the woodpecker is obviously on his way out to run some errands.

Oh, I almost forgot. The Green Heron, whom I haven’t seen for months, returned to the marsh just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.

green heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
The Green Heron is back home!

That’s all for this week. Unless there are breaking news. I hope your week has been great so far.

Reporting from the salt marsh, Tiny

Spring Break. Man Cave Rentals and Guard Duty.

This week has been warm. Spring-like. Birds are courting and building nests. Wild flowers are blooming in the salt marsh. And spring-breakers are everywhere.

spring flowers in salt marsh
Spring flowers are blooming…

The Osprey Family is not taking a spring break.  Sandy and Stanley continue to incubate in shifts. Mama Sandy’s shifts seem to be little longer, and she always takes a bath whenever she gets some time off. Then dries herself in the sun, sits on the egg(s) again and asks Papa to go fishing.

female osprey dries herself Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Mama Sandy shakes off the water after a quick bath…

They seem to have established a regular routine to be interrupted only by Papa Stanley’s guard duty when a potential intruder approaches the nest.

male osprey on guard duty Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Papa Stanley warns Steve…

I’m happy to report that the Great Blue Heron has not repeated his attack on the nest. He’s still keeping an admirably low profile at the opposite end of the marsh.

great blue heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Mister Great Blue Heron keeps a low profile…

But Steve, the young Osprey, has been around again. Several times. The other day he flew very close to the nest. Papa Stanley’s loud warnings scared even a Mottled Duck who was swimming close by. She literally ran on water :)

mottled duck runs on water Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Mottled Duck runs on water…

But Steve didn’t give up. He kept circling around the nest. And finally Stanley had no choice but to chase him away in person.

another osprey flies above the nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Steve flies above the nest…
male osprey flies out of the nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…and Papa Stanley decides to chase him away.

Papa Stanley still enjoys his man cave, but spends more time in the nest now. And lets feathery spring-breakers rent his perch from time to time.

male osprey Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Papa Osprey in his man cave
nanday parakeet couple Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Two Nanday Parakeets visiting…

A Red-bellied Woodpecker has been working on his little apartment in the same old palm trunk for a few days now, and today he finally moved in. He appeared to be very pleased with his new home.

red-bellied woodpecker Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
A Red-bellied Woodpecker builds a home…
Woodpecker builds his nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…and inspects the walls…
redbellied woodpecker in his nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Home sweet home…

I’m sure Stanley will be a good neighbor. And a good dad. Maybe already next week if my estimates are about right.

male osprey flies over the nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Papa Stanley flies over the nest to check on Mama.

And he definitely is a good hubby. Today, directly after the shift change at noon, he flew away. I’m guessing to take a bath. But he came back shortly and flew over the nest just to check on Mama before going to fetch some fish for lunch.

All is good. The salt marsh gang wishes you all a wonderful weekend.  <3 Tiny

 

 

 

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