Tag Archives: Black Skimmer

Arlene’s Farewell Concert. And Mischief at the Salt Marsh.

I feel lucky. I didn’t miss Arlene’s farewell concert on Thursday night. She sang the now familiar Aria di sorbetto ‘I Want Fiiish, a Big Fiiish’ to Mama Sandy, Dylan and me. She sang from the heart and closed her eyes to reach the highest notes.

osprey chick arlene asks for fish ud132Tired after the hot day and, I’m sure, many fishing attempts, she was perching at Papa Stanley’s usual summer resort in the park. Mama Sandy was sleeping on a lamp-post close by. She turned her head towards Arlene and just listened. She didn’t open an eye.

mama Sandy ud132Soon Arlene was sleeping too. Her crop was fairly full, but it never hurts to ask for more fish when mama is nearby.

osprey chick arlene is sleepy ud132_edited-1Early on Friday morning Dylan and I spotted her at her Marriott roof top suite, but during the day she had left. Almost four weeks after fledging she started her independent life. I had anticipated her departure, but little did I know these would be the last pictures of her. For now.

Papa Osprey at Marriott ud132_edited-1Dylan and I have looked for her every night since, but we have only found Papa Stanley and Mama Sandy. They have stayed in the area, and on Friday night we spotted both of them with a half-eaten fish. Perhaps in case Arlene would regret her move. But she didn’t. Osprey chicks rarely return once they ‘move out’, unlike many humans.

mama osprey on Sunday ud132But this morning when I was driving on a bridge to the mainland about five miles south of us, I spotted an Osprey chick. And an adult osprey was perching on the opposite lamp-post. I could not stop the traffic to look closer, but it could very well have been Arlene with one of her parents still keeping an eye on her. That would confirm my theory that one of the parents still support them after they leave. The presence of Osprey chicks is transient. They hatch, the lucky ones fledge and move out from the immediate nest area once they feel confident of their fishing skills. I certainly hope to see Arlene visiting the salt marsh one day. I’ll leave you with a funny picture I’ve not shared before. Arlene became a big girl and learned to potty before she learned to fly ūüôā

osprey chick going to toilet ud126_edited-2Adieu Arlene, we wish you a happy life! And we’ll miss you.

That brings me to the happenings at the salt marsh. On Sunday I finally decided to defy the heat and go for a long walk. The first thing I spotted was quite shocking. An Anhinga had occupied the Osprey nest. Or more accurately, the perch.

anhinga at the osprey nest ud131Birds in the vicinity of the nest reacted too. An intruder was not welcome. Some looked up, dropped their jaw in horror, but said nothing. Like this Common Grackle.

grackle ud132Others, like the juvenile Green Heron, got really upset and just stared at the nest.

juvenile green heron ud132Despite the reactions, the Anhinga perched there for quite a while. That is, until he saw a big bird high in the sky. A Swallow-tailed Kite.

swallow-tailed Kite over salt marsh ud131_edited-1

anhinga ud131One could not risk that he was the owner of the nest. So the Anhinga quickly flew back to his friends on the bay side.

Just when I thought enough excitement now, there was more. The Reddish Egret I have dubbed ‘the Clown’ was doing his song and dance performance.

reddish Egret UD132

reddish egret 2 ud132He was moving swiftly, running sic-sack and talking to himself. He was almost too fast to capture on ‘tape’. Oh sorry, there are no tapes. Just some blurry photographs of his wild performance.

reddish egret 3 ud132Someone was watching this spectacle. As there always is. The Mayor was standing in the bushes nearby, and he was growing annoyed.

great blue heron the mayor ud132He started walking towards the Clown. Determined to stop the loud performance.

great blue heron ud132The Clown quickly calmed down. He was like nailed to the mud. Completely motionless he watched the Mayor walk by.

great blue heron and reddish egret ud132_edited-3A female Mallard was observing the power-play from the trail. She was keeping her distance, probably not knowing what to expect.

female mallard ud132But there was no confrontation. The Clown walked away, calmly. Despite some Black Skimmers flying back and forth right in front of his nose.

reddish egret and black skimmer ud132But he soon regained his resolve. And challenged the mayor, all puffed up.

reddish egret 4 ud132What he didn’t understand was that the Mayor is a stable, thick-skinned adult. Not to be easily provoked. And suddenly everything was calm again. The little Mottled ducklings swam by completely oblivious to the previous tension.

two mottled ducklings ud132The Tri-colored Heron continued her search for a tasty bite. And the Great Egret at the other end of the marsh gave a sigh of relief. He’s had his disagreements with the Clown.

tri-colored heron ud132.jpg

great egret ud132And I walked home. Now that the nesting season is over, I might take some time off too. I want to do some travelling. And approaching my fifth blogging anniversary next month, I also feel the need to refresh my blog. In the meantime I may blog less…and/or different. Although we’ll probably ‘see’ each other over the summer months, I wish all our friends a wonderful summer. A huge thank you from all of us at the salt marsh for being here.

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.

Lady Cawcaw Performs. And High Drama at the Salt Marsh.

Two Ospreys were circling in the skies above the nest, looking down¬†and talking to Lady Cawcaw. Both Mama Sandy and Papa Stanley were calling on¬†her to go fishing with them. She responded something I didn’t quite understand, but she didn’t lift her butt from the nest. Typical teenager. After a few minutes Sandy flew over the nest with a fish. She is lightning fast. In the top 10 % of Ospreys as far as fishing speed is concerned. She was looking up at Stanley who had yet to go fishing.

papa osprey calls for chick to go fishing ud65

Mama Osprey with a fish ud65Seeing the fish, Lady Cawcaw started to sing. She¬†¬†sang from the heart. You know that song. It’s quite repetitive, as you can hear in this 30 second clip.

But that didn’t work. No fish for her. Instead, Sandy landed on Mariott’s roof to enjoy her fish.

mama osprey eats her fish ud65And Stanley, once he flew towards the ocean, soon came back with a fish and started eating it in his usual hideout in the old pine tree close to the nest.

papa osprey eats his fish ud65.jpgAs you can see, Lady Cawcaw’s parents both caught the same¬†kind of fish. I’m sure there was a school of that particular fish close to the shore and that was the reason they wanted her to come with them and learn. But no.

osprey chick 16x9 ud65She was hungry. And she¬†continued to ask for food. I was sitting on “my” bench and watching her desperate quest to be fed without getting her feathers wet, when I noticed some movement on the water below the nest. I couldn’t believe my eyes…

mottled duck mom with 7 ducklings ud65…when Mama Mottled Duck swam to the shore with seven ducklings. She climbed up on the grass and so did the ducklings. Where was she taking them?!

mama duck and ducklings 2 ud65They marched straight towards the stone wall between the marsh and the busy street. Oh, no!!

mama duck in the grass ud65Mama Duck knew about a hole in the wall and they went through it. I had to run around the stone wall to get to the road. The traffic had to be stopped! I was gesturing like a mad woman (that I am) to the cars. Mama Duck and the ducklings marched right on to the busy street!

mama mottled duck takes ducklings over the gulf blvd ud65The cars stopped! They did. And Mama marched onto the Sailing Center grounds. Then into the grass and further towards the bay.

mama duck and duckling safely on the bay side ud65I guess their nest had been flooded by the rains dumped on us by TS Colin, and she had to move. The salt marsh is brimming with water.

salt marsh after Colin ud65Probably the highest water levels I’ve seen. Many of the small islands are under water and marsh flowers are sticking up from the water.

flooding at the salt marsh UD65The whole marsh looks more like a lake. No small “beaches” or mud flats.

This was on Tuesday, but the water had not receded even today. I walked around the marsh this morning and noticed that only large wading birds were around, and even they were sitting on the little trees sticking up from the water.

great egret ud65All, apart from the younger Great Blue Heron. He was standing right next to “my” bench. And he didn’t like to see me.

young great blue heron ud65In fact, he was very vocal about it. Before he took off.

younger great blue heron ud65.jpgApart from Great Egrets, I spotted a Snowy Egret on the doggy park fence, next to a little “lake” that had formed there.

snowy egret ud65

She was watching a Mottled Duck happily swimming around in the temporary “lake”.

mottled duck ud65…while her cousins, the Moorhens, were cruising the marsh in big numbers.

papa moorhen ud65And how was the svelte Lady Cawcaw, you may ask. She was just fine. She sang again. And this time her song was heard. Mama Sandy came in with half a fish.

mama osprey delivers fish UD65I left her eating her small portion, and walked onto the beach. A big party was going on in the new fresh water lake.

black skimmers royal terns and laughing gulls bathing ud65Laughing Gulls, Black Skimmers and Royal Terns enjoyed the temporary bath tub. There were hundreds of birds around. Some flying in tandem…

two black skimmers ud65…others¬†just relaxing¬†on the sand.

black skimmer sleeps ud65I was almost at home when an Osprey flying over the ocean caught my eye. It was lady Cawcaw!

osprey chick flies over the ocean 3 ud65I guess her small lunch had left her hungry. She flew beautifully, but was not looking down. She’s yet to learn that fish don’t fly. But¬†this¬†was a great start. Next time when her parents want her to go fishing with them, she just might follow them.

We all wish you a great weekend ahead. Peace.

Fall. Salt Marsh Kindergarten. And How Mama Osprey Tricked Me.

It’s mid September. The weather here in Florida is still very much summer like. But the fall activities have definitely started. Migrating shore birds have arrived in hundreds. The beach is swarming with large flocks of Sanderlings and Dunlins, mingling with Willets, Black Skimmers, and all kinds of terns and gulls.

sanderlings and dunlins on the beach ud24Some of¬†the Sanderlings¬†must’ve been practicing with¬†a marching band over the summer up north. They still have the rhythm.

sanderlings 2 running ud24 16x9Pelicans, old and young, are also present in much larger numbers than usual. Their waterskiing, formation flying and diving presentations are highly entertaining.

theee pelicans ud24

And I love watching the antics of the Royal Terns.  There is always something happening in their large community. They fish, chase each other and take breaks for contemplation and rest. And their landing styles are highly varied.  From clumsy one footers to gracious gliding.

royal terns return home ud24tern coming home ud24The Black Skimmer community is also lively. Lots of talking. Low bark-like calls, occasionally loud. And skimming for food at the water’s edge at sunrise and sunset.

black skimmers ud24Some “snow birds” have arrived at the salt marsh as well. Like the Mallards, who haven’t been here for months. And many more Great and Snowy Egrets than usual.

a male mallard duck molting into breeding plumage ud24great egret on the top ud24 snowy egret ud24The newly hatched Moorhen chicks have started in kindergarten. They are just tiny balls of fluffy black baby feathers,  but already bravely exploring the pollen-filled shallows.

mama moorhen and one chick ud24 two moorhen chicks ud24I’ve seen Papa Osprey only from afar, either in flight or scanning for fish at Marriott’s roof. But¬†Mama Sandy¬†is spending¬†lots of time at the nest right now. You’ll notice (in later pictures) the greenery she’s brought in to make¬†the bare nest¬†more cozy.

papa osprey at sunrise B ud24

Yesterday morning Sandy was still wet after a dive, but as far as I could see there was no breakfast.

mama osprey wet ut with no fish ud24

I thought she’d already eaten, and¬†after spending some time with her, I walked¬†over to the bay side. It was a beautiful morning, and the young Great Blue Heron (GBH) was there too,¬†looking for breakfast.

bay sunrise ud24the young blue heron ud24That’s when Sandy flew in from the nest.¬†I had high hopes¬†to get my first picture ever of her catching a fish! I’d be patient. I’d pan. I’d follow her every move.

She circled over the water. Back and forth for ten minutes, sometimes almost disappearing from sight. She hovered over several spots, looking intently down into the water. But she didn’t dive. And I waited with my camera ready to capture the drama. My arms started to hurt.

Suddenly she turned around and flew towards the ocean. A bit disappointed, I decided to walk home through the salt marsh to see the rest of the birds.

A few minutes later, just when I was passing the nest, Sandy came speeding in. With a fish!

mama osprey lands with a fish ud24She had tricked me. Ten minutes of circling over the bay, and five minutes to fetch a fish from the ocean, including the commute. Ha!

mama osprey sees something ud24She shook off the water, but had her eyes fixed into the sky towards the bay. The young GBH was approaching. Flying straight towards the nest.

young blue heron coming in ud24Sandy gave him a series of stern warnings. She hasn’t forgotten his blatant attacks on the nest last spring. The youngster¬†circled around the nest once, tempting his fate. But then landed at the far end of the marsh.

young blue heron in flight ud24young blue heron lands ud24And Sandy could finally concentrate on her breakfast without interruptions.

mama osprey eats breakfast ud24I wish the young GBH would get some counseling with the Mayor. That gentleman knows how to live in peace at the salt marsh.

the older great blue heron ud24That’s it for today. We all hope your week is going great.

Papa Osprey’s Photo Shoot. And an Illicit Visitor at the Salt Marsh.

The sun was barely up on my first day home after the trip when I stepped out in the garden. Without even a cup of coffee. I just had to go see my feathered friends before starting a busy day. And he was right there. The Little Blue Heron, in a shady spot under the palm trees.

little blue heron in our garden ud21It was wonderful to be welcomed home by one of my friends from the salt marsh. The beach was quiet. And the rainwater “lake” was gone.

sunrise beach ud21The salt marsh looked fresh and misty. And I saw the water levels were almost back to normal. Little islets stuck up from the water, just as they used to.

sunrise at salt marsh ud21Most birds were still in their sleeping quarters, but Mama Sandy was already having her breakfast at the nest. She had a nasty wound on her left leg, but looked okay otherwise.

mama osprey with a fish ud21When I came closer, she greeted me in her typical straight forward, but friendly manner. I thought she even smiled.

mama osprey at the nest UD21I found the young Great Blue Heron (GBH) close to the osprey nest, as often is the case. He didn’t bother to look at me. He might be familiar with my view on his attacks on the nest earlier this year.

young blue heronThe Tri-colored Heron, who had temporarily moved elsewhere during the floods, was back home. She was happily hunting for her breakfast in the shallow waters.

tricolored heron ud21And just when I was about to leave, Rosa, the Roseate Spoonbill flew in. It’s always nice to see her. And it looks like she might think the same about me ūüôā

roseate spoonbill landing ud21roseate spoonbill Rosa ud21I continued my walk to the bay side, and marveled at the European Starlings greeting the sun on a lamp-post next to the park.

starling family at sunrise ud21I decided to check if Papa Stanley would be at his resort. He was at home. Still sleeping when I arrived.

papa osprey sleeping ud21He soon discovered me and decided to pose for a photo shoot. A rare treat, and so very kind of him.

papa ospey says hi ud21papa osprey in his resort ud21papa osprey portraIT 2 UD21papa osprey portrait ud21I thought he was quite handsome. That was a great home-coming.

I got another opportunity to get out for a¬†quick walk this morning. I discovered that the “beach lake” had reemerged after yesterday’s short, but intense storm. Many birds were enjoying rainwater baths and the special¬†menu¬†the fresh waters had to offer.

more rainwater and birds on the beach ud21snowy egret 2 ud21theyoung great blue heron ud21black skimmer drinking fresh water ud21juvenile black skimmer sleeping ud21And some, like this juvenile Black Skimmer, were just plain tired of all the excitement.

While the young GBH was frolicking at the “beach lake”, the older one, the Mayor, was back in charge at the salt marsh.

mayor great blue heronI bet he was not happy to see this illicit fisherman trying to capture the fish that belongs to the residents. I was not happy either.

fisherman at salt marsh ud21I wished Sandy had been at the nest and given him a small lesson. But luckily, as soon as I started walking towards the park HQ, he packed his gear and left. Once he was gone, I came back to greet the Great and Snowy Egrets who were enjoying the sunshine in large numbers, and then walked back home.

great egret on the top ud21So much excitement, as always, at the salt marsh. Thank you for coming along. We all wish you a wonderful weekend!

After the Big Rains. Long Lineup to the Smorgasbord.

Okay. The relentless storms are over. But I don’t even know¬†how to¬†begin to tell the story of the delightful bird invasion we’ve had around here this past week. The fresh water pooled up on the beach¬†during the rains has been like a magnet for the shorebirds, particularly Black Skimmers and terns, among them many juveniles. They’ve been foraging in whatever little is left of the “beach lake”. (Click on the pictures for larger versions)

Terns and black skimmers Sand Key beach, Clearwater, FloridaMany¬†Black Skimmer parents¬†have been¬†encouraging their teenagers to start flying. That’s been¬†quite amusing to watch. Like this mom and her baby. Mom nudged the baby asking her to practice flying. But she’d only flex her wings halfheartedly. While her pop, a few feet away,¬†would dig in the sand impatiently, and “bark” at her to go up in the air already.

black skimmer mom and baby Sand Key beach, Clearwater, Floridablack skimmer Sand Key beach, Clearwater, Florida

And the beach has been swarming with Royal Terns, Sandwich Terns and gulls. Some practicing synchronized preening. Others fishing. And yet others arguing with their parents.

terns Sand Key beach, Clearwater, Floridaroyal terns preening Sand Key beach, Clearwater, FloridaRoyal Tern diving Sand Key beach, Clearwater, Floridaroyal tern divig Sand Key beach, Clearwater, Floridaroyal tern caught a fish Sand Key beach, Clearwater, Floridaroyal tern mom and juvenile Sand Key beach, Clearwater, FloridaAnd the tiny Sanderlings have brought their whole extended family to enjoy the beach.

sanderlings Sand Key beach, Clearwater, FloridaWhere they were mixing with Willets and American Oystercathers. So many birds!

young willet Sand Key beach, Clearwater, FloridaAmerican oystercatcher Sand Key beach, Clearwater, FloridaAnd for the first time ever, I’ve spotted a baby Ruddy Turnstone. She was tentatively examining the beach with her mom fairly close by.

juvenile Ruddy Turnstone Sand Key beach, Clearwater, FloridaThe same has been true for the park next to the salt marsh. Long lines to the smorgasbord at shallow ditches still filled with fresh rainwater. Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Spoonbills, Ibis, Night Herons, you name it. All sharing the rare treat of fresh water.

egrets foraging in flood waters Sand Key Park, Clearwater, Floridasnowy egret and roseate spoonbill Sand Key Park, Clearwater, Floridajuvenile white ibis Sand Key Park, Clearwater, FloridaAt the salt marsh, Mama Sandy has taken charge. I guess the Mayor is on vacation as I haven’t seen him¬†since last week.

female osprey Sand Key Park, Clearwater, FloridaSandy has been sitting at the front edge of the nest following the developments with a keen eye. For the most part things have been going smoothly, but I noticed some competition about great scanning posts among the many egrets. At least forty of them.

salt marsh birds Sand Key Park, Clearwater, FloridaSandy also kept an eye on the skies. And when I followed her line of sight, I saw a Red-shouldered Hawk flying high above the marsh.

redshouldered hawk Sand Key Park, Clearwater, FloridaI was¬†hoping the hawk didn’t spot the ducklings performing synchronized diving in the deep waters.

mottled ducklings diving Sand Key Park, Clearwater, FloridaRosa, the resident Roseate Spoonbill, had not cared to venture out of the marsh to see her cousins feeding in the remaining floodwaters elsewhere in the park. She was at home, in the shade under the osprey nest as usual.

roseate spoonbill Sand Key Park, Clearwater, FloridaI hope you enjoyed the many birds saying hello to us here on the beach and at the salt marsh. I’m flying away too for a few days (this is a scheduled post). I’ll try to stay in touch on my mobile devices. In any case I’ll catch up early next week.

terns on the beach Sand Key, Clearwater, FloridaI wish you all a wonderful weekend. Remember to enjoy what nature has to offer. Fly high!

Goodbye Girl! And Other Breaking News from the Salt Marsh.

Little Sindile, the youngest of the three Osprey chicks, was alone in the nest. Her siblings had left for their independent adventures several days ago, but Papa Osprey was still around to look after her.

male osprey eating fish Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Papa Stanley eats fish for lunch…

He perched on the bayside at the Community Sailing Center, with a direct line of sight to the nest. He¬†would bring¬†fish to Sindile a couple of times a day, usually in the morning and in the evening. Sometimes he would eat lunch, but not bring anything to her. That’s tough love. It’s called motivation. He wanted her to go fishing. And after frenetically asking for lunch, she usually flew a few rounds over the bay scanning for fish. I didn’t see her catch any, but she might have.

osprey chick is cooling herself Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Sindile is cooling herself and asking for fish…
sindosprey chick learns to fish Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Sindile is fishing far over the bay – as seen from my terrace more than half a mile away…

On Monday, I discovered something funny. Sindile was in the nest and she asked for fish. But in a way that sounded a bit half-hearted, there was no urgency in her call (unlike in the video clip below I shot on Sunday). I thought of it when I walked away from the nest to greet other residents of the salt marsh.

great blue heron and black skimmer Sand Key Clearwater Florida
A Great Blue Heron observes a Black Skimmer at work…
great egret looks for fish Sand Key Clearwater Florida
A Great Egret scans the water for breakfast…
juvenile yellowcrowned night heron Sand Key Clearwater Florida
A juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron inspects the marsh…
soaking wet yellowcrowned night heron Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Mama Yellow-crowned Night Heron is soaking wet after falling into the water…

I marveled about Mama Yellow-crowned Night Heron, who tried to¬†land on a thin branch close to her juvenile offspring. The branch broke off, and she fell into the water.¬† Like most moms, she must have been sleep deprived. Then I looked back towards the nest again¬†and saw Sindile with a big, half-eaten¬†fish. She was nibbling on it. She had it all along. Apparently it was too big to finish at breakfast, but I was too close previously to notice it from the ground. She may have caught it herself that morning, but thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask for another one ūüôā I had to smile.

osprey chick has a fish Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Sindile with a half-eaten fish…

I saw her for the last time on my early morning walk yesterday. She was looking down into the water where a big fish was making waves.

osprey chick in the nest Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Sindile on Tuesday morning observing a fish jumping below the nest…

I walked along the northern side of the marsh and saw a Roseate Spoonbill perched on a small tree, still fast asleep.

roseate spoonbill sleeping Sand Key Clearwater Florida
A Roseate Spoonbill is sleeping in…

And spotted an old friend, the Reddish Egret, also known as the “showman”.¬† He might have brought his juvenile offspring for a fishing trip at the marsh.

 reddish egret Sand Key Clearwater Florida
The showman is back!
reddish egret hunting Sand Key Clearwater Florida
…and demonstrates his hunting skills…
juvenile reddish egret
…to this juvenile, who might have been his offspring.

I took a short video clip of the early morning activities. And later added my last footage on Sindile from Sunday.

I had to leave the salt marsh quite abruptly as a morning storm was approaching from the ocean.

storm is brewing on the ocean Sand Key Clearwater Florida
A morning storm is brewing over the Gulf.

Passing the nest again, I snapped one more picture of Sindile. She looked so “adult” and in control. Little did I know it would be my last picture of her. At least for now. I checked on her from my window before going to my lunch meeting. She was still in the nest. But when I came back around 3 p.m., the nest was empty.

empty osprey nest Sand Key Clearwater Florida
The empty nest at sunset yesterday.

I kept an eye on the nest in the evening until it was dark. She didn’t come back. Papa Stanley was perched on his usual lamp-post at the Sailing Center. It’s quite a bit further than the nest, but I¬†could see¬†he caught a fish two times¬†last night. Just in case Sindile would come back. He is a good dad. And his tough love had worked. He was eligible for a good vacation.

male osprey eats a fish Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Papa Stanley starts on his second fish for the night – as seen from my terrace. I’m sure he only ate the head in order to bring it to Sindile in case she returned to the nest.

This morning he was perched there again, turned toward the nest. I’m not sure whether or not he spent the night there. But Sindile had left the nest for good. She had enough confidence in her fishing skills to¬†embark on¬†independent life. Goodbye and good luck, Sindile! I will miss you.

osprey fledgling Sand Key Clearwater Florida
My last picture of Sindile in the nest yesterday morning.

Next week, I’ll¬†peek into Mama Sandy’s calendar¬†to prepare a short recap of Sandy’s and Stanley’s successful nesting season. I have to lift my hat to them, such talented parents! That’s all from the salt marsh this week. Have a great week!