Adieu Lady Cawcaw. Hello Summer.

Lady Cawcaw left last Monday. Just like every Osprey chick born at the salt marsh in the past three years, she left exactly one month after fledging. And I haven’t spotted her since. This is the last picture I got of her. She had a full crop and had taken a bath. This beautiful bird was ready to take on the big world outside the salt marsh. I wish her the best! And hope to see her again.

last picture of osprey chick lady cawcaw ud69It looked like the birds were saying their goodbyes to her. The Yellow-crowned Night Heron peered towards the nest.

yellow-crowned night heron ud69The Green Heron was in deep thought. Maybe pondering how fast the time flies. And how fast the kids grow up.

green heron ud69Miss Rosa was on her favorite ‘island’ close to the Osprey nest. She took her customary beauty nap and then walked around looking for food.

roseate spoonbill ud69Life goes on and we all have to eat. That was true also for the Black Skimmer, who was flying around lightning fast and skimming the waters.

Black skimmer ud69The salt marsh feels somehow quieter now in the absence of Lady Cawcaw’s performances. The birds go on with their daily chores, but the action has been more low-key. Maybe they miss her. Or maybe it’s the midsummer heat.

Mama Sandy has been hanging around the nest for a few hours almost every day since Lady Cawcaw left. On Friday I found her eating a big fish.

mama osprey at the nest ud69And Papa Stanley has been around too. They have not gone on vacation this year, like they did last year and the year before. May it be that Lady Cawcaw has stayed somewhere nearby and they are keeping an eye on her?

papa osprey ud69This morning I took another quick walk to see who was at home. The first bird I saw was the Loggerhead Shrike (or butcherbird),  who hasn’t been around for a while. He was scanning for prey.

loggerhead shrike ud69And a Red-winged Blackbird was singing his heart out close to the Osprey nest.

female red-winged blackbird ud69Sandy was babysitting the nest. It’s unusual she does that directly after the nesting season, but she must have her reasons.

mama osprey at the nest ud69She was keeping an eye on the skies as well as on the young Blue Heron who was very close to the nest. He earned a few warning calls. Again.

young great blue heron ud69The Moorhens were out in big numbers. One was doing her beauty routine at a small pond.

moorhen 3 ud69.jpgThe Egrets were well represented too, both big and small.

snowy egret 2 ud69And so were the White Ibis. They had invaded the popular ‘resort island’, and had it all for themselves.

white Ibis ud69But Miss Rosa was represented only by this hot pink marker. Probably left there last night after her evening bath. A feather that was not up to her high standards.

miss rosas feather ud69This is all from the ‘Salt Marsh News’ for tonight. I have a feeling these news will be broadcasted at a more random schedule over the summer. This reporter will take her summer vacation, which involves various travels. She will still post and read. But it will be more like ‘whenever’ until after mid August.

summer beach ud69From all of us to all of you: Thank you for being here, have a wonderful week! Enjoy summer!

 

Curves: Man vs. Nature

Man has created beautiful architectural curves. One prime example is the Dali Museum building in St. Petersburg. It is a curved masterpiece of glass and cement. The large free-form geodesic glass bubble known as the ‘enigma’ is made up of 1,062 triangular pieces of glass.

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dali museum building ud68To add to the curves, the museum garden also boasts a statue of Dali’s curved mustache.

dalis mustache ud68As you can imagine, there are many beautiful curves inside the building as well, but the only example I have been allowed to photograph is this impressive ‘fire horse’. It stands tall right in the entrance lobby, showcasing its many lit curves.

the fire horse at dali museum by tiny ud68But how do the man-made curves compare with the curves created by nature? Like this giraffe on the savannah with its soft curves.

giraffes curves ud68Or this Great Egret with its long, curved neck.

great egret curved neck ud68And how does any manmade curve, however masterfully created, compare with the perfect curve of the rainbow that hangs there, freely suspended in the air over the bay. Just like that.

rainbow over clearwater bay ud68  panoramaAnd not to talk about the celestial ‘buildings’. The sun just about the dive into the ocean. Flawless, well-lit curves.

the curve of the sun at sunset ud68Or the moon laying on its belly in the evening sky. An impeccable curve, even when captured by a mere human on the ground.

The curve of the moon ud68I appreciate all beautiful curves, but I’m sure you can see what inspires me more…what about you?

Persuation Time. And Miss Rosa Steals the Show.

Lady Cawcaw is still around. During this busy week I have spotted her eating in the nest at least once every day. I have been hoping she had caught the fish by herself, but now I’m leaning towards it having been supplied by one of her parents. And on Friday I witnessed something rare when observing the nest from my terrace. Mama Sandy was eating her fish in the nest, while Lady Cawcaw was crying to get a piece. Or maybe she was hoping for Papa Stanley to come to her rescue. I thought I could hear “where’s my fish, daddy?” quite clearly.

mama osprey eats in the nest with chick ud67It’s hard to listen to your baby cry, I know. But Sandy may have taken this drastic measure in an attempt to persuade the little lady to come on fishing trips with her or Stanley. And I think it might finally be working.

While Lady Cawcaw seems to have found a better night perch and has not been spending the nights at the nest anymore, she was there when I arrived at the salt marsh yesterday morning.

osprey chick looks at parents ud67She was looking up and I saw Mama Sandy was flying above the marsh.

mama osprey ud67Although her crop didn’t look empty, she immediately started to ask for fish.

osprey chick sees parents ud67No fish was forthcoming, and after a few minutes she flew away. Supposedly to go fishing, but there is also the probability she went to check on her parents’ whereabouts.  I decided to walk around the marsh.  It was lively. Lots of Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets around.

great egret ud67

snowy egret at sunrise ud57And Miss Rosa was there too! She was in the middle of her elaborate beauty routine. I took a 30 second instructional clip so you can learn how it’s done.

Another one of my favorite birds was there too, the Reddish Egret. He was also doing his morning routine. But as soon as he saw me, he made sure I noticed what he was up to: fishing.

reddish egret 2 ud67

reddish egret 3 ud67

reddish egret fishing ud67He was fun to watch. He always is. And he knows it.

The Tri-colored Heron didn’t make a big number of his hunting. Actually he was just admiring the view for quite a while.

tri-colored heron ud67A big junk of my walk was taken up by chasing the Black Skimmer around the marsh. That was fun. He was skimming the surface of the small ponds. As soon as I got him in focus, he was in another pond. Two thousand steps later, this the best picture I got.

black skimmer ud67I was marveling about the big feet and the colorful red-green “boots”of the little Moorhen …

papa moorhen ud67…when suddenly a familiar face shot up from the bushes. The young Great Blue Heron looked like a deer caught in the headlights.

young great blue heron ud67.jpgHe decided it was better to move to the other side of the deep water, away from the paparazzo.

young great blue heron flies away ud67

younger great blue heron flies away ud67He landed right below the Osprey nest, where some Red-winged Blackbirds were looking for food scraps.

red-winged blackbirds ud67Their enjoyment of the Osprey B & B was cut short by the return of Lady Cawcaw. As you can see, she has now mastered the same landing technique as her parents, coming from below and against the breeze.

osprey chick returns ud67 b

osprey chick returns 2 ud67 bHowever, she had not yet mastered how to catch a fish. But now she’d been trying. She shook off the excess water at the nest. Bravo!

wet osprey chick ud67I could see Papa Stanley perching high up at the fire station next to the salt marsh. He was wet too. I figured he might have been giving diving lessons to his teen. He might have told her something like this: hover over the water to spot the fish you like, size it carefully so it’s not too big for you, then dive in feet first and your talons stretched out, but don’t dive more than about 3 feet deep! That should do it…shortly.

papa osprey at fire station ud67While I was walking home on the bay side, Stanley passed me, in the air of course. He settled on his favorite spot at the corner of Marriott’s roof and immediately started to scan for fish in the bay. He is a great dad. I wished him Happy Farther’s Day.

papa osprey at Marriott's roof ud67Late in the afternoon, I saw that Lady Cawcaw was eating in the nest. I hoped it was a self-caught dinner.

Thank you for coming along. We all wish you a great week.

A Day by the Sea

Waking up this morning, I smile. 24 brand new hours are before me. – Thich Nhat Hanh

the bay before sunrise UD15The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. – Rumi

sunrise at the beach UD1God gives every bird his worm, but He does not throw it into the nest. –  P. D. James

Willet shore birdWhat will our children do in the morning if they don’t see us fly? – Rumi

sandwich tern flying in the surf in ud67I realized that if I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes. – Charles Lindbergh

pelican taking off 3 ud25Quiet is peace. Tranquility. Quiet is turning down the volume knob on life. Silence is pushing the off button. Shutting it down. All of it. – Khaled Hosseini

our camp on dolphin island ud67.jpgMay your journey through life be vibrant and full of colorful rainbows. -Harley King

rainbow beach ud67bClouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” – Rabindranath Tagore

sunset ship ud67For most people, we often marvel at the beauty of a sunrise or the magnificence of a full moon, but it is impossible to fathom the magnitude of the universe that surrounds us.       – Richard H. Baker

full moon clearwater floridaThe pure bliss nature will plant in your soul is worth a day spent by the sea. – Tiny

Tough Love. And an Election Rally at the Salt Marsh.

I know, Lady Cawcaw gets disproportional coverage in the ‘Salt Marsh News’ right now. But for a good reason. We know she’ll be gone soon. That is, as soon as she learns to fish for herself. Her parents are using tough love to get her motivated.  This has been very clear over the weekend. The food portions are smaller and far between. And she’s hungry, her crop is empty.

osprey chick is hungry ud66Over the weekend she was away from the nest for hours, I assume hovering over the waters around here. But she always came back without a fish. And immediately upon return told her parents she had tried, but had not been successful.

osprey chick returns to nest ud66On Saturday, Sandy and Stanley demonstrated their strategy with the teen. Sandy was keeping an eye on the nest from a lamp-post close by. But I saw her finish the whole fish by herself. She had a full crop, as you can see.

mama osprey finished her meal ud66She was also watching Stanley fly overhead with his pal Steve. You remember him, right? Both of them settled on Marriott’s roof to scan for fish in the bay. I was hoping Stanley would bring lunch for Lady Cawcaw. But the guys were not in a hurry. They just chilled out in the breeze up there. I could hear friendly small talk, two guys catching up on a fishing trip.

stanley and steve ud66Although it was partly cloudy, it was very hot. I decided to check if the residents had moved back to the salt marsh. They had! The water had receded a bit and the egrets enjoyed being able to walk around the smorgasbord.

great and snoy egrets at salt marsh  ud66

egrets at the saltt marsh ud66The young Great Blue Heron was there too. I have a feeling that the Major has moved on (you remember him, right?) and the youngster is trying to secure this coveted office. He is always there, and I have to say his behavior has improved. No known attacks on the Osprey nest or others lately. He has cleaned up his rhetoric.

young great blue heron ud66But to his surprise another candidate had surfaced. A Great Egret was speaking to the crowds.

great egret making a speech UD66Some listened attentively and moved closer. Others turned their attention elsewhere.

two egrets 2 ud66The Great Blue Heron moved closer too. I was afraid he would confront the speaker right there. But he was quiet. Probably planning to tweet his counter arguments later on.

young great blue heron and great egret UD66The juvenile Night Heron had never heard a speech like that and lifted his head curiously from the grass.

juvenile night heron 2 ud66A young Brown-headed Cowbird was curious too. It looked like the speech spoke to younger voters.

brown-headed cowbird ud66But others, like Miss Rosa, who have seen and heard it all before, preferred to take a nap in the bushes.

roseate spoonbill ud66And some just didn’t pay attention to the speaker because they had some other pressing business to take care of, like this Snowy Egret.

snowy egret preening ud66And others simply moved away from it all, like this Mottled Duck couple.

mottled duck couple ud66Some protests were heard. The Moorhens are known to speak their mind. You just can’t come on their turf and get away with it.

moorhen ud66And in a nearby palm tree, a Common Grackle loudly added his voice to the mix too.

common grackle ud66Soon after that the speech ended. Everybody went on with their business. Miss Rosa had woken up and scanned the landscape carefully from her hideout.

Miss rosa is hiding in the bushes ud66Before leaving I spotted a fairly rare visitor, an adult Little Blue Heron. She had probably come to attend the rally. I was happy to see the smaller waders too had returned to the salt marsh.

little Blue heron 2 ud66Yesterday it was too hot to take a long walk, but I kept an eye on Lady Cawcaw from my terrace. I could hear her asking for fish, and I spotted Mama Sandy fairly close to the nest on the bay side. I assumed she was monitoring the situation and would intervene if it got critical.

Late this afternoon, while writing this post, I decided to go out on the terrace and check on the young lady again. To my delight she was eating what looked like a whole fish.

osprey chick eating fish mon june 13 ud66I hope she had caught it by herself. We will know soon enough. If this was her first fish, we will only see her in the nest for a few more days. But if Sandy or Stanley had brought it, she will probably stay a couple of more weeks.

Thanks for reading the ‘Salt Marsh News’. We all wish you a good week.

 

Lady Cawcaw Performs. And High Drama at the Salt Marsh.

Two Ospreys were circling in the skies above the nest, looking down and talking to Lady Cawcaw. Both Mama Sandy and Papa Stanley were calling on her to go fishing with them. She responded something I didn’t quite understand, but she didn’t lift her butt from the nest. Typical teenager. After a few minutes Sandy flew over the nest with a fish. She is lightning fast. In the top 10 % of Ospreys as far as fishing speed is concerned. She was looking up at Stanley who had yet to go fishing.

papa osprey calls for chick to go fishing ud65

Mama Osprey with a fish ud65Seeing the fish, Lady Cawcaw started to sing. She  sang from the heart. You know that song. It’s quite repetitive, as you can hear in this 30 second clip.

But that didn’t work. No fish for her. Instead, Sandy landed on Mariott’s roof to enjoy her fish.

mama osprey eats her fish ud65And Stanley, once he flew towards the ocean, soon came back with a fish and started eating it in his usual hideout in the old pine tree close to the nest.

papa osprey eats his fish ud65.jpgAs you can see, Lady Cawcaw’s parents both caught the same kind of fish. I’m sure there was a school of that particular fish close to the shore and that was the reason they wanted her to come with them and learn. But no.

osprey chick 16x9 ud65She was hungry. And she continued to ask for food. I was sitting on “my” bench and watching her desperate quest to be fed without getting her feathers wet, when I noticed some movement on the water below the nest. I couldn’t believe my eyes…

mottled duck mom with 7 ducklings ud65…when Mama Mottled Duck swam to the shore with seven ducklings. She climbed up on the grass and so did the ducklings. Where was she taking them?!

mama duck and ducklings 2 ud65They marched straight towards the stone wall between the marsh and the busy street. Oh, no!!

mama duck in the grass ud65Mama Duck knew about a hole in the wall and they went through it. I had to run around the stone wall to get to the road. The traffic had to be stopped! I was gesturing like a mad woman (that I am) to the cars. Mama Duck and the ducklings marched right on to the busy street!

mama mottled duck takes ducklings over the gulf blvd ud65The cars stopped! They did. And Mama marched onto the Sailing Center grounds. Then into the grass and further towards the bay.

mama duck and duckling safely on the bay side ud65I guess their nest had been flooded by the rains dumped on us by TS Colin, and she had to move. The salt marsh is brimming with water.

salt marsh after Colin ud65Probably the highest water levels I’ve seen. Many of the small islands are under water and marsh flowers are sticking up from the water.

flooding at the salt marsh UD65The whole marsh looks more like a lake. No small “beaches” or mud flats.

This was on Tuesday, but the water had not receded even today. I walked around the marsh this morning and noticed that only large wading birds were around, and even they were sitting on the little trees sticking up from the water.

great egret ud65All, apart from the younger Great Blue Heron. He was standing right next to “my” bench. And he didn’t like to see me.

young great blue heron ud65In fact, he was very vocal about it. Before he took off.

younger great blue heron ud65.jpgApart from Great Egrets, I spotted a Snowy Egret on the doggy park fence, next to a little “lake” that had formed there.

snowy egret ud65

She was watching a Mottled Duck happily swimming around in the temporary “lake”.

mottled duck ud65…while her cousins, the Moorhens, were cruising the marsh in big numbers.

papa moorhen ud65And how was the svelte Lady Cawcaw, you may ask. She was just fine. She sang again. And this time her song was heard. Mama Sandy came in with half a fish.

mama osprey delivers fish UD65I left her eating her small portion, and walked onto the beach. A big party was going on in the new fresh water lake.

black skimmers royal terns and laughing gulls bathing ud65Laughing Gulls, Black Skimmers and Royal Terns enjoyed the temporary bath tub. There were hundreds of birds around. Some flying in tandem…

two black skimmers ud65…others just relaxing on the sand.

black skimmer sleeps ud65I was almost at home when an Osprey flying over the ocean caught my eye. It was lady Cawcaw!

osprey chick flies over the ocean 3 ud65I guess her small lunch had left her hungry. She flew beautifully, but was not looking down. She’s yet to learn that fish don’t fly. But this was a great start. Next time when her parents want her to go fishing with them, she just might follow them.

We all wish you a great weekend ahead. Peace.

Naming Party. Accompanied by Colin.

So Tropical Storm Colin was a rain-maker. Not much punch in the wind department, only occasional 50 mph/80 kmph gusts, but flash floods on the roads and many flooded neighborhoods. Youngsters were kayaking on some streets in the city last night. Not good, but not as bad as expected.

lake in the garden ud65For us here on the beach it brought elevated tide levels and rip currents, a freshwater lake on the beach and another in the garden. And the salt marsh is brimming with water after 48 hours of continuous down pours. Fresh.

terns and flooring from Colin ud65Throughout the day yesterday, I was keeping an eye at the Osprey chick who was alone in the nest. At the beginning of the storm yesterday morning, I saw her standing in the nest. She was not laying down and facing the wind, as you can see. It was clear she had not yet acquired the storm savvy of her parents.

osprey chick in the the storm Colin ud65When the worst of the storm came over us around midday, it was impossible to see anything for the walls of rain moving sideways. And it became really dark. I tried to shoot pictures of the osprey nest in the salt marsh…

colin middle of the day ud65…and only after much magic in the “filter room”, I could get one picture where it was possible to distinguish the Osprey chick in the nest. Now she was laying down facing the wind.

osprey chick layig low in high winds colin ud65When the torrential rains had eased up a bit, I could see she was still “flat” in the nest. She had not flown anywhere, and her parents had not gone fishing for her.

osprey chick bracing the wind of colin ud65Finally when the wind had also eased up, at around 6:30 p.m., I found her eating supper. Probably the only meal she got yesterday. I guess Papa Stanley had managed to spot a fish in the choppy seas for her. I think this young lady learned quite a bit. Resilience, endurance and confidence.

names for osprey chick ud65.jpgMeanwhile, inside our comparatively much cozier home, I was preparing for the “drawing” to determine her name. All together 21 great name proposals were received. Thank you all!

the hat ud 65

I typed out all the names on paper strips of the equal size. Then folded the strips around pieces of Dylan’s favorite cookies. He was patiently following the whole procedure. Without snatching one single piece. Talk about self discipline. I went to get the hat while he guarded the cookie pieces. But the hat was too small for all the pieces to lay flat.

dylan waiting for the drawing ud65.jpgSo I put the cookies wrapped in paper (instead of bacon) in his toy basket. I placed it on the floor. Dylan was looking for permission to start the drawing, but didn’t move. Only when I said he was allowed to take a piece, he quickly sprung into action.

dylan doing the drawing ud65He picked one piece with the paper and all into his mouth, but I managed to grab the paper strip before he ate it. And this was the name he picked out…

name revealed ud65Lady Cawcaw!  That’s a suitable name for a great singer our chick has already proven to be 😉 Congratulations to Hariod!  Dylan got himself two more pieces of his favorite dessert once I had removed the papers.

The book arrived today and will be on its way to England as soon as I receive your address, dear Hariod.

the prize book ud65Lady Cawcaw survived the storm. And I have lots to tell you about the “day after the storm”, amusement and drama in equal parts. And a long awaited performance. Of a different kind. But I don’t want to make this post too long so that will need to wait until next time.

osprey chick Lady cawcaw ud65Tonight we will have a sunset and I’m looking forward to capturing it. Be well.