Juveniles Rule. And Slowly Returning to Normal.

I am not developing an argument here on what ‘normal’ might be or look like. All I know is that our surroundings here at home are slowly starting to look as they used to – before Hermine dumped almost 15 inches/38cms of water on us over five days. The flood waters are almost gone. I say almost because there are still a few pools of water on the beach, in the park and in our garden. And birds love them. Like Snowy Egrets and White Ibis, who were mingling on the beach in large  numbers yesterday.

Snowy Egret at flood water pool ud80.jpg

snowy-egret-and-white-ibis-ud80And juveniles of all sorts were playing and feeding in the shallow pools. Like these two juvenile White Ibis. One of them was quite white already, while his little sister was still much more brown than white.

two juvenile ibis ud80.jpg

juvenile-white-ibis-ud80Another juvenile, a Black Skimmer, who had already left his parents was practicing skimming in one of the shallow pools.

juvenile-black-skimmer-ud80The juvenile Royal Tern pestering his mom was quite entertaining. Although his poor mom might have disagreed. She tried to show him how to catch food items in the shallow water, but he was not interested. He wanted to be fed.


baby-and-mama-royal-tern-ud80Walking into the salt marsh, I noticed the water levels were down and the bird count was up. Despite the fact that the mosquito count was down only a bit, I decided to see who had returned. And right away saw the younger Great Blue Heron. After hanging around for over two years now, I think he has earned to be named. I will call him Henry. He was balancing high up in the cypress tree surveying the marsh. Possibly trying to find out whether or not the Mayor was present.

young-blue-heron-ud80He wasn’t. So Henry decided it was safe to fly down and start hunting at the far end of the marsh, a spot usually reserved for the Mayor.


young-blue-heron-lands-ud80A Great Egret was also scanning the marsh from the top of a tree in the middle of the marsh. He might have been counting his relatives, who were many but difficult to spot in the high grass.


great egret and snowy egret ud80.jpg

great-egret-ud80The only smaller wading bird present, in addition to Snowy Egrets, was a beautiful Tri-colored Heron. She was fishing at the shallow side of the marsh that had already dried up quite a bit. But she was still more than knee-deep in the water.

tricolored-heron-ud80But the Moorhens and Mottled Ducks were present in big numbers. The ducklings born here last spring had returned and were swimming in a nice formation – all ten of them. Juveniles definitely ruled the day 🙂


ten-ducklings-ud80I finished my walk at the Osprey nest. Mama Sandy was having her brunch and checked on me between the bites. I wanted to tell her that on Sunday, I would be visiting again – with the contractor who will be repairing or replacing (if required) the nest. But I let her eat in peace.

mama-osprey-eats-lunch-ud80I didn’t see Papa Stanley, but I know he is around as I saw him just the previous day. He flew low over our garden and tipped his wings to me and Dylan. Instead I spotted a Red-bellied Woodpecker on my way home. He was showcasing his reddish belly.

redbellied-woodpecker-2-ud80But that was not all. Approaching home, I saw a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk fly past me towards our garden.

hawk-ud80I decided to see if I could spot her again and walked around among the trees where I thought she might have landed. And I found her! She was sitting in a dense tree – on our neighbor’s side. It was an awkward spot to try to ‘shoot’ her. Sun right in my eyes, a thick, high hedge on one side and a large ditch with some remaining flood water on the other. I tried to balance on my toes so I could get a clear shot of her, but this is the best I could get. What a beautiful bird.

juvenile-red-shouldered-hawk-ud80She flew away to continue her hunt, and I spotted another bird in a tree right above me. A Black-crowned Night Heron had settled there to sleep for the day and I inadvertently woke him up.

black-crowned-night-heron-ud80Luckily he didn’t seem to be angry. I was happy to find so many of my feathered friends. I concluded that things are slowly returning to normal around here, but unfortunately the damage assessments still continue elsewhere not too far from here.

We all wish you a very happy weekend. Peace.

65 thoughts on “Juveniles Rule. And Slowly Returning to Normal.”

    1. Thank you for your visit Norunn. These birds are a delight indeed – and sometimes also an inspiration for paintings (digital ones for me) 🙂

    1. Thanks – I think it looks great too 🙂 The contractor actually called me this morning and we just met at the nest. He will now send me a proposal for changing the nest platform (the pole was good) before mid December.

  1. Such a beautiful post of these birds, Helen. So glad to hear the bird count was up! Love to see Mama Sandy here. Great egrets are beautiful, as always.
    Did my woodpecker fly to Florida to see you? 🙂

    1. If I remember correctly your WP family was of a more rare kind 🙂 I would welcome them here at any time! Mama Sandy is ‘baby sitting” the nest a few hours almost every day, but I hope she lets the repair men come close and do their work later in the fall.

  2. Glad you are getting back to normal – the wildlife seems to have come through it okay.
    We get floods during our “ordinary” thunder storms. Just saw on the news this morning, manatees, having floated onto a golf course during one of those floods were trapped in one of the ponds. Rescuers finally netted and relocated the animal.

    1. Yes, almost all flood waters have now receded, but it took over 2 weeks. And the salt marsh water level is still a bit too high for the smaller birds to find food, but we are getting there. I think I saw your manatee rescue on TV yesterday or the day before 🙂

  3. Another great series of captures, Helen, and my favourite is that of the two Terns – most amusing! 🙂 Glad that all is returning to normal for yourselves and the birds. With very best wishes, Hariod.

    1. I heard the young tern ‘talking’ very loud to his mom and that’s how I saw both of them among so many birds enjoying the last of the flood pools. We are pretty much back to normal…and the osprey nest ‘inspection’ went well today (it was moved forward till this afternoon).

    1. I love them too, and I think I saw more juveniles than adults on this walk 🙂 Salt marsh is ‘getting there’, soon even the smaller herons can feed there as the water levels go down a bit more. Sandy is ‘baby sitting’ the nest a couple of hours almost every day and sometimes has her brunch/lunch there.

  4. A good day for all the “kids” to come out and play! What beauties all your captures are. Thrilled the Osprey family will get their home looked at. They are lucky to have you as their champion! The Tri-colored heron is so lovely. Her colors! Wow. Your blog is the closest I get to see so many wonderful animals. And I appreciate that very much. Have a beautiful weekend Helen. I’m off to a wedding! 🙂

    1. Thank you Koko for your visit and kind comment. Happy you enjoy the birds at the salt marsh – I do too and want to share them with friends 🙂 The Tri-colored Heron is one of the most beautiful wading birds, beautifully colored with blues, reds and whites and so little and gracious. I wish you lots of fun at the wedding!!

      1. The wedding was a blast. My fave of all the weddings I’ve been to this far! Hope your weekend is a great one! I’ve got painting to do. Not my favorite thing to do, but must be done!

  5. The name you gave Henry seems to suit him well. I love the pattern on his long slender neck. What a handsome shorebird!

    Loved the shots of the young tern pestering his mother for food. Hope the mother holds firm with the tough love. There was a gull at the beach last year who was pestering his mother, too. And last winter I saw three young starlings, who were slightly bigger than their mother, doing the same thing. One even stood on top of the bird feeder and scolded her from above. Mom looked exhausted. Some children just never want to leave home!

    1. I can picture the starling scolding his mother and I’m smiling. Almost all young birds do that at one point, but their mothers seem to be quite skilled in tough love. Probably more than we human are 🙂 Mama Sandy has proven that time after time…all her fledglings have left the nest within 4-5 weeks after fledging. Lots of tough love there.

  6. Really spectacular photos of your beautiful feathered friends, Helen. So glad all is returning to normality once more Have a great weekend, and please ask your Red-bellied Woodpecker to send a couple of his cousins to my backyard. I have special seed for them, but Sammy is busy gobbling at it right now. 😀

    1. I’m sure Sammy doesn’t want the seed to get past its best-by-date so he takes care of it. But I’m sure you have more so I’ll ask the RBW to send some relatives your way. I can tell him they’ll not need to work very hard for their upkeep 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend, I trust you’ll get the necessary taken care of before your trip!

    1. I hope the young tern is learning – both to wait for his turn and to try to feed himself. Thanks Nancy, have a great weekend in the sunshine!

  7. Wonderful pictures as always my friend. 🙂 Glad everyone seems safe and happy. The hawk is indeed beautiful. I wish I could get pics of the hawks that fly around here and make Sam bark at them. 😉 ❤

    1. Thank you dear Jackie. Happy you enjoyed the update. I was watching the young hawk a bit afterwards and I hope his mom still feeds him…he sure did not yet have the ‘hunting license’ 🙂 Dylan sends his best to Sam!

    1. Happy you enjoyed the update from the salt marsh. Yes the wildlife seems to have managed well through the storms and the aftermath – just would like to see the smaller birds back too, like Miss Rosa and the smaller herons 🙂

  8. Very happy to see that the salt marsh is slowly recovering from the hurricane. 🙏🏾
    Astonishingly beautiful photos, Helen.

    1. Thank you Annika! We have an abundance of birds here on FL west coast, both shorebirds and wading birds – and we have glorious sunsets over the ocean and sunrises over the bay. I hope you will visit here too one day 🙂

      1. Whilst we were on the North East Coast of Florida just two weeks ago I saw so many birds in the wild I was absolutely smitten – the pelicans particularly won me over. So wish we had more time to have visited the west coast! We got the stunning morning sunrises and I’ve never been up so early so consistently since my son was young – always a joy to see the day awaken. Would have been good to see the sunsets too over the ocean!

        1. I am so glad you liked Florida, our son & fam lives in Jacksonville so I visit NE Florida quite often – again in 3 weeks time. I hope you’ll come again and next time stay on the west coast.

  9. Incredible images, Tiny!!! Your new camera I see is getting quite the workout! Your photos just keep on getting better and better. I give you so much credit for shooting when the sun is out … Just so not easy. I’ve been looking into Neutral Density filters to shoot with for bright sunny days and when the snow gets here. Sunny days intimidate me but it seems to me you have that under control. LOVED this post!! Thank you and good to hear your neck of the woods is getting back to normal!! ❤

    1. Thank you dear Amy for your kind comment ❤ Happy you enjoyed the post. We are all trying to get better…you are already a master! I had to learn to shoot in bright sun light because that's what we have most days. It's tricky and sometimes I need to edit quite heavily, particularly when the object, often a bird, happens to be right between me and the sun – and I can't move either 😀 Wishing you a wonder-filled week.

  10. So good to see the salt marsh back to normal again Tiny. The rain would have given it a good flushing out, which such habitats need from time to time to remain viable. Your photos are beautiful, I especially like your Hawk in flight, they are always great gifts for me, raptors in flight. The fruit of last summers breeding is well on the way to maturity there. It is always lovely to see the young ones doing well and growing, changing and learning. I have similar photos of young Terns exasperating their parents for feeds. Immature Terns and Gulls appear to do similar, lowering their head and begging with a bobbing action. Thanks again for an excellent post, and a lovely variety of birds. It will be good to fix the Osprey nesting platform, they are blessed to have you caring for them my friend, have a wonderful week:-)

    1. Thank you for your beautiful comment, Ashley. I was so grateful for the Red-shouldered Hawk’s appearance right above my head 🙂 But then when I found her perched, it was impossible to get a good shot – my ‘tiny’ 167 cm were not enough to reach properly over the green hedge and still look into the viewfinder. The osprey nest platform will be changed to a modern and much more durable “disk” before December when the nesting season will start again, but there is much work before it can be done. I will write about it soon. I am happy you are seeing your waders and other migratory birds returning with their juveniles from last year. Have a wonderful week!

  11. Beautiful photos and very interesting account of the inhabitants of your salt marsh. I wonder if those shallow pools of water may not contain some stranded fish or crustaceans that the juveniles can easily catch.

    1. I think there was no fish in the pools because they were never connected directly to the ocean, we always had this thin sandbar between the waves and the beach which flooded from the heavy rains. But there definitely were some tasty crustaceans as so many birds, including juveniles, were attracted to them. Thanks Hien.

    1. Thanks Indah! I have so many funny pictures of Henry. When he was younger (2015) he tried to attack the Osprey nest … and got his butt feathers properly ruffled by Mama Sandy. He seems to have stopped those foolish things and matured a bit 🙂

    1. Thank you Karen. I am gearing up for all the work (had no idea it was so much!) required to get the osprey nest platform changed before Sandy and Stanley start planning their 2017 family 🙂

  12. Aww, the kids are all growing up so fast! Nice to see all this activity and that tri-colored heron is such a beauty! Glad to hear the mosquito count is down a bit too.

    1. Yes, most of this year’s bird babies are already close to adult size and look although their maturing still usually takes quite some time. The Tri-colored Heron is one of the most beautiful birds with hues of blue, red/old rosa and white. The mosquito count is now close to zero and they have not been bothering me at all this past week. Have a wonderful fall weekend, Susan.

  13. Great photos Tiny ~ and I love the idea of things “returning to normal” as one of my favorite sayings is of Doc Holiday in the movie Tombstone: “There’s no such thing as a normal life, there’s just life” and I think for coastal cities who get more than their share of tropical storms, this must hold true. Great to see “your children” doing what they do best ~

    1. I think you are right, Randall. Life here includes storms, two so far this summer. But afterwards we are often rewarded with gorgeous weather, like just now 🙂 I really look forward to the fall with cooler temperatures and lots of wintering birds at the marsh and on the beach. Have a wonderful weekend!

  14. Wonderful to see the return of some normalcy at the Salt Marsh, Helen… Love your images, so many beautiful creatures on show!
    Good news: Henry has become a fully fledged member of the community with a name to boot!
    And the tri-coloured Heron is simply gorgeous; as are all your images, Helen… so many I haven’t seen before, like the Red Shouldered Hawk ~ so pretty!
    Good news re the Osprey nest; Papa and Mama deserve (like all creatures) a good solid home in which to rear their young… I feel somewhat like a Grandma waiting for more Grandkids! Well done to you… I’ll be looking forward to hearing more ~
    You must be quite chuffed to be getting back to a little more routine with Dylan at your side… 🙂

    1. Yes, it is wonderful to be able to walk at the salt marsh again! The ‘mozzies’ have also gone now 🙂 The osprey nest project is much bigger than I first thought, but I am determined to get it done! I can’t even think what might happen if the nest collapsed. Mama Sandy babysits it now on a daily basis so I’m hoping she will let the repair crew work on the nest, once we get that far. But they better wear hard hats 🙂

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