In the Meantime at the Salt Marsh…

On Friday morning Dylan and I went for a walk around the salt marsh. Since I’ve been keeping an eye on the osprey nest from my terrace, I already knew that Mama Sandy and Papa Stanley were still incubating. And provided that everything goes well, we should have hatchlings in about 7-14 days.

ospreys still incubating UD153_edited-2On our front lawn, we were met by a puffed up Mourning Dove. It had been chilly, according to Florida standards of course, in the last few days. And the sun had not yet warmed up the grass.

mourning dove ud153On arrival, we spotted lots of white everywhere around the marsh. Several families of Great Egrets, a few Snowy Egrets and White Ibis were having breakfast under the watchful eye of the Mayor. The older Great Blue Heron had parked himself at the far end of the marsh to ensure an adequate overview of what was going on around the breakfast buffet.

mr mayor great blue heron ud153Some Great Egrets were fishing, seemingly not with much success despite valiant efforts …

a Great Egret fishing ud153…while others demonstrated a double catch.

great egret with two fish UD153A few were still flying in …

great egret flying UD153…some were chasing each other…

Two Great Egrets fly together ud153…and yet others were flying around just for the fun of it.

great egret in flight ud153Some had found their own perfect spot in the sun to air their beautiful breeding plumage. Like this Great Egret who had decided to rent the Mayor’s office…

great egret ud153…and this Snowy Egret, who had found a private sunny spot close to the osprey nest.

snowy agret ud153Suddenly we heard a familiar sound. A high-pitched warning call. And not only by one osprey, but two. Papa Stanley was eating his breakfast at a lamp-post just outside the marsh. He stopped eating and sounded repeated warning calls…

papa osprey sounds alarm ud153…while Mama Sandy sounded the alarm from the nest where she was sitting on the eggs. It took me a while to localize the threat in the sky. It was another, to me unknown, Osprey. He flew towards the nest and peered down right on Sandy.

another osprey ud153Despite the duet of warning calls, the newcomer circled several times around the nest and finally Sandy couldn’t take it anymore. She got up, left the eggs and flew towards the forest after the intruder. I have never seen her do such a daring maneuver while incubating.

mama osprey gets up and flies UD153I lost sight of her for a minute or two, but then she landed back in the nest. Phew. As you can see, she was very careful not to hit the nest cup in the middle of the nest. Her talons were drawn in and her eyes were trained on the eggs.

mama osprey arrives back ud153

mama osprey back at the nest ud153She had been successful in chasing away the intruder, but stood up for a while checking he was really gone.

Peace returned to the salt marsh. A Belted Kingfisher landed on a branch in the middle of the marsh…

belted Kingfisher ud153_edited-1…Stanley went back to eating his fish…

papa osprey continues to eat ud153…and Sandy went back to incubating.

mama osprey incubiting ud153I was glad there was a happy ending to this story, and can’t wait to see a hatchling, two or three soon. Dylan, I and the lively salt marsh gang wish you all a wonderful week ahead.

70 thoughts on “In the Meantime at the Salt Marsh…”

  1. Whew! I am relieved all is okay now at the osprey nest. That was a close call! You caught such beautiful pictures here again. Are these with your new lens? I especially love the picture of the belted Kingfisher. I have never seen one before!
    We hope to see you and Dylan at the dog park again soon!

    1. Everything is good. I’m thinking that by the end of next week there will be hatchling(s)… when that time comes I will need to try to get “proof” by spying on them from my terrace. The Kingfisher comes every now and then to the salt marsh, but almost never sits down for a photo shoot. So this is rare πŸ™‚ Hope to see you soon too!

  2. Love your salt marsh story! And I enjoyed your beautiful photos. Where I live is surrounded by salt marsh and we have many of the same birds and critters. I just haven’t ventured out with my camera lately. Thanks for this post!

    1. Thank you for stepping out with us at our salt marsh! Your birds are calling for you to walk too and I’m sure will pose nicely when you go out with your camera πŸ™‚ Have a great week!

  3. Mama Sandy, you go girl! πŸ™‚ Wow, Sandy must have really been irked with the intruding Osprey to leave her eggs. Maybe even Stanley, too, for not doing something, lol.

    Wonderful story and photos, Helen. This might not be a beach walk, but walking around the salt marsh with Dylan, surrounded by so much nature and wildlife is so invigorating, warms your heart & soul, makes you smile, and always puts happy in your walk. This walk & photos did mine. I hope you can find time to do these often as the rebirth of the salt marsh occurs. I am sure Dylan will be willing each time you ask him! πŸ˜‰ And I know us readers always enjoy following along your walk. And additionally for me, the life of Sandy & Stanley. Have a great weekend, Helen! ❀

    1. Thank you, Donna, for your wonderful commentary ❀ I think Sandy has a bit shorter "fuse" than Stanley. I have seen it many times. I also remember that 5 years ago when Sandy, Stanley and I were first making acquaintances, Sandy was more nervous about me under the nest than Stanley. But now both of them, of course, tolerate and greet both me and even Dylan. That morning, Stanley was also guarding their breakfast fish on the lamp-post, he eats the head first and then brings the fat part to Sandy…so it could not be left unguarded – a small defense for him right there πŸ™‚ Next week I will need to be on "hatch watch" and the best way to capture a new comer is from my terrace with the long zoom…not sharp pictures, but rather that than waiting for three weeks to see a little head poke out from the nest πŸ™‚

  4. What a beautiful and fun series, Helen. I love the Egret in flight captures, really cool. Don’t mess with Mama Sandy. πŸ™‚
    Enjoy reading the story. Thank you so much!

    1. Thank Amy for being here and for your kind comment. The egrets were out in force, the adults in breeding plumage. Mama Sandy doesn’t have any tolerance for fools, she acts quickly when irked by an intruder who doesn’t listen to her warnings πŸ™‚

    1. Mama Sandy doesn’t watch intruders for a long time, she warns a few times but if her warnings are not heeded, she will chase the intruder. But I had never before seen her fly out when sitting on the eggs. Happy I could introduce you to the beautiful egrets!

  5. A lot of excitement at the salt marsh, and even daring, when she left the nest. Now that you have such elegant nesting spots, I guess the newcomer osprey is either curious or envious. I am glad to see the eggs were fine, and that all is well in your beautiful place in the world, Helen. Your photos here are breathtaking, and the story was wonderful. Great to see the egrets in breeding plumage, and the handsome belted kingfisher seems to be new to the scene. Warm wishes to you for a great new week, too.

    1. Thank you for your beautiful comment, Jet. Last Friday, the egrets were out in force demonstrating their breeding plumage. The Kingfisher appears at the marsh from time to time, but has not been nesting there. I love to see them fishing, but capturing them hovering in flight is not easy, I think I only have one or two such pictures. Mama Sandy had a short “fuse” when the new osprey appeared and didn’t listen to their warnings, but luckily all is well. Stanley is always more relaxed…and that morning he was also guarding their breakfast fish πŸ™‚

    1. They would react exactly like this to the return of one of their own when they have eggs or new chicks in the nest. (Otherwise they are friendly and just fly around with their returning chick) I was thinking this might have been one of their earlier chicks, not yet nesting, but couldn’t get a clear picture of the breast to see the “pattern”.

  6. So glad all is well. Easy to see how successful the parents are with your great photos and storytelling. Awesome pic of the kingfisher. Ours here are so shy that it’s difficult to get a pic.

    1. Yes, I’m happy all is well at the nest. The kingfisher appears at the marsh every now and then, but I think this was the first time ever he sat down for a picture. I have a few flight pictures from earlier occasions, but understandably they are not that marvelous πŸ™‚

    1. It really is Stanley’s job, but see…his ‘fuse’ is much longer than Mama Sandy’s. He is vicious when chasing away intruders, but tolerates them around the nest longer than his better half. In addition, he could have lost their shared breakfast fish to some fish crows, had he left it on the lamp-post πŸ™‚

  7. Tiny, not only am I measuring the seasons from here in the UK, but also through you and your wonderful posts. It’s lovely to know that Sandy and Stanley are on the ball and the photos of the Egrets are stunning – I just want to join them in their free flight, just having fun. Beautiful. A heartwarming post on this very grey and wet Sunday afternoon. Thank you for sharing with us. xxxx

    1. Thank you Annika for your kind comment. This year we actually had a ‘small winter’ in the month of January, with morning temps close to freezing. February was more spring-like and now we are in the middle of a cool spell again…today we hardly reached 15C. I love the fact that this year we didn’t go directly from winter to summer, but have been able to enjoy many weeks of spring. The birds are lively and either already nesting or making plans πŸ™‚ In a week or so, I hope to see osprey chicks! XXX

    1. Happy you enjoyed our spring walk at the salt marsh. While Papa Stanley did not leave his fish to chase away the intruder last Friday, today I saw him do that πŸ™‚ I am hoping for hatchlings in a week or so.

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Karen. The kingfisher is a rare visitor at the marsh, and even more rarely does he sit down for a photo shoot πŸ™‚

  8. Lots of springtime action on the marsh Helen. Here too although I am not as vigilant as you about their action-packed lives!! Loved the tale/photos of Sandy guarding her soon–to-be brood πŸ™‚ Great story this week!

    1. Thank you Tina. The salt marsh residents offered up this story ‘on a platter”. We just had to walk around and snap pictures πŸ™‚ I’m sure they’ll be equally friendly at your marsh.

    1. Yes, this is a much better reality show than some others πŸ™‚ I am crossing my fingers hoping that the Osprey family will not have more drama this nesting season!

    1. Thank you Lee. I will keep checking for hatchlings starting mid next week and will share as soon as I have some ‘proof’ – even shaky pics on my 1200mm zoom πŸ™‚

  9. Loving the images, Helen; so crisp and clear. The little Belted Kingfisher is such a cutie; a nice Salt Marsh addition; for sure! And I can’t not mention the image of the Great Egret ‘flying in’; quite magnificent.
    It is wonderful you are back narrating everyday life within the Salt Marsh; tales I/we would otherwise not experience in such close quarters, and with a humour that is yours alone.
    Give Dylan a hug from me; and one for you too! πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you for the hugs and your kind comment, Carolyn! The kingfisher is a rare visitor. I have seen him only on a few occasions previously and this is the only time he has sat down for a photo shoot πŸ™‚ I will be keeping an eye on the nest to see when the eggs hatch…should be within a week for the first one. Dylan says hi and I send you many hugs!

  10. The salt marsh is always filled with activity and excitement! You are the curator of that wonderful place. It’s definitely in good hands! Great shots my friend. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you for your kind comments, my friend. While we still have days with lots of birds, I have noticed that the average bird count has been lower after the hurricane last september than what it used to be previously. I don’t know whether many birds died at that time or whether they ‘evacuated’ and never came back. I hope it’s the latter and that they will return.

  11. Great little story Tiny, so glad the intruder left, and there was no trouble. Love your belted kingfisher, what s beautiful bird, and a great capture with tail feathers. Have a wonderful week my friend 😊

    1. Thank you, Ashley. I loved the kingfisher…and for the first time this rare visitor sat down for a photo shoot …showcasing his beautiful tail feathers πŸ™‚ I hope your week has been good so far.

    1. Thank you dear Anja! Happy you enjoyed the story from the salt marsh (right next to us). I hope you will feel better soon ❀ Hugs to you and Hertta from me and Dylan.

  12. Oh wowowowow!!! Your shots, Helen, are superb!! Were these taken with your new baby? They are so clear and the ones of the birds flying … OH you are good!! I need SO much practice to do this! You inspire me totally to get birds in mid-flight. Glorious post, dear friend! Thank you!!! πŸ€—

    1. Thank you dear Amy! Some of these are taken with the new baby and others with my old baby. I shot with both. For a good mid-flight shot I usually need more than one try, but sometimes I’m just lucky πŸ™‚ The larger the wing span, the more difficult it is to get the whole bird in the picture even if I’m prepared…but that’s the beauty of the challenge. Much love ❀

  13. What a wonderful walk around the salt marsh early in the morning!
    It started so peacefully until the invader arrived and all turned upside-down.Your story became gripping and I was holding my breath to see what would happen.What a daring mother-to-be Sandy is!All’s well that ends well,life came back to normal and left me to admire your magnificent photos,dear Helen.Loved the rich breeding plumage of the Great Egret and the iridescent blue plumage of the Belted Kingfisher.Wishing you,Dylan and the salt marsh gang a nice and peaceful week ahead πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you dear Doda! It was such a daring move by Sandy, I was completely surprised she did it although I knew her ‘fuse’ is much shorter than Stanley’s. She doesn’t tolerate any threats when she has eggs or chicks in the nest. The kingfisher is a rare visitor and I was delighted he sat down and posed nicely πŸ™‚ I wish you a beautiful upcoming weekend, my friend.

    1. I wish the kingfisher would visit more often, he truly is beautiful. We have several couples of doves (Mourning Doves and Collared Doves) nesting in our garden. They are used to warm weather, just like us, but it has been very cool for FL lately, and still is today.

    1. We are so happy to see you here, Susan. And I am hoping for less drama for the Osprey family than what they had to endure last season. next week I’ll be on “hatch watch” πŸ™‚

  14. Oh my goodness it’s like grand central at the marsh. What did Dylan think of all of the coming and going? Glad the hatchling Nya we’re safe. Looking forward to their arrival!

    1. It was an unusually lively day at the marsh. Dylan doesn’t care about the birds any more after going through my “bird training course” – with a notable exception of ducks walking on the trail. They are irresistible πŸ™‚ My “hatch watch” will start next week.

  15. What exciting times for everyone. So glad to see you are enjoying time with your Marsh friends. All photos are lovely, and very cool to catch a glimpse of the belted Kingfisher. Hope you’re having a good week my friend.

    1. Thank you for visiting our kingfisher, dear Takami. He is a rare visitor at the marsh and this was the first time so far he has sat down for a photo shoot. Dylan and I wish you a wonderful weekend.

  16. All at the marsh seem to be doing well and look great. I am so glad that you share your beautiful pictures…you are an amazing photographer. Hugs for you sweet Tiny and nose kisses for Dylan from Chancy and me.

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