Warm Up. At the Salt Marsh.

This morning, waking up to rare Florida winter temperatures of 36F/2C, strong northerly winds and 5-8 foot/1.5-2.5 meter waves on the Gulf, I decided to pull together a post about my short walk earlier this week. The weather was balmy, partly sunny and the temperature hovered around 70F/20C. Just seeing the pictures now makes me feel warmer. And I hope they have the same effect on friends who are experiencing snow, ice and freezing cold right now – up north in the US and Canada as well as in Northern Europe. I still remember the truly cold weather from my youth…and the blizzards up in D.C.  And can’t honestly say I miss the snow.

winter-snow-at-home-up-north-ud101On Thursday morning I took a short break from working on my current project and walked to the salt marsh. Mama Sandy was sitting on her new perch, but Papa Stanley was nowhere to be seen. Sandy might have sent him to Home Depot for more supplies for their nest remodeling efforts, which obviously have already started.

mama-osprey-at-the-nest-ud101She greeted me in her usual friendly manner. And sometimes I wonder if she knows that I had something to do with the new nest she suddenly found one morning last November. I’m suspecting she does.

mama-osprey-at-her-perch-ud101In any case, I am happy not needing to worry that the winter storms might take down her nest.

The older Great Blue Heron, the Mayor, was standing guard on the same small islet he has favored in winters past. It’s always great to see the Mayor in his ‘office’.

great-blue-heron-ud101I spotted two Yellow-crowned Night Herons close to the Osprey nest. They had received the Mayor’s memo urging everyone to rest on one leg. And I think they might be a couple. I’ve seen them together many times in the past few weeks. If they’ll nest at the salt marsh, we might see little babies come late spring. If they choose to nest on the protected ‘bird island’ in the bay, we’ll see juveniles as soon as they learn to fly next summer.


yellow-crowned-night-heron-2-ud101Otherwise the marsh looked deserted.  I wondered why that might be.

Just when I was leaving, I spotted something bright blue moving on the ground a bit further away. I realized it was a Blue Jay.  They are extremely skittish so I tried to be invisible when I slowly moved closer. Of course he discovered me, Tiny is 5′ 6″ after all, looked at me and was gone. Hence only one ‘soft’ picture of him.

blue-jay-ud101I walked home through the bay side. To my surprise I found many of our salt marsh friends there. They were enjoying the ‘fast food’ provided by the low tide on the bay. The Great Egret was hurrying to the table.


great-egret-ud101The Snowy Egret was already there and so was the Little Blue Heron. The latter appeared truly blue in the weak sunlight, but seemed to be reasonably happy.


little-blue-heron-ud101I saw several Brown Pelicans on the other side of the Sailing Center pier. And almost fell down from the seawall trying to get a straight shot of one of them between the pillars. It goes to say that trying to frame a shot can be risky at times.

brown-pelican-ud101Now, looking at the part of salt marsh I can see from my windows, it appears completely deserted. The birds have taken shelter from the cold wind. Even Sandy, whom I saw at the nest first thing this morning, has gone to some more sheltered location in the woods. But I hope this little greeting from the recently warm world of our feathered friends, made you feel a bit warmer. Have a great week ahead.


61 thoughts on “Warm Up. At the Salt Marsh.”

  1. I hope everyone had their caps and gloves on! 🙂 I know what you mean about blue jays. All I have are crappy photos. Great post as always. I enjoy the latest news of the marsh.
    And I can totally relate to the risky situations you can get yourself into trying to get some photos! LOL!

    1. My morning walk with Dylan today was probably the coldest I’ve experienced here in FL…the wind chill was at or below freezing. All birds were in hiding, but I could hear a woodpecker working hard in the park. I’m happy you’ve sympathy for my Blue Jay trials and the risks we take to get that one shot 🙂

    1. They are beautiful. And I always wonder how they manage to keep themselves so brightly white, even when foraging in mudflats at the salt marsh.

  2. Wonderful visiting the Salt Marsh again on this cold snowy day. We have been in the teens (F) minus zero (C) for almost 2 months now! Another week and it’s supposed to warm up to 0 and above! Heat wave! But, then we get the winds. Sigh, this winter has been a long one already. ha!! I do hope it warms up soon there, Tiny. 🙂 ❤

    1. I was thinking about you, my friend, when I was about to complain. The wind chill makes it feel so much colder, but for us it is highly temporary. I hope your winter goes fast and will not bring many windy days. Hugs 💖

      1. That’s what I’m wishing too. I don’t think it’s going to happen though. Lots of snow and wind and cold….brrrrrr. I stay in as much as possible but sometimes you just have to get groceries…..sigh….. 😉 ❤ (you can complain, I'll understand.)

  3. All the photos look good, as usual. The one with the brown pelican is exceptional, perhaps because of a combination of the water and lighting. That risky shot paid off then. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Hien. I noticed the light was very special that day, kind of diffused. If you liked the pelican, it was worth hanging on the edge 😉

    1. Thank you, Brad! I’m hoping for a slow warm up starting tomorrow so that the birds can come out of hiding and continue their adventures …and I can hold a camera 🎥😁

  4. My heart is always warmed with your stories and beautiful photos, Helen. I am so pleased that Sandy & Stanley have taken so well to their new abode! And I am sure Sandy has love in her heart for you and your doings. 🙂

    1. I am so happy that our couple has accepted the nest and even started to bring in materials. Can’t wait to follow their nesting season and share their adventures with friends like you…keeping my fingers crossed everything goes well 😁

    1. Thanks Stephanie. Today was the coldest day for years here, but this cold spell will not last long, by mid-week we should be back to normal… and hopefully the next cold front will not be as cold. We people can take colder weather, but the many citrus and other fruit farms are very vulnerable.

    1. Ha! Falling down on the bare rocks 2 meters below could have given me a broken toe 😅 I’m hoping we’ll return to balmy weather in a few days so I can find my “blue” friends again. Thanks Karen 🙏

    1. We people can handle a few chilly days, but the citrus, fruit and fish farms are very vulnerable to deep freeze. So I’m hoping for a warmup soon. That little heron was amazingly blue probably due to the special ‘diffused’ light that morning.

  5. Stunning photos as always, Helen! We’ e been having a cold snap too – which makes for some delicious afternoons on the couch with a good book!

    1. I know. I’ve been outside only for walks with Dylan – and we were the only ones! The wind has been too hard and chilly, but today the weather has warmed up a bit so maybe another walk at the salt marsh will be in order tomorrow 🙂

  6. A beautiful post Tiny! I thought the photo of Sandy was quite stunningly beautiful in every way. I delighted in your heron photos, that little blue guy really is blue! The Mayor is so suited to his role the way he stands there so importantly. So glad you survived the pier episode, cameras and people do not do well falling into water, which must be getting quite cold by now. I have fallen several times while shooting up in high trees, but onto rough rocks and once jumped over a snake and ended up next to it on the ground. In each case lost some skin and gained some injury. On two occasions my heavy birding lens fell (with me) and hit sharp rocks but the plastic light shield took the fall, and my lens survived. These are the wounds of devoted birders:-) The Brown Pelican, would you say it is in breeding plumage, or is that yellow normal intensity? The Blue Jay, I just love their colouration, and the Jay it cousin we saw in England, was just as difficult to photograph, it would take flight at first sight. Have a great week Tiny, possibly watching the nest take shape:-)

    1. Oh dear! You, my friend, have had your share of scrapes and injuries for birding! This situation for me could have ended – not in water, but on bare rocks due to the low tide. Normally there’s about one meter or more of water, but now it was a few centimeters or nothing. But I gained my balance in the last second 🙂 The yellowing head of the Brown Pelican is indeed their breeding plumage! And the Little Blue Heron’s color was exceptional (I didn’t change it in any way). I think due to the somewhat diffused sun light hitting right on it. They can appear much ‘duller’ bluer and even a bit towards purple at times. Have a blessed week, Ashley.

  7. Yes, I did indeed feel a bit warmer seeing the photos. What a bright blue on both the jay and the heron! Glad you stayed safe and didn’t fall.

    1. Thanks Meg! Yes, I was lucky being able to regain my footing. Otherwise I could’ve broken my toe falling down on the bare rocks 🙂 The special ‘blueness’ was noticeable even to me…I think it was the diffused sunlight.

  8. It gives me great pleasure to see your birds Tiny! They all are so beautiful! The lowest temperature we had this morning 11º F! Thanks for your nice post. 🙂

    1. Oh dear friend, your weather has been so much colder than ours. We are slowly warming up today and it seems the strong winds are finally calming down. I hope you are seeing a warming trend too. Thank you H.J. 🙂

  9. Cold in Florida – I could not imagine that. In Helsinki we got finally snow and I wish that it stays for a long time, because there have been heavy variations between temperatures. Thank You for this post.

    1. Yes, for a few days we have been colder than in years! But today it has started to warm up and the strong winds are also calming down. I hope your snow stays for a while, it makes the winter so much brighter. Have a wonderful week!

    1. Thank you, Otto! The cold has been a challenge to all the citrus and other fruit farms, and the many fish farms we have here in Florida. And I am happy to say we have a slow warning trend as of today. I wish you all the best for 2017!

  10. The first of the winter snowfalls are due to arrive here in the West Country of England later in the week, and I must say that, like you Helen, I’m not keen on that kind of weather. I find the initial showering pleasing, and appreciate the visual effect as the snow accumulates and drifts, but can’t abide it when inevitably it freezes overnight and makes walking anywhere a treacherous affair. Anyway, I have a snow related pun for you:

    I sent my boyfriend a boxful of snow for his birthday. So I called him the next day and said “d’ya get my drift?”

    [I’ll get my coat.]

    1. Ha! That pun hit the mark! Cold weather here in FL is not only an inconvenience for people who are not equipped for it, but also makes farming (citrus, blueberries, strawberries and other fruit – and fish) very vulnerable. Luckily this is not going to last. We are seeing a slow warm-up already today 🙂

    1. That was our house up in the D.C. area six years ago. Many blizzards and falling trees…Our birds here in Florida are very resilient, but I noticed they were mostly in hiding (from the chilly wind) the last two days.

  11. You don’t miss the snow?!?!?! That’s so…so…so…honest of you!!!!

    Is there one perfect place in the US to live I wonder? Not to hot and muggy in the summer, not too cold and snowy in the winter?! sigh….

Would love to hear your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s