Operation Osprey. Alien Presence. And Family Feuds at the Salt Marsh.

This past week has been very busy. But the good news is that we have finally made some headway on “Operation Osprey”, as my friend Gladys dubbed the project we are working on. I had never thought that helping the Osprey family to get a safe home would be as simple as someone climbing up to the nest and putting in two new supports for the wooden platform. I had seen the platform was falling apart and knew it had to be replaced. But I had also not envisioned a big “project” involving the county, the Audubon Society, a contractor and a bunch of donors.

osprey-nest-sept-26The local Audubon Society has the required permits for this work. And we now have a commitment from the county to do the necessary tree trimming in the park so that a big truck can get close to the nest. We also have a proposal from a contractor on the installation of a new osprey nest platform. It will be a modern dish with drainage holes widely used in Florida. nest-176-disk-nest-platform-300x225-fl-osprey-watchSomething like this (Osprey nest 176, Florida Osprey Watchers), with an added perch. The perch will serve many purposes. But perhaps most importantly, it will allow Papa Stanley to stay close to Sandy when they incubate eggs and look after the nestlings. Yay!

The fundraising has also started. I’m hoping we’ll get enough donations in the next two weeks so that the materials can be ordered and the project be put on the contractor’s work schedule. Otherwise we’ll run out of time.

mama-osprey-ud83You see, Sandy and Stanley have already started dating again. It’s really sweet to watch. The other night when Dylan and I took a late walk past the Sailing Center, we found both of them perched close to each other admiring the moon raising over the bay. I didn’t have my camera with me, but this is what they would’ve seen.

sunset-and-moon-rise-over-the-bay-ud83And yesterday morning it looked like they were fishing together. First I spotted Stanley scanning for fish at the Sailing Center.

papa-osprey-at-sailing-club-ud83A couple of minutes later, I spotted Sandy flying from behind me carrying a fish. She must have been fishing a bit further out on the bay because I didn’t spot her. She settled down on the lamp-post right opposite Stanley’s favorite resort.

mama-osprey-lands-with-a-fish-ud83And a few seconds later Stanley flew over my head with a fish. He must have picked up a fish from the bay right after I left him.  He settled at his resort to have his breakfast.

papa-osprey-eats-beakfast-ud83So there they were, the love birds, eating their breakfast at the same time and very close to each other.

mama-osprey-eating-breakfast-ud83And in late December, they will start rebuilding the nest. Fingers crossed we can give them a brand new, safe home by then.

the Mayor with his crowd UD83.jpgFrom the bay side I walked into the salt marsh, where the Mayor was leading the morning preening session. The marsh had been ‘taken over’ by several families of White Ibis and Snowy Egrets. I counted about thirty individuals. And I observed some discord in one of the Snowy families. Voices were raised and feathers flew. I have a few unusable pictures of this family ruckus where one can only see white fluffed feathers.


angry-snowy-egret-ud83A few Great Egrets were present too, but held to themselves, away from the boisterous crowds.


great-egret-2-ud83I also spotted a juvenile Green Heron quietly sneaking in the shadows at the far end of the marsh.

juvenile-green-heron-ud83And a Little Blue Heron observing the wild stuff from a small tree with keen interest.

little-blue-heron-ud83When I was leaving, I saw the Mayor had taken a position in the middle of the large, shallow pool, where he could have an overview of the lively marsh. Perhaps he was hoping the Snowy family would settle their disputes without his intervention.

major-great-blue-heron-ud83On the beach I found hundreds of birds, mainly gulls and terns. They were just chilling. Calmly exchanging the latest news or flying around in search for breakfast.



royal-tern-in-flight-ud83And suddenly I came face to face with an alien. He was big and reflected the outer space on his clothing. He was no E.T. but he didn’t frighten me too much, to tell you the truth.

jet-ski-alien-ud83I took comfort in the fact that Mama Sandy had finished her breakfast and was flying towards the ocean right over my head, keeping an eye on any aliens that might pop up on my path. I knew I would need to work harder on Operation Osprey to beat the deadline of Papa Stanley’s forthcoming proposal.

female-osprey-in-flight-ud83That’s all for today. Thanks for joining me on this walk. I wish you all a great week ahead. Peace.



65 thoughts on “Operation Osprey. Alien Presence. And Family Feuds at the Salt Marsh.”

  1. Aww, the sweethearts are together once again. Don’t you just love it? I too hope everyone gets things done quickly so the new perch and platform can go on. They should get a new modern home. 🙂

    1. You would know how wonderful it is to get one’s home modernized 🙂 And these guys won’t need to live there while the work is going on…provided everything happens in the next 60 days.

  2. I am thrilled with your Operation Osprey update and the new digs being used, Helen! It’s crazy on what you’ve had to go thru to replace their platform, but I am so happy you had determination and a passion for them, and it will be well worth your efforts. Your photos of Stanley and Sandy are amazing, I love each one. I can’t wait to see the expressions you’ll capture of their faces as they become accustomed to their new home! I miss following ‘our’ Osprey family through a season on a daily basis so much, I am very glad I have yours to follow. 🙂 As for the Salt Marsh, glad everyone is being pretty good, with all the new visitors. Outstanding photos of everyone there as well.

    1. I am happy you’ve now ‘adopted’ the Sand Key osprey family to follow, and so understand how you miss your ospreys! It is so much fun to watch these guys starting to do ‘stuff’ together again…and I hope we can get through all the hoops before end November. I too want to see their expressions when the new platform dish is in place. The contractor will put all their materials from this nest to the new one 🙂 Shall be exciting!

  3. Whew, I never would have guessed how complicated it is to repair an osprey nest platform. Thank goodness you are helping shepherd this through the process.

    1. It proved to be more complicated than I had envisioned, but at least we don’t need to replace the pole itself, which would have added quite a bit to the cost. I am lucky that my friend Gladys is helping me as I am not very good at fundraising – asking for money for any purpose doesn’t come naturally to me 🙂

    1. Thank you David. Sandy and Stanley are a special couple and we don’t want them to move away because of poor quality accommodations 🙂

    1. Happy you enjoyed the Egret pictures, Annika. It was funny how the big ones kept to themselves when there were some loud disagreements among the little ones.

  4. Here’s hoping the donations come rolling in as required, Helen, and well done for getting the preparatory stages completed in anticipation of the perch’s arrival. 🙂

  5. Things are back to normal in the Salt Marsh ~ and Tiny is about to climb up a pole to build a new home for her osprey friends ~ all is well I see 🙂 Your commitment to this area is so perfect to read and see, how these birds and wildlife must love it when you pay a visit, just as we do. Take care and wish all goes well.

    1. I was considering the climb up for a while…I have done crazier things 🙂 But then came to the conclusion that the likelihood of success will increase if I rely on professionals. And that always includes a Gantt chart and the like. Thanks Randall for your visit and good wishes.

      1. Ha, ha ~ I am glad you decided against. The mind of youth sometimes gets us into trouble when we think we are invincible 🙂 But always fun to give it a go sometimes anyway!

  6. Of course the money will be there for the amount needed to build the new Osprey Home, because Dylan, your forever home 🏡 furry companion, is your lucky charm.
    Maybe Dylan could be your Mascot for donations? People love Mascots and what better and cuter Mascot is there than Dylan?

    Thanks for the update on the marsh, Helen. ❤️

    1. Thank you Genie. Dylan would be a great mascot, tugging the heart strings of the potential donors 🙂 unfortunately some businesses do not allows such furry friends to enter their premises. I’m hoping the ospreys themselves will do the job ❤

  7. Such a sweet post, Helen. Your photos are always stunning, and such a joy. And the activities of Sandy, Stanley, the Mayor and other residents of the salt marsh are so lovely. The human residents and organizations, including you, to continue providing them with a safe place to breed is equally as wonderful.

    1. Thank you for being here, Jet, and for your kind comment. Yes, we are hopeful to be able to help the osprey family before their annual nest repairs start. And the salt marsh is very lively as the water levels finally allow even the smaller waders to find food…and soon we look forward to many migrating visitors ~

  8. Great news Tiny that the new nesting platform is going ahead. Such amazing photos of your osprey, they blow me away, how you get such wonderful shots. I guess that’s the beauty of being nearby. I love the breeding plumage on the Snowy Egret. I notice the Green Heron stalks the same way as our Striated Heron. A wonderful showcase of your birds Tiny. We have found an Osprey nest on our trip away on a power pole. Have a wonderful week my friend:-)

    1. It has been slow going with the nest project, but now I am hoping it will speed up and that by early December the ospreys will have a new home. Yes, the Green Heron and the Striated Heron seem to be close cousins 🙂 This one was so well camouflaged that I almost missed him. Ospreys make nests in the most unlikely places, like power poles and lamp-posts, here too. And if the nest platform would collapse, this couple would move and not come back…and we want them to stay 🙂 I hope your week is going well…here we are watching a large hurricane approaching the east side of Florida.

      1. Thanks Tiny, have just heard friends of ours have family visiting Florida and are concerned about the hurricane also. Praying you come through safely, as this will be too soon for another salt marsh flood.

        1. We are on the western side of Florida and did not get more than some windy weather from the hurricane, but our son’s family lives in Jacksonville on the north east side of Florida and they evacuated on Thursday. We are hoping there home is not damaged but will find out when they return back tomorrow.

  9. I sit with a smile, Helen; it’s lovely to see the Salt Marsh returning to its natural abundance.
    The ‘Osprey Nest 176’ sure looks grand; Papa Stanley won’t know himself in this plush new pad (and what a great nest to offer to his love)! 😉
    You’ve captured some beautiful images (love the moon over the bay, and the strange alien creature ~ cool).
    All the best with the fundraising. If you need extra help perhaps you could inform us!

    1. Your comment made me smile! I ‘saw’ Stanley carrying Sandy over the imaginary threshold into their now home in December 😀 I hope we can make that happen! The alien was cool, I know that if you feed him with some fuel, he practically ‘flies’ over the waters. Thank you for being here, my friend, and have a wonderful week.

    1. The marsh has fully recovered and the water levels are at normal now enabling even small wading birds to find food. And all the mosquitos are gone!

  10. So great to see the salt marsh returning to its Fall glory. Thanks for the update Helen. Yamahas and fancy dish platforms are steps into a new era. Just think, a few years ago, only a few local people would know about the Osprey family. Now there is a bigger concerned audience … including me.
    Is there a website where I can make a donation?

    1. Thank you, Val! Yes, the salt marsh is in its very green fall glory – a few yellow and red leaves can be expected much later 🙂 It is actually quite fun to take a ride on these aliens – last time I did dolphins came to greet me in big numbers surrounding the jet ski. It was a very moving experience. I am hoping the local businesses will be generous, but if we do not get enough funding, I will get some instructions posted here next week – the local Audubon chapter doesn’t have a website enabling donations.

    1. We are under tropical storm warning, but Jacksonville in North Florida, where my son’s family is living is under hurricane warning right now.

    1. The Snowy Egrets were rowdy and ruffled their feathers, but no picking on each other 🙂 Just learned that the tree trimming has now been done today, so now we just need to get the money together.

  11. Oh… I almost missed this one! Stanley and Sandy look so good. I had no idea it takes this much effort to build the platform for them. I will check the donation of the Audubon Society later today. Beautiful Egrets, Helen!

    1. Thank you dear Amy! if you decide to donate online you will need to say that the donation is towards the Sand Key Osprey nest project by Clearwater Audubon Society, otherwise you can send your donation directly to the local chapter : Clearwater Audubon Society, P.O. Box 97, Clearwater, FL 33757 and mark Sand Key nest. I will give that address today in my post. ❤

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