Love is Blooming. And Now I’m Really Worried.

When I came home earlier this week, I saw what I had been waiting for. The sky dance. It is the annual ritual Papa Stanley performs for Mama Sandy before they start their big “nestoration” project. I admired the dance from my terrace, but came to the conclusion it was impossible to document. For me, that is. Stanley soared high up over the nest in undulating flight. At the top of the undulation, he hovered briefly and then dove down his wings drawn in. This lasted probably 15-20 minutes, but I only had my camera for the last five minutes. I captured him in the middle of the flight, including when he briefly glanced at me, and again when he was almost on the ground close to the nest.

Male osprey in flightpapa ospreys sky dance 3 ud43papa osprey comes back to the nest ud43It was fascinating to watch, and I noted it happened exactly on the same day as last year. A proposal every year. That’s love. And from that point on they have been busy rebuilding the completely bare nest. I have been busy with work too, and only seen their building project from my windows. Until yesterday.

sunrise 2 ud43I had planned to sleep in, but woke up at sunrise. I went out on the terrace to have my coffee and to capture the atmosphere of the early hour. In addition to a beautiful sunrise, I saw an Osprey in the nest. I took one quick handheld shot – and saw the progress. Did you know that Osprey can build a nest as fast as 7-10 days? And these guys had been busy as you can see. So after finishing my coffee, I went out to see my friends for the first time in ten (!!) days.

papa osprey at the nest ud43.jpgThe first bird I spotted was a male Red-bellied Woodpecker. He was enjoying his breakfast on the shade side (of course) of a bent palm tree just outside our garden.

male red-bellied woodpecker ud43Next I found Mama Sandy eating a fish on a lamp-post close to the park. I was wondering why she didn’t eat at the nest.

mama osprey eats her fish ud43Once at the salt marsh, I understood. Stanley had given her the fish, and she had decided to have her breakfast in relative privacy. Stanley was minding the nest. He was working too. On the redesign stuff. And kept a keen eye on Sandy.

papa osprey working ud43papa osprey is minding the nest ud43I said hi to him, and then walked around the marsh to check who was there at this early hour. Right under the nest, in his usual “bedroom”, I found my friend, the juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron. He had nodded off, drying his wings in the morning sun.

juvenile yellow-crowned night heron ud43Close by, I found the young Muscovy Duck. It looks like he’s been hired as a body guard by the Moorhens. They seem to spend lots of time together.

muscovy duck defends the moorhens ud43When I reached the other end of the marsh, I spotted the Mayor. He was in his office on the little islet, as always. Checking things out. I thought he was quite photogenic in the early morning sun.

great blue heron ud43great blue heron 2 ud43A young Great Egret was busy hunting and didn’t pay any attention to me. But I admired her reflection.

great egret fishing ud43That’s when I saw Mama Sandy flying back to the nest. She had finished her breakfast and wanted to spend some time with hubby.

mama osprey in flight ud43mama osprey and papa osprey at the nest ud43They were too cute. I sat down on “my” bench to watch these love birds. And that’s when I realized what I was seeing. This.

osprey nest in need of repairs ud43The nest platform is falling apart. I had seen signs of that already earlier. The nails come out at a couple of corners, and the net at the bottom is in bad shape. I had talked to the park service staff several months ago about the need to do repairs at off-season. They told me the nest was built by boy scouts and they would need to repair it. I even offered to pay for the repairs, but nothing has happened. Such things don’t seem to be in anyone’s job description. And now it’s much worse. The whole platform is unstable. I worry that we might have real drama, or even a tragedy, at the salt marsh this nesting season if nothing is done.

Just when I sat there in deep thought,  Stanley decided to leave. And I did too.

papa osprey leaves the nest 2 ud43I would go home and write to the Audubon Society hoping that they could come up with something useful they or I can do. The Osprey family needs emergency repairs. Yesterday.

I walked home on the bay side and saw three more birds, a beautiful Snowy Egret in breeding plumage, a curious Willet and an Oyster Catcher.

snowy egret in breeding plumagewillet 2 ud43oyester catcher ud43And found where Stanley had flown. He was at his favorite outlook spot on Marriott’s roof. His breakfast was already a bit late, so he scanned for fish in the bay. But also kept an eye on Sandy in the nest.

papa osprey looks at mama ud43sand key osprey nest  2 ud43I wonder if he is also worried. And, like me, hoping someone will care. Such is life, full of ups and downs. For all creatures on this earth. Love, Tiny

UPDATE: This morning we’re experiencing heavy storms with 35-40 mile winds. TG the nest platform is still in place. I just saw Papa Stanley struggle against the wind to check on the nest – or on Mama Sandy? It was extremely difficult for him to fly, he went almost upside down a couple of times and was thrown sharply up and down by the gusts. I hope to spot both of them later this afternoon when the storms are expected to subside.

103 thoughts on “Love is Blooming. And Now I’m Really Worried.”

  1. Deferred maintenance even effects the birds, but they trust the stand is in good shape. I hope it holds through the season.

    1. You are so right, Tim. They seem so trusting and continue to build on a foundation that’s no longer safe. I hope someone could do emergency repairs at least before they lay eggs next month.

      1. Spunk is very attentive to anything that looks interesting on the computer screen, but those were Birds he had not seen before filling the screen. He was fascinated.

    1. Me too! I’m surprised it lasted through last night’s and this morning’s storms, so maybe the two remaining supports have not rusted through. But it would be best to fix it now before they lay eggs in February.

  2. Thanks so much for this wonderful journey at the marsh, Tiny. Delightful photos. And wonderful news about the new osprey mating season. It is such a joy to watch the mating dance of raptors….

    1. It was wonderful to watch the dance. I stood there mesmerized, and even forgot to fetch my camera until at the end. Thank you for your visit and kind comments, Jet.

  3. That’s a matter for great concern, Helen. I wonder how Stanley would take to workmen climbing up to his home to effect repairs. Would he understand that it was for his and Sandy’s benefit? I hope something can be sorted out before it’s too late. Gorgeous photos of all your feathered neighbours again, especially The Mayor and the Oyster catcher. 🙂

    1. Yes, I’m worried. The repairs should have been done off season. Now, if someone could do them, it would need to be around nightfall or just at sunrise because they are not yet sleeping at the nest. Only when the eggs have been laid, which is going to happen next month, will they be there around the clock. And they will not allow anyone near the nest. I think it’s funny that the Mayor has selected an “office”. When he’s at the marsh that’s where I always find him. And The Oystercatcher was a pleasant surprise 🙂

    1. Happy you enjoyed the photos, Susan. Let’s hope they are about the love story and not about heartbreak. If nothing else, I will make sure the platform is replaced before next season.

  4. If the boyscouts won’t do it, perhaps you can get a team to help you. See if Home Depot will sponsor the project or something like that. You know the birds and so leading the project makes sense. I wouldn’t have known when the best time to do the fixing. The osprey are lucky to have you Tiny. And I have decided, in my next life to come back as one. Ahhh the love they have! Not many male species take part in all of the home making to rearing the babies from start to finish! A lovely sight indeed. If you need help in organizing something let me know. I can make phone calls…

    1. Finding a business to sponsor the repair is a great suggestion! That would be good publicity for being a helpful corporate citizen, at little cost. Hoping someone will step up (literally) and take care of it before any little ospreys are put at risk!

    2. Thank you Koko! It’s a great idea to seek sponsors! I have not yet called the boy scouts as it’s weekend, but will get going tomorrow and hope to find a solution. Maybe quick emergency repair now, and a new platform altogether next summer/fall when the nest is empty. These birds are truly fascinating in so many ways! They provide a good example to us humans, including in the family department. Thanks for your encouragement and offer of help too, Koko ❤

      1. Well the offer is still open. I have a friend that lives here not sure if it’s near you. He has some connected friends that might be able to help and who knows maybe a new nesting pole. Just let know! Be well Tiny!

    1. Yes, it has been a fascinating two years following their habits from courting to “nestoration” and chick rearing. They can teach us quite a bit 🙂

  5. Stunning photos of a idyllic ecosystem! Incredible birds!
    I have been in The Holler oak groves bird watching the last few days, and found a nesting platform just like you photographed. I suspect it was put there long ago.and wonder if the Great Horned Owls are using it as a nest. Will be fun to see. The hawks are courting now too!

    1. Thanks Cindy! This time of the year is exciting in nature as many birds start forming families for the next nesting season. I hope you can follow a bird family, whoever “owns” the platform, for this nesting season and observe their chicks. So we can see them too through your gorgeous photos 🙂

    1. Yes, I would’ve expected them to at least alert the boy scouts who built and erected the nest pole/platform, but no. So now we can only hope for some quick emergency repairs, if at all possible, or just hope it holds up for one more nesting season. At least both Sandy and Stanley fared well through the violent storms we had last night and this morning, both of them perching at the nest now.

        1. They will not allow anyone to approach the nest when they are there. But right now, they don’t yet sleep there. The nest is empty at dusk and some emergency repair could be done then. Once they lay eggs next month it’ll be too late to do anything this season. I don’t know if there is enough time to get something done right now…

  6. I am so happy to hear you were able to see that proposal flight. There is such heart-touching beauty in nature! As you described the need for nest repairs, I was wondering about our recent weather’s effect. Happy to hear it’s holding on.

    1. It held on! I was not sure about that this morning. It was scary to see Stanley’s flight this morning when he tried to fly against the 35 mile winds to check the nest. But I just now saw both of them in the nest at sunset time, and they seem to be fine. I am so taken by their love story, heart-warming as you say. Thanks Cyndi.

    1. It is quite a fascinating ritual, isn’t it. And I was amazed he did it on the same day as last year. Thanks for you visit and comment, Alice.

    1. So true Nancy. What a devastation these storms brought. I’m grateful too to have my life intact…and for the fact that our friends’ nest held through it.

    1. Thank you David. These love birds are incredible in so many ways. I’m happy they seem okay after the violent storms we had earlier today. Now everything is much calmer.

  7. Thankyou for rising early Helen to show us these wonderful moments in the Marsh. They should be very grateful to you for making time to help their nest have a stronger foundation. I hope action takes place. This part of nature is very special.

    1. I hope for action as well. It will be tricky to do even emergency repairs now as they have already started building the nest, but a new platform or complete repairs will definitely be needed for next season. I will do my best to make it happen. Thanks for your visit and kind comment, Karen.

  8. How high is the nest? It should not be a big job to repair it. By the way, at our refuge the Osprey nests are not held together with those metal braces like I see in yours.

    1. I’m very bad in estimating height, but it’s probably about 25-30 feet high. I think one of those vehicles with a basket that goes up will be needed. Right now repairs could only be done when the couple has retired for the night as they still don’t stay there overnight…and emergency repairs should not last more than half an hour. It’s strange they used the metal brackets as they are known to rust through quickly in the salty air.

  9. We had those gusting winds for a while but then got sunny and slightly warmer. I hope they fix the osprey’s platform soon, instead of nails they should use heavy duty screws. Your birds look both gorgeous! Photo #16 from top is a romantic pose for Hollywood! 🙂

    1. Thank you H.J. I’m happy you were spared from the storms. The tornadoes in Sarasota unfortunately took lives early this morning. It’s much calmer now here too…and colder. I will see if we can get something done to the nest this season, I certainly hope so. I will tell the Hollywood couple your greetings 🙂

  10. Exciting times indeed! Love and drama with the usual characters playing their part. I love the mayor shot Helen! Good luck with the phone calls and stirring people into action tomorrow. xo

    1. The mayor has a nice office, right smack in the middle of the water 🙂 And I’m happy there was activity at the marsh today too (far too windy for a walk though) and everybody seems to have survived the storms. Even the nest did. Thanks for the good wishes, Val.

  11. First, gorgeous photos, Helen! Secondly, I’m glad the storms are over! I fear for our Osprey during every t-storm that rolls over the Bay at us, we’ve lost so many nests and platforms that aren’t maintained. We do have great help in our area assisting the Osprey, which I am thankful. Many a juvenile has been saved from the waters around us, but it’s not always a happy ending. Keep speaking loudly, someone will listen!!

    1. We are like “mother hens” for these ospreys 🙂 I will need to find out more about help here locally particularly regarding ospreys. Will make some more calls this afternoon. But I’m now afraid it might be too late to go up there even for emergency repairs because they are at the nest almost all the time. We’ll see in the next few days. I was surprised the platform held during the storms, and that about how violent it gets here during strong thunderstorms, gusts over 50mph…so it might hold for the season.

      1. You think it can be repaired while erect? My understanding, if no eggs have been laid, and if planned properly to work quickly to repair, the Osprey will return when done. Although during that repair, the pair will protest quite loudly. I’ve seen webcams repaired while Osprey have nested in a platform, they didn’t like it, but they returned, probably a bit miffed, lol. Best of luck from this ‘mother hen’!

        1. Now I have tried…it doesn’t seem like anyone is willing to try to repair the nest now when the couple has already started rebuilding it 😦 There is one place more I can try over the weekend. Otherwise, we’ll just need to keep our fingers crossed that the platform holds until summer. I will secure a repair team there as soon as it’s empty again.

  12. How wonderful to watch the mating dance, and follow the Osprey behaviour, you are becoming quite an authority on these birds from your observations. Maybe you can contact the Scouts to repair the nesting platform, and offer to give them a presentation talk on the birds? Express to them the urgency. We have the same trouble with a wetlands board walk near where I live. it has been closed for years now because the car sales places that paid to build it won’t repair it and the council days it is not their responsibility. It is in a major wetlands site, and we can’t use it. Thanks for another interesting post. With great photos Tiny. Unexpected wild weather is becoming a norm for many places in the world these days.

    1. Sorry for the late reply, I am completely swamped with work right now. I have tried everywhere, including the scouts. They did a number of nests as an one-time project and will not take any responsibility for upkeep 😦 Some others think we need to wait until after the nesting season as the couple is present there so much already. I will try one more contact that I did not yet reach to discuss the timing…more wild storms expected this coming weekend. I’m just praying their home holds up now and until the end of the nesting season (early July). Have a wonderful weekend, Ashley.

  13. Apart from the danger to the ospreys, you would think park authorities would be worried about the nest collapsing onto people below or flying off into a building during high winds.

    1. They are not…as the nest is not next to a path where people walk. I am still trying, but it looks more and more like the repairs will have to wait until summer, when the nesting season is over. But I have one more avenue to try over the weekend…

    1. I hope for that too, and have been trying the whole week (as much as my work has allowed). But it starts to look like the repairs will need to wait until after the nesting season 😦 I just hope the platform holds until then. Thank you Takami ❤

    1. I am even more worried now that I have tried many avenues to get it repaired, some won’t care (scouts and park) and others think it needs to wait until after the nesting season. I still have one more avenue to try over the weekend. Otherwise we just need to pray the platform holds.

  14. Wonderful, amazing pictures sweet Tiny. Sad news about the nest and I sure hope you are successful in finding someone who will repair the platform before there is a tragedy. I agree with you on the Mayor…he was very photogenic in that shot. All of the birds are just so beautiful and your pictures are super. Hugs

    1. Thank you Mags! I am no longer very hopeful I can find someone to do the repairs now. I still have one more place to contact, but it starts to looks like the repairs will need to wait until they vacate the nest after the nesting season in July. I’m just praying it will hold until then. Many hugs to you ❤

  15. Oh, Tiny!!! Oh how I HOPE someone hears you and gets those repairs done ASAP. Gorgeous images every single one of them. What a different life you have in the salt marshes compared to up here. And it is amazing that Stanley is courting the Mrs. on the exact same day as last year. How does he know? How does he do it? Nature …. just bambazzles me. (I just made up a word LOL) Great post!! I hope work slows down for you so that you can enjoy more of the salt marsh!! ❤

    1. Hi Amy and thanks for visiting “us”! This week has been busier than ever, but I have tried my best to find someone to do the repairs. The scouts will not do it and it looks like the park won’t either, but I have one more place to try that I have not managed to reach yet. My hope is fading…maybe the repairs, or a new platform, will need to wait until the Sandy and Staley vacate it after the nesting season. If that’s the case I hope it holds together. Much love ❤ Tiny

    1. It is troublesome. The scouts won’t do it, and it looks the park will not either. But I have one more place to go to over the weekend…I’m still hoping for some emergency repairs, but it might need to wait until summer when the nest it empty again.

    1. Thank you! Happy you enjoyed our feathery friends. I’m always amazed how clean and white the Egrets are. As to the nest repairs, it starts to look like everyone wants to wait until the nest is vacated in the summer. But I’m still trying 🙂

  16. Fantastic captures,Tiny! I’m so moved to see Sandy and Stanley, love the love these photos. I envy Major’s office.
    I’m so falling in love with your friends. 🙂 ❤

    1. As you know, Amy, I fell for them 2 years ago ❤ The residents at the salt marsh are just like family. I'm amazed how the Mayor has such a good taste, his office is beautifully situated right in the middle of the shallow pond 🙂

  17. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this is repaired very, very soon. This post makes me wonder how birds evaluate where to build a nest – or when they should move away form one.

    1. My hope is now waning for this season. And that means we need to hope the platform holds until the chick(s) are out of the nest. And then it can be repaired for the next season. I happy it seems to be holding up in the heavy winds we have had this weekend too. I think this couple trusts the platform holds as they have used it for many seasons already.

  18. How amazing that they begin their romance on the exact same day each year! We have many osprey here as well as most of the bird in your post, but they seem to find much more private spots for their nests. How fortunate you get to watch the entire process so closely! Here’s hoping the nest weathers the storm!

    1. I was amazed too when I saw the “proposal” happening the same day as last year. And yes, it is a privilege to be able to observe them this closely. We are having another stormy weekend again, and the platform was still there this evening…I’m hoping it will support the nest for a few more months.

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