Goodbye Girl! And Other Breaking News from the Salt Marsh.

Little Sindile, the youngest of the three Osprey chicks, was alone in the nest. Her siblings had left for their independent adventures several days ago, but Papa Osprey was still around to look after her.

male osprey eating fish Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Papa Stanley eats fish for lunch…

He perched on the bayside at the Community Sailing Center, with a direct line of sight to the nest. He would bring fish to Sindile a couple of times a day, usually in the morning and in the evening. Sometimes he would eat lunch, but not bring anything to her. That’s tough love. It’s called motivation. He wanted her to go fishing. And after frenetically asking for lunch, she usually flew a few rounds over the bay scanning for fish. I didn’t see her catch any, but she might have.

osprey chick is cooling herself Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Sindile is cooling herself and asking for fish…
sindosprey chick learns to fish Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Sindile is fishing far over the bay – as seen from my terrace more than half a mile away…

On Monday, I discovered something funny. Sindile was in the nest and she asked for fish. But in a way that sounded a bit half-hearted, there was no urgency in her call (unlike in the video clip below I shot on Sunday). I thought of it when I walked away from the nest to greet other residents of the salt marsh.

great blue heron and black skimmer Sand Key Clearwater Florida
A Great Blue Heron observes a Black Skimmer at work…
great egret looks for fish Sand Key Clearwater Florida
A Great Egret scans the water for breakfast…
juvenile yellowcrowned night heron Sand Key Clearwater Florida
A juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron inspects the marsh…
soaking wet yellowcrowned night heron Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Mama Yellow-crowned Night Heron is soaking wet after falling into the water…

I marveled about Mama Yellow-crowned Night Heron, who tried to land on a thin branch close to her juvenile offspring. The branch broke off, and she fell into the water.  Like most moms, she must have been sleep deprived. Then I looked back towards the nest again and saw Sindile with a big, half-eaten fish. She was nibbling on it. She had it all along. Apparently it was too big to finish at breakfast, but I was too close previously to notice it from the ground. She may have caught it herself that morning, but thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask for another one 🙂 I had to smile.

osprey chick has a fish Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Sindile with a half-eaten fish…

I saw her for the last time on my early morning walk yesterday. She was looking down into the water where a big fish was making waves.

osprey chick in the nest Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Sindile on Tuesday morning observing a fish jumping below the nest…

I walked along the northern side of the marsh and saw a Roseate Spoonbill perched on a small tree, still fast asleep.

roseate spoonbill sleeping Sand Key Clearwater Florida
A Roseate Spoonbill is sleeping in…

And spotted an old friend, the Reddish Egret, also known as the “showman”.  He might have brought his juvenile offspring for a fishing trip at the marsh.

 reddish egret Sand Key Clearwater Florida
The showman is back!
reddish egret hunting Sand Key Clearwater Florida
…and demonstrates his hunting skills…
juvenile reddish egret
…to this juvenile, who might have been his offspring.

I took a short video clip of the early morning activities. And later added my last footage on Sindile from Sunday.

I had to leave the salt marsh quite abruptly as a morning storm was approaching from the ocean.

storm is brewing on the ocean Sand Key Clearwater Florida
A morning storm is brewing over the Gulf.

Passing the nest again, I snapped one more picture of Sindile. She looked so “adult” and in control. Little did I know it would be my last picture of her. At least for now. I checked on her from my window before going to my lunch meeting. She was still in the nest. But when I came back around 3 p.m., the nest was empty.

empty osprey nest Sand Key Clearwater Florida
The empty nest at sunset yesterday.

I kept an eye on the nest in the evening until it was dark. She didn’t come back. Papa Stanley was perched on his usual lamp-post at the Sailing Center. It’s quite a bit further than the nest, but I could see he caught a fish two times last night. Just in case Sindile would come back. He is a good dad. And his tough love had worked. He was eligible for a good vacation.

male osprey eats a fish Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Papa Stanley starts on his second fish for the night – as seen from my terrace. I’m sure he only ate the head in order to bring it to Sindile in case she returned to the nest.

This morning he was perched there again, turned toward the nest. I’m not sure whether or not he spent the night there. But Sindile had left the nest for good. She had enough confidence in her fishing skills to embark on independent life. Goodbye and good luck, Sindile! I will miss you.

osprey fledgling Sand Key Clearwater Florida
My last picture of Sindile in the nest yesterday morning.

Next week, I’ll peek into Mama Sandy’s calendar to prepare a short recap of Sandy’s and Stanley’s successful nesting season. I have to lift my hat to them, such talented parents! That’s all from the salt marsh this week. Have a great week!