female osprey with three chicks Sand key park clearwater florida

Parenting Preteens. Exercise Regimens. And More Babies in the Salt Marsh.

I want to start this weeks update by showing you the bigger picture of the salt marsh and the eastern (bay side) part of the park where all the adventures of the Osprey family and other feathered friends take place. So here you have the “theatre of operations” 🙂

The bigger picture of the
The bigger picture of the salt marsh ~ click to enlarge.

And while we are on the pictures I took last weekend, you can also see the nest from above. It’s getting somewhat crowded.

ospey nest from above Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
The Osprey family pictured from above.

The chicks are growing fast. They resemble their parents more and more. I have to say I admire the parenting skills of this couple. Sandy has protected the youngest chick and ensured s/he gets a fair share of the food. And she’s taught all three kids patience and great manners. There are no signs of the usual sibling rivalry, no fighting or picking on each other.

Female osprey feeds the smallest chick at sunrise in  Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Mama Sandy feeds the youngest chick at sunrise today. Papa Stanley must have made a pre-dawn fishing trip and is now taking a well deserved nap.

Stanley brings in fish after fish all day long and participates actively in the upbringing of their offspring. Like any modern dad. And both of them are highly skilled in protecting the nest, as you’ve seen.

male osprey brings a fish into the nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Stanley brings in a fish, head already eaten as usual.

One day I witnessed a quiet discussion between the parents while the chicks were napping.  Or more like a monologue by Sandy. Stanley didn’t say much. He was in the listening mode. I didn’t understand all of it, but it ended up by Sandy asking him to go fetch afternoon snacks.

osprey couple in Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Sandy asks for afternoon snacks.

Stanley obliged. He flew towards the ocean at exactly 2 p.m. And came back 17 minutes later with a shiny fish. Is that a record or what! He flew over the nest to show it to Sandy before taking it to his man cave for initial cleanup.

Male osprey goes fishing and comes back with a fish in 17 minutes Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Stanley flies towards the ocean and returns 17 minutes later with a fish.

The first-born chick has already started “wingersizing”. That means s/he may fledge within 10-14 days. The middle chick will not be far behind, and the youngest probably a few days after that. I made a short gif image for you to see how it’s done (sorry for the camera movement, I don’t usually carry my tripod on these short walks).

First born osprey chick exercises his/her wings by Tiny lessonsblog
First born chick exercises his/her wings by Tiny (click to see the exercise, repeats only three times).

Sandy now also leaves the nest a bit more often, but only for a minute or two, to bring in some reinforcements to the nest. Note how flat the chicks are lying in the nest while she’s gone.

female osprey brings new reinforcements to the nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Sandy brings in additional railing materials.

Luckily there hasn’t been any drama to witness this week. But I have some good news. In addition to the ten ducklings, there are three tiny Moorhen chicks in the salt marsh! I spotted them on a swim with Mrs. Moorhen yesterday.

Moorhen with her chicks Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Mrs. Moorhen with her three chicks.
a Moorhen chick Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Help! Where are you mommy?

They are tiny black fluff balls with red markings and really big feet. One of these days I hope to spot them walking in the grass so you can see for yourself. I’ve also tried to see if I could find the ten ducklings again, but instead of them coming out, I spotted these two dragonflies enjoying the sunshine just above their nest.

dragonfly Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
A purple dragonfly…
dragonfly Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…and a blue one.

The other day I also saw something funny I think you might enjoy. A juvenile Great Egret was exercising with a Mottled Duck. One, two, three, four. Repeat. This routine attracted another duck onto the scene. Perhaps also wanting to participate.

Young Great egret exercising with a Mottled Duck by tinylessonsblog
Young Great Egret exercising with a Mottled Duck (click to see the exercise, repeats only three times).

That’s all for this week from the salt marsh. Remember to keep moving, exercise is good for us too 😀

63 thoughts on “Parenting Preteens. Exercise Regimens. And More Babies in the Salt Marsh.”

  1. So cool, what a neighborhood you live in 🙂 The osprey family is awesome, and really like their new neighbor the purple dragonfly…great color. Cheers to a great day & weekend.

    1. I’m really happy to have the Osprey family and even some purple dragonflies reside in the neighborhood 🙂 It’s a small marsh, but very lively. Have a wonderful weekend, Randall.

    1. As you see, the salt marsh is small, dotted with little islets, grass and trees that make good homes for the birds, and the deep water has so much fish for the Cormorant and Anhinga to dive after 🙂 The osprey chicks are big already, just about 6 weeks old now. Hugs!

  2. Oh how quickly they grow-up, seems like only yesterday they were hatching eggs and now they are almost ready to spread their wings. It’s interesting how they lie so very flat when both parents are away from the nest (unlike my two…)! 🙂

    1. I know, there are no parties in the osprey house when the parents are away 🙂 I saw when mama left the nest and the chicks immediately went down. They only lift their heads up again when one of the parents is very close coming back.

  3. The Moorhen chicks are just darling. 🙂 And good to see that the “preteens” are so diligent about exercising their little wings!

    1. I was happy to spot the Moorhen chicks as their nest is somewhere in the middle of the shallow marsh. They were born earlier than last year so it was an unexpected delight 🙂

    1. I laughed so hard when I saw the unlikely pair exercising. They were at it quite a while, looking at each other every now and then like saying “one more round?”.

    1. The osprey chicks are now about 5-6 weeks old and more than half of the size of mom and dad. It’s amazing how fast they grow! I hope to see the Moorhen family a few times before those cuties grow up 🙂

    1. Thank you Kathy. I realized I’ve never posted a picture of the whole marsh, so I went up to the roof 🙂 to take some shots and got a big part of it in one picture. We can soon make an educated guess whether the osprey chicks are boys or girls, maybe in a week or two.

      1. You’re so adventurous to have gone up on the roof but I’m glad you were! Fun too, that you’ll be able to tell if the teens are boys or girls!

        1. I can only make an educated guess based on their breast markings. These markings start to show when they get their white breast feathers. The first two are almost “there” now.

    1. I find it amazing too. My short walks around the marsh and back come to about 1.5 miles, the longer ones when I also go to the beach and the bay to about 3 miles (according to my iPhone’s health app) so it’s not a big place.

  4. Oh, my, haven’t those babies grown quickly! Love hearing about some of the other inhabitants of the salt marsh as well, and good also to get the bigger picture of where all these dramas take place 🙂 Really enjoy these stories, Tiny, you have a wonderful way of writing that always makes me look forward to the next episode – keep it up (please!) 🙂

    1. Happy you enjoy the escapades of our feathered friends! I realized I had never shown where all this takes place and went to the roof to take pictures. I suspect the “Salt Marsh News” will continue for a while if friends are interested in reading it 🙂

  5. Love this post, Tiny! I think I’m attached to the osprey family. When I don’t see them here, I think about them. 🙂 Beautiful dragonfly captures!

    1. Thanks so much Amy! I’m very attached to this little family. I remember last year when the only fledgling left the nest towards end of June, and the parents had taken a well deserved vacation somewhere, maybe in Key West, I missed them too much!

  6. I have been following your site for the past few weeks,
    was wondering where the Salt Marsh was located, not until
    this post did I realize that it was at Sand Key Park.
    Haven’t been there since last Saturday. Had my camera with
    but never bothered to look up as we were leaving the beach.
    Next trip south we will be checking out McGough Park.

    1. You should stop and look for the birds when you come here next time. Sometimes you see many right away, and sometimes they like to hide in the high grass in the middle of the marsh or have gone to the bay or deeper into the park.

  7. I’ve been moving most of the day. I just finished mowing about an acre. With spring here, I find there is always something to do outside. I planted about 80 plants yesterday. I’m loving this weather. No one will find me complaining about the work load. As long as the sun is out and the humidity is low, I’m a happy gal. So my feet are up and I’m enjoying immensely reading your blog. I love everything about it! The Osprey family should be a book! The moorhens are super adorable. The pop of color their beaks give off is so striking against their dark feathering. I love it. Nature is incredible and I thank you for bringing it closer.❀❀❀

    1. Wow! You have to blog more about your garden! It promises to be spectacular! I’m happy you enjoy reading about the nature and the inhabitants around the salt marsh! I hope to get more pics of the Moorhen chicks over the weekend.

  8. Dear Tiny, your blog is HUGE. And filled all great things! Magnificent shots. How absolutely precious to be able to watch the comings and goings of the Osprey family. So good to see you out and about. It’s all grey and misty here today. But lovely in its own mysterious way. Happy weekend! xox Sharon

    1. Thank you for your encouragement, dear Sharon! It is indeed wonderful to be so close to nature and be able to share some of its wonders here. I know spring weather can be misty and grey in Finland at times, but it is also wonderful to see new life sprout everywhere, the lightest green little leaves and the wild flowers in the forest. I hope to have “kahvi ja pulla” with you one day. Have a beautiful weekend. Hugs!

      1. We just had a picnic with some friends and their families out in the nature close to our home. Grilled some makkara and had pulla after. It was very windy as we were out close to the sea but the sun has come out and it was so good to be out in the windswept spring evening! Have a lovely weekend. I do hope we’ll have that kahvi ja pulla one day! xxx

        1. I can “see” you sitting there with friends, close to the sea, grilling makkara in the spring evening. That scene also brings wonderful memories.Hope you’ll get more sun in the weekend! XX

  9. Loved the dragonflies, such wonderful colours. Thank you for all those splendid pictures of the different families, you certainly know a beautiful and interesting place.

    1. The dragonflies are very beautiful! I’ve seen the purple ones before, but not the blue ones. In sunlight their colors were even more splendid than in my pictures. Thank Susan.

  10. Oh, lots of exercise going on this week. There, I mean. Not here. Not at all, actually LOL

  11. Sorry to hear that. I hope you’ll feel better real soon. I predict that the exercising will just increase here, at least in the osprey nest 🙂

  12. What an absolutely marvelous post! I don’t know which bits I love the most; the gorgeous shots of the Ospreys’ everyday family life, the sweet little Moorhen family, the flamboyantly beautiful Dragonflies, or the Egret conducting the exercise class. Thanks so much for sharing all your happenings at the salt marsh. 🙂 xx

    1. I’m happy you enjoyed the adventures and daily chores of our friends, Sylvia! They are a colorful bunch, the dragonflies who happened to sit down for a minute, adding to the mix 🙂 Happy Mother’s Day XX

    1. I see lots of wing flapping now from my terrace…I hope nobody falls down before they can get back up. Thanks for coming along again, H.J. 🙂

    1. They’ve grown so fast! They may all fledge within this month, but they’ll stay much longer in the nest. They’ll need become skilled fliers and divers, learn all the tricks from Mama and Papa 🙂

    1. Thanks Val! I’d say mom and dad work even harder to keep these teens eating, regardless how much fish dad brings in, the fridge is always empty 🙂

  13. What a thoroughly enjoyable post! I love your perspective on things in the marsh! Those moorhen chicks are so cute! And those dragonfly photos are amazing!!

    Thanks for giving us the “big picture”, it’s always great to be able to visualize what I’m reading about. And I loved getting the “bird’s eye view” of the osprey nest!

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