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!

50 thoughts on “Goodbye Girl! And Other Breaking News from the Salt Marsh.”

    1. Yes, it was a happy ending to the nesting season, but sad to say goodbye. I became so attached to Sindile because she was the youngest and had poor odds of survival. Her name means survivor, and she honored it 🙂

  1. Good luck to our little girl! I’m sure she will be fine. Sometimes it takes a bit of tough love. 🙂 Have a wonderful day my friend! ❤

    1. I always felt like a worrying mom about her, but she did really well! Left the nest only 14 days after big brother and 9 days after big sister! Happy Canada Day & many hugs!

    1. I’ve been a bit of a mess today too when I realized she really has left, but happy she was on the heels of her siblings in developing to a “big bird”. Just going to miss seeing her.

  2. Great story well told with wonderfully stunning photos Tiny, it is a credit to you. Your video was so stable, and followed the subjects so well, it was a delight to watch the herons moving around. Thanks for sharing another excellent post!

    1. Thank you! I’m trying to learn to do more stable footage, but it still tends to wobble quite a bit 🙂 Happy you enjoyed the nesting season. I’m trying to do a recap for next week that will show more of the timeline for different events. Maybe it’ll contribute to the spotty knowledge of non-migratory ospreys just a little bit.

  3. Sniff, sniff…ok this got to me – so happy yet feels so sad to say goodbye. Wonderful Osprey family and your recording of it all. Thanks for sharing it all with us! Have a good weekend!

    1. I have mixed feelings too, and sniffed quite a bit when I realized she’s really gone, the little survivor. I don’t expect to see any of them for a while…at least last year both Sandy and Stanley too a small vacation after their only chick left the nest, but Sandy came back in about a month to guard the nest 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend.

    1. Mama and Papa will have a fairly long break now…to catch up on sleep and to eat. The youngsters will be exploring fishing waters somewhere in the region…I have a sense they were south bound.

    1. This was a fascinating nesting season to follow…taught me a lot about these birds and nature in general. And they made me go out whenever I could 🙂 Happy you liked my wobbly footage. Have a great weekend, Randall ~

    1. Thanks Kat! Now Mama and Papa Osprey are both on vacation, sleeping a lot and just fishing for themselves. The kids will have a harder time as they now need to cater for themselves 🙂

    1. I am happy you’ve enjoyed the journey, Susan. This was a nesting season with lots of “action”, and it ended well with all “kids” graduating to independence.

    1. Thank you Barbara! I hope she, and the two others, will do well. Both their parents are excellent “fishermen” so I hope they will catch enough fish to survive to full maturity (at two years) and return to this area at that point.

    1. Empty nesters, like us 🙂 It took all the chicks about 11-12 weeks to reach independence. Happy you enjoyed the ride, Lorrie ❤

  4. Sindile looks so beautiful and ready for her new life… Thank you for the wonderful story. I have learned so much about birds from this cool series. Thank you, Tiny!

    1. I’m happy you enjoyed their story, Amy! I too thought she looked so confident and beautiful when I saw her on Tuesday, but had no idea of her plans to leave that day. That little family has taught me so much – I’ve thought I’d offer my data to the knowledge base on non-migratory ospreys, which is still quite spotty.

  5. Oh my, I feel such conflicting emotions! Sad to see the last chick fly off for good, and yet happy to know that all three made it to independence day! I will miss seeing them in your posts.

    The photo of the spoonbill sleeping is so precious and sweet. And I really enjoyed the video!

    I hope you have a fun 4th of July, Tiny!

    1. I feel like an “empty nester” after all of them are gone, but I’m happy they all made it to independence.
      Actually, I think I saw Mama and Papa fly together this afternoon. I didn’t have my camera, only my binoculars, but I’m pretty sure they were together, and communicating in flight 🙂
      The Spoonbill was really sweet, I’ve never seen her sleeping like that before.
      Have a great 4th of July, Amy!

  6. It’s sad to see the children grow and then leave home. This happen in every family, any species or even with humans. That the Nature’s way to give opportunity to new generations and keep life continuity in cycles. I’m sure that it has been a glorious experience for you to be so close to the Osprey family and now you feel as affected as if they were your own family. You have also gotten us involved to their lives through reading your posts and wonderful pictures. I knew this would happen as its natural but even so it have left me a bit sad but also happy that a new generation of fine Ospreys will be out there and will be preserving their species into the future.
    Thank you Tiny for your wonderful reports and for being so compassionate! 🙂 ❤

    1. Thanks for your wonderful comment, H.J., it made me all sentimental again. I was so fortunate to follow these chicks from birth, and of course I now miss them. Still look out towards the nest…Papa stayed on his “feeding perch” until last night, just in case she would return, but today he’s gone. Saw him flying past my home, and chatting with Mama this afternoon. Proud parents. Thanks for being part of this journey, H.J. 🙂 ❤

    1. Yes, she’s out and about on her own now. I hope she’ll be careful when all the fireworks lit up the skies on Saturday. Luckily she’s seen a few of them while in the nest. Have a great Fourth, you too, Susan!

  7. I have really enjoyed watching your ospreys grow up, Tiny. And how delightful to have so many other juveniles to watch around the salt marsh as well. And, mmmm, I take great pleasure in your awesome photos.

    1. Thanks for your kind comment, Jet. I’m missing the Osprey chicks, but happy to have these other juveniles with baby hair on their head to watch. Yesterday discovered some tiny Moorhen babies 🙂 Happy Fourth!

  8. I had to giggle at Sindile stashing away a big half-eaten fish while asking to be fed. Just like a dog hiding part of a treat and then begging for table scraps! Lovely photos and video, as always. I’ve enjoyed watching the salt marsh saga!

    1. I giggled at her as well. I heard her asking for food, but she could not make it sound believable 🙂 So many great memories from this nesting season! Happy you enjoyed their saga!

  9. Wonderful photos of all your magnificent birds, Helen. I can’t help feeling a tad sorry for Papa Stanley as he now has to deal with his own ’empty nest syndrome’. I well remember how I felt, so he certainly has my sympathy. 😕

    1. I remember that as well…Mama is back too now, and she rested a while in the nest today. She must have felt the syndrome too. It’s good the couple has our sympathies 🙂

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