Drama and Entertainment. At the Salt Marsh.

I hear a stern warning from the nest. I hear another warning from somewhere close by. Then I hear a perfect duet of loud Osprey warnings. And I look up and around. Up in the air a male Osprey is circling low over the nest, looking down and making sweeping fly-bys towards the nest where one of the parents is sitting on the egg(s).

another osprey ud49The parent in the nest turns out to be Papa Stanley. Because Mama Sandy happens to be on her break. She is perching on a lamp-post at a parking lot just outside the park boundary. She has a straight line of sight to the nest and helps Stanley to warn the unwanted visitor.

mama osprey on her break ud49The “Mayor”, a Great Blue Heron, happens to be just below the nest when all this unfolds. Being an old friend of the Osprey couple, he finds such a disturbance highly unfortunate too. Hair-raising in fact.

great blue heron follows the drama ud49As the drama progresses, and the guy in the sky continues his stalking, Sandy decides it’s best to return to the nest, take over from Stanley and let him handle the defense department.

shift change papa osprey leaves ud49The shift change is fast, two-three seconds tops. Stanley leaves immediately to take care of the threat.

papa osprey leaves ud49He chases the intruder away from the salt marsh. And continues patrolling the sky above the nest for at least 20 minutes afterwards. Impressive.

papa osprey gives chase 2 ud49Peace returns and I can move on to enjoy the entertainment provided by the Reddish Egret at the other end of the marsh. The “Clown” has returned while I was away. He is as exuberant as ever and puts up quite a show. So please check it out.

He runs around, jumps, flexes his wings, covers his head from the sun so he can see the bottom, and has a generally jolly time in search of that perfect lunch item. I’m smiling. But I’m not alone watching the spectacle. A Great Egret is following the hunting party at a safe distance with great interest.

great egret ud49The newly returned Mottled Duck couple have their eyes nailed to the Clown’s performance as well.

Mottled duck couple ud49In a nearby palm tree, the female Red-bellied Woodpecker almost twists her neck trying to see what’s going on.

redbellied woodpecker female 2 ud49But at the other end of the marsh nobody cares. The gracious Tri-colored Heron has the fishing waters all for herself.

tri-colored heron 2 ud49Well, almost. The tiny Grebe and a few Moorhens are there too enjoying the sunny afternoon. But my buddy, the Muscovy Duck, has left the salt marsh – possibly to search for a mate, just like last year.

grebe ud49Another returnee, the Green Heron, and his cousin, the Yellow-crowned Night Heron, are both taking in the now peaceful scenery close to the Osprey nest.

green heron B  UD49

yellowcrowned night neron ud49And up in the nest, Mama Sandy is sitting on the egg(s) after her interrupted break. We may have some tiny hatchlings in a couple of weeks 🙂

mama osprey incubates ud49Just when I am leaving, I spot the tiny Snowy Egret I first saw in January. She may be one of the many wading birds that were born here last year.

little snowy egret ud49Walking back home, I find Papa Stanley close by on his new “nesting season perch” from where he can see and hear everything that happens at the nest.

papa ospreys new perch ud49I am happy I could finally visit my friends at the salt marsh (twice) after almost a month of absence and before my next work trip at the end of next week. I wish you all a wonderful weekend.



81 thoughts on “Drama and Entertainment. At the Salt Marsh.”

  1. So lovely to get an update Helen. What drama with the intruding osprey male. He must have been left on the lurch!
    It must feel good to be back into the routine for a few days.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the update, Val. I was so happy to finally get out there this week and see everything is as usual. This male Osprey may be “Stanley”, the same bird who did this last year too. The “Clown” made me smile, which hasn’t been that often lately. I would love to keep my routine for a bit longer as this is a tough trip, two countries in one week – and no safari 🙂

    1. After the old palm trunk (that I called the condo building) fell to the ground last summer, Stanley has selected a new perch. It is even closer to the nest, but more difficult to land on/start from as the tree has so many branches. Thanks Cyndi.

  2. Stanley clearly a hero in the Marsh this weekend!! Wonderful pics and updates Helen. I had a thought for you. Take your routine with you no matter where you are in the world, that way you are not longing to be somewhere other than where you are. 🙂 Have a great weekend.

    1. I agree Karen, Stanley is an exemplary hubby. He helps Sandy on everything related to their family, including brings her fish when she’s incubating and gives her several breaks a day to stretch her wings, eat and take a bath 🙂 I’d love to take my routine with me, but it’s difficult since all the time is taken up by work. I try to enjoy the moment and the environment wherever I am, like this time I’ll get an opportunity to experience a different culture. Thanks Karen!

  3. I am amazed at how you keep track of all these creatures, and catch them at probably their best poses and activities. The salt marsh would not be so exciting without your camera and your words.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Hien. I try to fade into the environment and not to stalk them too much when I’m out there. The advantage of visiting fairly often is that most of the birds no longer fly away when I approach 🙂

    1. I sure agree with you. Last year I did better with real life than so far this year. I will need to take some corrective action once this project is over.

    1. That’s a yes, Brad! I have already played tour guide with some blogging friends, that was really fun and I’d gladly do it again 🙂

    1. You’re right, my friend! Sandy knows what she wants and got herself a great hubby 😉 I will you a beautiful weekend, and will write soon ❤

  4. It is a world of drama you live in at the Salt Marsh ~ and I agree it is impressive to see Stanley go to address the threat and then continue his patrol for so long…a good papa he will be. Wonderful photo series again, and I think they all missed you while you were away 🙂

    1. Stanley is such a great guy, shares the chores with Sandy, shuttles food and defends the nest. I’m sure he will be a great papa, just like last year. Thanks for coming along for the walk, Randall.

  5. They certainly put on a great performance for your entertainment, Helen. You really got some amazing shots, especially of the Reddish Egret doing his thing. I love that last photo of Papa Stanley. He looks so regal. Happy weekend to you. xx 🙂

    1. They did! The Reddish Egret was truly funny, it was wonderful to watch his antics – lifted my mood a great deal. Stanley’s new perch is in a beautiful tree very close to the nest, but it’s a bit difficult to come and go from there due to the many branches. But it seems to be his choice for this season. Thanks for coming along, Sylvia 🙂 XX

  6. Quite the day Helen, and some beautiful captures of the action! Do you also have bald eagles down there? It seems we share most of the other marsh life – altho the reddish egret is a bit more difficult to find here.

    1. Thanks Tina! We don’t have bald eagles in park/ the salt marsh, but we have a couple nesting on the other side of the bay. They come and glide over us sometimes. And I’ve noticed the ospreys are very quiet when those guys are around.

  7. Such a valiant companion and protector! Yet I am confused. Having been away from blogging for nearly a year I am wondering if Stanley and Sandy are simply given names for PO and MO or are these a new pair? Who knew there could be drama in the marsh! 🙂

    1. They are the same MO and PO. While you were away from blogging I decided to give them names for easier reference (as is often done for osprey couples). When they got 3 chicks late March last year, the readers named them. Oldest (a boy) was Lofty, middle chick (a girl) was Aspire and the youngster (a girl) was Sindile. That way we could follow their adventures and dramas until all three left the nest end June and the parents took a long vacation 🙂

  8. Wow Helen, just wow! Such incredible photos – glad you were able to have another visit. Hope work doesn’t take you quite so far this time. Here’s hoping you have a great weekend!

    1. Thanks Kathy, happy you enjoyed the update. The salt marsh is lively as ever, only Miss Rosa seems to have moved temporarily. She might be nesting on the “bird island” in the bay. This time I’m going to Middle East and Europe, a quick trip of one week. Happy Sunday!

    1. Thank you for visiting us again, dear Takami. There is much to look forward to this spring, many little ones will be born. I wish you a wonderful week ahead, my friend!

  9. Thanks Tiny! It is good to see the salt marsh is back to normal, and Papa is keeping watch over the nest. I always love your story and the beautiful photos. The reddish Egret is a very interesting looking bird, it doesn’t look much like the elegant Egrets I am accustomed to. Have a wonderful week, where are you off to this week Tiny?:-)

    1. Thanks Ashley! It seems the Osprey couple is doing well. Stanley has a new perch which is closer, but less accessible than the old palm trunk he used last year (it fell last summer). The Reddish Egret is a real “red head”, has high energy and it’s foraging is very entertaining to watch 🙂 I’m off to Middle East and Europe at the end of the week for a really compact trip of one week. Have a wonderful week, my friend!

      1. Tiny – I have to tell you that I met the most adorable hawk couple today on my walk. I have a feeling that I am going to be getting to know them as much as they will allow, and it’s all thanks to you and the Osprey family!

        1. That’s wonderful Susan! I hope you will have an opportunity to learn to know them, and maybe some little ones too later on in the spring 🙂 Sorry for the tardy response as I am “out in the world” again – in Germany right now, tomorrow in Amman, Jordan.

  10. Fantastic photos Tiny! Your birds look so full of life and in great shape. I’ve just returned from my trip to Peru, the El Nino current is causing a lot of chaos to people and birds there. 🙂

    1. Thank you, my friend! And I’m happy you had a good trip and are safely back home 🙂 You were missed! I did a work trip to Kenya last month and now another one to Middle East and Europe later this week 🙂

    1. Thank you Nancy. My heart is healing slowly. I miss him so much every day. I’m going on a work trip again this week, something else to think about.

  11. You capture the life wherever you go so beautifully. I just love momma and papa Osprey. Such devotion. Looks like the marsh is happy and the weather is gorgeous as ever! Your posts always makes my week brighter. Be well dear Helen. Koko P.S would it be okay to tag your book “confessions of a rescue dog” on blogs and Twitter?

    1. Thank you dear Koko. I too admire the devotion Sandy and Stanley show to each other and to their family. Of course you can tag Bumble’s book! Every penny goes to the Humane Society’s large “no-kill” shelter here in Clearwater. Thank you.

  12. Back with marsh friends! It must be like ‘touching base’ for you; I know I have a certain connection, even though I’m thousands of miles away; this is a testimony to your fabulous images and narration.
    Another whirlwind trip for you. As others have commented, Helen. Don’t forget to breathe… 🙂

    1. Thank you for your very kind and caring comment, Carolyn. Going to the salt marsh is truly like touching base, grounding. I’m packing and preparing for my trip now – and I’m trying to remember to breathe 🙂

  13. Thank you sweet Tiny for the amazing pictures of life at the salt marsh. Mama Sandy and Papa Stanley are such good parents. Every time I see a picture of the mayor it makes me smile. He is quite an interesting bird. The last picture of Papa Stanley is outstanding! Hugs

  14. Thank you dear Mags! It is funny how we can learn to know these birds who reside in and around that small marsh. they all have a personality and their own “habits”. I am out on a business trip again, but just before I left I went for a sunset walk at the salt marsh and saw how Stanley had caught a big fish for dinner. he ate the head and brought the r
    best piece to Sandy. Then he sat on the egg(s) so she could get a break for dinner. It was so heartwarming to see! Hugs from Germany

  15. So wonderful to see Sandy and Stanley back, they both are such responsible parents. Their friends look happy for the spring. You are in Germany! Enjoy the trip, Helen. 🙂

    1. Thanks Amy! I miss those guys. I have been far too busy lately. I was in Germany just for one day and already flew to Amman, Jordan where work starts tomorrow morning. So here I am eating dinner and listening to Arabic TV in the hotel restaurant thinking about Sandy and Stanley :>))

      1. Sounds like you’ve been traveling around the world in a few weeks. What a quick switch from Africa, to German, then Amman… 🙂 Hope you enjoy the Arabic cuisine.

        1. This evening I was invited to a Jordanian family dinner. Everything was delicious … And I took a picture with my iPhone of the dinner table to share in a post when I come home.

  16. Such lively drama in the salt marsh! Beautiful shots, Helen. Your photography and action shots just get better and better as time goes by. I’m happy to see Sandy & Stanley! Enjoy your travels! I’m envious and I’m not – I’m so content to just stay in my little corner of the world for the time being 🙂

    1. Thank you Donna! I am on a quick work trip in Jordan right now and today I heard so many birds right outside the meeting room window that I was tempted to get up and put my head out to see the birds and snap an iPhone photo 🙂

  17. Wonderful images! I am in awe with your birds pictures – I will go birding next week, for the first time. I am bit worry with the lighting though. Your images are stunning with awesome lighting!

    1. Thanks Indah! I’m glad you are going birding. Lighting can be a challenge if one is deep in the forest and there are much shadows. And shooting against the sun…the birds won’t give us a chance to move much before they’re gone 🙂

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