A Marriage Proposal. And Happy New Year from the Salt Marsh.

Hello everyone! I hope the Holiday Season has treated you well. I’m back home from my Christmas adventures with family on the Atlantic seaboard in North Florida and Georgia. It was a precious time with our son and his family.

st-simons-island-pier-georgis-fb-ud98Lots of little adventures and places to see. Here a few pictures from our trip to St. Simons Island in Georgia: the lighthouse from 1807, rebuilt in 1872, the Christ Church from 1808 and the beautiful Avenue of Oaks planted sometime before 1850.





the-avenue-of-oaks-st-simons-georgia-ud98I did do some bird watching as well with my 6-year old granddaughter. Here’s our catch from Georgia, Double-crested Cormorants and gulls.



cormorant-and-gulls-georgia-ud98I am happy to say she is also into nature and photography, shooting away with her Nikon Coolpix. Here she discovered some ‘interesting plant’ that needed to be captured close up.

little-photographer-ud98We also did a birding walk in her neighborhood with Dylan in tow. And to my delight I captured my first shots of a Hooded Merganser.

hooded-merganser-2-jax-ud98The rest of the neighborhood birds included a family of Canada Geese, a serious-looking Little Blue Heron and a Snowy Egret.



snowy-egret-jax-ud98That was so much fun!

Yesterday morning I checked on my friends at the salt marsh. A New Year’s celebration was clearly in the making. So many birds! A large family of Wood Storks, many Great Egrets, and the Mayor, of course, were all enjoying the cool sunshine – and plenty of food offerings.


great-egret-and-great-blue-heron-ud97As usual, the Reddish Egret was entertaining the crowds and shaking his booty. And for the first time I captured him in full flight.

Reddish Egret ud97.jpg

reddish-egret-flying-ud97Miss Rosa was there too, delighting everyone with her colorful presence. She always notices me and nods her greeting. I thought she said Happy New Year. How sweet of her.

roseate spoonbill and snowy egret ud97.jpg

roseate-spoonbill-ud97Mama Sandy was sitting on her new perch. Papa Stanley flew by and they had a brief exchange. At the time I was not aware of the importance of the moment.

mama-osprey-at-her-perch-ud97Below the Osprey nest, I spotted a Tri-colored Heron. When I came home and looked at my pictures, I realized she was not alone. A Green Heron was lurking in the shadows right behind her, and another bird further in behind him.

tricolored-heron-and-green-heron-in-shadows-ud97And I witnessed some rivalry between two of the Great Egrets. There was a loud exchange followed by a flight competition.

two great egrets flying 2 ud97.jpgEven the big Wood Stork wanted to get away from such a disturbance to the otherwise peaceful New Year Eve party. He hurried his steps, then ran and flexed his huge wings.

wood-stork-fishing-ud97But the Little Blue Heron was brave. He was a bit startled, but stayed put on the water installation and stared curiously at the big boys’ silly competition.

little-blue-heron-ud97The juvenile Night Heron also observed the hullabaloo from the relative safety of his tree below the Osprey nest.

juvenile-night-heron-ud97I was happy to find everyone in good spirits on the last day of the year and walked home. On my way, I spotted an industrious couple, Mr. and Mrs. Red-bellied Woodpecker. But I was yet to get my biggest year-end surprise.

male-and-female-red-bellied-woodpecker-ud97An hour or so later, when I happened to look out from my office window towards the salt marsh, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I ran out to the terrace and could confirm that Papa Stanley was in the new nest for the first time!

papa-osprey-in-the-nest-ud99And Mama Sandy was happily enjoying her proposal gift on the perch. Wow! The proposal gift was not a fish, but a small mammal, perhaps a squirrel.

mama-osprey-with-her-proposal-gift-ud99If Osprey eats something other than fish, it will probably be at the time when the male makes his annual marriage proposal. I have seen Sandy receiving a mouse in 2015, and that’s the only time before yesterday I’ve seen her eat other than fish. Now this gift was very special, and it was given 11 days earlier than last year.

This morning on my early morning walk with Dylan, but without my camera, I saw that both Sandy and Stanley were sitting in the nest together. And I noticed that some soft nest materials had already been brought in. Sandy and Stanley have renewed their marriage vows once again, and this New Year’s Eve marked the official start of their 2017 nesting season. What a resilient couple they are!

fireworks-2017-ud100I want to thank all blogging friends for a wonderful year. You have inspired me with your thought-worthy posts and generous advice, amazing stories, wonderful poems and beautiful photos and other art! And you have given me laughs when I most needed them 🙂 You have also encouraged me by visiting here and commenting on what I have shared,  which I have immensely enjoyed. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. My furry sidekick also sends his regards, and we both wish you a Happy and Healthy New Year.

110 thoughts on “A Marriage Proposal. And Happy New Year from the Salt Marsh.”

  1. Simply stunning, Tiny!! Thanks for sharing your beauty with us and thanks for the kindness in your heart which spills into your photos! Sending lots of good wishes for a 2017 that is full of light…and full of love and peace! ❤

    1. Thank you dear Lorrie! I am so grateful for the good things that are in my life – appreciating them makes it easier to face the challenges that appear on my path. I wish you a wonderful year, Lorrie, full of passion, love and good health ❤

    1. Yes, I am very pleased about the new, safe nest for the Osprey couple. It is a joy to watch them enjoy their new home. Happy 2017 to you too Susan. I hope you are well on the mend and will be able to take some photos soon.

    1. The trip to St. Simons was very enjoyable – filled with lots of Southern history – the good and the bad, but I surely learned a lot. Quality time with my grandkids is always so precious to me. The 6 y.o. has become a nature lover and already has her own opinions about how we handle the environment. Very refreshing!

    1. Happy you enjoyed the news from the salt marsh. Now the most interesting time begins with all birds gearing towards the next nesting season. Happy New Year to you & yours too!

  2. Hopefully your adorable granddaughter picks up grandma’s nature photography skills. Thank you for the always wonderful images and updates from the Salt Marsh. All best wishes for the new year!

    1. Thank you, my friend. I’m hoping too that her interest in nature photography continues. She has already developed a keen interest in nature and environment and has her own convictions about how we humans should preserve all natural 🙂

  3. Happy that you had such a wonderful Christmas sweet Tiny. I am also happy to see that Papa Stanley and Mama Sandy have a nice new nest. Happy New Year, we hope for all wonderful things to come to you, Dylan, your family and all at the salt marsh in 2017. I am looking forward to seeing lots more of your fabulous pictures and posts in the coming year. Hugs for you and nose kisses for Dylan. Maggie, Chancy and Pooh

    1. Thank you Mags, Chancy and Pooh! I am so happy we could raise the funds necessary to replace the old Osprey nest that was falling apart. Now that the couple has totally accepted the new nest, we can follow the nesting season with a peace of mind. the nest will be safe for the “kids” which will, hopefully, hatch sometime in March. Dylan and I send you best wishes for a happy and healthy 2017.

  4. Stanley is a charmer he is. 🙂 Wonderful pictures, tiny. And the narrative as always is mesmerizing. You have a gift, my friend. Happy New Year! (I will be sending you and email today!) ❤

    1. Yes, he is a charmer and I was so taken by the fact that he came with something they don’t normally eat. It was much more difficult for him to catch a small mammal than a fish – he wanted it to be ‘special’ 🙂 Looking fwd to news from you. Thank you my friend ❤

    1. Thanks Susan! It is nice to see you again. I hope your writing break was productive to your liking. I wish you all the best in 2017!

  5. It’s amazing to me how much detail you notice about your feathered friends. And thanks for reminding me of happy memories vacationing on Jekyll Island. I’m not sure if we ever went to St. Simmons. Thanks for all the entertainment and inspiration Helen. May it be a year of peace, love and fun.

    1. It is funny how my ability to ‘see’ has improved after I started taking photos of birds. The details now jump up in front of me 🙂 But I missed the Green Heron until I saw the picture… I’m happy my few pics from St. Simons brought back good memories. Thanks Brad, and I wish you all the best for 2017.

  6. Happy New Year Helen! Glad you had a good holiday. The Marsh looks very active for the start of the new year, and it’s great to see the nest is in top condition for Stanley and Sandy! 🎉💚

    1. Thank you, my friend. I am grateful for the good holiday and was happy to see the Osprey couple has completely embraced their new, safe home. I wish you and yours a wonderful 2017 filled with love, peace and good health ❤

  7. That’s interesting that around the mating season then the diet changes. I wonder what the evolutionary basis is of that, as it can’t be simply extra protein, would you think, Helen?

    1. I don’t think the diet changes per se, they will continue to eat fish 99% of the time, but for some reason the male tries to bring something ‘special’ when he proposes. And when the gift is accepted, he can come into the nest and they start rebuilding it.

  8. I’m so glad to see the ospreys’ nest already installed! Also to know that you are having a fantastic first day of the new year in company of your loving family. My family and I wish you a super great 2017! 🙂 ❤

    1. I am very happy too that we managed to install the new nest well ahead of the nesting season. This couple is already bringing in new materials and I see them together in the nest a few times every day now. I wish you & yours a wonderful and healthy year ❤

    1. Thank you dear Natalie! It was wonderful, indeed, to see the Osprey couple come together in the new nest. I wish you many blessings in the new year ❤

  9. I loved your post, Helen! Beautiful scenery, happy birds, and an adorable young photographer. Can’t get any better than that….except Sandy & Stanley’s courtship reunion…..awesome!

    1. Thanks Donna! I am hoping that my granddaughter’s interest in nature and photography continues…she got this Nikon Coolpix for the 6th birthday last spring and shot so diligently during our outings that the battery ran out 🙂 Sandy’s and Stanley’s nesting season started a bit earlier this year, and I wonder if they thought that designing this new nest to their liking would take longer.

  10. Lovely pictures, and so good to see the Osprey couple enjoying their new nest! Wishing you a wonderful New Year too. 🙂

    1. Thank you Meg! It will be interesting to see how the Osprey couple ‘decorates’ their much bigger home. They have already started working on it 🙂

    1. Thanks Susan – I wish you the same! I am so relieved that our couple have completely ‘owned’ the new nest. I hope to be able to ‘see’ into it from my terrace little better this year as the design is different. I expect Sandy to start sitting on the eggs in February.

    1. It is a lovely, very gracious bird- and the strong sunlight/shadow made it look even more colorful. I wish you happiness and peace in 2017.

  11. Happy and blessed New Year dear Tiny and family and also to Dylan! Thank you so much for sharing your world with us, we have thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to more in 2017. How wonderful that Stanley has given the wedding gift on New Year’s Eve, and that they have accepted the new accommodation upgrade. I am realising more and more that in many bird species, especially sea and shore birds, that the male proposes to his chosen bride by offering a freshly caught fish, and on her eating it, is the “I do”. The Fairy Tern actually slaps her in the face with it before watching her eat it. Really lovely that you had time with your grandies, that was a highlight of my Christmas also. The Merganser was a special gift, and a most unusual looking bird. Have a wonderful holiday break my friend!

    1. The Fairy Tern’s practice made me smile 🙂 I was so blessed to actually see the gift from Stanley to Sandy this year. He looked so proudly at her when she was enjoying this rare treat. Something else than fish once a year. It is lovely that both of us could enjoy our grandies this Christmas…they just grow up so fast 🙂 I wish you & yours many gifts and blessing this new year.

  12. Oh, Tiny, I’ve been here a long time taking each photo in stride and enjoying your story. What a beautiful and complex post to put together. Outstanding!! And what glorious news about Stanly! How exciting that he not only came to the nest but the Osprey family is preparing for more little ones. Your photography is absolutely striking! And the fact your Granddaughter is walking in the shoes of your Grandma, how cool is that? LOVE it!! Happy New Year to you and your family! Give Dylan a big hug from me. He is so lucky to have you as his Mom!!! Much Love, Helen!!! ❤

    1. Thank you, dear Amy, for you kind comment and good wishes ❤ The Osprey family is now happily redecorating their new home…if the previous years are anything to go by, they should have little ones sometime during the second half of March. Our Christmas adventures were indeed wonderful, I miss my two girls already! I 'm hoping that the 6 y.o. will continue to take pictures and improve her skills…she used to take photos already as a 5 y.o. with her Leap Pad, but now she has a real camera and can upload her shots into the computer 🙂 I am looking forward to your beautiful pictures this new year, Amy! Many blessings and hugs to you & family. Dylan sends his best wishes too!

      1. How exciting your Grand-Girls are being encouraged to turn to their artistic side, SO important and mostly overlooked in the majority of our population. I bet you do miss them. (((HUGS))) for that! I do so look forward to the new family coming in March. Never a dull moment in the Salt Marsh. Your photographs are really stunning! You need to be proud of yourself on how you have used your new equipment!!! Much Love, Helen!!<3

        1. What you say about encouraging the artistic side in kids is so important. The 6 y.o. is in first grade at a Waldorf School. Its pedagogy “emphasizes the role of imagination in learning, striving to integrate holistically the intellectual, practical, and artistic development of pupils.” They also pay great attention to nature and environment. And I just discovered that she already reads fluently! I am so happy for all that 🙂 As to me, I am still learning my new equipment…it will take time to master all the lenses. Thank you, dear Amy, for your encouragement ❤

          1. Helen, you have renewed my Hope that our children are getting a valuable education. So many are not. To hear this about this school should be the “standard” for all schools. Truly magnificent!! ❤

  13. Love to see them back together again! 🙂
    Thank you for introducing your lovely granddaughter to us. So glad to know she is into photography and enjoy nature! 💖

    1. Yes, it’s going to be fun to follow this year’s nesting season with the Osprey family. I am so happy my older grandie is into photography. She used to take pics already last year with her Leap Pad, but now has a real Nikon with an SD card so she can see her catch on the computer 🙂

  14. Wonderful images, Helen; and a great update from the Salt Marsh!
    What a cutie is your little Granddaughter with her camera poised and ready to go. Looks as though you have two little blonde beauties there. 😉
    It’s hard to single out any one image; though, I love the Hooded Merganser. I haven’t seen this beauty before.
    And what a joy our Osprey couple are. Stanley really has excelled himself this year; may be a greater gift for a greater abode!?! 😉
    Btw: How did Dylan travel? Hope all was well…

    1. Yes, I have two little blondies. The younger one is two 🙂 The 6 y.o. is very interested in nature and surprised us all when the trolley tour guide (in Georgia) asked if anyone had a question after he had talked about the barrier islands. She was the only one who had a question – about pollution of the oceans and how to protect the marine life! The Hooded Merganser is a special duck…it was great to see it up-close for the first time right in their neighborhood. Now that I am not as busy as I was last year, I am gearing up to follow the nesting season at the salt marsh more closely than I was able to do last year due to so much travel. Thank you my friend for being here! We all wish you great adventures and happiness this new year ❤ XX

      1. Oh, I see I forgot to tell you how Dylan traveled. He was very comfortable in the car, laying on his own little blanket and using an extension seat belt. He loved to greet other dogs at the rest stops where he could run and go to bathroom. He was very good with Amelia, who is 13 y.o. now and a bit of a grumpy old lady 🙂

  15. Love that fantastic picture of the cormorant! Your photos are all wonderful, as always. Happy New Year to you and all your loved ones, and to your furry and feathery friends. I’m looking forward to following the story Sandy & Stanley’s anticipated new family in the coming months. 🙂

    1. Thank you Barbara! St. Simons had so many Cormorants – one for each pole sticking up from the water I am looking forward to following this nesting season at the salt marsh more closely this year as my ongoing project does not require so much travel. We all wish you & yours a wonderful year!

    1. Happy you enjoy my little nature explorations, Eddie! I find so much joy in the natural world and hope we can learn to take better care of it.

  16. How wonderful your time with your son and family looks and how lovely to have a granddaughter interested in photography. What a delight! It must have made your heart swell seeing Sandy and Stanley making a true home of their new nest – am so looking forward to seeing the family they have there. Oh, and Rosa is looking absolutely magnificent, she never takes a bad shot. Happy New Year – looks to be off to a magnificent start!

    1. Thanks Joanne! Yes, I am delighted that my older (of the two) granddaughter is interested in photography! And the time spent with them is always wonderful. Stanley’s proposal came early this year and I’ve seen them bring additional materials into the nest already…this new one allows for a big family. It’s exciting to see what happens. And you’re right, it’s not possible to take a bad picture of Miss Rosa, I’ve tried 🙂

    1. Thank you, Carol, for your visit and kind comment. I am happy you enjoy my little stories, the tiny lessons mostly from nature. Best wishes for the new year.

  17. Such wonderful photos Helen. It’s always great to see your salt marsh, and I really liked seeing St. Simmons Island. They advertise in all the birding magazines and I have always wondered what it is like there. Your lighthouse photos with the vibrant clouds were especially eye-catching, and that hooded merganser is a real treat. Cheers to another great birdy year!

    1. St. Simons Island has lots of Southern history to offer visitors (the good and the bad – it used to house huge cotton and rice plantations) as well as abundant natural beauty and wildlife. The island is famous for its Southern Live Oak trees. Oak timbers from the island were used to build the frigate U.S.S. Constitution, the third of the first six ships in the United States navy, launched in 1797. Today it is the oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat, anchored in Boston harbor. So quite an interesting place to explore. I wish you too a wonderful birding year. Thank you, Jet.

  18. I love looking at your pictures. Today, in particular, the image of the building with the brilliant lawn–so green it could stab winter in the eye! My luncheon walk would have brought back pictures so frigid, they would have printed with icicles on them!

    1. I am happy you enjoyed my warm-winter pictures! That building with the striking lawn was the Christ Church…it has an interesting history too…lots of romance and heartache. I’d love to see icicles printed on winter pictures 😉

      1. You must have been projecting. The day you responded we had an ice storm which closed schools and canceled my work for the day. Not pictured because, brrrr!

  19. That’s a great idea…. for the male to have to “propose” every year…. he can’t take anything for granted!

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