Repairs and Drama. In the Windswept Salt Marsh.

In battering winds and close to freezing temperatures, with a wind chill factor much below freezing, Mama Osprey was tightly pressed down in the middle of the nest in her Florida coat. Her head was down and pointed against the wind. She didn’t move. She was protecting her egg(s). I saw all this from my office window and decided to dare the cold to check on the Osprey Family.

When I arrived, Mama osprey acknowledged my presence. Papa Osprey was nowhere to be seen.

female osprey at the nest
Mama Osprey says hi to Tiny…

I walked over to his “man cave”. He was not there. Then I spotted him huddling in a pine tree close by. He appeared to be wet. Maybe from an unsuccessful fishing trip in the stormy bay waters on the coldest day this winter. That was on Thursday.

male osprey perching in a pine tree
Papa Osprey huddles in a pine tree…

Yesterday the weather improved slowly. The winds calmed down a bit, and after the coldest morning this winter,  the temperatures climbed to balmy 49F (9.5 C) in the afternoon.  Most birds were still in hiding when I arrived in the salt marsh, but the “Mayor” himself was hunching on a small islet. I guess he wanted to give reassurances to the other residents.  This too shall pass.

great blue heron
Mister Great Blue Heron huddles in the wind…

I found Mama Sandy eager to repair her nursery after the stormy night. She gave instructions to Papa Stanley to bring home some sturdy materials. And he promptly delivered a long stick.

male osprey repairs the nest
Papa Osprey delivers repair materials…

But it didn’t seem to be quite what Mama needed. So she left the nest, just for a couple of minutes, to do the shopping herself. And brought home a large piece taken from a palm tree.

mama osprey goes shopping A
Mama Osprey goes shopping…
mama osprey gets materials A
…for the correct materials.

She then arranged the nest to her liking, and sat down on the egg(s)again.  That’s when a threat appear in the sky. Mama sounded an alarm, and Papa Stanley hurried back to the nest.

osprey couple
Mama Osprey sounds warnings…

Osprey Steve was flying over the nest. Repeatedly. With a half eaten fish in his talons.

osprey steve flies by the nest with a half fish by tiny
…with a half eaten fish. It’s Steve.

After the “situation” was over, Mama Sandy asked for fish. And Papa flew away again. Life was returning to normal in the salt marsh.

male osprey leaves the nest
Papa osprey goes fishing…

On my way home I spotted him scanning for fish above the bay, but couldn’t stay long enough to see the outcome. But about half an hour later, I saw him fly past my office window with a small shiny fish. All was good.

male osprey scans for fish
Papa Osprey scans for fish in the bay…

This morning was beautiful. The winds were weak and the temperatures climbed steadily. I just had to get out for a long walk.

The salt marsh was bustling with activity. Ibis, Night Herons, Blue Herons and Egrets were out and about.

great egret
A Great Egret airs her plumes in the sunshine.
yellowcrowned night heron portrait
A Yellow-crowned Night Heron is completely awake.

When I arrived to the nest, Mama Osprey had just finished eating . As usual, Papa Stanley took the rest of the fish and flew to finish it off in his “man cave”.

osprey flies away with the fish
Papa Osprey flies to his “man cave” to finish his meal…

But he didn’t eat. Something else had caught his attention high up in the sky.

papa osprey watching the bald eagles by tiny
…but he can’t eat. There’s danger on the horizon.

I looked up too and saw what seemed like two huge birds circling high, high up in the sky. I took my camera and zoomed all out. Two Bald Eagles. The only real danger to Ospreys, apart from man-made hazards. Papa Osprey didn’t move. His eyes followed the two birds with complete concentration.

two bald eagles flying high above
Could these two be Bald Eagles?
Yes they were...
Yes they were…

I ran back to the nest. Mama Osprey sat on her egg(s), quietly without a peep. Watching the danger in the sky. No alarm calls. It was better to remain silent and pretend to be invisible.

osprey watching the eagles
Mama Osprey watches the Eagles as well…

I knew there was a Bald Eagle nest on the other side of the bay, and gathered this might be the couple. They appeared to be completely taken by their courting dance high up in the air, and not hunting. After about five minutes they disappeared towards the bay. I could almost hear the sigh of relief from Mama Sandy. And soon Papa Stanley arrived back to the nest with his still uneaten fish. Better safe than sorry.

osprey returns with his fish 16x9
Papa Osprey returns with his fish…to be with Mama.

The danger was over and weekend was going great again.

I hope your weekend is going well too. Reporting from the salt marsh, Tiny


51 thoughts on “Repairs and Drama. In the Windswept Salt Marsh.”

    1. Now you really made me laugh H.J.! But yes, something is definitely going on now…And we’ll see in about a month if there will be a small one or two in the Osprey family 🙂

    1. Thanks Cyndi! Yes it did. The wind was really harsh…it was difficult to stand steadily enough to take photos. And it was equally hard for Mama Osprey to stay putt on the top of the nest, but she’s a hard cookie as we know 🙂

    1. Yes, Bald Eagle is the only animal that can (and does) harm Ospreys, take their eggs or nestlings. I hope these guys will keep their hunting on “their” side of the bay. I have not seen them here before, and only spotted them now because I wondered why PO was not eating, but instead staring at the sky intently…I’m happy too nothing happened ❤

  1. Tiny, our warzone correspondent reports no casualties at ground zero today while giving a blow by blow account of the ongoing suspense and danger. Pulitzer stuff with some stunningly stand-out photos of wing-spans in particular. Greatly enjoyed as ever Tiny.

    1. Mike, your colourful, descriptive and very kind comment made me smile! And motivated to undertake more adventurous missions into the warzone. Thank you Mike!

    1. It was the coldest couple of days they have experienced for years. But luckily we’re back to normal today, already at 20C. I have marveled at the blue rope with the wooden circle, looks a bit like a toy. Mama must have found it somewhere – maybe in the marina at the bay. I have noticed she loves blue and green 🙂

    1. Their devotion to each other amazes me, and when little ones arrive, they will be such caring parents 🙂 I saw it last year when they had one offspring, a girl.

    1. I cant be completely sure of when she laid the egg, but it takes in average 37 days before there will be a hatchling. I’m guessing March 15-25. They are called fist “hatchlings” then “nestlings” and then “fledglings”…so I guess I have to give them a name if there are more than one 🙂

      1. But never ‘chicks’, that’s interesting. What qualifies certain birds to be categorized that way? Is it the flightless condition that precludes the ‘ing’ suffix, I wonder?

        1. I guess a layperson, like me, could very well call them chicks, although usually it’s not used of ospreys. I have no idea why. Instead, the osprey offspring is usually referred to according to the stage of its development (hatch, nest, fly) – and they are usually given names if people follow the nest 🙂

  2. I am glad you didn’t have to be witness to the “circle of life” right there in your marsh this weekend! What fantastic photos and narrative! I loved the storyline and am especially glad that it had a happy ending. 🙂

    1. Thanks Amy! I’m so happy too for not having to witness anything tragic! It was really tense, and both Ospreys stayed completely quiet. Now I’m hoping these eagles stay hunting on their side of the bay 🙂

  3. Such an amazing series of shots and activity with these amazing birds, as if you are sitting in and a part of their lives…your writing fits the title very well, “REPAIRS AND DRAMA”. Sometimes a little drama is good in life, and very happy it was not big drama. Cheers to a great weekend Tiny ~

    1. Thank you kindly Randall. I feel privileged to live so close to nature and these wonderful birds… I can sneak into their world as a respectful observer almost at any time. Little drama and lots of smiles. Have a wonderful week!

  4. Wonderful images, and story telling! I love watching the wildlife down here in Florida, it is absolutely amazing. I am enjoying your posts, and am looking forward to seeing more 🙂

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