Juvenile Sightings. Familiar Faces. And Death in the Salt Marsh.

I met this adorable Royal Tern fledgling on the only walk I’ve managed to take between all the thunderstorms and ordinary downpours this week. She looked at me curiously, then decided to demonstrate her newly acquired flying skills. She flew right onto the water’s edge, where quite impressive waves came crashing in. Her mom flew there too, probably to keep an eye on her.juvenile Royal Tern 2 UD 16Arriving at the salt marsh, I saw a flock of young ducklings on a little islet. I tried to get down to the water through some dense bushes and trees…and discovered I’m not that tiny. I scared them off with all the rustling of the dry palm leaves. Once they were on the water I counted them. Seven. Then I saw another three ducklings swimming off from a neighboring islet. The alarm bells had gone off there too. If, indeed, these were the same ten ducklings I’d discovered in April, then all of them had survived their first three months. That would make the salt marsh an exceptionally safe place for bird babies. mama mottled duck with 10 chicks UD3ten ducklings about three months old now UD16Soon they all disappeared together into an area of high grass where I thought their nest had been. That was a treat!

I continued my walk towards the Osprey nest. Mama Sandy was there. Her head was turned towards the skies and she was talking to someone up in the air.Mama Osprey watches Papa and Sindile UD16I looked up too and saw two Ospreys flying above the nest. I recognized Papa Stanley immediately, but who was the other one? I could see it was a young osprey with whitish edging to its flying feathers. Likely one of the chicks, but which one?papa osprey and sindile UD16Sandy and the two of them communicated back and forth as they circled over the salt marsh. I wished I’d taken osprey speak as an extra curricular activity back in school. I had no idea what they said. But it must have been something important. As soon as the two disappeared from sight, Mama Sandy took off and flew after them.

mama osprey flies after papa UD16After this exciting encounter I continued my walk. And spotted another familiar face. The young Night Heron I’ve seen on my recent walks was hiding in a tree next to the deep water.

juvenile night heron ud16She looked too cute, with baby hairs on her head standing right up. My hair was almost standing up too when I heard the loud noises. Unfamiliar. Definitely manmade. I turned around to witness the death of a huge palm tree close to the park entrance. I noticed the hard hats had also removed another dead palm tree I had shot a picture of some time back.death of a palm tree 2 ud16I was marveling about this park and the good care it gets, when I spotted something very much alive. A dragonfly. It was resting on a broken branch, enjoying the temporary pleasure of bright sunshine. Just long enough for me to snap a picture.dragonfly 2 UD16Walking towards the beach along the Northern side of the salt marsh, I found the tiniest Moorhen chick I’ve ever seen. She was struggling in the grass with her huge feet, flapping her little wings-to-be for balance, and finally came down to the water where her mom was waiting.moorhen chick 2 UD16moorhen chick UD16Walking home through the beach I spotted more young birds. Mr. Willet was teaching foraging skills to his two juveniles. Mrs. Willet was taking a walk nearby. Just another ordinary family in Mother Nature’s village. Much like us, I mused.willet in breeding plumage UD16I came home just before the storm dragons started dancing in the skies again, in line with the weather pattern we’ve been seeing so far this week.storm clouds UD16It was a good time to do some detective work based on the pictures I have on the three Osprey chicks in flight. I came to the fairly reliable conclusion that the young Osprey flying with Stanley had been Sindile, the youngest chick who left the nest only two weeks ago. Yay!

I hope you enjoyed this short walk between the downpours. Have a great rest of the week.


66 thoughts on “Juvenile Sightings. Familiar Faces. And Death in the Salt Marsh.”

  1. What can I say Tiny! I love your photography, especially of the Royal Tern and the Osprey. This is the first I have known of the Royal Tern, and I really love the character you have caught in the birds expression. The bird babies are adorable. What are these ducks called? Your Willet is another wader we do not see here. Thanks again, I always admire your work and enjoy reading your blog:-)

    1. Thank you for your kind comment! The ducks are Mottled Ducks, Florida “edition” (there are two sub-species). If all these young ones stay around, we’ll see many of them in the salt marsh. I love it when I spot baby birds, they have such expressive faces, little miracles 🙂

    1. Thanks Cindy! The Royal Tern babies are so expressive and fun to photograph. Soon we’ll see also the little Sandwich Terns on the beach.

  2. Tiny, you are so versatile with your photos, and you sure do know all these ducks, ospreys and shore birds, so that you can weave such interesting and funny stories for each photo. The dragonfly photo is a gem!

    1. Thank you kindly, Hien. I’m trying to learn more about these birds little by little. On Ospreys, I’ll try to find a way to contribute to the research somehow because not so much is known about these non-migratory ones. I like the dragonfly too, I’ve not seen this multi-colored one before, and it was very small.

    1. Thank you, dear Takami. I’m amazed too how much there is to discover and to share from this little spot on earth. Mother Nature has never-ending stories to tell 🙂

    1. Thanks Kat! It was a bit dramatic title, I realize. The salt marsh has such a variety of birds residing, nesting and visiting that there are always stories to tell after almost every walk.

    1. A few times in the last couple of weeks, I’ve come home minutes before the storm, but the birds are worth risking getting a little wet 🙂 That tree had lots of dried branches, but it didn’t look completely dead to me. I have learned, however, that they take some tests from the trunk and can tell when a tree can no longer be rescued. They take them out before they fall on someone during our storm season, which is now.

    1. I know. The headline was a bit too dramatic, but I couldn’t come up with anything else. I’m begging for forgiveness…I was happy to see Sindile. She flew so confidently with Papa 🙂

  3. So happy all the little ducklings are accounted for. 🙂 Beautiful photos once again, Helen. All those babies learning their life lessons. Such a pity about the poor old palm tree, but I guess it had to go. Love the storm dragon. What an excellent capture!

    1. I know you “see them” as well, Sylvia. The cloud was just like a dragon puffing out some steam 🙂 I was so happy to see all the ducklings. Up to now I’ve only seen two or three at the time. And I guess the palm tree was in the danger to fall down in the storms and they decided it was safer to let it go.

    1. This is the third time I have to apologize for the dramatic title 🙂 I promise not to do it again, Jackie. Seriously 😉 Happy you also see the dragon ❤

    1. Thanks Laura. I love when these birds keep their baby hairs even after they fledge. I think this one was born in the salt marsh and has stayed around.

    1. Thanks Joanne! I love walking there and shooting pictures…was thinking the story might get old, but then I learned I can’t stop 🙂

    1. I don’t know…maybe it’s some kind of protective instinct 😀 I also love the mix of curiosity, hesitance and bravery they express when they learn about the bigger world outside the nest.

  4. We’re enjoying this change of weather pattern with storms in the morning and clearing in the afternoon . . . with LOWER temps.

    Loved going on the stroll with you.

    1. We’re enjoying the lower temps too, but have not had much clearing in the aftenoons yesterday or today…a bit difficult to be outdoors. But I take it 🌂 Happy you came along, Nancy!

  5. Super photos! Glad that you were able to see hat Sindile is doing so well and that Papa Stanley is continuing his parenting duties! I’m impressed 😊 Hope you have a great weekend!

    1. In Osprey families, papa is the main fishing coach, and it seems he still aids Sindile from time to time. It was so fun to see her. Just now, I took my binoculars and saw Sandy eating a big fish at the nest, and Stanley eating his fish at his favorite perch at the sailing center. They had fishing luck despite the thunderstorms we’ve been having today – again 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend!

  6. Just spent a little time catching up. Summer continues and I love your stories and pictures, as always. Up my way it’s been cold–the coldest July in over 20 years. Oh, well, I have loads of jackets.

    1. Happy you had some time to catch up. Back home, in Sweden and Finland, it’s been the coolest June-July for a long time. I hope you get some jacket-less time too.

  7. Oh how I enjoyed this walk on the salt marsh, Tiny. It’s so great to see the chicks growing and your other summer activities. I think the first photo of the juvenile royal tern is truly adorable. 😀

  8. Great captures Tiny! Love the dragon cloud and dragonfly as well as night heron … and the rest! Thank you for taking me along with you.
    Glad that Sindile is around and doing well 🙂

    1. Glad you came along, Val! Neither of the dragons was really scary 🙂 I was happy to see Sindile flying above the marsh with Papa. I don’t think any of the chicks are very far from here…they may do flybys when I’m not watching.

  9. I surely did enjoy your short walk between downpours! Especially loved the dragonfly and the willet family. Sounds like Sindile is still getting some bonding time with her parents.

  10. I have to say I breathed a sigh of relief to learn that the death in the marsh was a palm tree! I was quite concerned when I first started reading!

    That baby moorhen is just so sweet! It’s wonderful to see the chicks growing and thriving in the marsh. That dragonfly shot is fab!

    I was wondering if you’ve seen a video that shows a heron using a piece of bread as bait to catch a fish. My daughter shared it on my facebook page and it’s really cool!! It shows how smart birds really are. I hope you have a great week and that the storms ease!

    1. That brave baby Moorhen was the smallest I’ve seen and her parents were smallish too, maybe their first chick. I haven’t seen that video, but I believe from what I’ve seen that birds are much smarter than we normally give them credit for. Our half and half stormy weather still continues, but I got out early yesterday morning and saw both Sandy and Stanley ~ they sent greetings 🙂

      1. I don’t know if this will let me post the link, but I will try. It’s so interesting because you can tell as you watch it that he doesn’t want just any fish to take the bait, he’s waiting for the big fish to be lured in by the smaller ones!

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