Breaking Now. Mama Osprey’s Secret.

The “dog stabilizer” on my birding camera works a little bit better now. When I activate the “sit” mode, the camera shake is not as bad as it is otherwise. Just a little softness in the images. One could be fooled to believe it’s the sunrise or sunset light, as that’s when me and my assistant have visited the salt marsh this past week.

mama osprey at the nest ud57The nest is a full fledged nursery right now, with all sides of the crib going high up towards the sky. To prevent premature flight lessons, I’m sure. But all you can see is the nest and mama Sandy. Unless you are lucky to witness fish delivery, which we did one evening, but the camera was sleeping at home. So we have gone to the dog park and after Dylan has played with his friends, I have – occasionally – played with my camera.

tricolored heron ud57And we have spotted a few friends even at these odd hours. Like this Tri-colored Heron. And the baby Snowy Egret who is growing up very nicely, although she’s still tiny.

snowy egret at sunrise ud57And we’ve seen the young Great Blue Heron. He was very close to the Osprey nest. Again.  And Sandy was watching him carefully. She doesn’t want any surprises.

young blue heron ud57And Papa Moorhen has been working late every evening. I’m guessing Mama is in the nest looking after two or three small hatchlings. I’m hoping to see them around soon.

papa moorhen ud57Then on Friday morning, I went to see the annual Surf and Sand Festival (next post) and after admiring the sand sculptures, I decided to stop at the nest on my way home. And I was in for a surprise – feeding time!

mama osprey and her first chick ud57The hatchling has grown a lot, should be about four weeks old now. Eating with great appetite. I watched and marveled about this little one. And was in for an even bigger surprise – another very tiny head was reaching up asking for food!

two osprey chicks ud57Sandy has kept this secret under wraps very successfully! Wow! The latecomer is still very small, I would guess it was born at least a week after the first one. Let’s hope it will be another Sindile (survivor) under Sandy’s and Stanley’s good care.

With these breaking news, I will wish you all a wonderful week ahead.

Premature Rewards and Other Natural Phenomena. But Where Is the Baby?

Every evening on our walk Dylan and I have passed by the Osprey nest in a quest to see the Baby. But nothing since the picture in my post last week. So one evening I took my camera along for the evening walk. I thought I might as well teach Dylan to sit or lay down completely still when I lift my camera so I can use both my arms as a “tripod”. Well. That was easier said than done. See, there are too many traces of squirrels and other small animals around the salt marsh. Sitting or laying still is not an option.  Although we do it very well in the house.

Dylan two weeks at home 3On that walk we saw Papa Stanley eating dinner on the very lamp-post where he used to keep an eye on the three chicks last year. Since we were on the sidewalk, Dylan agreed to cooperate and I got one relatively shake-free picture of Stanley. He was looking over to Sandy in the nest. He had already eaten the head of the fish and was now working on the tail. The best parts would go to the nest.

papa osprey at sunset ud56Mama Sandy was in the nest, but we couldn’t see the Baby. We walked around the marsh trying to spot a small head. But could only see Sandy half asleep, lit by the last rays of the setting sun (featured image). And we saw a Red-winged Blackbird. He was shaking a bit too. In the camera view, that is.

red-winged blackbird ud50Those were the three somewhat usable images I got with Dylan as my assistant. And believe it or not, I haven’t had a minute to go out there on my own. See, my big project has entered its final stretch. And someone I know fairly well being a terrible procrastinator, the final stretch always means a long spurt. Of the kind that keeps me clued to my computer for at least 12 hours a day. I’m driven by deadlines, and I think I’ll never learn to pace my work properly. There is always something more interesting to do when there is plenty of time. So instead of getting out to the salt marsh on my own, I have taken in the natural world by admiring the orchid blooming in my office.

my orchid 2 ud56.jpgBut I have to confess something. One day last week, when the deadline was still about three weeks away,  I decided to reward myself for all this hard work. Prematurely. Around midnight, after another grueling work session of about 13 hours,  I splurged on all new camera gear. I thought I had learned the basics and deserved something more than my super zoom birding camera. Or asking to borrow my hubby’s big Canon.

The five packages arrived this week. I had to open the boxes as they took up half the entry hall. It took about an hour. I placed my new treasures carefully on the living room table and asked Dylan to guard them. He took up his duty immediately.

my new camera gear ud56In that process I also discovered the Easter eggs next to the living room orchid. Remnants from the Easter party. They have since ended up in the trash, and Dylan has since been relieved of his guard duty. But my fingers itch. I want to try the new camera and all the new lenses.

Surprise, surprise. For once I have demonstrated I have a backbone. The gear will stay on the living room table, untouched mind you, until next weekend. Just like that. Because by then I should be much closer to the goal I rewarded my self for.

But despite nightly walks at the salt marsh, the mystery of the Osprey Baby remained unresolved. This morning I was observing the nest from my living room window with a cup of coffee in my hand. I saw Sandy’s back and nothing else. Suddenly Stanley flew in with a fish. I rushed to get my birding camera and ran out onto the very windy terrace. This is what I saw zooming all out while leaning heavily on the wall.

mama papa and chick osprey april 16 ud56Stanley was still there, and Sandy was tearing out small pieces of the fish feeding the Baby. Yay! It seems Sandy and Stanley have only one nestling this year, just like in 2014. And that means this little one will get a royal upbringing until it is completely ready to fly off and fend for itself. Much better odds to survive his/her first year than what the three chicks had last year. I am excited and feel privileged to be able to follow the childhood of this little Osprey.

orchid 1 ud56And as to my big project, I can now see some light at the end of the tunnel. And the delightful orchid still blooming in my living room. Have a great Sunday and a wonderful week ahead. Peace.

First Pictures of the Baby!

Dylan and I have been following the Osprey family’s baby saga this past week. Every evening we’ve walked past the nest and seen Mama Sandy fussing with her chick(s) – without us spotting even a little head. Earlier this week she stopped brooding so I concluded the chic(s) have to be more than 10 days old.

boat-tailed blackbird ud55I’ve explained to Dylan that I love birds, and that Mama Sandy is having at least one baby in the nest. His hunting instinct is strong, of course, like for any poodle. He’ll follows the trace of a squirrel with his nose sweeping the ground. His ancestors were used as hunting dogs already in the 15th century, but may have come to Europe as early as the 8th century traveling with the Moors from North Africa.

17th century engraving of a poodle (Wikipedia)

Last night he actually sat down and listened attentively when I was talking to Mama Sandy. And later to Papa Stanley, who was eating the head of the fish on his perch before bringing the dinner to Sandy and the chick(s). I didn’t have my camera so you just have to take my word for it.

mama osprey UD55Today at lunch time I took a solo walk at the salt marsh with my camera. And saw Sandy shielding a chick (or chicks) from the sun with her wings. I stood on the benches again, and all but climbed the trees, hoping to capture a little head. But no luck. So I walked around the marsh and enjoyed the other birds. Particularly the antics of the Reddish Egret.

Reddisg egret says hi ud55He looked at me and said hi. Then he put up a show knowing he had a captive audience.

reddish egret hides ud55He was hiding, jumping, flexing, flying and finally he caught his lunch item. He was thoroughly entertaining as always. The little clown of the marsh.

Reddish egret flying ud55

reddish egret piks lunch ud55I also saw papa Mottled Duck swimming around guarding the nest, where I assume his mate was sitting on the eggs. He tried to look nonchalant, but checked several times on the place where their nest was hidden last year. Now I’m sure we’ll see little ducklings quite soon.

papa mottled duck ud55I also saw the Mayor, the Great Blue Heron. He flew in to get his lunch items from the marsh drive through.

great blue heron the mayor ud55Suddenly Sandy sounded a short warning. A male Osprey was flying low over the nest, as in wanting to land. First I thought it had to be Steve, the Osprey who often comes close to the nest. But looking at my pictures, I realized it was Stanley.

Papa Osprey flies over the marsh ud55He tried to come to the nest at lunch time without a fish! How dare he! Hence the brief warning from Sandy. Her call soon changed to a much friendlier, but equally important message. Bring us fish, husband! Fish! He landed at the top of a tree to make fishing plans, and after a while flew towards the ocean.

papa osprey lands on a branch ud55I couldn’t wait for him to return so I walked home. When on the road I looked back towards the nest. I thought I saw a little head. Yes! The picture is not good as I had to zoom all out without a tripod, and cars flying by. But here it is, this year’s first picture of a chick! I would say s/he is about two weeks old.

Mama Osprey and chick 4 ud55I waited for a while on the side walk and finally got another picture of a little head right under Sandy’s wing. It could be the same chick, or chick number two. We will soon know 🙂

mama osprey and chick 3 ud55And with that, we all wish you all a wonderful weekend!

It’s Raining Dogs and …

Oh boy! Haven’t seen this kind of a storm for months! The only light in the middle of the day seems to come from the lightning strikes! At the salt marsh poor Mama Sandy is trying to cover her new hatchling(s) from the showers and the wind.

rain 2 ud54But the salt marsh needs the rain. There will be a new freshness in the air, the carpet of pollen will be gone, and the water levels will be high for everyone to enjoy, like in this picture from last year.

salt marsh after the rain 2 UD18But this weather also brought something wonderful into our home. Little Dylan came to us from Florida Poodle Rescue (thank you ❤ ) yesterday. He is a darling little guy, loving, friendly to everyone, and good mannered. He is what they call a “phantom poodle” because of his multi-colored coat. But I can assure you he is very real, 12 pounds of sweetness. We are privileged to be able to provide him his new forever home.

Dylan at home first day ud54Dylan has already made my office his favorite room to relax in, and I’m sure by time he’ll be contributing to the blog too. He already likes to sit in my lap and read your blogs 🙂

dylan in moms office ud52And boy, is he a good walker. Or maybe I should say runner. This girl will be in good shape in no time! No more 10 hour shifts in front of the computer whatever the work situation.

Mommy and Dylan

When he was found, his hair was very long – probably longer than my ponytail, and it was seriously matted. But after 4 hours of work by a wonderful FPR volunteer,  and a huge heap of hair on the floor, he already looks representable. Next week he’ll meet his groomer for the first time and get cleaned up a bit more.

And although he is a healthy boy and up to date on all his shots,  I will soon take him to say hello to the same great team in the vet’s office who took such good care of Bumble for years. We need to get him “established” in his new life, right?

I just wanted to bring you the good news. And I’m sure Dylan will make me post more often too. Maybe he’ll even gang up with my poetry muse so you’ll see more of those short posts in the future. One never knows with dogs.

We wish you a great weekend and a beautiful week ahead.