He stretched it out. The announcement was very loud, perhaps even a bit enthusiastic. The Green Heron had returned to his winter home at the salt marsh while I was gone, and appeared surprised to see me. As I walked closer, he repeated the announcement.
An Anhinga, who was resting down by the water almost right below him, joined the choir. She’s baaack!
All eyes were on me. Well, almost. Even the Mayor interrupted his hunt, walked closer, nailed his eyes on me and gave me a nod.
The young Mourning Dove checked on me too from her high vantage point. Approvingly, I thought.
Miss Rosa was still sleeping in her ‘bedroom’, heavily curtailed by leafy greens. She opened her eyes. I’m afraid my approach had woken her up.
The Reddish Egret, who had been fishing in the shallows nearby, performed his signature dance. Shake, Baby, Shake. What a royal reception!
Even two of the ducklings, who had left the salt marsh merely four months ago marching behind their Mama, came to say hi. They had grown a lot. And they had started in diving school. I saw a few more siblings further away.
But not all residents joined the welcome party. The young Great Blue Heron didn’t really care to see me back. We have some history, as some of you will remember. I noticed he might have been in a fight as he had a flap of skin hanging under his chin. I wished him speedy recovery.
And the Yellow-crowned Night Heron didn’t pay any attention to me either. But I didn’t take it personally. He might have been hunting all night and was now looking for some peace and quiet.
His cousin, the Black-crowned Night Heron, was present too and peeked out from the tall grass. He was simply shy. And soon he flew up into a tree to sleep for the day.
I walked to the beach-end of the marsh and found two Great Egrets hunting together. Beautiful.
And a little Snowy Egret who was fishing alone. She soon decided to move onto the bay side and took off while I was watching her.
I was delighted to see so many feathered friends on my first walk! But where were the Ospreys? The nest was empty – and in great need of repair. Unfortunately the ground is too soft right now to allow a big vehicle to come close to the nest. That will have to wait for a bit longer.
I walked around the marsh. Then sat on ‘my’ bench to drink some water. It was hot already. I waited. A squirrel in the tree above came down to check me out.
I noticed the Anhinga was still there, now drying her wings in the light breeze. And letting her latest catch, the drama of which I had obviously missed, go down smoothly.
Suddenly I heard friendly osprey speak in the sky. Mama Sandy was flying above the marsh with Papa Stanley. Yes! Both of them were around and seemed to be doing fine.
I discovered there was a third Osprey flying with them too. One with slightly orange-colored eyes and white tips on the flying feathers. A juvenile.
I looked at all the pictures I snapped of this young Osprey, and while I can’t be absolutely sure, I think it might have been Lady Cawcaw! She was discussing something with her papa. Maybe getting tips on good fishing spots. That’s when Papa Stanley’s gift arrived. A beautiful flight feather came dangling down and landed on the grass just a few feet from where I was standing. I picked it up. And now have this 14 inches long ‘treasure’ in a small vase in my office, his molting gift.
While I was watching the Ospreys, Miss Rosa had decided it was time for breakfast. She had come out from her hideout and was looking for food.
And the Reddish Egret had recovered from our first meeting and was hunting again with great determination.
I was delighted by the reception orchestrated by the salt marsh residents. So many of them were present on that beautiful morning last Saturday.
It may take a few days before we see such a glorious sunrise again as we are currently bracing for the impacts from a high grade tropical storm, hopefully not a hurricane, expected to brush our area tomorrow night and Thursday. I am hoping all our feathered friends will find shelter to keep them safe. Greetings from all of us.