Goodbye Bubbette. Hello Vacation Time.

Last week was busy. After a few days of work in D.C. I came home, turned around and drove to North Florida for my son’s graduation. When I came back, I realized our osprey girl, Bubbette, had already left the nest. She didn’t wait for me, but that was not surprising. She was an advanced flier from the get go and spent her days diligently attending the Fishing School with Papa Stanley.

I also noticed that the whole osprey family had left the area. This happens every year at the time when a chick leaves the nest. The first year I observed this, I thought Sandy and Stanley had flown off to take a well-deserved vacation in the Caribbean. But now my theory is different. I believe that one or both parents follow the chick for a while to keep an eye on their fishing ability…and to teach them more if needed. So the nest has been empty, apart from the Blue Jay visiting from time to time.

empty osprey nest ud163Papa Stanley returned a couple of days ago, and I can now see him perching every evening on the Sailing Center’s wind device, one of his favorite places after the nesting season. I first spotted him while taking pictures of the bay just before a late afternoon storm. Can you spot him in the first picture below?

the bay before storm ud163

papa osprey ud163Mama Sandy is still gone. Usually she returns back home in about two to three weeks. Anyway, I wish Bubbette a wonderful life with plenty of fish to go around. May she be skilled enough to survive the first very tough year, and then live happily for the next 15-20 years!

I want to share a few pictures from my adventure on the Atlantic Beach last Friday. You see, this night owl was invited to tag along on a Sea Turtle Patrol. That was a four mile walk on the beach, just before and after the sunrise, to check if Mama Leatherback (world’s largest turtle) or Mama Loggerhead had laid any eggs overnight. Both nest on this beach. We arrived there before the sunrise, just when the sky started to get some color, but we could still clearly see the lights from the boats on the ocean.

first light UD163We started walking close to the water line, watching for any trails in the sand left by mama turtles. I snapped pictures of the gorgeous colors … thanks Mary for this evidence of the night owl being up before sunrise 🙂 And soon the sun was up.

Tiny takes pictures ud163

sunrise at jax beach ud163

sun is up on Jax beach ud163We didn’t find any fresh signs of new nests, but inspected a nest from the previous night. It was high up among the dunes.

Turtle nest ud163Mary showed me the trails in the sand. How Mama Loggerhead had come up to lay her eggs and how she had gone back to the sea.

Turtle patrol 2 ud163She has been patrolling the beaches for several years now and knows all about these sea turtles. I learned a lot that morning. I appreciate and admire the work all the volunteers do to protect these nests…and later in the summer/fall to make sure the tiny hatchlings find their way to the ocean.

laughing gulls on jax beach UD163The morning was beautiful and we spotted many Laughing Gulls and various terns on the sand bars revealed by the low tide. Some had already been fishing in the golden waters.

laughing gull fishing UD163As the morning progressed more tidal pools were forming on the beach attracting fishermen, joggers and people with dogs. What a beautiful morning!

tidal pools 2 UD163In a couple of days I will be traveling to visit family and friends in Northern Europe for the month of July. This time I will be fully connected and plan to send some ‘postcards’ to my friends here along the way and do some reading too. Thank you for visiting and take care now.

Really?! Surprising Developments at the Salt Marsh.

It’s been difficult to get pictures of our osprey girl, Bubbette. She is a very ambitious student and attends the fishing school with Papa Stanley all day long. A few days ago when I started to get worried about her staying away so long, I went to our terrace with Dylan in tow and spotted Mama Sandy waiting for her at the nest. A Blue Jay had conquered the perch and kept flying over Sandy numerous times. He even landed on the nest. Sandy just ducked and made no effort to chase him away. She demonstrated great patience with the little one. I have to say I was impressed. I documented this rare event, but as the pictures were taken with my 1200mm zoom the quality leaves a lot to desire.

mama osprey and a Blue Jay 2 ud162

blue jay lands at the nest ud162

blue Jay flies over the nest UD162Did you spot the second Blue Jay at the edge of the nest? Sandy certainly did. But she took it all with stride.

In the last couple of days Sandy has joined the faculty at the fishing school, and the nest has been mostly empty. Bubbette leaves around sunrise when this night owl is still soundly asleep and often returns only just before sunset. In the last two weeks I have only found her at the nest once during our day time walks.

osprey chick with mama osprey ud162But when we go to the doggy park in the evenings, she and Sandy have been back at the nest and we have spotted Stanley fishing on the bay.

mama osprey with chick after sunset ud162The other night we saw the Blue Jay again. He was sitting on the perch and talking to Bubbette and Sandy.

blue jay and Bubbette ud162

blue jay ud162I was wondering what he was saying. It looked like he was asking to be adopted. He flew repeatedly over the nest and always landed back on the perch. Both ospreys were extremely understanding with him.

Blue jay flies ud162Anyway, on our one daytime walk we spotted several familiar faces. The Mayor was back! And he caught a big fish!

mayor GBH with a fish ud162This surprised us and one of the Snowy Egrets watching near by.

snowy egrets ud162But the Reddish Egret, aka the Clown, only got more motivated to continue his fishing expedition. I really like to watch this charming red head. And he knows it.

Reddish Egret is hunting ud162Harry, the younger GBH, did not witness the catch. Wisely, he stayed out of the Mayor’s sight at the opposite end of the marsh.

the younger blue heron ud162Yesterday I monitored Bubbette from my terrace. She was away the whole day and I started to get worried. Finally around 7 p.m. I spotted her alone in the nest. I took my camera along for the walk to the dog park. You see, I am not sure she will be here when I come back from my travels in about one week. She is an advanced flier already and the past couple of nights, Sandy has let her sleep alone in the nest. That means she’s considered almost ready to move from home and is fed only sporadically by her parents. We found her in the nest asking for food, although it was a quite half-hearted request. Her crop was fairly full.

Bubbette girl 6 15 UD162When we were close to the dog park, I turned around and noticed she had company. The little Blue Jay was back on the perch. They enjoyed the last rays of the day together.

Bubbette and the blue jay at sunset ud162When at the dog park, we heard her asking for food again and I walked up to the fence to see if Sandy was back at the nest with a bite for the night. She wasn’t. But the marsh bathed in the warm glow of the setting sun.

Bubbette at sunset 6 15 ud162Bubbette was learning that the free meals would be fewer and far between. When we left the dog park, we spotted a few more friends at the almost dark marsh. I saw a flash of red and noticed a male Northern Cardinal landing on a tree just ahead of us. My assistant kept a low profile and I managed to get a shot before he flew off.

male cardinal ud162A Tri-colored Heron was getting a late snack and Harry was, as he often is, watching the osprey nest.

tricolored heron at sunset ud162

young GBH at sunset 2 UD162 He saw that Bubbette had flown up to the perch. A sign of mastering the skill of flying. Perhaps she was checking if any of her parents were nearby and hoping for a late night snack.

Bubbette at night Friday 6 15 UD162And, indeed, Sandy was perching at the Sailing Center right across the road. She was looking at Bubbette. It might have been too dark to go fishing, but who knows…

sandy at sunset ud162Today at lunch time, I spotted both Sandy and Bubbette at the nest. And faintly heard the fish-fish song again. I will miss that song and hope to hear it again when I come back next weekend.

sandy and Bubbette at the nest 6 16 ud162I will leave you with last night’s beautiful glow over the salt marsh. Thank you for visiting. Be well.

salt marsh sunset 6 15 UD162

What a Party!

On Friday morning, I went to the kitchen to brew my second cup of coffee and suddenly remembered I had not yet checked on the Osprey Family. Mr. Dylan and I have been keeping a tight watch on the nest, particularly from the mid week on as the weather started to improve. At sunset time the previous night we spotted Bubbette sitting on her favorite high ‘chair’ in the nest looking out on the bay. She was clearly dreaming of flying.

osprey chick night before fledging ud161I picked up my binoculars and looked out through the living room window.  Just like previous mornings, I found Bubbette in the nest and Mama Sandy on the perch. I was about to put down my binoculars when Bubbette took off. Just like that! I ran to get my camera and discovered my battery was out of charge. Finally found my spare and ran out to the terrace with Dylan in tow. I spotted Bubbette right over the bay. She was at least 600-700 yards away, close to the opposite shore. She was flying low over the water. I couldn’t hear her, but it looked like she was singing her fish-fish-song.

Bubbette flies over the bay ud161I discovered that Papa Stanley was circling high up in the sky right above her, but couldn’t get them into the same picture. It was heart-warming to see Papa protecting her on her first flight.

Bubbettes first flight 3 ud161Then she flew higher up and continued her adventure towards the mainland. My heart was racing because I knew the Bald Eagle couple nests at the Country Club on the other side of the bay. Luckily Stanley was close by. Bubbette flew further away and I could hardly see her. Finally she turned back towards our island and I spotted her again.

Bubbettes first flight 2 ud161 I watched her fly. What a beautiful sight. A few minutes later she made a perfect landing almost in the middle of the nest! No second try, no landing on the ground. Sandy watched her proudly from the perch. And her ‘grandma’ on the terrace was equally delighted.

osprey chick makes perfect landing 2 ud161At lunch time Dylan and I went out to see her, after a dog park visit of course. We found Sandy on the perch and Bubbette in the nest. I was hoping she would fly out again.

mama osprey and the chick at the nest june 1 ud161But both of them were busy looking intensely towards the bay. Little did I know that Stanley had planned a graduation party. I had not seen him at the nest since Sandy chased him away from the perch almost two weeks ago. No kissing and making up as yet. But he had been doing fly-overs and checking on his girls every now and then. And he had flown with Bubbette that morning.

Mama osprey sees fish delivery ud161Next thing I knew Sandy started singing and flew down from the perch…

Mama osprey flies down from the perch ud161… and they started a frantic duet, eyes trained on something beyond my horizon.

anticipation of a fish ud161I could hear the wing beats when Stanley flew right over my head. Papa was in the house! Seeing that whopper of a fish Bubbette and Sandy were full of excitement.

papa osprey brings a fish ud161And it was a whole fish solely for the girls, delivered directly from the bay.

Papa osprey delivers a fish ud161Stanley steered to the right, grabbed the fish with both talons and placed his catch perfectly in front of Sandy. Perhaps as a combined graduation and reconciliation gift.

papa osprey brings a whole fish ud161While Sandy grabbed the fish, he exchanged greetings with Bubbette.

Papa Osprey in the nest ud161A few seconds later he took off again.

papa osprey leaves ud161I guess he didn’t want to overstay his welcome. Sandy placed the fish so that both of them could eat from it once she was done with the head part.

mama osprey takes the fish ud161We left them to enjoy their celebratory lunch and walked home.

Mama osprey and chick share the fish ud161That was a great graduation party. Always lovely to see the new generation take flight. Since then Bubbette has been out several times, including over three hours yesterday morning. And she’s out flying this morning too. I guess she enjoys her newly acquired freedom and is eager to learn how to fish. And her Papa is a great teacher. In about a month she will be ready to leave the nest and start her independent life somewhere nearby. We hope you enjoyed the party and wish you a great week ahead.