Surprises. And Almost a Heart Attack.

It started innocently enough. On Tuesday afternoon, just around dinner time, husband asked me if I had seen ‘the birds’, aka the Osprey family. My nose had been clued to the computer all day, so I went onto the terrace with my binoculars and my super zoom. And almost got a heart attack. The Osprey nest was empty! I mean, no adults around. A little head was sticking up from the nursery. What an earth had happened?

empty nest ud119I waited. No parent came back. And suddenly the first-born got very anxious, flexed its tiny featherless wings and screamed from the bottom of its lungs. Ma-ma!  The second-born lifted up its head as well. They were alarmed.

two osprey chicks alone in the nest ud119Then, after several minutes, one of the parents landed on the perch. It was impossible to tell which one. I assumed it was Papa Stanley because Mama Sandy would have landed in the nest. All kinds of thoughts flew through my mind on what might have happened to Sandy. You see, normally she would not leave the chicks alone before they are six weeks old, and these chicks were hardly three weeks old last Tuesday.

a parent is back ud119Right after finishing my dinner I checked on the nest again. Someone was feeding the chicks! It looked like Sandy. And – surprise, surprise – she had three chicks in front of her! The two older chicks are bigger and ‘darker’ and the youngest chick (in the middle) is still very small and much lighter in color. That was a much nicer surprise.

mama osprey feeds three chicks 4 ud119But I couldn’t be sure it was Sandy until I saw her much closer – from the ground. So out we went, Dylan and I. He knew his mom was on a mission and sat down every time I took pictures.

Dylan at sunset ud120It was late in the day, almost 7:30 p.m., but I was able to confirm Sandy was back with her chicks. That was a great relief.

mama osprey 2 ud120Perhaps Sandy had gotten tired of waiting for dinner and had decided to go fishing herself. For a change. And in the process almost gave me a heart attack.

That evening I was treated to yet another nice surprise. Miss Rosa was back! I had not seen her in about six weeks, and it was great to see was fine, beautiful as ever. Perhaps she too was on a ‘mommy break’ from nesting activities on the bird island in the bay.

miss rosa at sunset ud120And the Mayor was there patrolling the waters, as always.

the mayor at sunset ud120And just before the darkness fell, I spotted a Red-winged Backbird. I know he is nesting at the marsh right now, just like last year.

red-winged blackbird at sunset ud120On the bay side, walking back home, we saw a Willet utilizing the low tide to get herself some supper.

willet ud120Yesterday morning I took a quick walk around the marsh, mostly to check on the Osprey chicks. The whole family was gathered. Sandy was feeding the chicks, who had grown a lot since Tuesday.

osprey family ud120I could only see two of them, but it doesn’t mean that the last-born wasn’t there. The first-born and the middle chick are almost the same size, born only a day apart, while the last chick was probably born two days after the middle chick.  At this time in their development four days make a huge difference.

osprey chicks siblings ud120The oldest chick is just over three weeks old now and has already learned a lot, like mimicking Sandy when she sounded a warning to a pelican flying over the nest.

pelican in flight ud117

mama osprey and chick sound alarm ud120I had to smile. It has also discovered its wings and is trying to flex them a bit already. In the picture below, Sandy is probably feeding the little one, whom she wisely keeps a bit separated from the two older ones. I am hoping the tiny last-born will survive. Its chances to fledge are statistically only about 38%. But then, Sandy is an exceptional mother and Stanley is a great provider.

older chick has discovered his wings ud120When walking quickly around the marsh, I got a fourth surprise. Henry, the mischievous young Great Blue Heron, who used to attack the Osprey nest in 2015, was back. He is still much smaller than the Mayor, and was keenly watching the nest from the north side of the marsh. Not again, I thought.

the younger blue heron ud120I was trying to move closer to get a clear shot when I heard heavy wing beats. The Mayor was approaching, fast. I was so surprised that I didn’t even get a clear picture of him chasing away young Henry. But here is the end tail of that action.

major chasing ud120Happy being firmly in charge of the city again, the Mayor settled at the far end of the marsh.

major ud120Everything was good again. When I left to go home, the courting Mottled Duck couple cruised the calm waters just below the Osprey nest.

mottled duck couple ud120We all wish you Happy Easter.

74 thoughts on “Surprises. And Almost a Heart Attack.”

  1. Helen, it is almost bed-time for me here in Oz; it’s 10:30pm ~ and all is well with the world! I’ve read your blog (the last for this Sunday) and am so content to know that the Osprey Family are safe and well; and all the other gorgeous creatures at the Salt Marsh are happily going about their daily routines…. A treat to see Miss Rosa and The Mayor. (What a young whippersnapper is the young Great Blue Heron! Good to see him being kept in his place.!!!)
    Have a great Sunday…. 🙂 Oh yes; say hi to Dylan. What a good boy is he…

    1. Thank you Carolyn! Dylan and I just came home from the doggy park through the salt marsh. Sandy was feeding the chicks, Mayor was in the office, Miss Risa was there again…and the two courting ducks were tempting Dylan by walking close to the trail 🙂 No camera, we just enjoyed the peace of the evening. I hope your week has started great. XXX

  2. What an adventure Helen! My heart was in my mouth 😲
    You relate the story so well! It was good to see Rosa back for a visit! Happy Easter. 💛

    1. It was more adventure than I would normally prefer 😉 but I am happy everything is fine again. Miss Rosa was at the marsh with the Mayor again tonight when Dylan and I passed on our way from the doggy park – and Sandy was fussing with the kids 🙂

    1. Thank you, my friend. I was truly alarmed because it was so unlike Sandy to leave the kids, but maybe she wanted a special kind of fish for the kids and decided to go for a quick fishing trip. Our Easter was good, I hope yours was too.

  3. Ahh, I’m so happy to see all is well at the Salt Marsh, Helen. I love it here. Am glad to see there’s a third chick, and they’re all being fed and protected. And so wonderful to see Miss Rosa. And Dylan. Happy Easter to you all~~

    1. Thank you, Jet. I am hoping the smallest one makes it and fledges soon after the other two chicks (just like in 2015). Miss Rosa has started her nightly visits, we spotted her earlier this week too. Have a wonderful day~

  4. Thank goodness the Osprey family is OK! Very unusual that Sandy would have left the nest unattended. Beautiful pictures and thank you, Dylan, for being such a good boy!!! Happy Easter, Helen! ❤

    1. Thank you for your visit and kind comment, dear Amy ❤ I was truly worried until I saw Sandy was back. I am hoping to get a 'proper' picture of the smallest one too…and hope she it will make it. Dylan has become a great 'photo assistant' 🙂 I hope your Easter was wonderful!

      1. My Easter, truth be told was a disaster, Helen, yet the disaster led to a huge breakthrough with my husband, to the likes never before seen. So all is Good! As for Dylan, tell him I am very proud of him. Also tell him I have a barn cat by the name of Jersey who lays down next to me on the ground when I am taking macro pictures. So cool! 🙂 ❤

    1. No need for any treatment now, but my heart jumped into my throat when I saw the nest was unattended and the little ones quite alarmed. But they were rewarded with a good fish dinner 🙂

    1. Thank you, Amy! I had a scare there, but was so happy to see Sandy back in the nest. The little ones are growing fast and I am hoping the see the 3rd chick soon again. Happy Wednesday 🙂

    1. Thank you! You and I would be two people who can have a heart attack seeing an empty nest with chicks 😀 I didn’t like the idea of Stanley taking care of 3 chicks on his own one bit. Luckily Sandy was okay and came back quite soon. Have a great day!

  5. Whew, I can now breathe again. I am so glad this turned out well and the osprey are safe. Hoping the little one survives and does well. The Mayor does a good job taking care of the marsh. Hugs and nose kisses and Happy Easter to you all from us.

    1. I felt such a relief seeing Sandy back with the chicks! I will need to try to get a proper picture of the smallest one…I hope she’s doing well. The Mayor is present now every day and night, which is reassuring. We had a wonderful quiet Easter, I hope you, Pooh and Chancy had a wonderful one too.

  6. I can’t believe how BIG they are already . . . chicks, like kids, grow up so fast! Glad that the 3 wee ones have both parents looking out for them.

    1. I am glad too that Sandy is fine and returned to her kids – a thought of Stanley as a single dad was nothing I liked. I hope the little one makes it…haven’t gotten a picture of it these past few days.

  7. Happy Easter, my friend. Give Dylan an extra hug from me and Sam. 🙂
    Glad to see the Marsh and its inhabitants are flourishing. Big hugs and much love to you! ❤

    1. Thank you Jackie! Our Easter was quiet and nice. Then Mike visited yesterday and today (for work)…and for the weekend, adventures with grandies await 🙂 many hugs and much love to you too ❤

    1. Thank you, Brad! I hope all three chicks make it. Will need to see if I can get a pic of the smallest one before I travel on Friday morning 🙂

    1. Thank you Tish! Everything seems to be good now, but my heart flew to my throat when I saw the osprey nest w/o the parents. I told Sandy not to do it to me again 🙂

    1. Yes, last week was full of surprises at the marsh 🙂 At the end, all seems to be fine. Thanks Joanne! Ps. Miss Rosa continues to visit in the evenings.

  8. Whew! I am so happy that things are calm and back to normal in your little neighborhood. You had me sitting on the edge of my seat! Easter blessing to you all!

    1. I am very happy too that all is fine, but now I keep checking on the nest while working on legal ‘stuff’ in my office. Sandy was just feeding the chicks an hour ago 🙂 Thanks Stephanie!

    1. Thank you, dear Takami! I am keeping an eye on them now more often… and all looks good. Mama Sandy was feeding the chicks just an hour ago tonight 🙂

  9. Nature can be so tough on their young! So glad they were still supported and your heart is coping again ha! Beautiful view this week Helen, hope you had a lovely Easter 💚

    1. I am such a ‘bird mom’ now, that I really had a scare when I saw the empty nest. The thought of Stanley becoming a single dad for three chicks was not appealing to me. It would have been a formidable challenge, but on the other hand, I have learned to accept what nature brings…and it’s not always what we wish. Happy weekend ❤

  10. I’m happy to see your 3 “little ones” doing fine and rapidly growing. Your other friends of the salt marsh look pretty healthy too. Excellent report Tiny! 🙂

  11. Glad all is well with the little ospreys! Dylan looks like he is doing his very best to be a helpful responsible doggie 🙂

    1. I am happy too that Mama Sandy returned relatively fast to her chicks. I just checked on them and she was feeding them dinner 🙂

    1. The 3rd chick was a real surprise! I hope it has made it this far…I have not yet been able to get a picture of it from the ground as yet. Thank you, Susan!

  12. So pleased the alarm resulted in blessing Tiny😊 The chicks are looking good as they go through their growth spirt. Good that the Mayer is keeping things in order at the marsh, and that you are getting time to keep check on it all😊 Have a great week!

    1. Thank you Ashley! I managed to get really worried, so now I am keeping a better eye on the nest …as if it could help 😀 Everything seems to be good now at the marsh…have a wonderful weekend!

  13. YAY YAY YAY for three chicks! So exciting, Helen!! How interesting the chicks were left alone but I’m betting both parents had their eyes on the nest while fishing. 🙂 Loved all your photos!

  14. Well you had me on the edge of my seat with worry, Helen! Very thankful for a happy ending here and that sweet little 3rd chick! You are a good grandma to be watching out for everyone 🙂 Amazing images, each one!

  15. Phew..all well at the osprey nest!!😀 I was tense reading this, Tiny – high drama indeed. The chicks are so cute and incredibly helpless. I’m so glad they are safe but the world sure seems a dangerous place right now with so many predators watching them. But wow, they are all so glorious and the photos are truly wonderful. It’s as if I’m flying free with them.

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