Covert Operations to Distract the Paparazzi

Early this week, I finally had an opportunity to check everything out at the salt marsh. In broad daylight. But that didn’t spare me from bumping into some covert operations. By the osprey couple. The main target of my surveillance.

mama osprey on her break ud113When I arrived at the marsh I found Mama Sandy on one of her regular breaks from incubating. Papa Stanley was sitting on the eggs.

Papa Osprey sits on the eggs ud113

mama osprey 3 ud113She was looking well and happy to air her brooding patches for a while. It’s been over five weeks now, which means she has endless patience and that addition to the family is imminent.

mama osprey returns to the nest ud113She flew back to the nest and immediately sat on the eggs. The shift change was seamless. Thirty seconds tops. Stanley flew away and I saw him dive down into the marsh waters behind some trees and bushes, pick up a fish and fly away to eat it. They almost never fish at the marsh, so I believe this was a surprise maneuver to distract the paparazzi.

papa osprey leaves the nest ud113And he succeeded. No pictures. You just have to take my word for it. As everything was quiet at the nest, I continued my inspection round. The first friend I spotted was the Mayor.

mayor ud113As always, he was keenly surveying the marsh. I’m almost sure he has a nest close by. I have seen him fly with nesting materials only to land in the middle of the marsh. And I’ve caught him  returning there at night. But he keeps his family secrets close to his chest.

And so does the Tri-Colored Heron family. I have figured out that the male likes to hide in the trees below the Osprey nest, while the female practices her yoga whenever she has a break. I spotted the male first.

tri-colored heron ud112A half an hour later, Mrs. was out and about stretching her wings and airing her brooding patches on one of the islets.

tri-colored heron ud113Another couple nesting at the marsh now are Mr. and Mrs. Yellow-Crowned Night Heron. Apparently Mister had been fishing. He was drying his feathers in the sun.

yellow-crowned night heron ud113I also saw my friend Little Blue Heron. I am almost sure she’s not yet mature enough to start a family.

little blue heron ud113The same probably applies to the really tiny Snowy Egret, who was observing the wild world from a tree next to the deep water.

small snowy egret ud113Suddenly I heard Sandy’s alarm call. I looked up and saw another female Osprey circling above the nest.

mama osprey sounds alarm 2 ud113

another female osprey ud113I assumed she was the wife of Stanley’s fishing buddy, Steve. They are nesting on the roof of a high-rise building about one mile south of the marsh. Perhaps she was on a break to stretch her wings and was curious about the trendy furnishings in Sandy’s new home. She was not aggressive in any way and Sandy soon calmed down.

I continued my walk and saw that the Reddish Egret was visiting. He might have been looking for some special bites to take back to the bird island, where I’m assuming he’s nesting right now.

reddish egret 3 ud113Next, I saw a duck that I haven’t seen at the marsh for a couple of years, a male hybrid between Mallard and Florida Mottled Duck. It looked like he was canvassing suitable home sites.

hybrid florida mottled duck ud113He had some completion from Papa Moorhen. Although I think the Moorhens have already rented a home for this nesting season. Mama Moorhen was likely already incubating at this time.

mr moorhen ud113But where were all the smaller birds, you might ask. Oh, they were flitting and flying around in big numbers. The super tiny Sedge Wren was foraging in the grass, hardly visible beneath the leaves.

SEDGE WREN UD113The Blue Jay was flying around singing his monotone song – and moving non-stop.

blue jay 3 ud112The Mockingbird’s song was not boring. He had a large repertoire that I greatly enjoyed.

Mockingbird UD112The European Starling, the Grackle and the Eurasian Collared Dove just sat there admiring the gorgeous spring weather.

european starling UD112

common grackle ud112

mourning dove ud113I had to walk home not knowing whether or not there was a little hatchling in the Osprey nest.

Then, on Thursday afternoon, I was spying on them again…from my terrace. Sorry for the poor picture quality, but it was so windy that I could hardly stand straight and zooming full out, handheld, is quite hazardous in those conditions. Anyway, I caught a moment when Stanley was sitting on the perch and Sandy was incubating – her wings a little bit spread out. Suddenly she got up and started working on something.

osprey couple ud113I can’t be sure of what she was doing. But when I inspected my blurry and shaky shots at length, it sure looked like she could have been feeding (by regurgitating) a newborn chick…or two. But you know my imagination.

mama osprey feeding a second chick 2 maybe ud113

mama osprey feeding maybe 3 ud113Sandy was certainly ‘doing something’ both in front of her and to her side. I have learned that when there is a hatchling,  it still looks like she is incubating. Why? She broods the newly hatched chick(s) for 10 days, initially also incubating still unhatched eggs. Her wings are just slightly spread out at that point. As the minimum incubation time has now passed, we could already have one or two tiny chicks…carefully protected from paparazzi by the parents. Whatever it is, we’ll know soon enough.

parasailing ud113We all wish you a beautiful weekend and week ahead. Fly high.

56 thoughts on “Covert Operations to Distract the Paparazzi”

    1. It is a very interesting time at the salt marsh now, but apart from the Osprey nest, it is impossible to spot any other nests as they are so well hidden in the mid sections of the marsh. Paparazzi life is hard 😉

  1. Exciting times at the Salt Marsh, Helen; be still my beating heart! 🙂
    It will be wonderful to journey along with all the new parents and their chicks. Well done to you, Miss Paparazzi; I’m sure, by your next post, you’ll have confirmation of new life in the Osprey Family. 🙂

    1. It is an exciting time right now. I will need to hang out on the terrace even more now trying to get some baby pictures 🐣. I am almost sure there is at least one hatchling already. And I hope to capture other little ones at the marsh later on in the spring. Paparazzi life is quite hard 📸👀 Have a beautiful week. XXX

  2. I really miss hearing the Mockingbird. When I lived in TX I had one for a while outside my bedroom window. He would sing me awake every morning. Never needed an alarm clock. 🙂 Hope you are having a wonderful weekend my friend and not working too hard. ❤

    1. I love Mockingbird song too, we have several nesting in our garden now. I am still busy, got yet another ‘project ‘ this week …but it’s okay as I know I will get a long break for the whole summer 😊 Have a wonderful weekend my friend. Hugs 🤗

  3. Wow!, I think that she’s tending the chicks already! She’s acting super protective already. Joyous moments for us and Nature! Good photos Tiny! 🙂

    1. I think so too, H. J. It looks like she’s brooding now. And when I caught her moving about, I think she was feeding. I hope the baby will pose for a photo soon 😊 Have a wonderful weekend, my friend.

    1. Thanks Brad! I had not seen the shenigans for a while… so when all of them wanted their photo taken, I went a bit overboard with the pictures 😎

  4. Spring is certainly in the air at the marsh. Great shots of the blue jay and other gorgeous birds! Let’s hope for some closer shots of the new babies. Great post Helen 💕💚

    1. I hope too, that the new baby/babies are allowed to pose for the camera soon 🙂 So much activity at the marsh and even in our yard now… Thanks Karen ❤

  5. I love the narrative you have with your photos! I find myself almost holding my breath to find out what you see next:-) Thank you for sharing your beautiful world.

    1. Thank you so much Stephanie. I am happy you visited our neck of the woods to greet our friends 🙂 Exciting times right now.

    1. Yes – the Osprey genders are quite easily distinguishable. The female has a decorative “necklace”, while the male’s neck and chest are either completely white or have a few brown spots. In addition, all individuals have unique markings on their wings so, with some familiarity, it is possible to say ‘who’s who’.

    1. We are happy to have you visit, Hariod. Dylan is preparing himself for a naming competition again, possibly around late May 🙂

  6. A much enjoyed Spring walk around your marsh, Helen! Everyone is busy with their Spring projects and impending families, what a great time of year. I think you may be right on Mama Sandy feeding her chicks! How exciting!!

    1. Thank you for being here, “godmother’ of the osprey chicks of Sand Key Park. I can see more activity now at the nest, but have been too busy to really hang out on the terrace trying to get pictures of them…tomorrow should be a good afternoon for ‘spying’ 🙂

      1. Love my title! Happy ‘spying’! 🙂

        I got to ride ‘through’ my Chesapeake Bay area two weeks ago, passing the area’s famous Rt 50 Osprey (4 nests on signages) and saw two single Osprey, each waiting on a sign by their dilapidated nest for their respective mates to arrive. Brought back lots of awesome memories….. The Chesapeake Bay should be swarming with Osprey now! Oh how I miss them…. 🙂 I am glad I have yours to keep me happy! ❤

        1. I am happy you saw old friends even for a little bit. I am sure the nest building is in high gear already. We are so happy to have you here, Donna 😘

  7. How lovely Tiny you look to be an auntie again, as it does look like there are newborns there on the nest. Loved your Florida Mottled Duck pic also, a lovely looking bird.with interesting wing markings. Have a wonderful week Tiny!

    1. Thank you, Ashley. I am happy you called me auntie and not granny 😅 This week I have seen even more movement in the nest so it is only a matter of time before we’ll have some pictures of the chick(s). I hope to get some time to visit them later this week.

    1. Spring time here in Florida is not as dramatically different from winter as it is elsewhere, but we have gorgeous weather and little birdies to admire 😎 I hope to get some pictures soon. Thanks Val.

    1. Thanks Catherine! The Mayor is one of my best friends too. He’s always keeping an eye on everything so that nobody misbehaves 😁

    1. Thank you dear Mags! For some reason I cannot see your blog, when I click on the link it says the blog is private. I hope you, Pooh and Chancy are doing good and enjoying the spring. Many hugs 🤗

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