Not Crowded. After Thanksgiving in the Salt Marsh.

After neglecting my exercise routine for almost a month, and eating far too much over the holiday, I decided it was time to get out. Not to the malls or other crowded venues offering black stuff for mere pittance, but to the salt marsh to check on my feathered friends. The weather was finally sunny and the strong winds had calmed down quite a bit.

salt marsh flower tree nov 29
Sunny in the salt marsh…

I was eager to see how the residents had fared the stormy weather and whether or not Papa Osprey would still recognize me.

after the storm in the nature reserve nov 29 tm

There we signs of minor wind damage, dead palm branches and small debris scattered everywhere. And very few birds out and about. I almost got worried. But then I spotted this Great Egret. He was hunting. Looking intently into the grassy pool of water, waiting patiently, and then making his move.

Great Egret hunting in the marsh nov 29
A Great Egret hunts…

He caught a little frog (click to enlarge, and you’ll see). He ate it and flew away to the sunny side of the marsh.

great egret catches a frog nov 29
…for a little frog
great egret flying 3 Nov 29
…and then flies away.

I continued to Papa’s nest. He was there, initially awake and checking his surroundings. But he had a full crop, much like mine after the holiday.  He was sleepy. After nodding a greeting, he soon fell asleep perching on the edge of his nest to digest his breakfast. I thought that was neat. Tiny was not a threat, it was okay to doze off. He looked cute sleeping like a baby, I thought.

Papa Osprey taking a nap Nov 29
PO takes a nap…

I let him sleep and walked around for a while looking for more birds. I found the Moorhen family, all three together, on an after breakfast swim.

Moorhen family Nov 29
The Moorhen family…

And whoops, suddenly a Little Blue Heron landed almost in front of me. I assume he’d been away for Thanksgiving.  Welcome home you little one!

little blue heron landing Nov
A Little Blue Heron comes back home…

But all the others were still sleeping, hiding or just away somewhere. So I decided to walk to the bay side to look for more familiar faces. But the pickings were slim.  To my delight I spotted at least one resident of the salt marsh, a Yellow-crowned Night Heron.

yellowcrowned night heron hunting on the bay nov 29
A Yellow-crowned Night Heron on a day trip…

That was rare as they usually don’t hunt after daybreak. I always find them dozing off in the bushes, but not this one. I hope he wasn’t sleepwalking.

Yellowcrowned night heron on the bayside nov 29
…walks in the shallow water of the bay.

I feel so much better after the long walk. My “crop” feels a little smaller. I hope yours does too.  ❤ Tiny

 

 

Just Landed.

I am happy to say the NaNoWriMo ended on my part this afternoon. I have a thick pile of paper sitting on my printer tray.  A raw manuscript of my second book.

The temporary cover that inspired me to write...
The temporary cover that inspired me to write…

It’s all there in a primitive form, the good and the bad: adventures, struggles, emotions and life learnings. It’s a story of a young “green hat” who goes to Africa on a mission to save the world, but ends up saving only herself. The writing journey over these past 28 days was all but easy, and I realize it has just only begun.

It is time to take a break from it. I’ll need to catch my breath after running for my life from charging elephants, and hiding under my bed during a wild shootout. Then, at some point, I’ll need to start editing it…and hopefully it’ll find its way to the public domain sometime late next year. For Christmas would be nice.

Now I’ll be catching up on your blogs and on my visits to see Papa Osprey. And some work that’s been neglected lately.

Namaste.

Gaining Weight. And That’s a Good Thing.

Don’t you worry, this post is not about me. Luckily I haven’t gained any weight lately.  Should it happen, I wouldn’t necessarily consider that a good thing. This is all about a certain distinguished  Pandion haliaetus, namely Papa Osprey.

The other day I realized he might have gained a little bit of weight. No, I couldn’t get him to step on the scale, that’s still very much work in progress, but found this picture. It was  taken just after the nesting season in early July, when Papa Osprey returned from his two-week vacation. Doesn’t he look pretty thin and worn out? Just bones and skin beneath the feathers?

papa osprey in beginning of July
PO in early July, just two weeks after the fledgling left the nest.

If we compare this picture to how he looks now,  in November, when perched on the edge of his nest with a nice variety of brunch items, I’m sure you agree that there’s some more of him now.

papa osprey with a red fish
PO at the nest with a red fish…
..and another fish...
..and a white fish…
...and a third type of fish...
…and a third type of very pale fish…
...and a forth variety, a huge one.
…and a fourth variety, a huge one for breakfast at sunrise.

You see, Ospreys lose weight during the nesting season. All that hauling of heavy building materials needed for nestoration, and then fishing from sunrise to sunset to feed Mama Osprey and the nestling, made for a good workout. Combine that with the fact that his lunch hour was short, if he didn’t miss it altogether, and the dinner table might have been pretty empty by the time his work was finished , and you have an effective weight loss regimen.

wet papa osprey returns from ocean
PO after a recreational swim in the ocean…

Now Papa Osprey has enjoyed about five months of freedom. Warm, lazy days just gliding along the beach and fishing for himself. No stress. All his attention directed towards his own wellbeing. Full crop most times I’ve seen him. I think it shows. And that’s a good thing.

papa osprey over the ocean
PO fishing on the ocean…

Yesterday I saw he had brought some colorful materials into the nest. He probably wants to make sure Mama Osprey will see the nest from afar whenever she decides to arrive back into this area. It could be any day between now and early January. He’s already preening diligently to look handsome for her.

Po getting in shape...
PO getting in shape…

Yesterday I also spotted a new, fourth osprey gliding past my office window, but  wasn’t able to make an identification. Papa was perched in his nest, and I saw two other ospreys (Stanley and Steve?) circling above the bay. Might it be Mama Osprey, all rested and fuller figured too, waiting for Papa to perform his Proposal Dance?

Even when they stay together for life, Papa needs to please her with a special dance before she’ll start working with him on rebuilding  the nest. Repeat every year. I personally think it’s a good practice 😀

An artistic "dream rendering" of PO performing his dance
An artistic “dream rendering” of PO performing his dance

I’m sharing a link to a beautiful two-minute trailer for a documentary about Ospreys. It’s worth watching, and you can do it by clicking right here. It pretty much sums up why Ospreys have a special place in my heart.

Hope your weekend has been great so far. Mine has been exceptionally good. I was able to watch Papa Osprey and the other residents in the salt marsh together with a blogging friend of mine, bird photographer and expert, H.J. aka Avian 101, and his beautiful family. I’m sure he’ll post some great photos from the salt marsh and elsewhere after his vacation.

Happy Thanksgiving week to everyone.

 

A Short Walk in Search of Fall

Earlier this week, I decided to go look for signs of fall here in my neighborhood.  Even in nature that’s mostly evergreen, there should be some signs of the seasons changing. Other than somewhat cooler temperatures with occasional cold fronts, shorter days and migrating birds.

When I looked carefully, I found some seasonal colors in our garden, on the beach, around the bay and the salt marsh in the park. We don’t see the type of stunning color palettes you have up north, but I found a few small spots of eye-popping color. I hope you like the Florida fall colors I picked up on my walk.

Sending warm thoughts and prayers to those blogging friends who experienced the epic snow storm this week, and are now expecting flooding. Please stay safe. You can read about their struggle on Amy’s blog.

Love always, Tiny

Fall colors in our garden...
Fall colors in our garden…
Fall flowers on the beach...
Fall flowers on the beach…
Changing colors on the beach...
Changing colors on the beach…
Colorful leaves in the salt marsh...
Colorful leaves in the salt marsh…
Wild flowers in the salt marsh
Wild flowers in the salt marsh
Late bloomers...White Bird of Paradise next to the bay...
Late bloomers…White Bird of Paradise next to the bay…
Blooming grass on the bay side...
Blooming grass on the bay side…
A blooming tree in the park...
A blooming tree in the park…
Color popping seed pods in the park...
Eye-popping seed pods in the park…
...and a head popping Muscovy Duck in the salt mash :)
…and a head-bopping Muscovy Duck in the salt mash 🙂

 

Papa Osprey and His Friends. Important Introductions.

This past weekend was a delight. The weather was gorgeous between two cold fronts, but even more importantly our son popped in for a short visit. After all the good eating, I took him on a walk to enjoy the beach and to introduce him to my winged friends in the salt marsh.  I hoped they would behave. Or at least not go into hiding.

blue ocean nov 16
A sailing boat on the calm, blue Gulf…

The ocean was sky blue and calm. Sailing school students were gathering for a class little further out.

sailing school nov 16
Sailing school students gather for a class…

Pelicans were flying back and forth close to the water, tiny Sanderlings were running around on the sand picking food, and to my surprise a Snowy Egret was fishing in the calm waves rolling in. A welcome committee already on the beach.

pelican flying low 2
A Pelican flies close to the calm waters…
sanderling
A little Sanderling picks for food…
A Snowy Egret fishing on the ocean shore...
A Snowy Egret fishing on the ocean shore…

When we reached the north end of the beach, Mister Blue Heron had courteously come to welcome us to the park and the salt marsh. I made introductions and we got some nice pictures.

mister blue heron on the beach
Mister Blue Heron shows off his welcome pose…

As we walked through the park, we spotted a beautiful Mourning Dove in the grass. And reaching the salt marsh we observed a Tricolored Heron fishing in the shallow waters. I was happy to see we still had some visitors. A team of Wood Storks was guarding a sleeping Spoonbill. He was taking an after lunch nap, I assumed.

mourning dove
A graceful Mourning Dove…
wood storks and roseate spoonbill
Visiting Wood Stork team and a Roseate Spoonbill…
tricolored heron
A Tricolored Heron patrols the marsh…

I made some quick introductions again, but was in a hurry to see if I could introduce my most cherished friend, Papa Osprey. And he didn’t disappoint.

papa osprey with a fish
Papa Osprey says hi to Tiny & son…

He was having lunch. He saw I had someone important to introduce so he interrupted his eating for a while to say hi. So very thoughtful of him. After saying our goodbyes to him we walked back home. And saw a new guy on the block circling high above the beach, a Turkey Vulture. I have no idea whether he’s moved in or was just visiting over the weekend.

Turkey vulture in flight
A Turkey Vulture circles high up…

It was a great weekend, but now we’re all back to work. Mine being to finish the first draft of my second book before the end of the month. I’ll need to catch up on my word count as writing was not a priority over this particular weekend. I’ll try to catch up on your blogs as well this week.

Have a great week, my friends.