This past weekend was a bit winter-like. Cool winds from the north, bright sunshine and then yesterday a bit warmer and cloudier with a few sprinkles. I was invited to a lively holiday party at the salt marsh. Two days of guests mingling happily in anticipation of the holidays. Residents hosting visitors who seemed happy to have escaped the real cold up north.
And there were early signs of romance brewing in the bird community. Many couples, breeding plumages growing…and a few loud comments exchanged between suitors in some quarters.
The Reddish Egret was entertaining. Perhaps he was also trying to impress on his girlfriend, who had taken possession of the Mayor’s office. She was well put together and watched the Clown’s performance intently.
And Miss Rosa was, of course, the object of everyone’s admiration. Including mine. I first spotted her hanging out with the big boys.
Then she flew to a pond where she could fish undisturbed. Photogenic. And I think she knows it.
While Rosa didn’t seem to have a boyfriend, the Yellow-crowned Night Heron did have company. She was sitting shyly in the bushes below the osprey nest, while her admirer was openly staring at her from a tree across a small ‘strait’.
Mama Sandy was there too. She looked regal on her new perch. And she was in deep thought. Perhaps mulling over ideas for home decoration, which is about to start in 3-4 weeks now.
Suddenly I heard osprey speak. I looked up and saw Papa Stanley right above the nest looking down. They talked.
I would have loved to know what was said in that brief exchange! You see, he has not yet been allowed to land in the new nest. I know it will happen early January, but only after he has performed his proposal dance and brought a gift to Sandy. Then they will start decorating their new home together. That shall be interesting. I will make only one New Year resolution this year, and that is to follow their nesting season as much as I can. And then share this couple’s joys and challenges here with you.
After Stanley flew away towards the ocean, Sandy greeted me from her ‘high chair’. She is a beauty. No wonder Stanley is so besotted by her.
I walked around the marsh and spotted two of our permanent residents, the Tri-colored Heron and the Little Blue Heron. They are such gracious little waders and by now not a bit shy when I approach them.
In fact, the Little Blue Heron kept me company. She walked with me quite a while along the southern border of the marsh.
Soon I saw the big birds chilling out in the ‘west wing’ of the marsh. Mainly Wood Storks and Great Egrets, in clans, couples or solo enjoyed the holiday smorgasbord.
I learned something new, namely how the Wood Storks ‘sit’ on the ground when only their heads are visible above the high grass.
This is how. They actually sit on their knees – bent the other way round compared to ours.
The older Great Blue Heron, the Mayor of the Marsh, was hosting the party. He patrolled the waters and talked to the guests.
At one point he said something to a Great Egret. I thought I heard “let’s compete who’s first at the osprey nest”. I can’t be sure, but off they went.
I have no way of knowing who won. Or even if that matters. But when I arrived back to the nest, I found each of them in trees close to the nest…in the company of the Night Heron couple.
But were there no small birds at the party? Of course there were. But these birds make me work too hard to get even one acceptable picture 🙂 I managed to make two of them to pose just for half a second, a Northern Mockingbird and a tiny Least Flycatcher who moved all the time. And I mean all of the time, which is obvious from my soft picture.
After being hosted by the Mayor, entertained by the Reddish Egret and greeted by Mama Sandy and Miss Rosa, I left the party and walked home by the bay side. There I spotted only one bird, a Brown Pelican at the Sailing Center pier. The pelicans prefer the bay or the ocean for their smorgasbord.
I hope you enjoyed this holiday party as much as I did. We all wish you a wonderful, stress-free week.