Tag Archives: Bird watching

Breaking the Law. But It’s Complicated.

Friends, I have a confession to make. I’ve been breaking the law at least on one occasion this past weekend. But before you judge, I need to tell you it’s not that straight forward. It’s complicated. I’m guilty, but not guilty. You see, last week mom was very busy with work. That means she didn’t have the time to go on what she calls ‘photo walks’. In plain English, walks without me to wherever she pleases.

So on Saturday, she said it was a good day for a walk. Everyone walked on this Saturday, she said. And in solidarity, we should walk as well. Even if it meant a walk to the doggy park at the salt marsh. Although it was windy, I was all for it.

dylan-in-dog-park-ud104The doggy park was quiet. Only two other dogs. On the ‘large dog’ side of the park. A Pit Bull and a Golden Retriever. I sniffed at both through the separating fence. But otherwise I was running solo, and that was fine. Lots of news to ‘read’ in the grass.

dylan-2-at-dog-park-ud104On our way back home through the salt marsh, mom was walking very slowly. I had to sit all the time. She was spotting one ‘friend’ after another, and photographing them. Oh, there’s the Reddish Egret, she would say. Sit.

reddish-egret-2-ud104And there’s the Tri-colored Heron! Sit. I did. Although I could’ve made a run for this bird. She was so close to the shore. But I’ve learned mom doesn’t want that. Happy mom, happy dog. And bird.

tri-colored-heron-ud104We walked around the marsh. And there she was, a Little Blue Heron who was curious about something. Her neck all stretched out.

littel-blue-heron-1-ud104Of course mom would need to investigate. And she found it! A bird hiding in a tree. That’s a Green Heron, rarely seen at the salt marsh, she said. I had to respect that. So I sat before mom even asked me to.

green-heron-ud104And that’s when we arrived at the Nest. I sat. And tried not to breathe too hard. You see, when I pant mom says her hand holding my leash is shaking. That means no good photos. Unhappy mom. So I sat still for one whole minute.

papa-and-mama-osprey-at-the-nest-ud104Mom’s always talking to the birds up there. That’s silly because they never respond. They just look at her.

mama-osprey-ud104And she’s all happy for the acknowledgement. So be it. I get to run at the doggy park and she gets her photos.

But yesterday it got worse. Let me explain. You see, on Saturday mom had discovered that some people were kiteboarding on the bay. I assisted her in taking some shots from our terrace.

three-windsurfers-portrait-ud104And yesterday she discovered they were back. The weather was really stormy. No weather for a walk, but I take what I can. So she took her camera and out we went, onto the bay side. I looked down from the sea wall and saw the water splashing high up, almost up to my feet. And white hats everywhere.

bay-before-the-stom-ud104A few tiny boats were struggling against the wind on the bay. Someone had already fallen into the water. You could offer me ten chicken biscuits and I wouldn’t go there!

young-sailors-2-ud104And that’s when it happened. Mom took me right onto the bay beach. You see there’s a sign that says dogs are not welcome there. Although the dog symbol is hardly recognizable, I can see there’s a red cross over it. Earlier we’ve always turned away right there. But not yesterday. Mom spotted this kiteboarder and that was it. We went just a little bit on the sand. She made me break the law. And sit on the sand.

kiteboarder closeup ud104.jpgI tried to be invisible, while she took her shots. But couldn’t help marveling about the man who flew high above the waves…and the buildings on the other side of the bay. Almost like a bird.

kiteboarder 2 ud104.jpgLuckily there was no enforcement of the law and we could run home pushing against the wind. I told mom this was an one time incident. It would not be repeated. I hope she listened to me.

dylan-december-2016-ud104In any case, I’m safe and relaxing at home. I wish you all a week filled with goodness. Love, Dylan

Warm Up. At the Salt Marsh.

This morning, waking up to rare Florida winter temperatures of 36F/2C, strong northerly winds and 5-8 foot/1.5-2.5 meter waves on the Gulf, I decided to pull together a post about my short walk earlier this week. The weather was balmy, partly sunny and the temperature hovered around 70F/20C. Just seeing the pictures now makes me feel warmer. And I hope they have the same effect on friends who are experiencing snow, ice and freezing cold right now – up north in the US and Canada as well as in Northern Europe. I still remember the truly cold weather from my youth…and the blizzards up in D.C.  And can’t honestly say I miss the snow.

winter-snow-at-home-up-north-ud101On Thursday morning I took a short break from working on my current project and walked to the salt marsh. Mama Sandy was sitting on her new perch, but Papa Stanley was nowhere to be seen. Sandy might have sent him to Home Depot for more supplies for their nest remodeling efforts, which obviously have already started.

mama-osprey-at-the-nest-ud101She greeted me in her usual friendly manner. And sometimes I wonder if she knows that I had something to do with the new nest she suddenly found one morning last November. I’m suspecting she does.

mama-osprey-at-her-perch-ud101In any case, I am happy not needing to worry that the winter storms might take down her nest.

The older Great Blue Heron, the Mayor, was standing guard on the same small islet he has favored in winters past. It’s always great to see the Mayor in his ‘office’.

great-blue-heron-ud101I spotted two Yellow-crowned Night Herons close to the Osprey nest. They had received the Mayor’s memo urging everyone to rest on one leg. And I think they might be a couple. I’ve seen them together many times in the past few weeks. If they’ll nest at the salt marsh, we might see little babies come late spring. If they choose to nest on the protected ‘bird island’ in the bay, we’ll see juveniles as soon as they learn to fly next summer.

yellow-crowned-night-heron-ud101

yellow-crowned-night-heron-2-ud101Otherwise the marsh looked deserted.  I wondered why that might be.

Just when I was leaving, I spotted something bright blue moving on the ground a bit further away. I realized it was a Blue Jay.  They are extremely skittish so I tried to be invisible when I slowly moved closer. Of course he discovered me, Tiny is 5′ 6″ after all, looked at me and was gone. Hence only one ‘soft’ picture of him.

blue-jay-ud101I walked home through the bay side. To my surprise I found many of our salt marsh friends there. They were enjoying the ‘fast food’ provided by the low tide on the bay. The Great Egret was hurrying to the table.

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great-egret-ud101The Snowy Egret was already there and so was the Little Blue Heron. The latter appeared truly blue in the weak sunlight, but seemed to be reasonably happy.

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little-blue-heron-ud101I saw several Brown Pelicans on the other side of the Sailing Center pier. And almost fell down from the seawall trying to get a straight shot of one of them between the pillars. It goes to say that trying to frame a shot can be risky at times.

brown-pelican-ud101Now, looking at the part of salt marsh I can see from my windows, it appears completely deserted. The birds have taken shelter from the cold wind. Even Sandy, whom I saw at the nest first thing this morning, has gone to some more sheltered location in the woods. But I hope this little greeting from the recently warm world of our feathered friends, made you feel a bit warmer. Have a great week ahead.

 

No Election Stress. At the Salt Marsh.

It’s election day. The salt marsh is right next to our polling place at the Sailing Center.

election-day-ud89Early this morning as voters started to stream in, Papa Stanley was stationed right there, on the wind metering device, keeping watch. He was very alarmed, to say the least.

papa-osprey-sounds-alarm-ud89To my relief I discovered that he was alarmed about something completely different. Another male osprey flying over the salt marsh, where Mama Sandy was minding the nest.

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mama-osprey-ud89Sandy and Stanley are dating now, and he doesn’t venture far from her side. I bet he is already rehearsing his proposal dance to be performed in late December. In any case, the bay side was as lively as the polling place. Pelicans had gathered around the pier, and lots of fishing was going on.

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pelican-2-ud89I decided to visit the salt marsh. And the turnout of birds did not disappoint. Although Mama Sandy had now flown away from the nest, there was a lively crowd of ‘big boys’. Like the Wood Storks.

two-woodstorks-ud89

wood-stork-ud89And the Great Egrets. Although a few of them decided to move to the bay side. More excitement there, I assumed.

great-egret-ud89

great-egret-flies-away-ud89But most importantly, the Mayor was in the ‘office’ on his favorite islet. He was keeping an eye on everything.

great-blue-heron-mayor-ud89In addition to the big guys, I spotted some smaller fellows. Like this Black-crowned Night Heron. He was trying to take a nap, apparently unsuccessfully, in the bushes below the osprey nest.

black-crowned-night-heron-ud89Then my attention was drawn to a rare visitor, a Belted Kingfisher. He was flying and hovering above the marsh for a long time, and finally sat down to rest in the middle of the marsh.

belted-kingfisher-hovers-over-the-salt-marsh-ud89

belted-kingfisher-ud89I decided to take a swing on the beach. But I felt watched. A drone was circling above the beach. It was watching me, so I decided to watch it too. Tit for tat.

drone-ud89I didn’t like the drone and decided to return to the salt marsh. Just in time to see Mama Sandy return to the nest. I was secretly hoping she would not like the artificial ‘bird’ in the skies above the beach. But had to assume she had not seen it.

mama-osprey-lands-in-the-nest-ud89She had no fish. I believe she had already eaten her breakfast and was just taking an extra exercise round above the bay.

I then spent some time observing a few very small birds. They moved fast, but finally one of them sat down for a photo shoot. After looking at all my pictures, I think it might be a Pine Warbler, but stand to be corrected by friends who know these small birds much better than I do.

pine-warbler-ud89After getting my shot, I decided to walk home. Just when I got onto the street, I saw Papa Stanley fly over my head. With a fish. He landed on a lamp-post close to the marsh – with a direct line of sight to the nest where Mama Sandy was perching. Everything was in order.

papa-osprey-caught-a-fish-ud89Whatever happens tonight, I hope we will find peace. Individually and collectively.

Operation Osprey. Alien Presence. And Family Feuds at the Salt Marsh.

This past week has been very busy. But the good news is that we have finally made some headway on “Operation Osprey”, as my friend Gladys dubbed the project we are working on. I had never thought that helping the Osprey family to get a safe home would be as simple as someone climbing up to the nest and putting in two new supports for the wooden platform. I had seen the platform was falling apart and knew it had to be replaced. But I had also not envisioned a big “project” involving the county, the Audubon Society, a contractor and a bunch of donors.

osprey-nest-sept-26The local Audubon Society has the required permits for this work. And we now have a commitment from the county to do the necessary tree trimming in the park so that a big truck can get close to the nest. We also have a proposal from a contractor on the installation of a new osprey nest platform. It will be a modern dish with drainage holes widely used in Florida. nest-176-disk-nest-platform-300x225-fl-osprey-watchSomething like this (Osprey nest 176, Florida Osprey Watchers), with an added perch. The perch will serve many purposes. But perhaps most importantly, it will allow Papa Stanley to stay close to Sandy when they incubate eggs and look after the nestlings. Yay!

The fundraising has also started. I’m hoping we’ll get enough donations in the next two weeks so that the materials can be ordered and the project be put on the contractor’s work schedule. Otherwise we’ll run out of time.

mama-osprey-ud83You see, Sandy and Stanley have already started dating again. It’s really sweet to watch. The other night when Dylan and I took a late walk past the Sailing Center, we found both of them perched close to each other admiring the moon raising over the bay. I didn’t have my camera with me, but this is what they would’ve seen.

sunset-and-moon-rise-over-the-bay-ud83And yesterday morning it looked like they were fishing together. First I spotted Stanley scanning for fish at the Sailing Center.

papa-osprey-at-sailing-club-ud83A couple of minutes later, I spotted Sandy flying from behind me carrying a fish. She must have been fishing a bit further out on the bay because I didn’t spot her. She settled down on the lamp-post right opposite Stanley’s favorite resort.

mama-osprey-lands-with-a-fish-ud83And a few seconds later Stanley flew over my head with a fish. He must have picked up a fish from the bay right after I left him.  He settled at his resort to have his breakfast.

papa-osprey-eats-beakfast-ud83So there they were, the love birds, eating their breakfast at the same time and very close to each other.

mama-osprey-eating-breakfast-ud83And in late December, they will start rebuilding the nest. Fingers crossed we can give them a brand new, safe home by then.

the Mayor with his crowd UD83.jpgFrom the bay side I walked into the salt marsh, where the Mayor was leading the morning preening session. The marsh had been ‘taken over’ by several families of White Ibis and Snowy Egrets. I counted about thirty individuals. And I observed some discord in one of the Snowy families. Voices were raised and feathers flew. I have a few unusable pictures of this family ruckus where one can only see white fluffed feathers.

snowy-egrets-ud83

angry-snowy-egret-ud83A few Great Egrets were present too, but held to themselves, away from the boisterous crowds.

great-egret-ud83

great-egret-2-ud83I also spotted a juvenile Green Heron quietly sneaking in the shadows at the far end of the marsh.

juvenile-green-heron-ud83And a Little Blue Heron observing the wild stuff from a small tree with keen interest.

little-blue-heron-ud83When I was leaving, I saw the Mayor had taken a position in the middle of the large, shallow pool, where he could have an overview of the lively marsh. Perhaps he was hoping the Snowy family would settle their disputes without his intervention.

major-great-blue-heron-ud83On the beach I found hundreds of birds, mainly gulls and terns. They were just chilling. Calmly exchanging the latest news or flying around in search for breakfast.

beach-and-hundreds-of-birds-ud83

royal-terns-ud83

royal-tern-in-flight-ud83And suddenly I came face to face with an alien. He was big and reflected the outer space on his clothing. He was no E.T. but he didn’t frighten me too much, to tell you the truth.

jet-ski-alien-ud83I took comfort in the fact that Mama Sandy had finished her breakfast and was flying towards the ocean right over my head, keeping an eye on any aliens that might pop up on my path. I knew I would need to work harder on Operation Osprey to beat the deadline of Papa Stanley’s forthcoming proposal.

female-osprey-in-flight-ud83That’s all for today. Thanks for joining me on this walk. I wish you all a great week ahead. Peace.

 

 

Juveniles Rule. And Slowly Returning to Normal.

I am not developing an argument here on what ‘normal’ might be or look like. All I know is that our surroundings here at home are slowly starting to look as they used to – before Hermine dumped almost 15 inches/38cms of water on us over five days. The flood waters are almost gone. I say almost because there are still a few pools of water on the beach, in the park and in our garden. And birds love them. Like Snowy Egrets and White Ibis, who were mingling on the beach in large  numbers yesterday.

Snowy Egret at flood water pool ud80.jpg

snowy-egret-and-white-ibis-ud80And juveniles of all sorts were playing and feeding in the shallow pools. Like these two juvenile White Ibis. One of them was quite white already, while his little sister was still much more brown than white.

two juvenile ibis ud80.jpg

juvenile-white-ibis-ud80Another juvenile, a Black Skimmer, who had already left his parents was practicing skimming in one of the shallow pools.

juvenile-black-skimmer-ud80The juvenile Royal Tern pestering his mom was quite entertaining. Although his poor mom might have disagreed. She tried to show him how to catch food items in the shallow water, but he was not interested. He wanted to be fed.

baby-royal-term-pestering-his-mama-ud80

baby-and-mama-royal-tern-ud80Walking into the salt marsh, I noticed the water levels were down and the bird count was up. Despite the fact that the mosquito count was down only a bit, I decided to see who had returned. And right away saw the younger Great Blue Heron. After hanging around for over two years now, I think he has earned to be named. I will call him Henry. He was balancing high up in the cypress tree surveying the marsh. Possibly trying to find out whether or not the Mayor was present.

young-blue-heron-ud80He wasn’t. So Henry decided it was safe to fly down and start hunting at the far end of the marsh, a spot usually reserved for the Mayor.

young-blue-heron-in-flight-ud80

young-blue-heron-lands-ud80A Great Egret was also scanning the marsh from the top of a tree in the middle of the marsh. He might have been counting his relatives, who were many but difficult to spot in the high grass.

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great egret and snowy egret ud80.jpg

great-egret-ud80The only smaller wading bird present, in addition to Snowy Egrets, was a beautiful Tri-colored Heron. She was fishing at the shallow side of the marsh that had already dried up quite a bit. But she was still more than knee-deep in the water.

tricolored-heron-ud80But the Moorhens and Mottled Ducks were present in big numbers. The ducklings born here last spring had returned and were swimming in a nice formation – all ten of them. Juveniles definitely ruled the day 🙂

moorhen-ud80

ten-ducklings-ud80I finished my walk at the Osprey nest. Mama Sandy was having her brunch and checked on me between the bites. I wanted to tell her that on Sunday, I would be visiting again – with the contractor who will be repairing or replacing (if required) the nest. But I let her eat in peace.

mama-osprey-eats-lunch-ud80I didn’t see Papa Stanley, but I know he is around as I saw him just the previous day. He flew low over our garden and tipped his wings to me and Dylan. Instead I spotted a Red-bellied Woodpecker on my way home. He was showcasing his reddish belly.

redbellied-woodpecker-2-ud80But that was not all. Approaching home, I saw a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk fly past me towards our garden.

hawk-ud80I decided to see if I could spot her again and walked around among the trees where I thought she might have landed. And I found her! She was sitting in a dense tree – on our neighbor’s side. It was an awkward spot to try to ‘shoot’ her. Sun right in my eyes, a thick, high hedge on one side and a large ditch with some remaining flood water on the other. I tried to balance on my toes so I could get a clear shot of her, but this is the best I could get. What a beautiful bird.

juvenile-red-shouldered-hawk-ud80She flew away to continue her hunt, and I spotted another bird in a tree right above me. A Black-crowned Night Heron had settled there to sleep for the day and I inadvertently woke him up.

black-crowned-night-heron-ud80Luckily he didn’t seem to be angry. I was happy to find so many of my feathered friends. I concluded that things are slowly returning to normal around here, but unfortunately the damage assessments still continue elsewhere not too far from here.

We all wish you a very happy weekend. Peace.

She’s Baaack! Papa Osprey’s Welcome Gift. And a Storm Brewing.

He stretched it out. The announcement was very loud, perhaps even a bit enthusiastic. The Green Heron had returned to his winter home at the salt marsh while I was gone, and appeared surprised to see me. As I walked closer, he repeated the announcement.

green heron 3 ud76An Anhinga, who was resting down by the water almost right below him, joined the choir. She’s baaack!

anhinga 2 ud76All eyes were on me. Well, almost. Even the Mayor interrupted his hunt, walked closer, nailed his eyes on me and gave me a nod.

older great blue heron ud76The young Mourning Dove checked on me too from her high vantage point. Approvingly, I thought.

mourning dove ud76Miss Rosa was still sleeping in her ‘bedroom’,  heavily curtailed by leafy greens. She opened her eyes. I’m afraid my approach had woken her up.

miss rosa ud76The Reddish Egret, who had been fishing in the shallows nearby, performed his signature dance. Shake, Baby, Shake. What a royal reception!

reddish egret 3 ud76Even two of the ducklings, who had left the salt marsh merely four months ago marching behind their Mama, came to say hi. They had grown a lot. And they had started in diving school. I saw a few more siblings further away.

two juvenile mottled ducks ud76

mottled ducklings diving ud76But not all residents joined the welcome party. The young Great Blue Heron didn’t really care to see me back. We have some history, as some of you will remember. I noticed he might have been in a fight as he had a flap of skin hanging under his chin. I wished him speedy recovery.

younger Blue Heron UD76And the Yellow-crowned Night Heron didn’t pay any attention to me either. But I didn’t take it personally. He might have been hunting all night and was now looking for some peace and quiet.

young yellow-crowned night heron ud76His cousin, the Black-crowned Night Heron, was present too and peeked out from the tall grass. He was simply shy. And soon he flew up into a tree to sleep for the day.

black+crowned night heron ud76I walked to the beach-end of the marsh and found two Great Egrets hunting together. Beautiful.

two great egrets ud76And a little Snowy Egret who was fishing alone. She soon decided to move onto the bay side and took off while I was watching her.

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snowy egret in flight ud76I was delighted to see so many feathered friends on my first walk! But where were the Ospreys? The nest was empty – and in great need of repair. Unfortunately the ground is too soft right now to allow a big vehicle to come close to the nest. That will have to wait for a bit longer.

osprey nest ud75I walked around the marsh. Then sat on ‘my’ bench to drink some water. It was hot already. I waited. A squirrel in the tree above came down to check me out.

squirrel ud76I noticed the Anhinga was still there, now drying her wings in the light breeze. And letting her latest catch, the drama of which I had obviously missed,  go down smoothly.

anhinga after breakfast ud76Suddenly I heard friendly osprey speak in the sky. Mama Sandy was flying above the marsh with Papa Stanley. Yes! Both of them were around and seemed to be doing fine.

Mama osprey 2 flies over salt marsh ud76

papa osprey flying with Steve UD76I discovered there was a third Osprey flying with them too. One with slightly orange-colored eyes and white tips on the flying feathers. A juvenile.

juvenile osprey over the nest ud76

a young osprey UD76I looked at all the pictures I snapped of this young Osprey, and while I can’t be absolutely sure, I think it might have been Lady Cawcaw! She was discussing something with her papa. Maybe getting tips on good fishing spots. That’s when Papa Stanley’s gift arrived. A beautiful flight feather came dangling down and landed on the grass just a few feet from where I was standing. I picked it up. And now have this 14 inches long ‘treasure’ in a small vase in my office, his molting gift.

mama ospreys feather ud75While I was watching the Ospreys, Miss Rosa had decided it was time for breakfast. She had come out from her hideout and was looking for food.

roseate spoonbill 2 ud76And the Reddish Egret had recovered from our first meeting and was hunting again with great determination.

reddish egret ud76I was delighted by the reception orchestrated by the salt marsh residents. So many of them were present on that beautiful morning last Saturday.

sunrise over the bay 2 ud76

sunrise on the ocean 16x9 ud76It may take a few days before we see such a glorious sunrise again as we are currently bracing for the impacts from a high grade tropical storm, hopefully not a hurricane, expected to brush our area tomorrow night and Thursday. I am hoping all our feathered friends will find shelter to keep them safe. Greetings from all of us.

 

Summer at the Salt Marsh. Beach Party. Rivalry. And Construction Plans.

Hello friends! I’m still on my summer break, but since I’m at home right now I want to give you an update on the affairs at the salt marsh. H.J’s visit early this month brought in the regular thunderstorms with downpours that belong to our summer. At the salt marsh, water levels are up and everything is fresh green.

salt marsh ud73

salt marsh ud73A couple of days ago I took a walk on the beach and was invited to a beach party attended by hundreds of feathered guests. It was a jolly event with Black Skimmers, Royal Terns, Sandwich Terns, Laughing Gulls, Herring Gulls, including juveniles, enjoying the freshwater ‘lake’ formed on the beach by the frequent torrential downpours. The ‘lake’ occupied almost the whole beach, leaving only a wet, narrow strip of sand next to the salt marsh.

beach party after the rain UD73Some partygoers were flying back and forth looking for the perfect spot, others were catching up on the latest, bathing or preening. It was lively indeed.

birds on the beach 2 ud73

royal tern UD73

juvenile gull ud73Some guests were resting, and yet others had partied enough and fallen asleep on the sand. But in such a crowd you’d better sleep with your eyes open, like this Black Skimmer.

black skimmer sleeping ud73Despite being attired with my newly acquired cheerful rain boots, I decided not to test the water depth in the ‘lake’, but instead to walk to the salt marsh through the bay side.

my new rain boots ud73.jpgThat was a great decision. I was rewarded with a pleasant discovery. Papa Stanley had returned from his 4-week vacation!

papa osprey ud73He was perching on the wind measurement device at the Sailing Center, obviously planning his next fishing trip. I could hardly see him as the sun was right in my eyes, but looking at my photos I realized he had definitely recognized me. From there I went to see Mama Sandy. She was ‘babysitting’ the nest again, and greeted me with a friendly nod. And I thought she tried to tell me about the dismal condition of the nest. We both agree that the nest will not make it through the nesting season starting in December.

mama osprey ud73I was happy to let her know that I’ve finally started the process of getting the nest repaired – or perhaps replaced. This will involve several steps: evaluating the nest pole to see if it has hollowed and will need to be replaced, and if that is the case, evaluating the ground to see if it can carry the heavy equipment needed to replace the whole structure with a new, more durable one. If the answer is yes, then I’ll have to get busy approaching sponsors to get help with the fairly high cost of this project. If the answer is no, then we’ll need to come up with plan B and only replace the nest platform that is falling apart. I hope to have these answers in the next few weeks through the Clearwater Audubon Society. While they don’t have the money to pay for this project right now, they have the required permits and the connections to suitable contractors, and have kindly agreed to help. Wonderful news for our Osprey family.

mama osprey at the nest ud73I promised to keep Mama Sandy updated. As I walked around the marsh, I observed something quite interesting. Both the younger Great Blue Heron and the Mayor were present. Staring at each other from opposite ends of the marsh. Measuring strength. As many of you know, the young one is a colorful character. He is still much smaller than the Mayor, but clearly has the desire to be the king of the hill, so to speak. He has been frequenting the marsh over the last three months, while the Mayor has taken care of his family on the ‘bird island’ in the bay. Last spring the Mayor told us ‘I’ll be back’ – and he has kept his promise.

young great blue heron ud73
Young GBH
great blue heron Mayor ud73
Older GBH, the Mayor

A Great Egret was following the developments with keen interest from a tree in the middle of the marsh.

great Egret ud73And a female Cowbird was excitedly cheering on the Mayor from a nearby tree.

female brown-headed cowbird ud73Miss Rosa was seeking shelter from the sun at her usual spot, but kept an eye on the two rivals as well. Particularly the youngster. She didn’t cheer.

roseate spoonbill ud73The Snowy Egret was staring at the young heron too, and he didn’t cheer either.

snowy egret UD73A family of White Ibis was foraging in the grass close by, probably hoping their youngster wouldn’t need to witness any brouhaha on such a beautiful day.

Juvenile ibis ud73Their wish was granted. The truce lasted, and each heron held on to its end of the marsh. I walked home and shot some pictures of flowers in our garden on my way in. Pink flowers. Just to celebrate summer.

I look forward to visiting my family in northern Europe early August. I may do a short mobile post from there. Otherwise I’ll see you after mid August. Lots to catch up on by then.

Thanks for coming along. I hope you are enjoying your summer too. Much love.

News from the Salt Marsh. Good. News. Only.

My friend and a great bird photographer, H.J. at Avian 101, and his lovely family came for a short visit earlier this week. H.J. and I walked around the salt marsh talking and snapping pictures. Despite the very dry conditions that had lasted for several weeks, we spotted a few familiar faces. The Mayor was honoring H.J’s visit with his presence for the first time in a month!

Great blue heron Mayor ud71And Mama Osprey flew over the marsh a couple of times. She looked at us, but didn’t stop at the nest.

Mama osprey flies by UD72And Miss Rosa was demonstrating her now famous beauty routine to her friends, the White Ibis.

roeate spoonbill and white ibis ud72.jpgWe also found a few Snowy Egrets playing at a little mud pool amidst tall grass.

snowy egret ud72They had a little friend with them too, a Tri-colored Heron. But it was obvious there were some sandbox issues as he was playing more by himself.

Tricolored heron ud71 (2)

It was difficult to get any picture of him…that is, until he peeked out from the grass, his long neck completely stretched out. Peek-a-boo!

Clouds started to gather and we heard distant rumble when we left the salt marsh to have lunch. As soon as we sat down in the Cuban/Spanish restaurant on the bay side, the heavens opened and we had a torrential downpour with all the trimmings. We enjoyed a nice lunch while nature got a much needed soaking.

It was great to see this lovely family again. Thanks H.J., Lucy and Tyler for stopping by here and for a wonderful lunch! And thank you for bringing the much needed rains 🙂

I trust H.J.  got some great captures of the Major, Miss Rosa and some of the other residents despite the quiet mood at the time.

columbia restaurant ud72After much more rain overnight, I walked by the marsh the next morning with Dylan and snapped an iPhone picture. What a difference! The water level was up 5-6 inches and  many birds (the white dots are Great and Snowy Egrets) were enjoying the newly acquired freshness.

salt marsh w iphone ud72Around lunch time I went for a walk again. The marsh was still brimming with birds, but many of them had now sought shelter from the sun in the trees and bushes. It was very difficult to get pictures of them, demonstrated by the Little Blue Heron here. She had now turned almost blue from her very white juvenile appearance just a few weeks ago.

Little Blue Heron UD72She had lots of company in the trees close by. Several Night Herons were sleeping nearby, like this juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron.

Juvenile Black-cowned Night HeronI had to almost crawl on the slippery grass to get a glimpse of Miss Rosa between the branches.

Miss Rosa ud72Snowy Egrets were flying back and forth, competing for the best view over the water.

Egret landing ud72

two snowy egrets ud72And the loser was not always happy having to leave the best spot. But who would be?

snowy egret not happy ud72Mama Sandy was back at the nest directing the traffic at and over the marsh. It’s obvious from the disarray of the feathers on her back that she’s still molting. Papa Stanley has not been around lately, I am assuming he took a solo vacation after Lady Cawcaw left the nest. Or a long fishing trip with his pal Steve.

mama osprey at the nest ud72.jpgAfter a while, Miss Rosa got enough of the crowded trees, or maybe she got hungry. She flew down and started looking for food.

Miss Rosa flies away ud72

Miss Rosa roseate spoonbill ud72I left the salt marsh happy for the birds, who now have lots of food in the previously dry mud flats. In the midst of all the distressing news, it is a privilege to be able to lift up one’s spirit in nature. We cannot allow ourselves to get stuck in the darkness.

snowy egret 2 UD72Last, I have some other good news as well. My net shop, Nature Bound Art, is now open at Fine Art America. Unique and hopefully inspiring gifts based on my photos and digital art are now available in many parts of the world. Please check it out.

I hope you will lift your spirits in nature too. Peace.

 

Tough Love. And an Election Rally at the Salt Marsh.

I know, Lady Cawcaw gets disproportional coverage in the ‘Salt Marsh News’ right now. But for a good reason. We know she’ll be gone soon. That is, as soon as she learns to fish for herself. Her parents are using tough love to get her motivated.  This has been very clear over the weekend. The food portions are smaller and far between. And she’s hungry, her crop is empty.

osprey chick is hungry ud66Over the weekend she was away from the nest for hours, I assume hovering over the waters around here. But she always came back without a fish. And immediately upon return told her parents she had tried, but had not been successful.

osprey chick returns to nest ud66On Saturday, Sandy and Stanley demonstrated their strategy with the teen. Sandy was keeping an eye on the nest from a lamp-post close by. But I saw her finish the whole fish by herself. She had a full crop, as you can see.

mama osprey finished her meal ud66She was also watching Stanley fly overhead with his pal Steve. You remember him, right? Both of them settled on Marriott’s roof to scan for fish in the bay. I was hoping Stanley would bring lunch for Lady Cawcaw. But the guys were not in a hurry. They just chilled out in the breeze up there. I could hear friendly small talk, two guys catching up on a fishing trip.

stanley and steve ud66Although it was partly cloudy, it was very hot. I decided to check if the residents had moved back to the salt marsh. They had! The water had receded a bit and the egrets enjoyed being able to walk around the smorgasbord.

great and snoy egrets at salt marsh  ud66

egrets at the saltt marsh ud66The young Great Blue Heron was there too. I have a feeling that the Major has moved on (you remember him, right?) and the youngster is trying to secure this coveted office. He is always there, and I have to say his behavior has improved. No known attacks on the Osprey nest or others lately. He has cleaned up his rhetoric.

young great blue heron ud66But to his surprise another candidate had surfaced. A Great Egret was speaking to the crowds.

great egret making a speech UD66Some listened attentively and moved closer. Others turned their attention elsewhere.

two egrets 2 ud66The Great Blue Heron moved closer too. I was afraid he would confront the speaker right there. But he was quiet. Probably planning to tweet his counter arguments later on.

young great blue heron and great egret UD66The juvenile Night Heron had never heard a speech like that and lifted his head curiously from the grass.

juvenile night heron 2 ud66A young Brown-headed Cowbird was curious too. It looked like the speech spoke to younger voters.

brown-headed cowbird ud66But others, like Miss Rosa, who have seen and heard it all before, preferred to take a nap in the bushes.

roseate spoonbill ud66And some just didn’t pay attention to the speaker because they had some other pressing business to take care of, like this Snowy Egret.

snowy egret preening ud66And others simply moved away from it all, like this Mottled Duck couple.

mottled duck couple ud66Some protests were heard. The Moorhens are known to speak their mind. You just can’t come on their turf and get away with it.

moorhen ud66And in a nearby palm tree, a Common Grackle loudly added his voice to the mix too.

common grackle ud66Soon after that the speech ended. Everybody went on with their business. Miss Rosa had woken up and scanned the landscape carefully from her hideout.

Miss rosa is hiding in the bushes ud66Before leaving I spotted a fairly rare visitor, an adult Little Blue Heron. She had probably come to attend the rally. I was happy to see the smaller waders too had returned to the salt marsh.

little Blue heron 2 ud66Yesterday it was too hot to take a long walk, but I kept an eye on Lady Cawcaw from my terrace. I could hear her asking for fish, and I spotted Mama Sandy fairly close to the nest on the bay side. I assumed she was monitoring the situation and would intervene if it got critical.

Late this afternoon, while writing this post, I decided to go out on the terrace and check on the young lady again. To my delight she was eating what looked like a whole fish.

osprey chick eating fish mon june 13 ud66I hope she had caught it by herself. We will know soon enough. If this was her first fish, we will only see her in the nest for a few more days. But if Sandy or Stanley had brought it, she will probably stay a couple of more weeks.

Thanks for reading the ‘Salt Marsh News’. We all wish you a good week.

 

Fall Glory at the Salt Marsh. But Where Is Papa Osprey?

She’s been looking worried, Mama Sandy. She hasn’t stayed much at the nest since before the storms last weekend. And when she’s been there, she’s been calling and looking around in all directions.

mama osprey at the nest portrait ud31I had not seen Papa Stanley since before the weekend, not even with my binoculars. And Sandy’s behavior at mid-week told me she hadn’t either. She was restless. She  flew around a lot and stayed away from the salt marsh and her bay side hangouts much more than she normally does.

mama osprey at the nest UD31She looked at me and I looked at her. I was starting to get worried as well. Five days no see. Did something happen to Stanley? Or did he just take a few days of vacation time before the nesting season starts late December/early January? Sandy and I had no answers. But we could both enjoy the fall glory of the salt marsh.

yellow flowers closeup ud31Lots of  trees and bushes are in full bloom. And in absence of “traditional” fall foliage, colorful berries bring a sense of autumn.

salt marsh flower tree ud31berries 2 at salt marsh ud31salt marsh berries ud31flowers at the salt marsh ud31At mid-week, I spotted a bird that I’ve not seen at the salt marsh before, a Belted Kingfisher. His rattling calls draw my attention, and hovering high up above the water he was quite entertaining.  His”helicopter” flight was spectacular.

belted kingfisher hovers over the salt marsh ud31kingfisher 3 ud31I also saw a small bird I had not seen there for a long time, a Yellow-Green Vireo. This little bird moves a lot so it took time before I could get a clear shot. I hope he stays around the salt marsh for the winter.

yellow-gree vireo ud31

On my first walk this week, I didn’t stay at the salt marsh very long,  instead I took a long walk searching for Papa Stanley. I got great exercise, but saw no sign of him.

fall beach ud31So yesterday, I had to go out again. I started at the beach. The weather was beautiful, but breezy. I spotted a Snowy Egret contemplating a fishing trip.

snowy egret ud31

Royal Tern “clan” was there too. And they still have many juveniles who give a hard time to their parents. They want to be fed although they have already fledged. Like this little one.

Little Sanderlings were diligently at work, as usual. And a lone gull drew my attention as he was standing on a sand bank looking out on the ocean. Deeply in his thoughts for a long time.

sanderling ud31gull and shells ud31From there I walked to the salt marsh. No Sandy at the nest. But a few other birds were at home, like the young Great Blue Heron and the Tri-colored Heron. Both were taking shelter from the wind behind the bushes close to the Osprey nest.

young blue heron ud31tricolored heron ud31I was hoping Sandy had not disappeared on me too, and started walking towards the bay side. Soon I spotted an Osprey perching on a lamp-post opposite Papa Stanley’s resort. When I got closer I saw it was Sandy. She was sleeping. With a half-eaten fish in her talons. Maybe she’d had a few sleepless nights worrying about Stanley?

mama osprey sleeping ud31

When I reached her, she woke up. And started talking. And that’s when I saw Stanley. He was at his resort with a spotted fish.

papa osprey UD31He’d been fishing in the ocean, maybe far away, and finally come back home. He interrupted his meal to say hi, and listened to Sandy’s talk. He didn’t say a word. I wonder if she told him how worried she’d been. Or maybe she told him this was not a time to take a vacation when he should be planning his proposal gift for her. Whatever it was, I have to say it was great so see him.

With those good news, I wish you all a great weekend. I am looking forward to a family visit this weekend 🙂