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?
I 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.
Then, 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.
Right 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.
But 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.
It 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.
Perhaps 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.
And the Mayor was there patrolling the waters, as always.
And 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.
On the bay side, walking back home, we saw a Willet utilizing the low tide to get herself some supper.
Yesterday 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.
I 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.
The 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.
I 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.
When 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.
I 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.
Happy being firmly in charge of the city again, the Mayor settled at the far end of the marsh.
Everything was good again. When I left to go home, the courting Mottled Duck couple cruised the calm waters just below the Osprey nest.
We all wish you Happy Easter.