Summer at the Salt Marsh. Beach Party. Rivalry. And Construction Plans.

Hello friends! I’m still on my summer break, but since I’m at home right now I want to give you an update on the affairs at the salt marsh. H.J’s visit early this month brought in the regular thunderstorms with downpours that belong to our summer. At the salt marsh, water levels are up and everything is fresh green.

salt marsh ud73

salt marsh ud73A couple of days ago I took a walk on the beach and was invited to a beach party attended by hundreds of feathered guests. It was a jolly event with Black Skimmers, Royal Terns, Sandwich Terns, Laughing Gulls, Herring Gulls, including juveniles, enjoying the freshwater ‘lake’ formed on the beach by the frequent torrential downpours. The ‘lake’ occupied almost the whole beach, leaving only a wet, narrow strip of sand next to the salt marsh.

beach party after the rain UD73Some partygoers were flying back and forth looking for the perfect spot, others were catching up on the latest, bathing or preening. It was lively indeed.

birds on the beach 2 ud73

royal tern UD73

juvenile gull ud73Some guests were resting, and yet others had partied enough and fallen asleep on the sand. But in such a crowd you’d better sleep with your eyes open, like this Black Skimmer.

black skimmer sleeping ud73Despite being attired with my newly acquired cheerful rain boots, I decided not to test the water depth in the ‘lake’, but instead to walk to the salt marsh through the bay side.

my new rain boots ud73.jpgThat was a great decision. I was rewarded with a pleasant discovery. Papa Stanley had returned from his 4-week vacation!

papa osprey ud73He was perching on the wind measurement device at the Sailing Center, obviously planning his next fishing trip. I could hardly see him as the sun was right in my eyes, but looking at my photos I realized he had definitely recognized me. From there I went to see Mama Sandy. She was ‘babysitting’ the nest again, and greeted me with a friendly nod. And I thought she tried to tell me about the dismal condition of the nest. We both agree that the nest will not make it through the nesting season starting in December.

mama osprey ud73I was happy to let her know that I’ve finally started the process of getting the nest repaired – or perhaps replaced. This will involve several steps: evaluating the nest pole to see if it has hollowed and will need to be replaced, and if that is the case, evaluating the ground to see if it can carry the heavy equipment needed to replace the whole structure with a new, more durable one. If the answer is yes, then I’ll have to get busy approaching sponsors to get help with the fairly high cost of this project. If the answer is no, then we’ll need to come up with plan B and only replace the nest platform that is falling apart. I hope to have these answers in the next few weeks through the Clearwater Audubon Society. While they don’t have the money to pay for this project right now, they have the required permits and the connections to suitable contractors, and have kindly agreed to help. Wonderful news for our Osprey family.

mama osprey at the nest ud73I promised to keep Mama Sandy updated. As I walked around the marsh, I observed something quite interesting. Both the younger Great Blue Heron and the Mayor were present. Staring at each other from opposite ends of the marsh. Measuring strength. As many of you know, the young one is a colorful character. He is still much smaller than the Mayor, but clearly has the desire to be the king of the hill, so to speak. He has been frequenting the marsh over the last three months, while the Mayor has taken care of his family on the ‘bird island’ in the bay. Last spring the Mayor told us ‘I’ll be back’ – and he has kept his promise.

young great blue heron ud73
Young GBH
great blue heron Mayor ud73
Older GBH, the Mayor

A Great Egret was following the developments with keen interest from a tree in the middle of the marsh.

great Egret ud73And a female Cowbird was excitedly cheering on the Mayor from a nearby tree.

female brown-headed cowbird ud73Miss Rosa was seeking shelter from the sun at her usual spot, but kept an eye on the two rivals as well. Particularly the youngster. She didn’t cheer.

roseate spoonbill ud73The Snowy Egret was staring at the young heron too, and he didn’t cheer either.

snowy egret UD73A family of White Ibis was foraging in the grass close by, probably hoping their youngster wouldn’t need to witness any brouhaha on such a beautiful day.

Juvenile ibis ud73Their wish was granted. The truce lasted, and each heron held on to its end of the marsh. I walked home and shot some pictures of flowers in our garden on my way in. Pink flowers. Just to celebrate summer.

I look forward to visiting my family in northern Europe early August. I may do a short mobile post from there. Otherwise I’ll see you after mid August. Lots to catch up on by then.

Thanks for coming along. I hope you are enjoying your summer too. Much love.

76 thoughts on “Summer at the Salt Marsh. Beach Party. Rivalry. And Construction Plans.”

  1. Thank you so much, Tiny, for the unexpected update from the salt marsh, and for the lovely series of photos. Enjoy your trip, and the time with your family. Safe journey.

    1. Thank you Isabella! I so look forward to some time with my family, living this far it is not often I get to see them. Have a wonderful week ahead!

  2. Wonderful update photos, Helen. I do hope the Osprey family home can be fully renovated, just like mine is being. 🙂 Absolutely love the unenthusiastic looks on the faces of Miss Rosa and Snowy Egret. They made me giggle. Enjoy the rest of your summer break. xx

    1. I am hoping for a full renovation too – it will be costly so I’ll need to fundraise here on the island, but I am optimistic about it. The reactions of Miss Rosa and Snowy were hilarious. The young GBH was strutting very close to them…he has destroyed his reputation a long time ago 🙂 I am truly looking forward to spending time with family again, my dad is almost 93 so these times are precious.

  3. I do hope repairing the Osprey nest will be the easier route. Have a wonderful holiday with family and we’ll be waiting for your safe return. ❤

    1. Thank you my friend ❤ I was hoping they could just replace the nest platform, but we'll need to be sure the pole is still strong. If it is not, then a new structure will need to be erected – one with a separate perch where the parents and fledglings can spend time! I am looking forward to my trip like a kid 🙂

  4. While summertime, where I grew up, meant the golden fields of wheat and barley ~ you tap into a magical green at the salt marsh. It seems that as much as the wildlife flocks to the increased water levels, they also flock to the front of your lens ~ amazing photographs Tiny. It seems summer is treating you very well 🙂 Cheers to sunny skies!

    1. Yes, summer is treating me well, and I am looking forward to seeing the lake and the green forests of my childhood again … and my family back home. The salt marsh is home now, and I am sure I’ll appreciate it even more after a time away 🙂 Thank you for your kind comment, Randall.

  5. What a beach party, with so many wonderful guests! If I were close by, I would have come myself. 🙂 Have a nice August and hope to be reading your posts again soon.

    1. Thank you, Hien. It was a wonderful party that lasted for days. Every time a freshwater ‘lake’ forms on the beach the birds put up a party! Have a wonderful August yourself!

    1. I will pass London both going and coming…but this time I will not have the time to even leave Heathrow. I just hope I don’t need to run to catch my flights 🙂

    1. I like the Cowbird shot too. She was so excited! I love my colorful boots, they already kept my feet dry on this walk…and will serve me for years when out with Dylan in the rain 🙂

    1. They do. Completely flat on the sand. When I first spotted one sleeping like that last year, I thought it was dead. Now I saw many of them sleeping like that. When something exciting happens they are up and flying in a second. Quite amazing.

    1. Thank you Takami ❤ We just have to get the nest either repaired or replaced. If that is not done, the platform may collapse and Sandy and Stanley will move elsewhere. And they would never return once they have moved. We don't want that 🙂

  6. Thanks again Tiny for an interesting post, and a really great party to see so many different birds in attendance. It is good to see the salt marsh so green and full of life. I do hope you get the help to rebuild the Osprey platform. You have a wonderful time visiting your family in Europe next month, and will return with more of the salt marsh update , it will be a very special time for you. I hope your little canine companion does not miss you too much. Have a great weekend my friend:-)

    1. There were hundreds of birds at that party! I could only capture a few walking in the shallow water 🙂 I am confident that I’ll find some sponsors to share the cost of the nest project with me. I already talked to a hotel here nearby and they are likely to participate once we know the full cost. I so look forward to spending some summer days with my family. My dad is almost 93 now so the time with him is precious. Dylan will miss me, and I him, but he needs to get used to the idea that I go away and come back – trust building 🙂 Have a beautiful week, Ashley.

  7. Delightful update on the salt marsh, Helen.
    I’ve visited Florida many times, and I must say, your photos really do right by the beauty and diversity of Florida. It takes me right back there, the awe and wonder of that many winged creatures, the vivid colours…

    Have a wonderfull weekend, and holiday overseas. 🙂

    1. Many years ago, when we were still living in Africa, I came to visit Florida for the first time – and fell in love with its nature. And here I am now, grateful to live right next to the salt marsh 🙂 Thank you for your good wishes, Genie!

    1. Thanks Val! I am so happy that the nest project is finally underway. Sandy and Stanley would move away and never return if the nest is collapses – and we don’t want that 🙂

      1. It should be interesting to see how they re-build it without too much disruption. Enjoy the cool air of northern Europe! I’m quite envious 😊

        1. We will probably see lots of trips to the ‘home depot’ by Stanley and lots of interior design by Sandy when they rebuild the nest. I look forward to some cooler temps, probably around 72-75F 🙂

    1. Thanks Nancy! I so appreciate still having my dad, sharp as a knife at almost 93. And look forward to seeing my sister too, she will take her vacation at our dad’s at the same time.

    1. Thank you! I am quite optimistic about the funding as we have two hotels here on the island, and quite a few businesses. We will soon know what the total will be and then I will be going around asking them to donate to the Audubon Society for this purpose 🙂

  8. Such a busy update! Wasn’t sure what to comment on but your efforts to improve the nest is wonderful. Have a great reunion Helen. Family time is always special 💚

    1. Thank you, Karen. The nest project is finally underway and I am very happy about it! Right now look forward to my rare family time at the lake in Finland 🙂

  9. What a party that must have been! Black skimmer looks like he had one too many! Ahhh the fun they had! I wish I was invited! Your rain boots are adorable and a wonderful burst of color along with all the summer beauty! Mama and papa are lucky to have you as the President is The Salt Marsh. You care deeply about the citizens of the marsh. Please keep us posted on the nest and if there’s something we can do to help. The flowers are lovely. I planted a few more bushes of hydrangeas and am looking forward to many bouquets next year! How wonderful for you to go visit family. I know they miss you terribly, as you do them. Soak up every minute! May you have a relaxing, safe and loving trip! Hugs to you Helen! 🙂

    1. Thank you for your visit to the party, and your kind comments and wishes, dear Koko! I am hoping to have some news on the nest project when I come back. Now is the time to make the nest safe for the little ones next spring 🙂 And I am so looking forward to some beautiful summer days at my childhood lake with family. Wishing you beautiful early August days, my friend. XX

  10. I’m glad to know that my visit precipitated rain of much needed fresh water after so many arid days! How beautiful is to see large amounts of birds my friend! Have a fantastic trip to see your folks! My love to them! 🙂

    1. Yes, you brought us the regular summer weather, my friend! And that has been so refreshing – the birds love it 🙂 Thank you for your kind wishes for my trip – I really look forward to it!

  11. Lovely to see the community, Helen, especially Papa and Mama Osprey, this time around. Wonderful news regarding their nesting site. Here’s hoping all goes well for them.
    The old and the new! The one I have on my wall is delightful, to say the least. The colours are beautiful. It is soft and delicate, yet alive and playful. Thank You; it’s lovely to have.
    Enjoy your trip; it won’t be long before you are up and away! 🙂

    1. I am so happy to hear you like the Little Blue Heron on your wall. The juvenile LBH we now have at the salt marsh is almost blue now…becoming adult. They are very beautiful birds 🙂 I hope to have a better picture of what the nest project will entail when I come back after Aug 15…so determined to get the nest into good shape before December. Thank you for your good wishes for my trip, I so look forward to it. XX

      1. I don’t normally respond to a reply… But in this instance, Helen, I have to say; he is soooo gorgeous. You, my friend, are a wonderful photographer! ❤
        Enjoy your trip!

    1. Happy you enjoyed these little delights, Eddie. Now I am looking forward to enjoying the nature in northern Europe, very different, but beautiful too.

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