Yesterday morning I lifted my head from the legal language on my screen and looked towards the salt marsh. I immediately saw that we had visitors for Thanksgiving. Many of them. I left my project in mid-sentence, grabbed my “birding camera” and ran out of the door. Looking towards the marsh from our driveway, I spotted Papa Stanley and Mama Sandy on lamp-posts at the parking lot next to the marsh.
They were discussing something. Perhaps planning the furnishings of their new home. And they were watching the skies, sounding an occasional ‘double warning’ to a male Osprey flying around overhead. Stanley had a fish, but Sandy had probably already eaten.
Do you see what I see? No, I don’t mean the bright blue autumn sky. But Sandy is clearly ready for the nesting season. She has gained weight, as she should. She knows she will always eat last when there are other mouths to feed in the nest. And that time is not too far away now.
When I arrived at the salt marsh, I saw birds everywhere. Many different species – see Miss Rosa there on the left with the big boys? Every single islet and shallow pond was sprawling with birds. Early in the morning when Dylan and I passed by the marsh, it had been almost deserted – this was pure magic. I was guessing many of birds were visitors on the move to their final destinations, like the 20+ Wood Storks and some of the Great Egrets.
There were teenagers, parents and grandparents. It was great to see how all the different birds enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast together. Everyone was accepted and welcomed. The Mayor did set the tone, of course. He was staying a bit away from the biggest crowds, keeping an eye on everything.
Fishing was great. And the styles were many. But it was difficult to capture much of their acrobatics through the very high grass.
To my amazement, there was not one Reddish Egret but two. I had to observe them to know which of them was our Clown. One of them was a bit shy and just stayed quietly next to the bigger birds.
I concluded it was not the Clown, but perhaps his girlfriend. Then I walked to the far end of the marsh and knew I had found him. His hunting dance was on.
When a Wood Stork walked close to where he was fishing, he asked – in no uncertain terms – to be left alone.
I had to smile. Definitely the Clown. And he was in a feisty mood. The Wood Stork decided to move a bit further. There was plenty of fish for everyone.
I was looking for Miss Rosa. I had seen her fly away, but was not sure where she had landed. I walked around the marsh again and finally spotted her in a busy pond with several Snowy Egrets and juvenile Wood Storks.
It was great to see her again. She looked at me to say hi, and went on to demonstrate that she too was a great fisher(wo)man. And she proved her point by catching the biggest fish of the day.
Not far from her, I spotted two other permanent residents, the Tri-colored Heron and the Little Blue Heron.
Then my attention was captured by a call that I didn’t recognize. I walked towards a tree where I thought it was coming from. And spotted the tiniest bird, about 3″ from top to toe. It was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, perhaps a juvenile. This very fast bird made me work hard for a few glimpses.
After that I walked back home to continue my work. Later in the afternoon I saw Mama Sandy again. She was perching at her new nest, and I think she spotted me spying on her from our terrace more than a block away.
We wish everyone Happy Thanksgiving and a great weekend.