Move Faster! And a Romantic Date Night.

I feel like a turtle. I just want to continue the leisurely stroll of the holidays. Soak in the sun and contemplate life in peace and quiet. But I feel the push to start moving faster. We are almost three weeks into the new year. Can you believe it?

I hope to make this fresh year more balanced than the past. Alternating work and play, just like in the high intensity interval exercise I’ve become to like lately. I’m envisioning myself at times flying fast like Mama Osprey…

… and then just enjoying life like a turtle. With all time in the world.

So far so good. Dylan and I were exploring the Taylor Park again last week. The Anhinga and the Moorhen were present in big numbers as usual.

And we spotted many feathered friends looking for a tasty breakfast, like this Wood Stork, Tri-colored Heron and Little Blue Heron.

We were trying hard to find at least one gator, but they seemed to be lying low(er than usual) due to the cooler winter temperatures we’re having right now. So instead we enjoyed spotting more birds, like this Ring-billed Gull and a Great Egret.

Then we heard a loud group of Boat-tailed Blackbirds. The males were fighting in the reeds and refused to be photographed. But this female, who is actually brown and may have been the reason of the fight, stepped out to hunt for food. Click.

There are always several Pied-billed Grebes on the lake and I love photographing them.

But this cutie stretched my patience – and even Mr. Dylan’s who had to sit and wait for me. This little one was diving non-stop and staying up on the surface less than a second at the time. It was a comical exercise. There he is. Gone. Repeat. I got numerous pictures of bubbles and rings on the water and some tail feathers at times. But finally my patience was rewarded and I managed to snap a picture. Oops!

That’s when I saw something in the water further out in the shady part of the lake. It was, indeed, a very quiet gator.

After that discovery we ran our last stretch before leaving the park happy with our intermittent “osprey-turtle” exercise.

But what about the salt marsh, you may wonder. We have been there too. After returning from my holiday trip to Sweden, I hadn’t seen much of the Osprey couple. They usually start their nesting season in early January by refurbishing their home, but it had been quiet at the nest. We walked past the nest on our way to the dog park and I thought I could see some signs of remodeling, but nobody was there. And I started to get worried.

The perivious week I had seen Mama Sandy fly by my office window…

… and Papa Stanley eating on a lamp-post close to the nest, but hadn’t seen them together or working on the nest. Knowing that ospreys don’t opt for a divorce at the first sign of disagreement, I concluded there has to be some valid reason for their wait.

Finally last week on Saturday night I saw a beautiful sight from my terrace. Sandy and Stanley were having a date night at the Sailing Center

I grabbed my camera and out we went, my assistant and I. I was hoping the happy couple would still be there and the light would be enough to capture the evidence of this romance. And we were in luck. Both Sandy and Stanley greeted us with a friendly nod.

They were enjoying the last light on the bay side as much as we were…

…and we also spotted a a Snowy Egret and a Great Egret down at the water’s edge.

So finally, and quite late this year, mama and papa osprey had come together to start their nesting season. The sixth one I look forward to observing.

Earlier this week, Dylan and I visited the dog park on a cool, partly loudy day. And discovered the little salt marsh village was lively indeed. The Mayor was in the office and surveyed the marsh in his typical, calm manner.

Further out, in a difficult spot to ‘shoot’, several residents were huddling to seek shelter from the cold wind coming from the north. Even the Clown, aka Reddish Egret was calm, with no intention to perform. Maybe his enthusiasm was dampened by the presence of the Wood Stork, who had only recently given him a lesson.

But he couldn’t help himself, he had to follow the bigger bird into the water and keep him under surveillance.

Closer to the Osprey nest, at the east end of the marsh, Several residents had sought shelter in the bushes. I was happy to see the Snowy Egret had already developed a breeding plumage and to spot both a Black- and Yellow-crowned Night Heron for the first time in quite a while. Most residents seemed to be back from their holiday travels.

To my delight, both Sandy and Stanley were at the nest, which now clearly was under renovation. Sandy was happily munching on a fish, likely provided by Stanley. And he seemed to be musing on the fact that he would be dad again…

…and watched us with great interest. Or maybe it was bride. In any case, I promised myself to make time to follow their, hopefully successful, nesting season in my “turtle time” between travels. Thank you for being here. Be good and keep warm.

88 thoughts on “Move Faster! And a Romantic Date Night.”

  1. Hello Helen ❀
    I can't believe we're almost a month into the new year already! So happy to see this latest update. The first photo of the Moorhen and turtle made me laugh out loud. What a moment!

    And so happy to be "reunited" with all the Marsh friends, including our favourite Osprey couple. It seems like 2019 has been a whirlwind of a start for most of us. I do hope you're taking good care! And a doggy-hug for Dylan πŸ™‚


    1. Dear Takami,
      I’m happy the Moorhen and Turtle scenario made you laugh. I laughed too! The Moorhen was very loud and finally, without any hurry, the turtle reached the end and dove into the water. And the Moorhen was the “King of the Hill” πŸ™‚ The salt marsh has, indeed, become lively…we even spotted Miss Rosa the other day on our way to the doggy park. And the Osprey couple entertained me this morning when I had a long teleconference. They were flying back and forth over the marsh and past my office window several times, then sat down on the corner of Sheraton’s roof right below my window. I did sneak out on the terrace for 2 minutes to take a picture, but pls don’t tell πŸ˜€ Have a wonderful week and weekend, my friend. Mr. I’m heading to Washington D.C. for work shortly. D says hi!

  2. Turtle time is always good time, dear Helen. Such lovely photos of all of the old familiars and some new friends as well. May the new year bring plenty of turtle time mixed with the work you enjoy. ❀️

    1. Thank you Carrie. I am determined to keep a good balance this year …after all, I’m my own boss now and should be able to do a better job on this πŸ™‚ I wish you, too, many happy ‘turtle days’!

    1. Thank you Sha’Tara. It is so true that this wonderful world is shrinking. It pains me…and I am trying to help in any small way I can to preserve it.

  3. It really is satisfying to hear and see what has been going on at the Salt Marsh. I am so happy that everyone is getting into the groove, along with some newcomers. Nature has her own timing and we are appreciative spectators.
    Thank you Helen and Dylan for great captures and tales πŸ’›

    1. Thank you, Val, for your continued support to the salt marsh community ❀ Everyone is gearing up for a new breeding season and probably pondering over the cooler than normal temperatures…lots of 'huddling' and 'buffing up' going on πŸ™‚

  4. So wonderful to see all your marsh friends again, Helen. I love the photo of the Osprey love birds out on their date night in such a romantic setting. It sounds as though your year is going to be a very exciting one with not too much turtle time. Happy balancing act. πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜˜

    1. Thanks Sylvia! Had some ‘turtle time’ this weekend, but instead of going out in the cool winds and non-stop rain I was huddling around a fondue pot with friends πŸ™‚ Much more productive πŸ˜€ I hope you had a good weekend.

  5. Wonderful story and beautiful captures, Helen! So nice to see you and Dylan on your nature walks again. I get your feeling, and sometimes I do feel like a turtle, lol. Great to see Sandy & Stanley starting another season. Couple days ago, I was just thinking about ‘my’ Osprey, Bella & Beau, who I hope made it down to South America for the winter. In a few weeks, their instincts will kick in, and they’ll be heading back to Cambridge, Maryland, for another season as well. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you Donna! I so enjoy watching the Osprey couple. They have been flying a lot together and building on the nest despite the colder than usual weather we’ve been having lately. Before we know it, “your” Bella & Beau will be back in Maryland repairing their nest too πŸ™‚ Have a great week ahead.

      1. I was just thinking that Bella & Beau might be starting to get an instinct to ‘fuel’ up on meals for their journey back any day/week now. Mid-March is when the sightings begin for the returning Chesapeake Bay Osprey. Oh, and let’s hope B&B know how to build a nest this time, lol, they had no nest most of season.

    1. Hi Nancy! I missed the eclipse 😦 but trying to stay warm…including next week when I have to be in NYC again. Feel lucky it’s not this week πŸ™‚

  6. How nice to see the salt marsh with all kinds of birds, looking so beautiful and healthy. I glad to see the osprey family is back to the nest. Your photos are great Tiny. Thank you! πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks H.J.! The salt marsh is quite busy, but most birds just hunch in the cool/cold for Florida weather. The strong winds blew the furniture in the osprey nest to one side of the nest and Sandy and Stanley seem to wait for calmer weather before rearranging them. I’m hoping for some milder weather soon…for everyone πŸ™‚

    1. I wish we had spring in the air! It’s been unusually cold weather here too, a real winter season without the snow, but of course we are warm compared to most of the country now.

    1. Thanks Karen! I agree with you 100% on the beauty and resilience of nature. Today I noticed that the strong cold winds we’ve been having lately had shifted all the Osprey couple’s ‘furniture’ to one side of the nest, but I’m sure they will be well organized again in no time πŸ™‚

  7. Helen, it doesn’t seem long since Sandy and Stanley were preparing for their new arrival last year and you had us choosing names! πŸ˜€ I reckon these two birds are looking out for you and Dylan, wondering where you’ve been! Good idea about the β€˜Osprey-turtle’ balance in life, I can go for that! Just wish there were so many beautiful birds around to view, with the odd gator! Have a good rest of the month, and yep, it’s flying past! X

    1. Thanks for you wonderful comment, Annika. The “osprey time” takes over so easily, but now I am conscious about deliberately being a turtle some of the time πŸ™‚ It is amazing how time flies. I, too, feel like it yesterday when Bubette left the nest, but here we are…wishing the Osprey couple a successful new season without much drama. Have a good new month soon! XXX

  8. What a wonderful showcase of your local wildlife Tiny, I especially love you header photo of the Moorhen barking at the poor turtle, wondering what all the commotion is about. The Snowy Egret in breeding plumage looks beautiful. It is good that you are able to stay in holiday rest mode for as long as you can. It is good to balance your busy life. Great to see the couple back together for another season adventure Stan & Sandy. Have a wonderful week my friend!

    1. Thank you, Ashley. That Moorhen and turtle scene made me smile and think about the need to balance my life better. Nature is such a good teacher. And I am trying…with variable success πŸ™‚ It’s been so cold and windy lately that the Osprey couple has quite not yet settled in at the nest. Today they came to the nest together only to discover that the strong wind had pushed their “furniture” to one side of the nest. I’m sure they will try to rectify it as soon as the winds calm down, hopefully this coming weekend. Have a wonderful weekend, my friend!

  9. Nice shots of the Night Herons. I spent a couple of days at the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge a little over a week ago. Are you near there? I saw a lot of these same birds – which was such a treat!

    1. Thanks Kathy! Merritt Island in on the east coast of FL, right? I am on the west coast, on Gulf of Mexico close to Tampa, but from your beautiful post I saw that the birds there are the same as we have here.

  10. I am glad you have posted these photos, and written so artfully about each one. Sometimes I feel like being there myself and watching your avian and other friends live their lives.

  11. Another great post of the amazing wild life in your region, Tiny! You truly live in Nature’s paradise. I very much like the photo of the bird contemplating its image in the water’s reflection. Have a great week! Peter

    1. Thank you, Peter, for your visit and kind comment. I agree and I am grateful for being able to live here in midst of beautiful nature, while not far from cities and what they have to offer. I am trying to get caught up on your wonderful story…did read some yesterday from far back in January πŸ™‚

  12. Am seconding Peter’s comment. Thank you for another visit to birding heaven. (and not forgetting the turtles). I also second your more balanced work and play plan; something I need to manage too πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks for coming along, Tish! I’m still hanging on to the ‘balanced plan’ with tooth and nail, and determined to improve it further … after this month πŸ™‚ Just back from chilly NYC last night and looking forward to catching up with the Osprey family and others.

  13. Thank you dear friend and Mr Dylan! You are the masters πŸ‘πŸ‘ Puss o kram Anja & Hertta❀❀🐩

    1. Dear Anja, thank you! Dylan was happy to see me last night when I returned from NYC. We both send you and Hertta our warmest greetings and many hugs ❀

  14. What a delightful and insightful post Helen. I like the comparison to interval training! In my thirties, I was more in tune with the cycles of activity and rest. Most of us need more rest and relaxation. Kudos on the return of your osprey family and creative date nights. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you, Brad, for coming along to the salt marsh and Taylor Park. I’ve been in the cement jungle (NYC) for work and just now back to my friends…saw a little glimpse of Mama Sandy tonight and both Dylan and I are eager to find out what’s going on at the nest.

        1. Right now I look forward to just enjoying home, but to tell you the truth…there’s a small tour towards the end of the month that I await eagerly…to see the amazing, little Burrowing Owls again in Cape Coral πŸ™‚

  15. Always a complete joy, Helen, to visit the Salt Marsh with you and Dylan. What a joy to see the osprey pair are beginning their new nesting season. All of your photos here are so wonderful, I liked the anhingas and moorhens at Taylor Park too. Alligator photo is exquisite.

    1. Thank you for your visit and kind comment, Jet. I am just back from a work trip to NYC and eager to find out what is going on at the salt marsh. Saw Mama Sandy at the nest briefly this evening.

  16. A wonderful update, Helen; it’s great to see all is well on your homefront; and the interval training (with assistant) sounds just the thing to keep you fit.
    And, speaking of interval training you could say even your images are a little like interval training – particularly when trying to capture the elusive little Pied-billed Grebe. What a great shot. Dylan must have been quite proud of himself as well…
    Sixth season! Kudos to you, Helen. It’s been a great joy!

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, dear Carolyn. I returned home from a work trip to NYC last night…what a joy to be back to all my salt marsh friends and Mr. D. in particular. We need to get out and explore right away tomorrow morning. And I have missed my interval exercise…it was impossible to do any running on the chilly streets between the skyscrapers looking like the Michelin guy in my buffer coat πŸ˜€

  17. No worries, many of us feel like turtles around this time of year! Good to see all is well with the salt marsh gang and our favorite osprey couple. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you, Meg. Right now I need to get back to ‘turteling’ after a hectic work trip πŸ™‚ And that means back to the salt marsh this coming week.

  18. It’s so lovely to see the birds at the salt marsh again Helen and we wish Sandy and Stanley a very happy nesting season. Hope your week got off to a great start and much love to you and Dylan from all of us here πŸ€—πŸ’–πŸ• xxx

    1. Thank you for coming along, Xenia, and for your kind comment too. Dylan was overjoyed seeing me last night when I returned from a work trip to the urban jungle (NYC), and so was I. We have agreed that an observation tour to the salt marsh is on the program early in the week. Hugs from both of us to all of you ❀

  19. Tiny – I enjoyed your thoughtful prose and loved all those beautiful photos. But, the continuing story of Stanley and Sandy has my full attention, and I am so eager to follow them this season. Happy walks to you – Susan

    1. Thanks Susan! I am just back from a work trip to NYC and eager to find out what is going on at the osprey home. Dylan and I saw a glimpse of Sandy tonight, but we’ll need to go for an observation tour tomorrow πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you, Tom. I just returned from a work trip last night and both my assistant and I are eager to catch up with the salt marsh friends this coming week.

  20. So glad you got to see the osprey pair on their date at the sailing club – the sky in the background is truly a romantic backdrop!
    I love following the adventures of your community of friends, as always! Wishing you a year filled with joyful days!

    1. Thank you for your good wishes, ZL. It is not easy to balance life…but I am trying to ‘hang on’ to my goal and not give up just yet.

  21. All of us need some turtle time sweet Tiny. I wish there were better words to tell you what I think of your amazing photography. The Oops picture gave me a giggle, kudos for getting the shot no matter what was showing. πŸ™‚ I am just in awe at all the beautiful wildlife at the park and salt marsh. So happy to hear about the romantic date and I will be anxiously awaiting to see what Sandy and Stanley produce this season. Thank you so very much for sharing these wonderful photos. Hugs and give sweet Dylan nose kisses for me…he is a real trooper and assistant.

    1. Thank you, dear Mags. I came back from my work trip last night and my assistant and I are both eager to catch up with all our salt marsh friends. We saw Sandy briefly tonight at sunset. She was sitting happily at the nest. Many hugs from both of us to you and Chancy ❀

    1. Thank you, Marlene! Just back from a work trip and will need to get back to nature to look for the shy and not so shy ones with my faithful assistant. Mr. D. was very happy to see me come home last night πŸ™‚

  22. Hi Tiny! Wow…you certainly caught many of the characters on this one! Great captures! And the gator!! Ah! I understand your quest for turtle time πŸ˜‰ Life is better lived with balance…yes? I have been trying to find these moments too.
    It seems we are on track for the year to move as fast, if not faster, than a last year. So I want to really live every moment! Sending you great wishes to do the same. πŸ’œ

    1. Thank you, Lorrie, for your wise words. Right now, after returning from a hectic work trip, I want to create some “turtle time”, but it is hard to come by πŸ™‚ Have a wonderfully balanced week ahead, my friend ❀

      1. It’s important to make that time! Thanks for the wish of balance πŸ˜‰ This week is all about me…hehe…a vacation of nothing but whatever I feel like doing! Sweet blessings, Tiny β˜€οΈπŸ’œ

    1. Thank you, Otto. Sometimes it feels like time is disappearing and slipping away without being lived, but that changes when I spend time in nature. There, time has it’s natural rhythm of sunrises and sunsets with plenty of space in between to experience it πŸ™‚

  23. I agree, it is important to find a good balanced in our daily life. So wonderful to see Sandy and Stanley are together, and soon will start their family again. Thank you, Helen for keeping us updated! Beautiful photos of these lovely birds. πŸ™‚

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