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