Search and Rescue. And Storms over the Salt Marsh.

Wishes do come true. Erica, the tropical storm, died last Saturday. But she left a large blob of moisture churning on the Gulf. And that brought strong storms over our area late last week and early this week. The “beach lake” was reborn, and there are some fresh water pools in the park around the salt marsh. But luckily no bad flooding.

Early in the week, I managed to get in a couple of walks just before the storms rolled in. While the bay bathed in sunshine under blue skies both mornings, the storm clouds were gathering on the ocean.

Clearwater BayMama Sandy hasn’t visited the nest much lately, but I’ve usually found her somewhere on the bay side. One of these mornings she was having breakfast on a lamp-post, but keeping a keen eye on the skies at the same time. She seemed to be in a hurry.

Female Osprey Sand Key Clearwater FloridaFemale Osprey Sand Key Clearwater FloridaYou see, she was aware of Papa Stanley circling high in the skies with another Osprey. First I thought his pal Steve might have returned, but then managed to get a couple of pictures that proved me wrong. It was a juvenile! Likely one of their chicks, but it was impossible to tell for sure which one. I was betting on Lofty.

Juvenile Osprey Sand Key Clearwater Florida Osprey Sand Key Clearwater FloridaAfter finishing her breakfast Sandy joined them over the bay. She was talking non stop. Maybe she was telling them to focus on getting breakfast before the storms would roll in. Who knows. But Stanley obliged.

Female Osprey Sand Key Clearwater FloridaI noticed (from very far) that he flew back to Marriott and took up a scanning position on the lower roof.

Male Osprey Sand Key Clearwater FloridaI also saw a woodpecker family on the bay side. It might have been the same couple of Red-bellied Woodpeckers who nested in the demolished “condo building”. Now there was a new juvenile in the family.

redbellied woodpecker Sand Key Clearwater FloridaAnd since I also had my eye on the sky, I decided to leave a proper visit to the salt marsh for later. And soon was happy I did. An impressive thunderstorm rolled in.

The next morning I found only Sandy. She had decided to borrow Stanley’s resort to keep an eye on the approaching storms. And on me. That penthouse has the best views. Stanley may have embarked on a fishing trip little further out. Perhaps a father and son outing with Lofty.

Female Osprey Sand Key Clearwater FloridaI decided to tempt my fate and visit the salt marsh. But it was practically deserted. There was an eerie silence. No bird song, no nothing. The birds had already gone to their rain shelters in anticipation of the storm. The only one seemingly still around was the young GBH. His head stuck up from the high grass as he peered towards the ocean.

young great blue heron Sand Key Clearwater FloridaThen I heard Papa Moorhen.  I spotted him hauling heavy materials to reinforce the family home. Last-minute preparations for the impending storm.

moorhen repairing nest

Just before I reached the beach, I almost stumbled on a young Sandwich Tern. She was laying in the grass next to the trail. She looked away when I approached, but didn’t move. I thought it was odd for her to be there alone when all the other birds had sought shelter. I snapped a couple of pictures of her, and then ran (yes, ran) home through the flooded beach.

rainbow over the ocean Sand Key Clearwater FloridaIt was already raining on the ocean so I decided to take a shortcut through some trees and bushes into our garden. But failed to jump all the way over the ditch, or rather a newly formed four-foot wide “river”.  My old hiking shoes got a through soaking, but luckily I didn’t land on my tummy in the water. Then the first fat rain drops fell on me. The storm was upon us.

Once safely inside, I sat down at my laptop, had my second cup of coffee, and looked at the pictures. This is what I saw.

sandwich ternThe little tern had a fishing hook sticking out of her mouth. And it had also pierced her throat. She couldn’t even close her beak, and must’ve been in terrible pain. I hadn’t noticed the hook when I saw her, and now she was out there in the storm badly injured by human activity.storm over salt marsh Sand Key Clearwater FloridaTo make a long story short, I reached my friend, the Ranger, on the phone. She is also a bird rescuer. I told her about the little tern and where she’d been when I spotted her. The Ranger went out to look for her. About fifteen minutes later I got a call from her. The little tern had been found and was on her way to the vet. The Ranger told me she’d seen fishing hooks in birds many times, but never one so badly tangled into the skin.

little tern So there would be a small surgery, and maybe some recuperation time at the sanctuary. But this little tern would make it. Yay!

On that happy note I wish you all a great weekend ahead.

64 thoughts on “Search and Rescue. And Storms over the Salt Marsh.”

    1. Yes, they are over! But of course I’ve been too busy to go out. I’m happy that my camera sees things like the fishing hook. I gave it a small raise so it’ll be motivated to be observant also in the future 🙂

  1. Yay, Tiny! What a wonderful story, your compassion for that bird saved it’s life. I love your blogs, they are so real and refreshingly different, and your photies are superb. We had heard of the wild storms over their on our news, and it is good to get some visuals of how it affected you there and the wildlife. Thanks again to your faithful, honest interesting blogs.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! They warm my heart. I’m so happy I went to the salt marsh and walked through it so my camera could spot the little tern. It’s amazing how birds know a storm is coming and seek shelter instinctively. I had never seen the marsh so quiet before. The storms were intense but only lasted a few days. Now we are drying up in the sunshine 🙂

    1. Thank you Karen. I think all our part in nature is important – and we are not separate from it. My hope is that these little true stories will help increase our appreciation and understanding of it 🙂

    1. I didn’t have her number, so my negotiation skills from old days came to pass with some county officials 😀 So happy it all ended well. And now I know how to reach her.

  2. Talk about a “bird in the hand” – well spotted and what great directions you must have given for the bird to be found. How fabulous, the poor little thing must have been in such pain. Well done you – I’m all teary now! 🙂

    1. Luckily my camera is good with details when I am not. I felt terrible when I discovered her injury, and so happy when I figured out how to reach the Ranger I’ve become friends with. She’s fantastic…has rescued an owl fledgling and a dehydrated juvenile cormorant from this park so far this summer. She’s called to rescue birds in this whole region. And now I have her number 🙂

    1. Thank you H.J. I couldn’t have slept that night if I didn’t get help for this little one. And now I know how to reach this Ranger if I spot any other bird in need of help 🙂 ❤

    1. I do too. I was ready to go back out there to try to capture her if I didn’t find the ranger, but the outcome may not have been as happy. Now I know how to reach her…she’s really good 🙂

    1. Thank you Susan. I’m so happy I’d become friends with this wonderful lady, and I found her after some twists and turns. Now I have her number just in case there’s a need for another rescue in the future.

    1. It was meant to be 🙂 as there were so many unusual things that went just right for this little tern to be rescued. That Ranger is fantastic, she’s a hero for so many injured birds here in the region 🙂

    1. Thank you Lorrie! This slow disappearance was the best possible outcome for Erica. And thinking back to the rescue of this little bird, I think it was in the “books”, she was supposed to live 🙂 I wish you a happy weekend too ❤

  3. I’m so happy that the Tern got some help – thanks to you! I could almost feel the tension in the air as the storm approached – good writing Helen! Happy weekend to you!

    1. Thank you Kathy! I’m so happy I decided to walk through the salt marsh although the skies already looked very dark. That little tern was supposed to be rescued 🙂 Have a nice weekend!

  4. Oh, I am so glad you looked at the pics when you did and were able to get the birdie some help ❤

    I swear, I am going to have to photoshop these "resort" pics of Sandy and Stanley LOL

    1. Me too, very happy my camera is so observant and the Ranger is such a skilled rescuer ❤ Maybe you can tell what Sandy and Stanley think when they enjoy the resort. I've always been curious about that 😀

  5. You are so tuned into this part of the world Tiny. 🙂
    It’s so serendipitous that you happened to be there and noticed.
    And now balance is returned thanks to the compassionate eagle eyed human being you are… and knowing someone who can help!
    Love this post with its happy ending!

    1. Thank you, Val. I have been thinking of this too… I don’t even know why I walked into the park at the time when the storm was just rolling in. And I sat directly to look at the pictures, instead of working like I had planned 🙂 and then things just unfolded. It was a wonderful experience.

  6. Glad the storms did not grow into something bigger, and I like the start of this post “Wishes do come true.” I am sure that is what the Tern was thinking to ~

  7. I am so happy I found her so she could get help. I like the first picture too, much because the butterfly decided to fly into the picture when I was focusing on the rainbow.

  8. Fabulous pictures sweet Tiny. I am so glad the storm was no worse than it was and did not linger around for a long time. Bless you dear friend for sending help to the little tern. I do so enjoy all your pictures. Love and hugs

  9. It broke my heart to see the little tern with the fishing hook sticking out of her mouth, but I was so relieved you found someone to rescue her and restore her to health. The third picture (of the osprey eating a fish) is stunning – the expression in his eyes, the sharp details of the meal!

    1. I am so happy the Ranger was close by and found her. I guess she was too much in pain to try to fly anywhere. So it all ended well for this little one 🙂

    1. That day the quiet before the storm was so palpable. No birds sang or flew around. That little tern is now back on the beach with family, I’m sure.

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