Mama Osprey’s Two-front War. And Free Fish Tasting at the Pier.

Some of you might have noticed that I’ve been MIA for a while. All kinds of work have been interfering with life. When I finally got back up for air, my first priority was to take a walk in the gorgeous fall weather. I walked almost four miles around the park trying to get my walk-o-meter running again. Phew. I almost felt my age.

Sand Key Park Clearwater FloridaRight when I approached the beach end of the salt marsh, I knew something was up. Mama Sandy flew right over my head carrying a fish and sounded loud warning calls. Not for me, but for two other Ospreys circling high above her nest, a male and a female. It might have been Steve, whom some of you will remember, and his new bride.

male osprey

female osprey in flight Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida

I just had to zoom all out, point against the sun and shoot. Sorry for the grainy quality, but that’s the best I got. At least you can see Sandy caught a big fish. Osprey is the only bird that can carry a fish up to two times its own weight. And this fat one made Sandy work hard to get it into the nest.

osprey with a fish

I walked closer and saw the two Ospreys still hanging out in the vicinity of the marsh and looking down at Sandy. She didn’t like that one bit!

mama ospreys warning call Sand Key Park Clearwater FloridaWhen I reached the nest, I saw there was a visitor. A Fish Crow was helping Sandy to defend the nest against intruders. Working for food. Or so he thought.

female osprey and the crow watch the skies Sand Key Park Clearwater FloridaActually it was more like Sandy fighting a two-front war. I took a 90 second video clip so you can hear Sandy’s warning call and see how it all went down.

The salt marsh was lively with many birds, like this Tri-colored Heron and the Snowy Egret, all of whom went about their business pretending not to hear the loud exchanges of the Ospreys. And the Crow.

tricolored heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida snowy egret Sand Key Park Clearwater FloridaMiss Rosa was there too, of course. And said her customary hello.

roseate spoonbill Sand Key Park Clearwater FloridaThe young Muscovy Duck, who came to the salt marsh last year and disappeared as soon as he learned to fly, was back too. He was more interested in the photographer than the squabbles going on above his head.

muscovy duck Sand Key Park Clearwater FloridaNext I went to visit Papa Stanley’s resort. It looked like he already had his breakfast. He was cleaning his talons.  Or brushing his teeth. It was difficult to tell.

male osprey cleaning his talons Sand Key Park Clearwater FloridaFrom there I walked around the park and ended up at the fishing piers. Some of the marsh residents, like the two Great Blue Herons, were there too. Hoping to be invited for a free fish tasting.

fishing pier and a great blue heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Floridayoung great blue heron at fishing pier Sand Key Park Clearwater FloridaAnd a Snowy Egret with a broken toe inspected the nets and found a forgotten small fish. It pays to be diligent.

snowy egret at fishing pier Sand Key Park Clearwater FloridaAfter meeting so many of my feathered friends, I continued through the lush pine and palm forest to the north beach.

old tree in Sand Key Park Clearwater Floridaforest Sand Key Park Clearwater FloridaSand Key Park Clearwater FloridaWalking home, I was looking signs of fall in the nature. As most of our trees are evergreens, I only found some colorful beach grass, typical of fall here,  and some particularly eye-popping seed pods.

beach grass in fall colors Sand Key Park Clearwater Floridapalm seed pods Sand Key Clearwater FloridaWith that I wish you all a wonderful upcoming weekend, and hope to catch up on you blogs in the next few days.