The Salt Marsh. Our Favorite Place.

After learning about this week’s photo challenge, my first thought was that it will be impossible for me to select one favorite place. There were too many great candidates for that title. Victoria Falls? The pyramids in Giza? The many great wildlife spots in Africa? The ancient treasures in Italy or Greece? My childhood lake in Finland? The Old Town in Stockholm? The list was long. But thinking about it I always came back to a place I can see every day right through my office window. The salt marsh at the north end of our barrier island. It’s always there. At sunrise and sunset. Rain or shine. Its mood constantly changing.

sunset at salt marsh 3 ud155

marsh at sunset UD155

salt marsh w iphone UD155And Dylan agrees with my choice. Whenever I say let’s go to the park, it’s clear from the speed of his tail that I’m on the right track. He loves to play at the dog park next to the marsh with his amigos, Saki, Eli, Snickers and others.

saki smiles 2 ud155

Eli march 23 UD155

snickers march 23 UD155So here we are, on ‘hatch watch’. From what we have been able to glean looking at the osprey nest from our terrace, the osprey couple now has hatchlings. While Mama Sandy is not yet allowing her chicks to be shown in public, her moves in the nest reveal that she is in the ‘mothering mode’. Sorry for the poor picture quality as these two images were taken handheld from almost 300 yards on my compact superzoom camera.

mama osprey attends to chick ud155Sandy gets up often and bends her head down into the nest cup. And after Papa Stanley has brought in a fish, her head stays down for several minutes. She moves around as in feeding more than one chick.

mama osprey feeds hatchling ud155Last night around sunset time, when we passed the nest and Stanley had just left to get dinner, she even stood up in the nest to preen herself. A sure sign that the eggs have hatched this week.

mama sandy at sunset ud155The nest cup is so deep that it will probably take a week or two before I can get ‘proof’ of the newly hatched chicks in the form of a grainy picture from my terrace. And a couple of more weeks before I can get the first baby portraits from the ground. Patience girl. Patience.

papa osprey ud155Papa Stanley is guarding the nest whenever he is not on a fishing trip. Yesterday, again, there was another osprey flying around the nest.

another osprey ud155Stanley sounded alarm and when that was not effective, he promptly went to chase it away.

papa osprey lands at the nest UD155When we passed under the nest a few minutes later, he was back on his guard post and nodded a friendly greeting.

papa osprey UD155I’m sure he had noticed that both the Mayor and the younger Great Blue Heron were present close to the nest. Staring at each other from the opposite sides of the deep water.

great blue heron Mayor ud155

younger Great Blue Heron ud155The Mayor’s presence was a good thing. It was less likely that the younger GBH would get bad ideas. Like considering attacking the osprey nest. He may remember that any attempt to approach the nest will not be tolerated. He would get his butt feathers ruffled by Stanley.

mama osprey UD155 9x16Mama Sandy was alert too. Maybe she remembered her dramatic encounter with the youngster a couple of years ago (below). Despite the difference in size, she did give the young heron a lesson.

mama osprey prevents attack by blue heron ud155But there was one fellow who only had time for himself … and the camera. As soon as the Reddish Egret, aka the Clown, saw my camera, he started his usual hunting dance.

reddish egret 1 UD155

reddish egret 2 UD155

Reddish Egret hunting UD155I always enjoy watching his performance, but this time he didn’t catch a fish. Someone else did. A young Great Egret walked around at the far end of the marsh showcasing his catch.

great egret with a fish ud155He kept an eye on us so we didn’t dare to move closer. Instead we spotted a Tri-colored Heron hunting for crustaceans in the shallow water.

tri-colored heron hunts ud155I was wondering if it was the same bird now being exhibited at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts (below). Whatever the case, I am happy that one of the salt marsh residents made it to the “Forever Young” exhibition.

tri-colored heron Sand Key Park AHK UD155Just before leaving the park, we discovered something you can only see at the salt marsh. A bird reading a sign.

great egret read a sign ud155The Great Egret was wet. He looked relieved to see the no swimming sign pictured a human rather than a bird. He had already been swimming.

We all wish you a pleasant weekend and a great week ahead. Thank you for visiting our favorite place.

92 thoughts on “The Salt Marsh. Our Favorite Place.”

  1. How I LOVED this post, Helen! If the majority of these images were taken with your new 100-400mm lens, I am SO excited! They are off the charts fantastic! I can see a huge difference in quality in them and there also is a softer quality to them as well! Why am I excited? I’m buying that very lens with a 1.4x extender! I’m practically jumping off my chair in excitement. I am stunned by these pictures!! And boy did I laugh at the bird reading the sign …. too funny!! That closeup of the “forever young” bird is mind blowing for the exquisite detail you captured. WOW!!!!! (((HUGS))) Amy🌹

    1. Thank you dear Amy! Yes, the majority of the pictures this time were taken with the new lens. I managed to maneuver both the lens and Dylan πŸ™‚ I just love the lens and I am looking at the extenders…might go with the 1.4 as well because the autofocus works well with it. I am so excited for you!! And I’m sure you’ll love it as well…there’s such a difference between this and the 70-300mm lens, both in quality and reach. Can’t wait to see your pictures with this lens!! The “Forever Young” bird is now in the exhibition, which is quite nice too πŸ™‚ Much love and many hugs ❀

      1. I never did like the 70 to 300mm lens, Helen. I’ve rarely used it and for that reason I am really thinking about selling it because it is not a cheap lens as you well know. I am so excited about my new lens that is coming I am like a little kid. I’m also thinking about getting a second camera body which has always been my dream. But that is for later… So happy for you that you are enjoying your new lens and yes what a huge huge difference! From night to day difference! It is very evident! And good for you for handling this huge lens and Dylan! I have seen how big and heavy this lens is. Brava! πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

        1. I have to say Dylan behaves really well with the birds and sits down when I shoot. The only birds he still needs training on are the ducks πŸ™‚ Happy experimenting with your new lens!! XXX

      2. I have also spoken to two actual people who have come across my path believe it or not who both had the 100 to 400 mm lens and the 1.4x extender. They rave about this combination. They warned me about the 2x extender because it does not work well at all with the auto focus. So if you are really looking at getting the extender only buy the 1.4x.

  2. What a beautiful place sweet Tiny. Fabulous pictures and what a great post this is. I had no problem picturing sweet Dylan’s tail wagging when you mentioned the dog park. πŸ™‚ I am looking forward to seeing Sandy and Stanley’s babies. All looks to be doing well at the marsh and I sure enjoyed viewing all the pictures. The Mayor seems to have no problem keeping all in order. Love the picture of the Clown doing his thing for the camera. Hugs for you and nose kisses for Dylan. Have a great day and week.

    1. Thank you dear Mags. I hope to capture a picture of the babies quite soon. There certainly is lots of activity at the nest. Sandy is still brooding the hatchlings (for about 10 days from birth) so she is covering them with her body when not feeding. The Mayor is a great ‘law enforcement officer’ at the marsh. Last night he was not present and the young GBH was eyeing the nest from almost the same place where Sandy gave him a lesson. I hope he didn’t try anything later on. Dylan says hi to Chancy and I send hugs to you. Have a beautiful week.

      1. Hoping all is well with Sandy and the hatchlings…she is a great mama. That little GBH better be remembering that lesson. Hugs and nose kisses from Chancy and me. You and Dylan have a wonderful weekend.

    1. Thank you, Susan. That egret reading the sign was funny…and I hoped people would read the signs as well, particularly the “no fishing” sign.

  3. I completely understand why the Salt Marsh is your favorite place, Helen. These photos make it very clear! Your are a very engaging storyteller, too. A most enjoyable post on this day!

  4. The salt marsh is my favourite place to visit here on your blog Helen, it is so beautiful! I love the way you bring all the feathered characters to life and the image of Papa Stanley greeting you is adorable. We are looking forward to see how many osprey chicks there are this year and wish you and Dylan a wonderful rest of the weekend :o) xxx

    1. Thank you Xenia! I look forward to finding out more about the chicks too. The non-migratory ospreys, like our couple, lay 2-3 eggs. In 2015 all three hatched and fledged, but the last two years only one hatchling has made it. We hope the best for this year. XXX

  5. Oh what a pleasure, Helen, to see today’s activities at your beautiful salt marsh. How very exciting to have new hatchlings in the world! That nest platform is perfectly designed, it’s a wonderful thing to keep them hidden and safe in the bowl of the nest. Your photos are fantastic, seeing mama Sandy coming into the young heron, the Great Egret with a fishy mouthful, and the dance of the reddish egret were a real treat. And that close-up of the tri-colored heron is magnificent.

    1. Thank you for your visit and kind comment, Jet. Mama Sandy is indeed very busy now. She is attending to the chicks almost all the time. Still no luck to get a picture, but a couple of days ago, I saw with my binoculars a little head come up when she was feeding. Nature is just wonderful to observe. Have a wonderful weekend.

  6. I have always wanted a picture in my mind of your Salt Marches and the surrounding area. You bring it even more life with your stories, characters, and beautiful images. Truly, you are a very effective tourism campaign. Thanks for the gorgeous overall view! One day I will make it to your side of our magical world.

    1. Thank you Cyndi! I have seen quite many visitors at the marsh lately, some with cameras and big lenses and others with cell phones. They often ask about the birds and we chat for a while πŸ™‚ It would be lovely to walk the marsh with you one day and take you to lunch nearby. I’ve had the pleasure to do this with a few blogging friends, sometimes with their families. It has always been lovely. Have a great Easter weekend.

  7. Lots of great pics! I’m assuming you were using your new lens? You live next to a wonderful, lively community. I can see why it’s your favorite. I love your last photo and commentary. It made me laugh out loud. πŸ˜„

    1. Thank Kelly! Most of these pics are taken with my new lens, but not all. It is heavy, but I have already grown to love it. I laughed, too, when I saw the egret in front of the sign. It stayed there for a while, all wet, just staring at it πŸ™‚

  8. So many wonderful things happening at the salt marsh. It’s both exciting and a relief that the chicks have hatched…so glad Stanley and Sandy made it through Hurricane Irma and are back again raising a new brood! And the new lens (with you behind it) is capturing unbelievable photos. This batch is my favorite yet. Thank you Helen for a very enjoyable post!

    1. Thanks Deb! Sandy has been busy feeding the hatchlings today. While I have not yet been able to snap a picture of them, I saw a little head come up at feeding time πŸ™‚ I hope to see you at the doggy park tonight.

  9. Gorgeous egret photos, especially the Reddish Egret stretching his gorgeous wings!
    It is always a treat to see Stanley. πŸ™‚ Thank you, Helen.

    1. Thank you Amy for visiting the salt marsh with us! It looks like the Reddish Egret has rented a home at the marsh. He is there every day and every evening. I have to ‘spook’ him with my camera soon again πŸ™‚

  10. Loved this post Tiny! I so enjoy your story telling. Yes often where we are is the place of our best and most interesting story. I especially loved and chuckled at the bird reading the no swimming sign😊 seems like yesterday we were waiting for the last hatchlings, it is an exciting time when new life joins our world. Have a wonderful week my friend.

    1. I am happy you got a chuckle courtesy of the Great Egret πŸ™‚ Mama Sandy has been keeping busy this week fussing around the hatchlings and feeding them often. Yesterday I saw, for a first time, a little head sticking up from the nest cup at feeding time. It might have been the oldest chick, now just over a week old, who tried to get more food when a younger one was fed. Wonderful to see new life again. I wish you a wonderful Easter celebration, my friend.

  11. What a wonderful place to be Helen! I get to witness what’s happening through your lens, and enjoy the tidbits and drama.
    Can’t wait for the next episode as it unfolds this Spring 😎

    1. Thanks Val! I can tell you that Sandy is busy feeding and fussing around the chicks all day, but I have not yet managed to get any pictures of them. Yesterday I saw, very briefly, one tiny head come up when she was feeding them πŸ™‚

      1. Ahh, thanks for the update. I do hope they bring in more than one this year. It’s fun watching the antics of siblings! Happy Easter Helen πŸ₯β˜€οΈπŸ₯

    1. Yes, the hatchlings have definitely arrived! Mama Sandy is fussing about the little ones all day long. I have yet to get a picture, ut saw a little head sticking up a couple of days ago πŸ™‚

  12. This gallery of photos is wonderful Tiny, shows all the action and activities of the beautiful salt marsh. I wish I was there. πŸ™‚

  13. This will be interesting, Helen, to see the young Ospreys as they develop and grow! Fingers crossed for them…
    Fabulous images of all the Salt Marsh Community Members. You know the GBHs are a fave of mine, especially The Mayor and The Younger – good that the parents are keeping a watchful eye on that one; once bitten….
    But, that’s life in the Salt Marsh; a mini version of life on Earth narrated beautifully by you.
    Say hi to Dylan… πŸ™‚
    xoxoxo

    1. Yes, we have new babies and I hope that they will grow well and fledge towards end of June. The Younger GBH has been watching the nest almost every evening at the same spot where Sandy gave him a lesson, but I think he has grown out of his bad ways πŸ™‚ Dylan and I wish you a great Easter weekend! XXXX

  14. Helen I think it says a lot when your favourite place in the world is right ourside your window. So many incredible spots onthis planet and you mentioned many, yet finding contentment in one’s own backyard wherever that might be is a treasure.

    1. Thank you Sue! I am so fortunate having this little piece of nature right in my ‘backyard’. Travels are great, but coming home is always great too πŸ™‚ Happy Easter!

    1. That egret reading the sign made my day πŸ™‚ Maybe he knows that people are not reading the “no fishing” sign…makes me also frustrated as birds have died at the salt marsh when tangled in fishing lines left at the bottom.

  15. Love your photos and their arrangements. The salt marsh is a real treasure trove of nature. So very great to witness it. Thanks for sharing what you see first hand, it’s shear joy.

  16. No matter how many times you’ve witnessed the miracle of new life in the osprey nest, it never gets old. The same with sunrises and sunsets. May we never stop feeling awe. How I enjoy visiting the characters living in your salt marsh. Loved the great egret reading the sign. πŸ™‚ Thank you, Tiny, for sharing, as always!

    1. Thank you Barbara for visiting our friends. As you say, the miracle of new life never gets old! I just hope that this year all the hatchlings will grow up and fly away at the end of June. But we can only observe nature…whatever it gives. Happy Easter!

  17. OK, no surprise that you chose the salt marsh Tiny – as always, loved your captures of the local residents. But I must admit that last shot of the sign reader is one of my all time favorites πŸ˜€

    1. Thank you for visiting us, Tina. The salt marsh has been busier than usual for a few weeks, maybe the birds are also on spring break πŸ™‚ That sign-reading egret made my day and gave me a good chuckle. Happy Easter!

  18. You’ve a great list of incredible places to choose from, all with incredible ‘wow’ factors, but it is very comforting to see your pick for a favorite place – it has become one of our favorite places watching & being there with you all these years πŸ™‚ The description you have written is one I connect to as well with my favorite place (in the Pacific NW) “…It’s always there. At sunrise and sunset. Rain or shine. Its mood constantly changing.” And it brings a feeling of belonging. Pure happiness. Wonderful photographs, as is always the case, and wishing you a great spring season ahead πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you for visiting us, Randall. One of the things that will keep me right here after suddenly losing my hubby last year is the salt marsh. I walk there almost every day when at home, and just looking at it makes me peaceful. I can so relate to the beauty surrounding you when ‘at home’ in the Pacific NW. I wish you & your muse a wonderful spring season. Remember to breathe πŸ™‚

  19. What a lovely place Salt Marsh is,dear Helen!A paradise on earth and just a stone’s throw away from your house.Stunning all your photos,waterscapes and birds’portaits!Dylan has some very lovable friends.Hugs to Dylan;have a wonderful springtime,my friend πŸ™‚

  20. Beautiful post and photos, and I loved the ending and chuckle, Helen! So glad to see the progress with Sandy and Stanley. I’ve lost contact but am back, eager to see their season this year. Our recent move back to the Chesapeake Bay area puts me back into a direct line-up of an active Osprey nest off my balcony where the pair is building and mating up a storm! I am so excited!! πŸ™‚

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