Playing with Fire. Chilling out. Vacation Time at the Salt Marsh.

It’s a little bit of a summer lull at the salt marsh right now. Residents watch visitors come and go. The older Great Blue Heron, the Mayor, welcomes everyone with open arms.

Great Blue Heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
The Mayor welcomes you!

And Mama Osprey takes the little excitement there might be with a grain of salt. It’s her vacation time. She observes everything from her “watch tower” with dignity, takes baths in the bay, dives for fish, eats and enjoys life.

Female Osprey watches the nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Mama Sandy observes Tiny and dries herself after a bath.

She is not the least provoked by the younger Great Blue Heron. You know, the one who repeatedly attacked her home last spring, and has now made it a habit to hunt right below the nest.

Young Great blue heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
The younger Great Blue Heron hunts close to the Osprey nest.

The other day he even played with fire. He flew low above the nest and settled on a tree top very close to Mama Sandy. Flexed his wings and stared right at her.

young great blue heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…and flies to the top of a tree to watch the nest.

But Sandy didn’t care to participate in a staring competition.  She was more interested in watching Sindile, who was flying by the nest again. This time she was on her own.

female osprey Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…but Sandy turns her head and watches Sindile…
young osprey in flight Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…who flies over the park.

Sandy spends some time at the nest every day making sure others don’t get silly ideas.  Like hoping the property had been vacated. Or was offered for vacation rental.

Papa Stanley has moved back to the same resort he favored last fall, on the top of an old palm trunk.

male osprey Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Papa Stanley enjoys life at his resort.

He sits there like a king, and monitors the air traffic between the beach and the bay. And keeps an eye on Sandy, of course.

So life has settled into a summer slumber at the salt marsh. The ten ducklings hang out with other ducklings.  They are all in their teens, and prefer to chill out together at various corners of the waterways.

young Mottled Ducks Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Young Mottled Ducks chill out together.

The Egrets and Herons come for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Or just to check out who’s there and what’s trending.

great egret and snowy egret Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
A Great Egret and a Snowy Egret check out the ducklings’ get-together with great interest.
tricolored heron hunting Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
A Tri-colored Heron is looking at the menu…
black crowned night heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…and a Black-crowned Night Heron, who should be getting his daily sleep,  is fully awake at lunch time.

Last night I spotted a few familiar dinner quests. And even had an exchange with the Roseate Spoonbill.

roseate spoonbill at sunset Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Hi! Is that you Tiny?
roseate spoonbill at sunset Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
I said HELLO Tiny!
roseate spoonbill Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Oops, sorry.  That was too loud. I didn’t mean to be rude…
roseate spoonbill sleeping at sunset Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…but if you excuse me, I’m very sleepy.

On the bay side, Sandy was basking in the last rays of the setting sun. Her crop was full after a quick dinner, but she was not yet dry. She shook her feathers and then greeted me quietly.

wet female osprey shakes herself Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Mama Sandy shakes herself to get rid of water after a dinner dive…
female osprey at sunset Sand Park Clearwater Florida
…and says hi.

I continued to the bay shore. A Brown Pelican waived good night while flying to his night quarters. And a White Ibis was considering an evening bath. She was not-so-white anymore after the day’s adventures.

brown pelican at sunset Sand Key Clearwater Florida
A Brown Pelican waves good night…
White ibis at sunset Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…a formerly White Ibis prepares for an evening bath. Hopefully.

While the sun rises over the bay, it sets over the ocean. I walked home through the beach, and saw the sunset wouldn’t disappoint. Mother Nature’s art at its best.

Sunset on the Gulf Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Sunset on the Gulf.

I hope your week’s been going well. Have a peaceful rest of the week.

71 thoughts on “Playing with Fire. Chilling out. Vacation Time at the Salt Marsh.”

  1. You know what I love about your posts, tiny? That you never seem to take it for granted. The splendor you live in or next to, every post is another wonder…because you make it so. Your wonder of where you live makes your readers feel the same. So thank you for that my friend. ❤

    1. Thank you Jackie for your wonderful comment. It makes my heart sing. Mother Nature has been so generous with her beauty, and that cannot be taken for granted. Hugs ❤

  2. This is such a lovely update on the summer ebbs and flows at the salt marsh. I’m glad there is a welcome break for so many. You have captured it all with a touch of whimsy and a naturalist insight Tiny!
    Stanley does look dashing.

    1. There’s a sense of calm and not much drama right now. The youngster GBH tried to instigate some, but didn’t succeed. Mama Sandy is too experienced to engage when there’s no real threat. Yes, Stanley looks very handsome in his resort suite…with swaying palm trees all around him 🙂

    1. That spoonbill was too funny. She hides in the daytime, but if I walk early or late, I usually find her there. Our salt marsh is a little known treasure, even locally here. It attracts a great variety of birds, and I’m happy to be able to share little of its beauty 🙂

    1. Hi Takami ~ I’m happy you enjoy reading/seeing some of the happenings in this little salt marsh. Have a wonderful weekend ❤ Tiny

  3. Love to see Mama Sandy and Papa Stanley again. So wonderful to have so many birds around. The sunset is gorgeous.
    Thank you for sharing with us, Tiny. 🙂

    1. The Osprey parents seem to be staying close to the nest and each other over this vacation period – until they’ll start the nest building again in January. I’m happy to be seeing them quite often 🙂 Have a great weekend, Amy.

  4. What a wonderfully written and illustrated update of life in your neck of the salt marsh, Helen. You are really so blessed with such an abundance of feathered residents. Your Spoonbill narration made me chuckle out loud. 🙂 The whole post was like reading myself a bedtime story.

    1. Happy you enjoyed the story, Sylvia. I had to chuckle as well at the theatrics of that Spoonbill late in the evening. She doesn’t like the heat and always hides deep in the bushes at daytime so I only see her on my very early or very late walks. Have a great weekend!

    1. The salt marsh is very peaceful now…the about 20 or so ducklings take the center stage, but they are well behaved 🙂 All is good. Have a wonderful weekend.

  5. A super update about the salt marsh, Helen! I’m so impressed how you capture the look and feel of all the birds – especially love the Spoonbill saying hello loudly – too funny…hope you’re having a good week!

    1. Oh, that spoonbill made me laugh! Lots of theatrics. She had been sleeping in the bushes the whole day to avoid the heat, I’m sure, and was on her best mood in the evening 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend, Kathy!

  6. Another beautiful story with gorgeous photos Tiny! I love the colour of the Roseate Spoonbill. I always look forward to your posts and your wonderful story telling. Thanks again:-)

    1. Happy you enjoy our Floridian friends! The Roseate Spoonbill is beautiful, and she always acknowledges me when I visit. This time she was quite funny. I hope you are having a beautiful weekend.

    1. I’m very glad you enjoy the stories about our salt marsh residents and visitors. When the fall approaches we’ll have an influx of visiting migratory birds. Many of them do a stopover at the marsh to rest and eat. Have a great weekend, Susan.

            1. Luckily Bumble has never been afraid of thunder, and now his hearing is not the best any more (almost 15 y.o.) so he’s fine. He’s sleeping at my feet when more thunder and rain is approaching …adding to the flooding we already have on many roads.

  7. It’s amazing the JOY we see when we keep our eyes wide open and LOOK! Thanks for a peek at your corner of the world, Tiny.

    P.S. Keep on Birding . . . don’t switch to Snakes! 🙄

    1. I’ve noticed my eye sight has improved with maturity, in the sense of actually seeing things. Snakes would be exciting…but I’m not their type. They avoid me. Only seen one little black snake on the path to the beach one morning 🙂

      1. seriously, add a Hawaiian shirt and he looks like a tourist with a goofy smile, posing in front of the “resort” (that’s just how my mind is working today LOL) 😀 ❤

  8. I sure loved today’s visit at the salt marsh, Tiny. Terrific photos, really liked the wet mama osprey, the hook on the bill is a wonderful capture, formidable raptor. Smiled at the mayor’s welcome. 🙂

    1. Thanks Jet! Glad you liked the visit. It seems that mama osprey takes lots of baths now that it’s so hot, in addition to diving for fish. The “mayor” is a nice older GBH who’s been in the marsh at least since we moved here almost 5 years ago. But the young one is something else. I witnessed his (unsuccessful) attacks on the osprey nest last spring. Both osprey parents are great defenders of the nest 🙂

  9. A lovely virtual vacation in this post — so peaceful and inviting! Always fun to read your narration and get a sense of the marsh personalities and what they’re up to. 🙂

    1. Thanks! We haven’t seen a sunset for a few days now. Very stormy and rainy weather pattern. A few hours of sun yesterday…and I could check on the birds 🙂

  10. Lovely post Tiny – I especially liked the spoonbill shots. Here on Kiawah the spoonbill is a very rare sighting so it’s quite special to us. Enjoyed a visit to your similar but different saltmarsh!

    1. Thanks Tina! The Spoonbills are quite “photogenic”…they observe you, and don’t easily fly away. Happy you enjoyed your visit.

    1. I’ve always though about salad tongs when I see them with open mouth 🙂 but now first time caught on camera. They’re not shy!

    1. Thank you Stephanie! I think that when we start photographing, we start noticing things we haven’t seen before. I’ve walked or hiked with friends and when I stop to “shoot” they may say they didn’t see it. Your great macros are proof of that too!

  11. So happy to see Momma and Papa osprey still making their appearances in these pages! 🙂 I love that first shot of Sandy, the look she is giving you is priceless!! That young heron really is playing with fire, isn’t he? Such a brash youth! Loved your interplay with Miss Spoonbill.

    1. Thanks Amy! Mama and Papa will probably stay around the whole year as they don’t migrate. Last year Mama was around a lot, Papa much less so…until it was December and time to start thinking of nesting again. I think they go up and down the coast to fish in different places for some time…one always staying close to watch the nest. Mama would’ve never allowed the young GBH to settle so close if she had eggs or babies in the nest, but now she just ignored him 🙂

  12. Ha, the coming & going that summer brings ~ your salt marsh really is like small town, as your words takes me right back to my youth and what I saw all around me growing up 🙂 The spoonbills are amazing, I just love them.

  13. If we have an open mind, and we look and listen carefully, we can hear the stories and see them unfold in nature…particularly in small towns like the salt marsh 🙂 Happy you came to visit, Randall.

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