Tag Archives: Bird photography

Musing Monday: Quiet Eye

With an eye made quiet

by the power of harmony,

and the deep power of joy,

we see into the life of things.

– William Wordsworth

I like the sentiment of a quiet eye. An eye that not only sees the blessings we have, but also the blessings we can give to others. An eye that appreciates the message and the joy of the Season. And sees into the life of all things, much beyond the hubbub going on around us.

Holiday Travel. And All Its Trials.

Make no mistake, the holiday travel rush has started. At the busy airport on the ocean side, those wanting to land there had to wait for their turn to hit the runways.

congested landing strip
Terns lining up for landing…

Some were put into a holding pattern and had to circle the airport.

trio of flying pelicans
Pelicans in a holding pattern…

Others became a bit desperate and decided to make an emergency descent to a lower altitude. Just in case.

pelican diving 2 (2)
A Pelican diving…

Luckily everyone attempting to land got their gear down on time. No accidents reported, but there definitely were some close calls.

royal tern coming in for landing tm
A Royal Tern asking for permission to land…
pelican landing and tern flying
A Pelican landing…

Some of the departing flights demonstrated excellent on-time performance, some not. But that’s to be expected.

pelican taking off
A Pelican taking off…

Those who had landed were happy to reach their destinations. A few showed signs of exhaustion, particularly those travelling with children.

royal tern mom and child
A Royal Tern kid complaining to his mom…

But most took it in stride. And a few even took advantage of the showers in the arrival lounge.

sandwich tern bathing 2
A Sandwich Tern taking a shower…

That’s what holiday travel is at busy airports. But at smaller airports, like the salt marsh, it was much more laid back. One takeoff or landing every now and then.

great egret flying_tm
A Great Egret taking off…
anhinga 2
An Anhinga just landed…

And even the personnel in the tower could take a nap in between flights. With a half eaten lunch still on the table.

papa osprey sleeping w a fish in his talons_tm
Papa Osprey taking a nap with full crop…and a fish tail still in his talons…

There was some through traffic though above the salt marsh. And some cargo traffic too.

great egret flying
A Great Egret passing over salt marsh…
another osprey with half fish flying
Another Osprey, probably Stanley, flying over the salt marsh with a fish…

The control tower was certainly alert when needed. Some landing permissions were not granted.

papa osprey following the traffic
Papa Osprey scanning the skies…

Particularly for big “birds” like these.  They didn’t have feathered wings.

flying moped boat_tm
A manmade bird flying over the salt marsh…
flying moped_tm
…and another one…

All holiday travelers were not going by air, of course. There was some boat traffic too on the lakes in the salt marsh.  Very relaxing cruises, suitable for those who have all the time in the world.

muscovyduck and moorhen
A Muscovy Duck and a Moorhen cruising in the salt marsh…

May your holiday travels be pleasant and safe. ❤ Tiny

Pre-holiday Sing-out. In the Salt Marsh.

It’s been a busy week for many of us.  But for the birds in the salt marsh it’s been a cool and quiet week. Lots of hunching and huddling, rain and winds early in the week, then cool temperatures throughout.

Walking into the salt marsh the other day, however, I was in for a surprise pre-holiday sing-out. Upon arrival, I was greeted by a beautiful song performed flawlessly by a Northern Mockingbird.

A Northern Mockingbird greets with a beautiful song...
A Northern Mockingbird greets with a beautiful song…

Next, I approached Papa Osprey’s nest. Eyes half closed, and looking like an opera singer, Papa was singing his heart out! It was a long and beautiful song. The chorus repeated twice. I wish I understood the lyrics, but I have a suspicion that he was singing for Mama Osprey. “It’s almost Christmas…Darling come home!” Or something similar.

papa osprey yawns
Papa Osprey sings his heart out!

Nearby, a beautifully dressed Snowy Egret was singing too. The subject of his affection might have been a shy-looking lady on the other side of the water.

snowy egret singing
A Snowy Egret sings for…
snowy egret starts to develop plumes
…his beautiful date.

Little further out an Ibis was serenading…someone. I’m guessing it was one or all of the girls in a tree nearby.

ibis singing
An Ibis serenades…
...the girls in the tree.
…the girls in the tree.

Then I heard another Osprey calling. And singing. It proved to be Papa’s friend Steve. Maybe he was calling for Mrs. Steve, whom I haven’t had the pleasure to meet as yet? Or just getting into holiday spirit? I have no idea, but he was certainly participating in the sing-out wholeheartedly.

Osprey Steve  is singing too
Papa’s friend Steve is singing out too…

A slow warming trend has been promised for the weekend and into next week, so the birds have something to look forward to even before the holidays.

I hope your weekend will be warm  – in the home and in the heart. ❤ Tiny



Flop! You Can’t Surprise Papa Osprey.

This morning I approached Papa Osprey’s nest walking silently on the grass behind the nest. A surprise visit. I was wondering how close I could get before he’d discover I was there. I shot the first picture of his tail feathers. And was discovered right away!

papa osprey discovers tiny
PO discovers Tiny…

In addition to sharp eyes, he has an excellent hearing too. He heard me despite a Blue Jay giving a high-pitched concert in a tree behind me. You know how they sound.

bluejay c
A Blue Jays serenades in a tree close by…

At the same time Papa was keeping an eye on  a Turkey Vulture circling high overhead. This only confirms my earlier conclusion that he’s a skilled multitasker.

papa osprey sees the turkey vulture3
Look Tiny, that’s a Turkey Vulture!
turkey vulture
And so it is… a Turkey Vulture circles high above the salt marsh…

We talked for a while, as we always do. I told him I’d be away traveling for a few days, and he promised me to continue keeping watch on the skies for Mama Osprey.

florida snow
Florida “snow” on the ground…

Then I continued my walk around the salt marsh. In many places the ground was covered by “snow” from the flowering trees. Even the Moorhen was swimming in a light “snowfall”.

moorhen 2
A Moorhen…

Next, I spotted a “long-time-no-see” Reddish Egret in the shallow waters. Initially, he seemed startled to spot me. But soon recovered and continued his search for some brunch items.

reddish egret c
A Reddish Egret discovers Tiny…
reddish egret bt
…then continues his search for food.

His relative, the Snowy Egret, was the third one to surprise me. He walked right up from the marsh and did an impressive shake-baby-shake routine on the grass next to me.

snowy egret woke up_tm
A Snowy Egret appears in the grass…
snowy egret shaking herself tm
…and starts a shake routine
snowy egret shaking some more tm
…that includes a head swinging exercise too.

I decided I’d walk a bit deeper into the park to see if I could find any of Papa Osprey’s friends. I came to the dead palm trunk favored by all three ospreys around here. Nobody at home. Then whoosh! Stanley flew in with a big fish!

Osprey with a fish Clearwater FL
Stanley caught a big fish…

That impressive meal got all his attention. And I decided it was time to go home. Enough surprises for one day. Although quite wonderful ones.

Have a great weekend everyone! ❤ Tiny


Wordless Wednesday: Little Feet. And how to use them. Frame by Frame.

You can use your little feet to run around among the treasures on the beach...
You can use your little feet to run around picking shiny bargains…
two sanderlings on the beach
…or you can lean on one foot to have a lengthy, relaxed conversation
two royal terns
…or you may stand on one foot to rest the other while learning to know your neighbor
royal tern mom and teen
…or you can run after mommy or someone else important you need to talk to
gull taking off
…or you could use them to get away from sticky situations
...or you can use them as landing gear
…or you might use them as landing gear to ensure a soft landing
northern mocking bird
…or you could park your feet on the top of a tree and sing your heart out
mourning dove
…or you can curve your toes around a safe branch to ensure stability in life
house sparrow
…or you might just sit on your little feet in deep thought – and go nowhere at all.


Gaining Weight. And That’s a Good Thing.

Don’t you worry, this post is not about me. Luckily I haven’t gained any weight lately.  Should it happen, I wouldn’t necessarily consider that a good thing. This is all about a certain distinguished  Pandion haliaetus, namely Papa Osprey.

The other day I realized he might have gained a little bit of weight. No, I couldn’t get him to step on the scale, that’s still very much work in progress, but found this picture. It was  taken just after the nesting season in early July, when Papa Osprey returned from his two-week vacation. Doesn’t he look pretty thin and worn out? Just bones and skin beneath the feathers?

papa osprey in beginning of July
PO in early July, just two weeks after the fledgling left the nest.

If we compare this picture to how he looks now,  in November, when perched on the edge of his nest with a nice variety of brunch items, I’m sure you agree that there’s some more of him now.

papa osprey with a red fish
PO at the nest with a red fish…
..and another fish...
..and a white fish…
...and a third type of fish...
…and a third type of very pale fish…
...and a forth variety, a huge one.
…and a fourth variety, a huge one for breakfast at sunrise.

You see, Ospreys lose weight during the nesting season. All that hauling of heavy building materials needed for nestoration, and then fishing from sunrise to sunset to feed Mama Osprey and the nestling, made for a good workout. Combine that with the fact that his lunch hour was short, if he didn’t miss it altogether, and the dinner table might have been pretty empty by the time his work was finished , and you have an effective weight loss regimen.

wet papa osprey returns from ocean
PO after a recreational swim in the ocean…

Now Papa Osprey has enjoyed about five months of freedom. Warm, lazy days just gliding along the beach and fishing for himself. No stress. All his attention directed towards his own wellbeing. Full crop most times I’ve seen him. I think it shows. And that’s a good thing.

papa osprey over the ocean
PO fishing on the ocean…

Yesterday I saw he had brought some colorful materials into the nest. He probably wants to make sure Mama Osprey will see the nest from afar whenever she decides to arrive back into this area. It could be any day between now and early January. He’s already preening diligently to look handsome for her.

Po getting in shape...
PO getting in shape…

Yesterday I also spotted a new, fourth osprey gliding past my office window, but  wasn’t able to make an identification. Papa was perched in his nest, and I saw two other ospreys (Stanley and Steve?) circling above the bay. Might it be Mama Osprey, all rested and fuller figured too, waiting for Papa to perform his Proposal Dance?

Even when they stay together for life, Papa needs to please her with a special dance before she’ll start working with him on rebuilding  the nest. Repeat every year. I personally think it’s a good practice 😀

An artistic "dream rendering" of PO performing his dance
An artistic “dream rendering” of PO performing his dance

I’m sharing a link to a beautiful two-minute trailer for a documentary about Ospreys. It’s worth watching, and you can do it by clicking right here. It pretty much sums up why Ospreys have a special place in my heart.

Hope your weekend has been great so far. Mine has been exceptionally good. I was able to watch Papa Osprey and the other residents in the salt marsh together with a blogging friend of mine, bird photographer and expert, H.J. aka Avian 101, and his beautiful family. I’m sure he’ll post some great photos from the salt marsh and elsewhere after his vacation.

Happy Thanksgiving week to everyone.


Papa Osprey Goes Fishing. And Other Serious Stuff.

We are having our best weather so far this year. It’s been calling me to go outside. Finally yesterday morning I got an opportunity to spend a couple of hours on the beach and in the nature reserve. I needed that quiet time in the midst of everything going on in the outer world. It was simply beautiful. I invite you to come along.

snowy egret, Florida, Sand Key
A Snowy Egret drying in the sun…

Just outside our garden, I was greeted by a Snowy Egret who was enjoying the beautiful morning at the top of a tree. Close by, two Mourning Doves were admiring the sun. I thought they looked like a happy old couple. Content with life. No worries of the world.

mourning dove couple, Florida, Sand Key
Mourning dove couple

Once on the beach I was walking along the water line, watching the terns and gulls play and bath in the surf. And pelicans fly back and forth in search of fish.

sandwich tern bathing 2
A Sandwich Tern baths in the surf…
pelican flyinng low, Florida, Sand Key
A White Pelican glides above the waves…

I also found mama Royal Tern and her teenage offspring…arguing as usual. I had to smile. Some things stay the same.

Mom and juvenile royal tern
Mama and juvenile Royal Tern argue….again.

I was just about to turn towards the nature reserve when I spotted two ospreys. They were on a fishing trip.  Flying high above the waves and peering down on the water. They were far out so I couldn’t see who they were, but snapped a picture of both. And guess what?

 osprey fishing, Florida
Stanley, the second osprey, fishing with P.O.
 osprey over the ocean, Florida, Sand Key
P.O. on a fishing trip with Stanley on Mexican Gulf

That was Papa Osprey and Stanley! They have become pals, it seems. They flew further away on the ocean and I took the path to the salt marsh.

I walked on the north side of the marsh and was greeted by a Great Egret on the very top of a huge tree. I guess having an overview was trending among egrets yesterday.

great egret at the very top of a tree, Florida, Sand Key
A Great Egret on the top of the world…

I spotted many other egrets, a juvenile Night Heron, and Tricolored Heron, among others. And my pal, the Muscovy Duck, who tends to come and greet me whenever I rest and sit on a bench.

tricolored heron Florida, Sand Key
A Tri-colored Heron hunting in the salt marsh…
muscovy duck Florida, Sand Key
A Muscovy Duck swimming in the salt marsh….

I didn’t expect to see Papa Osprey because I’d just seen him over the ocean. But when I approached the nest, there he was. All wet. But with no fish.

wet papa osprey returns from ocean
Papa Osprey is wet…but didn’t catch a fish…

I guess he was disappointed that the dive in the ocean didn’t result in fresh seafood lunch. And he must have been hungry. He turned to look at me as if saying he can’t stay.

osprey Florida, Sand Key
Papa Osprey…says he’s hungry…

I assured him I understood, and that I’d wait for a while. Off he flew  to the drive-thru fish place, aka the intra-coastal bay.

osprey goes fishing Florida, Sand Key
Papa Osprey goes fishing…again.

I wanted to see if he’d catch a fish, so I decided to take a run around the park. I approached his nest again after about 15 minutes. And he was already back! Soaking wet and with a fish  firmly in the talons of his left foot. It looked like one from the lunch menu.

Papa osprey back with a fish
Papa Osprey comes home with a fish…

The second fishing trip was a success. Persistence pays off. After drying himself for a few minutes, he looked up towards the wooded end of the park and talked to someone I couldn’t see. In a friendly voice. Maybe he told his pal Stanley where he had caught the fish?

papa osprey has a fish 2
Papa Osprey starting his lunch…

After checking the airspace around him he started to eat his lunch. Soon thereafter I said my goodbyes. I may not see him until after a couple of weeks due to my upcoming travels.

It was a great little outing. I hope you enjoyed it too. Be good now and enjoy the weekend. ❤ Tiny