male osprey flying

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

49 thoughts on “Detective Work and a New Condo Building. In the Salt Marsh.”

    1. The baby is clearly coming soon…my calculations (that could be faulty if I got the date she laid eggs wrong) say Saturday or Sunday. The condo is so funny to observe when three heads are sticking out and there’s lots of traffic back and forth! ❤

    1. You’re right, but even politicians get wrongly blamed sometimes. And I was kind of starting to blame the one I knew of. Happy it’s all cleared up now…but who knows, maybe the youngster is thinking of running for office 🙂

  1. Sweet Tiny you can not imagine how much I enjoy your posts and pictures about the ospreys and all that goes on in the marsh. Seeing the birds in the condo gave me a chuckle. Very colorful occupants now taking advantage of it. Shame on Mr. Heron for attacking the osprey nest. Love this post. Hugs

    1. Thank you dear Mags! It’s a privilege to be able to share the happenings in the marsh. The condo building has already given me many smiles…happy it gave you a chuckle too! Hugs to you too!

  2. Such continuing drama! I want to say I’ll be relieved when the eggs finally hatch, but I just realized how worried I will be when they are baby birds and still the blue heron is in the neighborhood. Yikes – what have you gotten me into???

    1. I’m hoping the heron was after the eggs and will not continue this behavior…even better if he moves away to the city 🙂 What I’ve seen of Stanley’s ability to defend the nest, I’m sure everything will be fine!

    1. Thanks Leanne! I hope I can capture the young one(s) from my terrace with some clarity. Otherwise they take a few weeks before they peek out of the nest, and by that time they are already much bigger.

    1. Thanks Nancy. Yes, that works well in nature…I wonder if people could live in harmony like that without an overlay of structures…

  3. Not much I can add in my comments, except that I also enjoyed the update on the nest and nest thieves, as well as that great condo picture!


    1. Happy you enjoyed it Nancy. I hope no more updates will be needed on nest thieves…the condo residents have their nests better protected as they can sit in the door and block the entrance.

    1. Thanks Bruce. The village is growing, lots of homes being built right now, but most are not easy to find/observe as they are well hidden in the thicket.

    1. The young one is too bold for his health. Again, it seems he got his tail feathers messed up. I hope he moves on or shuts up. The more I see the osprey couple, the more I admire them. So intuitively wise and caring.

  4. Fantastic post, Tiny! Thanks for the progress report. Papa Osprey is doing a great job of guarding Mama and the eggs. It must be quite a stressful time for them both with that GBH honing in on them without warning. The condo pics are really funny. Thanks for the Friday morning smiles. Have a great weekend. xx

    1. Thanks Sylvia! PO is truly an amazing defender. He wasn’t even in the nest when this GBH approached, but came in like a fighter jet and intercepted the attacker even further from the nest than the first time. it seems the GBH got his tail feathers ruffled again. Have a wonderful weekend! XX

  5. Some stunning captures here, Tiny! Happy to read about Ospreys. The Condo is fantastic!! Thank you so much for sharing these precious images, Tiny!

    1. I’m happy you like the continued saga of life in this little village, Amy. The condo is a new development that seems very interesting to follow. Have a great weekend!

  6. The Sandy Island Marsh is getting better by the day! It’s so nice to see that birds are sharing the “condo” You’re doing a great job as the Marsh Reporter! Love, 🙂

  7. Thanks for your kind encouragement to the embedded reporter, H.J.! Yes, this little “village” is developing with times – spring! Love, 😀

  8. Again, your photography is wonderful, Tiny. How I laughed out loud when I saw all the birds’ heads sticking out of the tree. What a shot that was! How long did it take for you to get that? My goodness, you must have patience of a Saint. How exciting to know babies are almost here. Oh I can hardly wait!!! Great reporting, my friend. Love, Amy

    1. Thanks dear Amy. It took me about half an hour to get the shot where everybody in the “condo” was visible. I tried the same today on my lunch walk, but the woodpecker preferred to work in a nearby tree 🙂 Checking for hatchling(s) every few hours from my terrace…the “due” time (38 days) is this weekend if my calculations are any good. So happy you enjoy their story. Love, Tiny

  9. Such a fun photo of those little heads looking out from their “units” — and I’m very glad they haven’t been displaced by anyone building a real condo!

    1. Me too! That park is a protected area by the county and so loved by residents and visitors alike so it’s likely to stay for birds condos only 🙂

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