Fall. Salt Marsh Kindergarten. And How Mama Osprey Tricked Me.

It’s mid September. The weather here in Florida is still very much summer like. But the fall activities have definitely started. Migrating shore birds have arrived in hundreds. The beach is swarming with large flocks of Sanderlings and Dunlins, mingling with Willets, Black Skimmers, and all kinds of terns and gulls.

sanderlings and dunlins on the beach ud24Some of the Sanderlings must’ve been practicing with a marching band over the summer up north. They still have the rhythm.

sanderlings 2 running ud24 16x9Pelicans, old and young, are also present in much larger numbers than usual. Their waterskiing, formation flying and diving presentations are highly entertaining.

theee pelicans ud24

And I love watching the antics of the Royal Terns.  There is always something happening in their large community. They fish, chase each other and take breaks for contemplation and rest. And their landing styles are highly varied.  From clumsy one footers to gracious gliding.

royal terns return home ud24tern coming home ud24The Black Skimmer community is also lively. Lots of talking. Low bark-like calls, occasionally loud. And skimming for food at the water’s edge at sunrise and sunset.

black skimmers ud24Some “snow birds” have arrived at the salt marsh as well. Like the Mallards, who haven’t been here for months. And many more Great and Snowy Egrets than usual.

a male mallard duck molting into breeding plumage ud24great egret on the top ud24 snowy egret ud24The newly hatched Moorhen chicks have started in kindergarten. They are just tiny balls of fluffy black baby feathers,  but already bravely exploring the pollen-filled shallows.

mama moorhen and one chick ud24 two moorhen chicks ud24I’ve seen Papa Osprey only from afar, either in flight or scanning for fish at Marriott’s roof. But Mama Sandy is spending lots of time at the nest right now. You’ll notice (in later pictures) the greenery she’s brought in to make the bare nest more cozy.

papa osprey at sunrise B ud24

Yesterday morning Sandy was still wet after a dive, but as far as I could see there was no breakfast.

mama osprey wet ut with no fish ud24

I thought she’d already eaten, and after spending some time with her, I walked over to the bay side. It was a beautiful morning, and the young Great Blue Heron (GBH) was there too, looking for breakfast.

bay sunrise ud24the young blue heron ud24That’s when Sandy flew in from the nest. I had high hopes to get my first picture ever of her catching a fish! I’d be patient. I’d pan. I’d follow her every move.

She circled over the water. Back and forth for ten minutes, sometimes almost disappearing from sight. She hovered over several spots, looking intently down into the water. But she didn’t dive. And I waited with my camera ready to capture the drama. My arms started to hurt.

Suddenly she turned around and flew towards the ocean. A bit disappointed, I decided to walk home through the salt marsh to see the rest of the birds.

A few minutes later, just when I was passing the nest, Sandy came speeding in. With a fish!

mama osprey lands with a fish ud24She had tricked me. Ten minutes of circling over the bay, and five minutes to fetch a fish from the ocean, including the commute. Ha!

mama osprey sees something ud24She shook off the water, but had her eyes fixed into the sky towards the bay. The young GBH was approaching. Flying straight towards the nest.

young blue heron coming in ud24Sandy gave him a series of stern warnings. She hasn’t forgotten his blatant attacks on the nest last spring. The youngster circled around the nest once, tempting his fate. But then landed at the far end of the marsh.

young blue heron in flight ud24young blue heron lands ud24And Sandy could finally concentrate on her breakfast without interruptions.

mama osprey eats breakfast ud24I wish the young GBH would get some counseling with the Mayor. That gentleman knows how to live in peace at the salt marsh.

the older great blue heron ud24That’s it for today. We all hope your week is going great.

60 thoughts on “Fall. Salt Marsh Kindergarten. And How Mama Osprey Tricked Me.”

    1. Thank you Cyndi. We have so many birds here now that it’s a delight whenever I can get out. I still need to capture Mama Sandy fishing. Next time 🙂

  1. Happy you liked the birds, Karen. She is very fast, better angler than Papa. But I was so hoping she’d catch her fish in the bay where I was watching 🙂

    1. Thanks Jackie! I will soon start believing you’re right… I’m sure she saw me there on the shore pointing the black box towards her 🙂 Hugs ❤

    1. Thank you Susan. That branch was actually a bit too weak to carry her weight. It was swaying quite a bit, and she soon flew to a nearby tree.

  2. Ah, here they come, just as the Mayor anticipated. The sanderlings remind me of the juvenile laughing gulls up here. Love the third picture of the royal tern landing – what a great shot! Sorry Sandy tricked you, but I bet you’ll capture her catching a fish one of these days, probably when you least expect to. 🙂

    1. The Mayor is still expecting more birds, particularly at the salt marsh. Last year he hosted a big conference of hundred or more birds 😀 The Royal Terns are so photogenic, it’s a delight to capture their comings and goings. But Sandy’s fish dive will still need to wait…I hope you’re right that one day I’ll be right there 🙂

  3. Beautiful post Tiny as usual, but did love the different colours of your birds, especially your Skimmers and Terns. How blessed to get so many waders there, and so many Sanderlings also. Our waders will we arriving soon from Alaska and Siberia. The Bar-tailed Godwits will be doing their 8 day non stop journey of 16,000km over the Pacific Ocean to our shores about now.

    1. Thank you! We have all kinds of shore birds and waders here right now, and more will arrive once it starts cooling more up north. Your waders will do an amazing journey – 8 days non-stop! Incredible! I’m happy you will see them soon again.

    2. The Godwits reached their Christchurch grounds on Monday. We used to ring the Cathedral bells when they arrived but we still don’t have a Cathedral from which to ring the bells. 😦

      1. That’s sad, we will be looking out for them too, thanks for sharing that, how wonderful to welcome these amazing birds this way! The locals of Stockton near Newcastle have a special welcome to waders day, have a great weekend:-)

  4. Poor Mr. Mallard looks a little travel weary, to say the very least.

    Sandy just prefers to leave some things left to the imagination. She’s a proper lady bird like that 😀

    1. The Mallards are really looking funny as they are molting right now. Sandy is a very proper lady bird alright. But I’m hoping that one day, she’ll not be aware that I’m watching 😀

    1. Thanks Joanne. I can’t understand why the youngster always has to challenge Mama Sandy…even now it was clear he did it on purpose. He needs to go to school 🙂

    1. Thank you Lorrie! I truly hope you’ll get to painting some of our friends ❤ Right now things are not all super, but we always need to adapt to "what is" and make the best of it 🙂

  5. The moment I dive into one of your posts I’m instantly uplifted! You are an amazing story teller as well as photographer. And how you capture it all I know you’ve just got to be an amazing person. Happy to follow your blog and excited you Twitter it too as I miss your posts in my streams of people I follow. Have a wonderful day! Best, Koko 🙂

    1. Thank you Koko for your kind words! Even when life is not always “a dance on roses”, I feel uplifted when I spend time in nature. I try to capture some of it and tell the stories I “hear” 🙂 Have a great rest of the week with some nice R & R 🙂

    1. She had “planted” her decorations very well. The next day was windy and they didn’t fly away. I was impressed. I think I’ll need to negotiate a “fishing photo session” deal with her 🙂

    1. Oh, I know she’s very fast. One day I saw her diving down into the bay from Marriott’s roof, but I was too far to see the surface of the water. She came flying with a fish in about 10-15 seconds! She was just a couple of minutes too early for me to capture it.

    1. Thanks Sylvia! This morning I took a long walk and the first thing I see is Sandy at Marriott’s roof again. But no fishing shoot now either 🙂

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