Flying Again. And True News from the Salt Marsh.

I haven’t been here, or at your place, much since my unlawful adventure on the bay side with Dylan. I’m totally guilty, but I will not keep you in suspense. We were not caught.

Sometimes life gives you ‘stuff’ you can’t ignore, like leaking pipes in the attic, family health issues happening far away and new work projects popping up out of nowhere. So that’s where I’ve been. In the ‘when-it-rains-it-pours-land’, just keeping my feet above the water. I’m sure you’ve been there at some point too. Thanks to friends who have been thinking of me and worrying. What wonderful friends you are!

brown-pelican-taking-flight-ud105But now I’m flying a bit higher and the ‘weather’ is much calmer, both literally and figuratively. I’ve even had an opportunity to visit my friends at the salt marsh yesterday. Since I’ve been away from them too, I wanted to check everything out and make a comprehensive round from the bay side to the salt marsh and back home through the beach.

This Brown Pelican was entertaining me on the bay. Sometimes resting on the calm waters and other times disappearing with a big splash.

brown-pelican-ud105

pelican-diving-ud105And I spotted an Oyster Catcher, the first in several months. He was busy feeding in the low tide and paying no attention to the stunts by the pelican close by.

oyester-catcher-ud105And the same applied to a Snowy Egret, whom I discovered only when hanging out from the very edge of the seawall.

snowy-egret-ud105I had to smile at the three White Ibis standing in formation next to the sailing center boat launch. All of them had received the memo, but apparently it didn’t specify which leg to stand on.

three-white-ibis-ud105Approaching the salt marsh, I could see that both Mama Sandy and Papa Stanley were in the nest. This is not a sharp picture, but since it’s been taken from a great distance you can see that the nest remodeling has been completed. Their new home is brimming with furniture.

mama-and-papa-osprey-at-their-nest-ud105I was particularly happy to note that Stanley was at home. You see, a couple of days earlier when walking with Dylan, I saw a huge Bald Eagle fly towards the salt marsh. Suddenly two ospreys started chasing it back to where it belongs, on the other side of the bay. One was Stanley and I believe the other was his fishing buddy, Steve, who lives only eight blocks south of the marsh on the roof pillar of a high-rise building. I lost sight of them and was worried that something might have happened. Now I’ve seen both Steve and his wife Sheena (earlier pictures) fly above their top-of-the-line home. So everyone is okay.

When I arrived at the nest, Stanley had disappeared and Sandy was busy working. She was refitting some pillows in the nest. As in preparing the soft ‘nest cup’ for the eggs.

mama-osprey-works-on-the-nest-ud105Just below the nest I spotted the Mayor, the older Great Blue Heron. He was sitting there deep in his thoughts when a Black Crowned Night Heron zoomed in and startled him. But there was no reason for alarm, and the new-comer settled right below the Mayor’s retreat.

great-blue-heron-and-black-crowned-night-heron-ud105

blackcrowned-night-heron-ud105I walked around the marsh and spotted two couples of Yellow-crowned Night Herons, all in the vicinity of the deep waters close to the osprey nest.

yellow-crowned-night-heron-ud105I’m hoping they’ll nest at the marsh so we can see some Night Heron kids this spring. They look too funny with their baby hair standing straight up.

Further out I spotted a Little Blue Heron and a beautiful Great Egret. The former was busy selecting suitable food items, while the latter showcased her beautiful breeding plumage.

little-blue-heron-ud105

great-egret-ud105Suddenly I saw a strange shadow and looked up to the sky. Starlings by the hundreds! The tail end of this party decided to occupy a few palm trees at the marsh.

starling-murmurations-ud105

murmurating-starlings-ud105They sat on every branch, and while some of them seemed to be quiet for the photo shoot, the discussion flowed non-stop between the birds in different trees. Until, like on a secret command, they all flew away again.

By that time I was at the beach end of the marsh and saw that Stanley had sneaked back into the nest. He had brought a fish for his pregnant wife. How thoughtful of him.

mama-and-papa-osprey-2-ud105

mama-osprey-eats-fish-ud105Just before I left to walk home through the beach, I spotted Mr. Moorhen, whom I haven’t seen for several weeks. I think he was scouting for suitable nesting sites.

moorhen-ud105The beach was lively too. Hundreds of birds resting in several colonies. A large group of tiny Sanderlings, several groups of Royal Terns, Laughing Gulls and a few Willets and Ringbilled Gulls. And Brown Pelicans, of course. Here just a few pictures of shore birds I encountered on my way home.

sanderlings-ud105

royal-terns-ud105

ringbilled-gull-ud105

a-brown-pelican-and-a-gull-ud105I thought that was it for the birds. But when I walked into our garden, I heard a familiar sound. A male Red-bellied Woodpecker was working hard in a palm tree next to our garage entrance. His tempo was almost too fast to get a clear picture of his head.

mr-red-bellied-woodpecker-ud105-2I wish you all a wonderful weekend and will do my best to visit all my friends in the next few days. We all wish you peace.

71 thoughts on “Flying Again. And True News from the Salt Marsh.”

    1. Thanks Nancy. It was great to see everyone at the marsh. Had planned to visit today again, but the weather is too gloomy 🌧 and the birds will be in hiding.

    1. Thanks David. The wingspan of these fellows is so huge that it is difficult to set the zoom correctly to quickly capture them in flight w/o cutting off the wings. That red head made an appearance this morning too. Happy Sunday!

  1. HI Helen! So good to get an update from the salt marsh. Sending you lots of light and love as you deal with the storms in your life. Ebbs and flows…and the one true constant…change. It won’t last forever. So I hope that things calm down a bit for you…I am sending beautiful energy and lots of love ❤

    1. Thank you dear Lorrie. I hope I’m on the better side of things for now, but as you say life is an ebb and flow and we just need to jump the hoops. Sending much love to you too ❤

  2. Lots of love to you, Helen. Yes, life certainly has its ups and its downs. Friends sure make it a little easier, though. So, sending you lots of warm wishes.
    Do look after yourself, and Thank You for the gorgeous images; they make distance seem irrelevant! 🙂
    xoxoxo

    1. Thank you Carolyn! I certainly enjoyed my long walk, and I am happy you enjoyed it too. Spending time in nature always puts things in perspective 🙂 XXX

    1. I am very happy too when I see the Osprey couple enjoying their new, safe home. And they have been very busy decorating it for the chick(s) to come sometime in March 🙂

  3. Great collection of shots from and beyond the salt marsh Tiny. Love the shorebirds and waders, the Sanderlings are the only ones we see in common up north. it is good that life is settling down a little for you. We have those times where everything comes at once, we are just coming out of one of those the last few weeks, and can understand somewhat. It is interesting how we miss our blogging friends when they are a day or two late issuing their posts, or life takes them away from their normal routine for a while. It is good to share our hearts in our love of Creation from our different world aspects, its forms a bond of appreciation and thankfulness for the blessing of being alive to enjoy it all together. Have a peaceful and restful weekend my friend.

    1. Thank you, my friend. Things have calmed down a bit, the pipes have been changed and repairs are underway, my dad’s health has improved and work is somewhat under control. When I spend time in nature, like on this long walk, all the worries just fade away and I enjoy the beauty of Creation. Nature always puts things in perspective. Those little Sanderlings were resting in a large colony, like little eggs in the sand with their heads down or under the wing. I think it was their nap time after lunch 🙂 I wish you a wonderful week.

    1. Now I missed an opportunity to taste your cake! But had we been caught, I’m sure Dylan would have defended me by tooth and nail. Particularly by tooth.

  4. The shot of the eight starlings is a great composition, Helen! My second favourite was the eight tiny sanderlings. 🙂 I trust your distant familial health issues have resolved, or are resolving, satisfactorily? H ❤

  5. Thank you dear Hariod ❤ My dad's health situation has improved at least for now. He is 93 so his heath is fluctuating quite a bit. We are all happy to see you here…the tiny Sanderlings were present in large numbers, many of them resting in the sand like little fluffy eggs, with their heads tucked away 🙂

    1. Things have more or less normalized. thank you for asking, Donna. Mama Sandy is working on the nest every day now, while staying there from morning until quite late in the evening. Stanley is bringing her fish and they are having their romantic moments 🙂

  6. Your knowledge of birds blows me away! How you have educated yourself in identifying them. I laughed out loud about the memo of which leg to stand on and really took my time looking at each image. All of them are outstanding! Taking a good long look at the Osprey nest I worry that babies will fall out because unlike the old one there are no walls. Why was a dish like this chosen, do you know, Helen? It is so vastly different from the old nest. Thank you for taking me along for a walk with you. What a glorious magical world you do live in!!! 🙂 ❤

    1. Thank you dear Amy! I educated myself little by little from books and online ID guides. Then I joined Cornell Ornithology Lab and Audubon Society (national and local), both great sources of knowledge and conservation ‘stuff’. And since I have a special interest in Ospreys, I studied all available research about them – and discovered that almost all research is about migratory Ospreys. I then joined Osprey Watch and now provide research data on non-migratory Ospreys, namely Sandy and Stanley. It is great fun! On the new nest: it is safer for the chicks than the old one. While the old one had outer “walls”, the nest was filled with nesting materials up to and even over the “walls” so the chicks were hanging out right at the edge. This nest is so big that the materials will not go up to the edge, hence the chicks will not either. And I am almost sure Sandy will put in place a ‘baby crib’ of sturdy branches to make sure the chicks don’t get too adventurous 🙂 This is the nest that has been installed here in Florida for the last 5-6 years. It’s very durable, adapted to the weather conditions and the needs of chicks and parents (S & S love the new perch). Have a wonderful week my friend ❤

      1. WOW!!! When you take on a project you don’t half step, Helen! I am so impressed how you did educate yourself. Your passion for birds is clearly evident. Thank you so much for the detailed comment. I’m relieved about the nest. I’m sure S&S will take good care of those babies. They always do! 🙂

        1. Thank you, dear Amy! This morning walking by I saw Stanley bring a fish for Sandy…and when she took it and flew away, he stayed in the nest and worked on the nest cup for the eggs. They are clearly ‘expecting’ soon 🙂

    1. Thank you Matti! I like the first one best too. It is very difficult to ‘shoot’ a pelican in flight because of the wing span, most often I get their wings partly cut off from the picture 🙂 Happy week to you too!

  7. Helen, your delightful posts are a joy to read and the photos are a medicine for the heart and soul; nature is the great healer and your commitment to ecology is heartwarming. ❤️

  8. Thank you my dear friend ❤ I get all my 'medicine' from nature and do whatever little I can to help conserve this precious gift…sometimes an uphill battle, or so it feels.

  9. I love your sense of humor ~ three ibises receiving a memo not specifying which leg to stand on. 🙂 So glad to hear the storm of ‘stuff you can’t ignore’ is calming down. We might have spotted a small flock of sanderlings at our beach last week. They must have been passing through…

    1. Thanks Barbara 🙂 The storm is only a breeze now. Things tend to clear up once we wade through them. I think you are right about the Sanderings…we see lots of them here in the winter.

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