To tell you the truth, she’s actually wild. Or maybe I should say she always wants me to shoot in the wild. Take time off from everyday grind. And buy better equipment. Had she a full say, I’d spend months every year on the African savannah or an a secluded bird island in the middle of the ocean shooting pictures of life in the wild. Looking at the natural world through a high quality super telephoto lens.
But like most everyone else, my Muse has to adapt to life’s circumstances. And to my mini-sized wallet. So now she reluctantly allows me to shoot whatever wildish crosses my path. Which is mostly birds. Like this year’s Osprey chicks getting their fish delivery from Papa Osprey. And learning to fly.
Or Mama Osprey defending the nest in a preemptive strike against one particular Great Blue Heron, who’d attempted to raid her home several times previously.
Or it could be Bottlenose Dolphins playing in the calm ocean waters early in the morning.
While my Muse still occasionally gets to shoot on wild islands, she’s not giving up on returning to the savannah.
She constantly nags me about it. Opens old photo albums and makes me scan pictures. Reminds me of the giraffes and elephants I spotted on my first safari ever in South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. Gosh, she says, that was over 25 years ago.
And pokes me about the hippo we encountered on one beautiful New Year’s Eve in Queen Elizabeth’s National Park in Uganda. Remember that pink hippo, who wanted to crash the party on the lodge verandah?
Or the baboon, who taught you about food hygiene? She asks these detailed, leading questions to refresh my memory.
She remembers all the wild adventures of the past. From the hyena, who came to our camp in Awash desert in Ethiopia to the lions we encountered just before nightfall in Kenya.
My Muse is definitely on the loose. Who knows where she’ll take me in months and years to come. But she’d better have a good plan for taking care of all I need to take care of. And provide a generous budget. Cheers to that, my Muse ~
You can find other replies to this week’s photo challenge, Muse, here.
The event rich and quite dramatic 2015 nesting season for Mama Sandy and Papa Stanley is almost complete. They can let out a sigh of relief, and proudly exclaim : We did it again!
Only one of the three osprey chicks is still in the nest, little Sindile. Lofty left first, on Tuesday last week. My last picture of him was in flight with Papa Stanley, which I shared in the previous update. Aspire, who fledged about four weeks ago just one day after Lofty, was hanging around until Saturday. I found her perched on a lamp-post close to the nest. And I knew her farewell was imminent. On Sunday morning she was gone. I wish them good luck, and I will miss them. I hope our paths will cross at some point later.
Mama Sandy has left too. She may have taken a well deserved vacation miles from here. Chilling out among swaying palms on a secluded island in the Gulf, with a smorgasbord of tasty fish right at her talontips. Or she may have followed the two older chicks to keep an eye on them from a distance. Just in case they’d still need fishing lessons. She left Stanley in charge of feeding Sindile. And he’s been doing well. Perching close to the nest, fishing and sharing his catch with her. Sometimes he’s brought her a whole fish, like the morning I spotted them both eating at the same time.
But I have a sense that his food deliveries have been less frequent in the last couple of days, maybe only twice a day. You see, the strategy Ospreys use to get their young serious about moving out, is to bring them less and less food. Motivates them to learn how to fish. Sindile fledged about two weeks ago, and it’s time for her to go to the fishing school.
It’s been brutally hot and muggy, with heat index well over 100 F (close to 40 C) almost every day. Since Ospreys don’t sweat, Sindile’s been cooling herself by letting her tongue hang out. After a refreshing thunderstorm on Tuesday afternoon, the temperature plunged down to icy 74 F (23 C), and she seemed to have more energy. She made several short flights over the salt marsh, diving down to the water a few times. She may have tried to catch a fish, or just wanted to take a cooling “breast bath”, popular among Ospreys on hot days.
Then she flew over to the bay side. When I spotted her again after fetching my camera, she was very far on the bay, close to the opposite shore. She flew back and forth trying to locate a school of fish close to the surface, within her max diving depth of 3 feet (about one meter). She didn’t catch any fish, or even dive for it, but she made a good effort lasting about ten minutes. She’s getting there. She has already beaten the odds ~ only 36% of thirdborn chicks survive until they fledge. And now she’s learning to fish. I wonder how long she’ll be hanging around, maybe one more week, if that. So I made a short video clip while I still could. For those of you who don’t get dizzy from my wobbly footage.
The salt marsh has been popular with lots of birds during this heat wave. One day I counted over 20 Great and Snowy Egrets. And a dozen other birds. All sharing this little “village” peacefully.
I took a short walk just to see Sindile today at lunch time. She was thoroughly wet, but she didn’t have a fish.
I’m hoping to capture her flying with a self-caught fish one of these days before she also takes off. You go girl!
Warm greetings and much love from all of us at the salt marsh.
Several weeks ago, John at Book of Bokeh invited me to participate in the Five Day Monochrome Photos Challenge, posting one photo each day and inviting someone else to participate. Not to risk further procrastination, or posting only one image and then fluttering to something else, I decided to squeeze the five days into one. Five different images, each with their own little story.
A Bird.You might have noticed that I’ve dedicated quite a bit of my discretionary time lately to bird photography. So there has to be a bird shot among the five. My feathered friends can be aptly represented by this fellow, a Yellow-crowned Night Heron. One early morning at the salt marsh, he almost scared me to death. I thought I was alone when he croaked really loud in a tree just above my head. When I spotted him again later, he projected an air of innocence and pragmatism. A bird has to sleep, and when woken up by an intruder, a loud croak in protest is called for. I forgave him.
Back to my roots.This old barn in Finland brings me back to my roots. It’s been there as long as I can remember. I think of my paternal grandparents when I stand in front of the now padlocked doors. They used to store all sorts of farming equipment and hay there when I was a child. And it was always an adventure to go see them working there, milking cows or feeding the horse. As a protector of quality time with my grandmother, this barn served as a cradle of wisdom and valuable insights for me.
A flower.I love roses. They always light up my day. This love story started with the white wild roses I admired in my grandparents’ garden as a child. Their fragrance and delicate beauty embodied romantic mystique to me ~ and still do.
A black and white photo. That brings me to an old photo. It’s the only genuinely black and white analog image of these five. And obviously not a selfie. I’m about four years old, in my Sunday best attending my aunt’s wedding. I still look pretty much the same, only my shoes are bigger now and my hair is a few inches longer.
A Beauty.And my final image is of a young giraffe. I was privileged to meet many of them, from babies to grandparents, in my years living in Africa. This one though is Floridian and lives in Bush Gardens. He looked at me with his big eyes and made his way right into my heart. I guess we were both dreaming of Africa.
I invite any blogging friend who is inspired by monochrome photography to participate in this challenge ~ five images in five days, or a compressed version like mine. I’m thinking of Joanne, Nancy x 3, Frank, Amy x 3, Kathy, Rob, H.J. and others. That’s a hint 😉
Roy is not my father. Or any father I know. He’s simply a representative, or an acronym, for the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. And Roy G. Biv is also this week’s DP photo challenge.
As my first response, I have compiled a gallery where each photo represents one color in the rainbow. All made by Mother Nature.
Orange sunset sky
Green seabed – and a Horseshoe Crab
But I have a real rainbow for you too. A scene I captured from my terrace last year. Rainy day turning sunny, as often is the case here in Florida.
You can see other responses to this challenge here.
Finally, as Father’s Day is celebrated today in the US and many other countries, I wish all fathers in the readership HAPPY FATHER‘S DAY!
Sindile, the youngest of the three Osprey chicks, was alone and asking for fish. She was also the only one in the Osprey family I had seen in the nest (looking with binoculars from my terrace) since my return home. Nobody came to keep her company even at night.
I found her two siblings each perched on their own lamp-post on a parking lot, just outside the park boundary and fairly close to the nest. I was happy to see for myself that the chicks had made it through the storm that hit our area while I was away.
But the signs of the storm were still visible. Decorations, railings and loose sticks had been blown off the nest. Palm fronds and other debris from trees and bushes were scattered throughout the park. Only the immediate area around the salt marsh and the trails had been cleaned up. You may remember the old palm trunk (aka the condo building) that used to house Papa Stanley’s man cave, and homes for the Nanday Parakeets, Red-bellied Woodpeckers and European Starlings. It was now laying on the ground, demolished by the storm. Luckily the little ones living there had already fledged.
After locating all three chicks, I wanted to find Mama Sandy and Papa Stanley. And I was lucky. Sandy had parked herself on a street light a quarter-mile north of the salt marsh, and Stanley was on his usual spot in front of the Sailing Center on the bay side. They were both still wet after recent fishing trips.
It was great to have found all of them in good health. Lofty and Aspire fledged about three weeks ago. They are now following Sandy and Stanley on fishing trips and learning to dive for fish by themselves. An adult Osprey catches a fish in one out of four dives, on average. Sometimes the success rate is as high as 70%. I believe Sandy belongs to that champion category. I’ve seen her come back with a fish in three, five and seven minutes! One time she went fishing right there in the salt marsh and brought home a fish in 30 seconds 🙂 Stanley usually takes closer to the average of 12 minutes. But for the chicks fishing is a tricky business. And they have to master this unique skill in 4-5 weeks after fledging. Their lives will depend on it.
I’ve been worried about little Sindile. She was born about a week after the other two, but had not fledged when I left on my trip early last week. And there she was, perched on the edge of the now bare nest. I spent some time with her and then decided to walk to the other end of the marsh. I wanted to see if I could spot any of the other residents. And I did.
I was happy my feathered friends had weathered the storm well. I spotted most of the usual suspects, apart from the Spoonbill. To my delight I also saw two Black Skimmers at work in the salt marsh.
They prefer to skim on the ocean or on the bay, so it was a treat to see them in action right there. I was watching them when I heard some commotion at the osprey nest in the other end of the marsh. I raised my camera and started shooting. Sorry for the quality as I had to shoot right against the sun and crop these images heavily. But at least you can see what happened. Life is not easy for the youngest chick.
I felt for Sindile, and hoped she had managed to keep at least a small piece for herself. I started walking back towards the nest. And the next that I knew, Lofty landed in the nest. He wanted to inspect if there was anything left of the fish.
I didn’t see if Lofty got any fish. But at the end of the scuffle Sindile was alone in the nest. That’s when she surprised me. She spread her wings and took chase. Wow! She had fledged while I was away. And she was fighting back! She probably flew after Lofty just to show him she was angry. She didn’t get to him, but got excellent flying exercise at high speeds for a few minutes.
All this happened on Tuesday afternoon. I also went to see them quickly yesterday morning. Aspire was in the nest. She was wet, which means she’d been diving for fish. I guess she had chased away Sindile who was perched on a lamp-post nearby.
Sindile was looking at Papa Stanley who was flying overhead with big brother Lofty, and a fish. I’m thinking Lofty had followed his Papa on a fishing trip, but didn’t catch anything himself this time.
Sandy was drying herself on a lamp-post on the bay side, also watching Lofty and Stanley.
I’ve noticed that Lofty is not around much any more. I haven’t seen him since that flight yesterday morning. He may have learned to fish well enough to take off on his own. But I’m guessing he’ll not go very far from home, as yet. Aspire will probably stay around at least for another week practicing her fishing skills. And Sindile, the little survivor, maybe two-three more weeks. Then they’ll start their independent lives as young Ospreys, and their fantastic parents get a well deserved vacation.
I hope your week is going great. Love from all of us around the salt marsh.
I’m back home after a great trip. I shouldn’t really say this was a short vacation, as I feel no need to take time off from my permanent vacation here on our barrier island. My travels nowadays are usually connected to work or visiting family overseas. But this was different. A trip back in time. To my musical youth. One of those nostalgic journeys I like to make occasionally. Changing my zip code for a few days. This time it was 32805.
So I went with hubby to see the good ol’ Stones. And I wasn’t disappointed. They are still rolling with an amazing speed. And a strong, familiar beat in a masterful production. After playing together for over 50 years they still fill stadiums with 60K people. Remarkable.
That was an experience to add to the previous ones. Several of which were said to be the last tour, the swan song. But retirement doesn’t seem to be in these guys’ vocabulary. Mick said “see you in 30 years”. And I’m not sure whether or not he was joking.
So I saw an alligator, even if I didn’t have the time to go to the wetlands. But fortunately I could see some birds. Like this Swan family.
And many other birds familiar from the salt marsh, including a few juveniles.
Now I’ll need to catch up on your blogs. And first thing tomorrow I’ll go see the Osprey family. I’ve heard there were very strong storms here at home last Friday night. I hope all of them are safe. I already have a sense that a lot has changed while I was away. But that will be for another story later this week.
The morning was beautiful. A few birds were out and about at the salt marsh, still looking for breakfast. Some were trying to hide in the bushes. And yet others chose to pose for the visitor.
At the Osprey nest the breakfast was over. Lofty was again looking after little Sindile, who has not yet fledged. Mama Sandy had left to fetch her own breakfast, and middle sister Aspire was flying around somewhere, getting her exercise. Everything appeared peaceful.
But soon it was obvious something was amiss. When Aspire tried to return to the nest, Lofty got very excited. He was watching her approach and made it very clear she shouldn’t land in the nest.
I have no idea what had happened between them earlier, perhaps at breakfast time. Maybe Aspire took the fish for herself, like I saw her do last week, and didn’t share enough with her siblings. But that’s just my speculation. What I saw is in this 1.5 minute video clip. The last segment is on half speed to let you see more in detail how it went down.
After this incident Aspire tried to land in the nest one more time while I was still there. Lofty chased her a short distance before returning to Sindile in the nest. Wondering what had caused this seemingly serious dispute between the two best buddies, I walked to the bay side.
I was on my way home, on the other side of a busy street, when I heard Lofty getting very vocal for the third time. I tried to capture the drama, shooting pictures from quite a distance over and between passing cars (you should have seen me, good I didn’t get killed). The shots are not very sharp, but the sequence of events is even clearer than in the video. Like in slow-er motion. Although for the two siblings it was fast enough, I’m sure of that.
Poor Sindile didn’t want to know anything about the drama playing out while Mama Sandy was away. She turned her back and stared out into the distance. Maybe she was reflecting on the perils of fledging.
About an hour later, I checked on the chicks from my terrace. And saw all three in the nest. They didn’t talk, but at least they didn’t quarrel. The whole dispute, whatever it was about, was settled in good time before Sandy came back with fresh lunch. Such is life. Forgiveness always wins.
This is a scheduled post. I wish you all a great week and a wonderful weekend. See you next week 🙂
This week’s DP photo challenge is “vivid”. Nature offers many vivid scenes and creations, and man can create a few too…so I rummaged my photo archives and selected a few images that represent “vivid” to me.
First a few images presented by Mother Nature:
And then a couple of vivid pieces of art, obviously manmade:
To close this post on a humorous note, I’d like to present an image that combines natural and (wo)manmade vividness. Perhaps a trending, new hairstyle for this summer?
You will find other responses to this challenge here.
I’ll be taking a short vacation in a place where I hope to get some interesting photos, but that also coincides with a musical performance of four very vivid old men. There’ll be a scheduled post around mid-week to update everyone on the latest developments around the salt marsh. And I’ll try to be online some mornings and evenings to visit your blogs, otherwise will be catching up next week. Have a beautifully vivid week!
It was almost lunch time. Lofty, the oldest chick, was in charge at the nest. Mama Sandy had left for a fishing trip to complement what Papa Stanley brings in. Teenagers have a bottomless appetite, as we all know.
Aspire, the middle chick who fledged late last week, decided she needed another practice flight around the salt marsh. But Lofty stayed with Sindile. It was heartwarming to see how this little sister found comfort in big brother’s company. When nasty black birds flew over the nest chasing Aspire, she gradually moved closer and closer to her brother.
Aspire flew around for about five minutes before she got tired of being harassed and decided to return to the nest. But that was easier said than done.
You see, landing seems to be the trickiest part in this whole flying business. The two newly fledged chicks tend to come in far too high. Unlike their parents who often fly just above or below the nest level and then effortlessly hop on to the edge. Just see how Aspire corrected her coordinates when approaching the nest.
And finally landed. After lots of flapping and encouraging cheers from her siblings. Soon thereafter Sandy returned from her fishing trip with fresh lunch. And Sindile broke into a joyful song: mama brought a fish, mama…
And then they were eating in turn, from the oldest to the youngest. That brings me to this morning. I took an early walk around the salt marsh, but was not early enough to see Papa Stanley’s breakfast delivery. Since all the chicks now eat directly from the fish, Mama Sandy had left to get her own breakfast. This is how it went when they had breakfast without Sandy’s supervision – a short 1 minute clip with the inventive title – beakfast 🙂 but it takes too long to process it again.
Sandy took her time. Probably eating her own fish somewhere close by. I heard some osprey communications and the chicks responded. So I walked around in the park to see if I could find her. I didn’t. But guess who I found keeping an eye on the chicks. You guessed it, Papa Stanley. He was perching on a lamp pole on the bay side. With a clear line of sight to the nest.
While Sandy took a longer break, he was watching the kids so that any sudden threats could be swiftly addressed. Like the possibility of a new attack by the Great Blue Heron, who returned to the marsh after a longish absence following his confrontation with Sandy. This couple never ceases to amaze me. They have it all figured out.
While all three chicks are still living at home, Sindile is yet to fledge. She has definitely become braver and more assertive of her rights in the nest. And I’ve seen her finally exercising her wings. Yesterday, I checked on them with my binoculars and saw Sindile was almost a foot in the air! I’m quite confident she’s going to fledge in the next few days.
And I can’t pass on the Roseate Spoonbill. She posed for me again this morning. As in sending greetings to her faithful fans.
And next to her, a couple of juvenile Mottled Ducks were examining the salt marsh on their own. I’m sure they were from the brood I spotted about seven weeks ago. And now they were about 2/3 of the size of their parents. How fast they all grow up!
That’s all from the salt marsh this week. Have a wonderful weekend. I’m looking forward to enjoying the company of my own offspring this weekend 🙂