And Then There Was Only One. In Papa Osprey’s Fishing School.

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!

female and male osprey Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Sandy and Stanley in mid February before eggs were laid.

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.

an osprey fledgling Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Aspire perches just outside the salt marsh on Saturday…
an osprey fledgling perching close to the nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…and says hi to the ever-lurking paparazza.

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.

Male osprey just caught a fish Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Stanley gave the first fish to Sindile, and caught another one for himself…
osprey fledgling eating in the nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Sindile is working on her fish…

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.

sindile cooling herself UD13
Sindile is hot and cooling herself…

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.

sindile is fishing on the bay UD13Then 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.

snowy egret Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
A Snowy Egret is looking for food.
great Blue Heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
A young Great Blue Heron is hunting too.
roseate spoonbill Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
A Roseate Spoonbill is wondering about all the visitors.
five egrets in the salt marsh UD13
A party of five…Great Egrets.
ibis family with a juvenile Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Parents are teaching a juvenile Ibis foraging skills.
reddish egret Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
A Reddish Egret is curious about all the visitors.
snowy egret and tricolored heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
You go that way, I go this way…a Snowy Egret and a Tri-colored Heron cross paths.

I took a short walk just to see Sindile today at lunch time. She was thoroughly wet, but she didn’t have a fish.

a wet juvenile osprey Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Sindile is wet after a dive…Thursday, June 25.

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.

64 thoughts on “And Then There Was Only One. In Papa Osprey’s Fishing School.”

    1. Thank you, Karen. I’m enthralled by the beauty as well as the action in nature. So much to discover for us, and such a source of peace and healing 🙂

    1. Yes, I’m not very worried about her any more, just a little bit 🙂 Yes, she’ll learn how to catch the best fish, and that’ll take her far in life. Thanks for being her best cheerleader, my friend!

    1. Yes, you’re right about the story arc…my mind says it’s a great plot and a good ending, but my heart would love the story to continue. Thanks Susan.

    1. Yes, She’s the best Mother. Sometimes a bit difficult to interpret, and I’m not sure I’m always correct…but sure learning a lot through observation 🙂 Thanks Val!

  1. They ready to move on… will miss them. Thank you so much for the beautiful series, Tiny. 🙂
    20 Great and Snowy Egrets, Wow!! Great captures!

    1. I’ll miss them too, but that’s how nature works 🙂 Hoping to see Mama and Papa around later in the summer after their respective vacations 🙂 Thanks Amy.

  2. Oh, I feel myself tearing up a little… Of course I know it’s part of the natural cycle, and it’s *great* news that 2 of the ‘chicks’ have grown up and gone off to explore their world. But I’ll miss them…

    1. I’m tearing up too, particularly when baby Sindile leaves…although intellectually knowing that’s a great outcome, the heart has become quite attached to these chicks 🙂

  3. All stunning shots, especially ‘the party of five’ reflections one. The Osprey Soap Opera is a wonderful delight, and would make a great children’s book. I love your photography Tiny, it is of high quality and clarity. Thanks so much for sharing:-)

    1. Happy you’ve enjoyed the “Opera”. There will be more other stories now that the chicks have left/will leave, but still news from the salt marsh…a privilege to be able to share 🙂

  4. You are shooting great photos Tiny, I wish I was there to shoot some myself. I wish the best for Sindile and to have a great life. Thanks for the nice post! 🙂

    1. I wish them all great life too…hoping Sindile catches her first fish soon. Happy you’ve enjoyed their story, H.J….and you’re welcome to shoot some photos yourself any time 🙂

    1. Thanks! I’m planning to follow her a bit more closely this weekend…and hope to see her going on fishing trips…and succeed.

  5. Well done little Sindile for beating the odds. And well done to the humans who thought to leave/provide a space for wild life to live and thrive.

    1. She’s beaten the odds to this point, but the next year’s success will depend on her fishing skills. Honing them now is so important. I think she knows that already 🙂

  6. You did a wonderful job sharing this story, Tiny.

    Were you tempted to put tracking harnesses on the osprey so you could “follow their movements” after they left the Salt Marsh?

    1. Oh, of course I was tempted! But the technology is very complicated, like a small antenna on their back. Although they don’t sleep on their back, I’ve always felt the fewer the better. I have a feeling they might come say hello to you, Nancy 🙂

  7. After they leave, Tiny, do the osprey young go far? I feel sad at seeing them leave, because through you, I saw them grow up. And to know that Sindile beat the odds brings such Great Joy to my Heart!!! I’m rooting for her that she catches a fish soon! I would bet that because of you bringing this glorious story of family and Love to us, our combined interest and Heartfelt Love for this family, helped Sindile beat the odds. Love knows no boundaries so I am sure these birds felt us and our Love for them. Thank YOU, Tiny, for bringing us such a touching story and all these wonderful images of these glorious birds!!! I do so Love coming here!! Hope things cool off for you! I’ve been hearing how brutal the heat has been. 😦 Have a great weekend, my friend! Love, Amy ❤

    1. I know the chicks stay in central/south Florida after they leave. There are so many islands and parks both north and south of us, so they have very exciting places to explore! All these waters have plenty of fish once they get a hang of it. Last year, I saw the young Osprey (there was only one) about two weeks after she left the nest. She was flying above the salt marsh, but didn’t land in the nest. And yes, I’m sure our combined love helped them to grow and flourish ❤ I'm hoping for a cool off too, even a thunderstorm would lower the temps for many hours. Have a wonderful weekend too, Amy. Hugs & much love, Tiny

      1. Here we go!!!!!! Weekend is officially here!!! I’m starting out with ice cream (A HUGE TREAT) and a good movie I have already watched but want to again. Windows are wide open with beautiful fresh air. Rain AGAIN is headed our way, so I am glad I have a good book on hand. And it will give me an excuse NOT to be out photographing so I can edit some pics. LOL Much Love to you, my friend in Florida!! xo ❤

  8. i thoroughly enjoyed this trip to the salt marsh, Tiny. Love the photo and video clip of Sindile regulating his temp. with his mouth open and tongue exposed. And the variety and volume of wading birds you have here is astounding. Fantastic photos too. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Jet, for your kind comment. Every time I walk around this marsh, particularly in the morning, I spot lots of wading birds there. Last February I participated in the Global Bird Count for four days and between the ocean beach, salt marsh and bay side, I spotted 44 different species of shore birds, wading birds, raptors and “song birds” that I could identify – and a few more that I couldn’t. It’s a birds’ paradise with plenty to eat for every one 🙂

  9. Sandy and Stanley certainly deserve the Osprey parents of the year award! It feels a tad bittersweet now that they’re all leaving. Thank you for such wonderful updates and photos – I feel like I’ve learned so much about Ospreys (and other things too) from your great posts!

    1. Thank you Kathy! I agree – they deserve the award! It’s always bittersweet to see the chicks leave and start their own adventures. Last year there was only one chick (a girl) and when she left, the salt marsh felt so empty. Until Mama Sandy started to visit the nest again and make some repairs in August/September. Happy you’ve enjoyed following their story…maybe one more post with Sindile…

  10. Oh, so in other words, I am feeding M too much and that’s why he is still on the couch? 😉

    Sindile will be flying on soon enough, here’s hoping all three chicks come home to visit sometime.

    1. That’s the osprey theory 😀 I’m not sure whether or not it applies to our young… and yes, let’s hope they visit.

    1. Thanks Sylvia! The wildlife here is so abundant for us to enjoy and I miss it too when I’m away. Have a safe trip back home, your birds are waiting 🙂

  11. I’ve missed so much of the story! I had no idea the siblings left! Life has turned upside down for me lately… Knowing this family has succeeded…tonight, I needed this. A long night awaits me and your stories will carry me though. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do I see! I wish your work is able to reach many more people. You have a very unique gift Tiny and am so glad I’ve found your work! Enjoy the weekend fingers crossed for the last little one, but I must say my heart is already sad for her departure. 🙂

    1. Thank you for your kind and encouraging words, Koko. The life of this little family has also been turbulent at times, and not without challenges, but at the end things seem to turn out well. Like they mostly do for us humans too. I hope that whatever has turned your life upside down, will return it to upside up soon. Hugs and much love ❤

    1. That’s true, Amy. The salt marsh is right between the bay and the ocean so it’s an easy rest stop with a great menu for many kinds of birds, both those who live in the area and those who migrate south or north. Looking out of my office window, I can see the eastern part of the marsh…an Egret is coming for landing from the bay side and two others do a fly-over to the ocean side 🙂

      1. Ahhhh, that sounds heavenly! Especially as I sit cooped up inside while it is torrential downpouring outside, winds blowing and with a high of only about 63 degrees today. I can close my eyes and imagine your lovely salt marsh!!

  12. I love egrets and herons but not familiar with the Roseate Spoonbill, what a great looking bird. I had to look it up and it was noted that “tourists” confuse it with a flamingo…. hmmmm, I don’t think this tourist would confuse it!

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