Tag Archives: Blue Heron

Battering Winds, Tireless Work, Love. And a Parakeet.

The Osprey Family’s nestoration project has now entered its 3rd week. Despite the extremely windy conditions in the last few days, the osprey couple has continued to work without a break to get their nest ready on time.

stormy ocean wave2
The ocean was angry on Saturday.

Most other birds hunkered down taking shelter from the wind as you can see in this gallery. It was so windy that keeping myself standing steadily enough to shoot acceptable pictures was challenging.

On Saturday when I decided to dare the winds, I found Mama Sandy balancing on the edge of the nest facing the wind. She was calling on Papa Stanley to bring her fish…but he was busy. Eating on a dead palm trunk nearby.

osprey holding on in the wind
Mama Osprey balancing against the wind…
osprey eating fish
…and Papa Osprey on “his” palm trunk eating lunch.

He heard her calls and looked in her direction, but I couldn’t stand the wind long enough to see how much of the fish Mama would get. It looked like a lunch for two, and I assumed he would share.

Yesterday I found the nest empty when I arrived, but just a minute or two later Mama Osprey zoomed in with a huge swath of soft nursery materials flying in the strong wind.

osprey delivers nest materials
Mama Osprey has gone shopping for nursery materials…
mama osprey eager to build
Mama Sandy is eager to finish the nursery design.

It was clear to me she was eager to get the materials secured in place and was calling for Papa to help.  In a very determined manner. But where was Papa Stanley?

osprey calling
Mama calling for Papa…

You guessed it.  I found him on “his” palm trunk eating fish.  Mama’s crop was fairly full, so she had already gotten an early lunch. Now it was his lunch hour.

osprey eating fish
Papa Osprey eating lunch…
osprey with a fish
…but looks who’s there.

He looked at me, then continued eating. I walked back to the nest and saw Mama Sandy had started to prepare the nursery on her own.

 osprey redecorating
Mama Osprey redecorating the nest…

Then last night, just before sunset when the winds were at their strongest, I went out on our terrace to check on them. I saw them huddling together in the nest. Looking at each other. Love birds.

Papa and mama osprey together in the nest
Love birds daring the wind together…

The wind had finally calmed down this morning, and I took a longer walk in the salt marsh and around the park at lunch time. Birds were out and about everywhere, and I found Mama Sandy alone in the nest. She had not finished her lunch, but it looked like all the nursery materials had been put in place.

osprey with a fish in the nest
Mama Osprey has a fish for lunch…

Just when I was taking pictures of her, Papa Stanley flew into the nest. Only for a second or two. I guess to show her his lunch catch. He flew away in the direction of “his” palm trunk nearby.

osprey flying away w fish
…and now Papa osprey also has a fish.

So I walked over there expecting to find him. But found something completely different.

Nanday Parakeet
Nanday Parakeet says hi…
Nanday parakeet 2
…and checks on Tiny.

A Nanday Parakeet had reserved Papa’s perch for herself! I have never seen this pet bird in the wild before, but apparently there is a sizeable feral population here in our area.

So where did Papa Stanley go with his fish? Mama helped me in that regard. She called and he answered. So finally I found him just beyond the park’s border on a lamp-post. He had almost finished his  fish.

 osprey finishing his fish
Papa Osprey has eaten fast…

That’s when Mama Sandy sounded a long alarm call! Even I knew what that meant: another osprey was approaching the nest. Papa Stanley didn’t waste a second, he flew to the nest with such speed I couldn’t even snap a picture. That’s love. I jogged back to the salt marsh.  Getting good exercise with these guys 🙂

osprey flies by the nest
Osprey Steve flies around the nest…

The osprey flying above the nest was Steve, normally friends with both Mama and Papa. But it all changes when they start nesting, so now he was a threat.

When I arrived Papa Stanley was already there, and both of them were scanning the skies together.

mama and papa osprey scaning the skies
…Mama and Papa osprey scan the skies together.
Papa protects the nest while Mama finishes her lunch.
Papa protects the nest while Mama finishes her lunch.

When everything calmed down, Mama Sandy finished her lunch while Papa Stanley stayed there protecting her. That’s when I decided it was a good time to go home.

Hope you enjoyed the adventures of our couple.  Reporting from the salt marsh, Tiny

A Cool Day. With Just a Hint of Color.

Nature always wears the colors of the spirit. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today we had a spell of winter weather here in Florida. The birds in the salt marsh were hiding from the cold winds. I didn’t get to go out on my usual walk, but thought I’d play a little with my photos.  So here are some of my friends in their temporarily cool, monochrome environment. With a hint of color.

night heron hoc
Yellow-crowned Night Heron
tricolored heron hoc
Tri-colored Heron
snowy egret hoc
Snowy Egret
spoonbill hoc
Roseate Spoonbill
Royal Tern
Royal Tern
Pelican eating
Brown Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Papa Osprey
Mama Osprey

Please stay warm and be safe! ❤ Tiny

Ps. This post has been edited after publishing when I discovered that Papa Osprey (PO) actually was Mama Osprey.

 

Migration Conference. At the Salt Marsh Resort.

Earlier this week, I went out for my usual greet-papa-osprey run around the salt marsh, and landed in the middle of a migration conference with over 100 participants! The place resembled a luxury resort, with guests sprawling around every table at the lunch buffet.

migratory birds in Sand Key Park Salt Marsh
A small fraction of the conference guests

I’ve never seen so many birds in this salt marsh! Dozens of migrating Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets and Wood Storks were visiting. I was delighted, but the permanent residents didn’t quite share my enthusiasm. The crowd was a bit unruly at times. Tempers flared, voices – and hairs – were raised.

angry snowy egret in Sand Key Park salt marsh
A Snowy Egret gets upset…
A snowy egret is angry at the salt marsh of Sand Key Park
…very upset!

There were a few really loud exchanges. Followed by rearrangements at the tables. Or maybe I should say, adjustments in the pecking order.

Great Egret flying in to the salt marsh of Sand Key Park, FL
An upset Great Egret makes a loud entrance…
great egret chases another away Sand Key Park FL
… and turns the tables.

But for the most part, the conference luncheon went smoothly. Everyone got their pickings, big or small.

great egret hunting in Sand Key Park FL
A Great Egret begins the hunt…
great egret fishing in Sand Key Park FL
…and there he dives…
great egret fishing in Sand Key Park clearwater FL
…for something delicious, I hope.
tricolored heron hunting in Sand Key Park Clearwater FL
A Tricolored Heron takes a small bite…
B little blue heron with a fish
A Little Blue Heron catches a tiny fish…

After lunch some quests embarked on their exercise routines, while others chatted with their peers. Exchanging the latest. Some paraded the calm waters, showing off their beautiful gowns.

A great egret doing the doggy shake sand key park clearwater fl
Shake, baby shake!
wood storks and egrets in Sand key Park Clearwater FL
One of the Wood Stork teams hangs out…
great egrets in Sand Key Park Clearwater FL
And Great Egrets parade…

I noticed that some permanent residents tried to keep away from the hubbub, seeking calm corners to hide in until the conference would be over. Some stayed out of sight altogether, like the Night Herons.

Roseate spoon bill in sand key park clearwater fl
A Roseate Spoonbill avoids the crowd…
muscovy duck in sand key park clearwater fl
Even the curious and normally social Muscovy Duck keeps to himself…
Tri-colored Heron in sand key park clearwater fl
A Tri-colored Heron hides his head in the grass…

A few elected to let it all pass, and moved to the relative calm of the bay side.

great egret flying sand key park clearwater fl
A Great Egret flies to the bay side
snowy egret fishing on the bayside Sand key clearwater fl
A Snowy Egret enjoys the rich fishing waters on the bay side…

That included the “Mayor of the Marsh”, Mister Blue Heron. I assumed he got tired of policing the crowd.

egret and blue heron and wood stork in sand key park clearwater FL
Mister Blue Heron, a Great Egret and a Wood Stork in the salt marsh…
blue heron policing the crowd
Enough is enough…Mister Blue Heron flies to the bay side.

But Mama Osprey wouldn’t be moved. She’d been there, done that. She knew peace would return in a couple of days.

male osprey in sand key park clearwater FL
Mama Osprey enjoys his peace up in the nest…

And it did. This morning the marsh was calm again, and the twenty odd residents were able to enjoy their home in peace, like the Great Egret does in the featured image.

I hope your weekend is peaceful and calm. ❤ Tiny

Mama Osprey. The Female Leader with Natural Clout.

I know a leader when I see one. That’s how I’ve made my livelihood, at least to a part. Spotting leadership talent and helping it flourish.  Now I’ve spotted such talent in the nature reserve. Ready to lead. No coaching required.

roseate spoonbill and snowy egret
Community representatives: a Roseate Spoonbill and a Snowy Egret.

That’s Mama Osprey, of course. You knew it, right? Or you may want some proof? I have plenty.

First, she cares about her community. The salt marsh has plenty of fish, from huge footlongs to medium and small. It would be easy to just dive down from the nest and get breakfast, lunch and dinner. Like opening the fridge. But she doesn’t fish there.

Plenty of fish in the salt marsh
Plenty of fish in the salt marsh

She leaves the food supply for residents who can’t fish in the ocean. Like this tiny Tri-colored Heron.

tricolored heron caught a fish
A Tri-colored Heron caught a fish…

Second, she ensures peace in the community. She constantly scans the skies and the grounds for any threats. And warns the residents whenever she detects a potential danger. Like dogs walking their people or bicyclists on the foot path closest to the marsh.

 osprey watching the sky
Mama Osprey watching the sky to the South…
papa osprey watching the sky 2
…and to the North.

Or the two other ospreys, Stanley and Steve,  who have settled in the area. Don’t get me wrong. Mama Osprey lets them thrive in the park. And even allows them to use her favorite dead palm trunk as their breakfast bar.

Stanley, the second Osprey, eats breakfast on the dead palm trunk...
Stanley, the second Osprey, eats breakfast on the dead palm trunk…

But she keeps a watchful eye on their movements. And sends a message of caution, as and when warranted. It’s clear that she has earned their respect.

third osprey flying 6
Steve, the third Osprey, flies above the salt marsh…

Third, she’s on the top of everything in the community. Has the big picture. Gently keeps tabs on the residents’ comings and goings. Like this Great Blue Heron, who periodically takes trips to the bay-side to socialize with fishermen in exchange for free fish.

blue heron flying high up
The Great Blue Heron on his way from the salt marsh…
blue heron flying high 3
…to the bay-side.

Or the Pelicans who fly in shuttle traffic between the ocean and the bay right over the salt marsh.

two pelicans flying
Pelicans flying over the marsh towards the bay…

And the young Night Herons who practice landing at the tree tops with varying degrees of success.

A juvenile Night Heron about to land...
A juvenile Night Heron about to land…

And not to talk about the large Egret population that tends to move back and forth between the tiny islands in search of the best fish.

egret flying
A Great White Egret flies to better hunting grounds…

Fourth, Mama Osprey trusts her gut. I got proof of that just a couple of days ago when I met a nice bird photographer. He was a visitor, not familiar with the nature reserve . So we started to chat and I told him about the nest. After a while I heard Mama Osprey’s warning calls.  Unwanted disturbance too close to the nest.

papa ospreys nest from afar
Papa Osprey’s nest seen from the East end of the marsh…

And then saw the poor guy walk away from the vicinity of the nest. After he left, I went to see Mama Osprey. She was her calm, good-looking self and turned to greet me when I walked right under the nest. Not a peep, just a friendly nod. She definitely trusts her gut.

papa osprey saying hi to tiny
Mama osprey says hi…
papa osprey looking at the flowers
…and then admires the flowers on the ground.

Then we both admired the bright yellow wild flowers that had popped up right next to the nest pole. I snapped a picture, she checked on the little worm crawling on one of the flowers.

wild flowers below the nest

My conclusion, based on all this evidence, is that Mama Osprey is a pioneering community leader with natural clout. I hope you agree with my assessment.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Ps. This post has been edited after publishing when I discovered that PO (Papa Osprey) actually was Mama Osprey.

 

Birthday Birds and Engine Roar.

Last Sunday was my birthday. Not that I need to be reminded of the years piling up, but it was a great day. A balanced affair of spectacle and peace. The spectacle was provided by the annual Clearwater Speed Boat Race, and the peace by the birds … and other good friends and family.

After a night of torrential rains, the morning was beautiful.

Willet shore bird
A little Willet patrolling the beach…
rock pigeon
A Rock Pigeon, a rare sight on the beach…
royal tern flying
A Royal Tern returning from a swing on the ocean…

I took a long walk on the beach, where the birds were getting breakfast and people of all ages were preparing to watch the boating event of the year.

little boy on the beach
A little boy exploring the beach…

Some were more interested in other explorations, of course.

treasure hunter
A treasure hunter…

On the ocean, thousands of boats were lining up along the 2.5 miles long race track. And helicopters were circling overhead. Quite a spectacle!

speed boat race an overview
Boats lining up along the race route where boats are already practicing…

I decided to seek my peace in the nature reserve. On my way there I saw something remarkable. Papa Osprey was flying in after a swim in the ocean. When he approached the nest, he shook himself in mid-air, almost like a dog would do, to get rid of excess water. I had read that ospreys do this, but never seen it before.  Unfortunately my camera was in its bag as I tried to negotiate a path to the park that wouldn’t require a swim suit.

wet papa osprey
Wet Papa Osprey saying birthday greetings…

When I reached the nest, Papa Osprey was there. All spread out under the natural hair dryer. He was still wet and held his wings up to dry his underpants. He gave me a friendly birthday nod, but it’s difficult to say if he smiled.

great egret
A Great Egret…

I also spotted a Great Egret perched on a tree near the osprey nest. After posing politely for a photo, she flew away over the water.

great egret flying
…flying away.

It was getting hot and the Great Blue Heron, whom I’ve named the Mayor of the Marsh,  was seeking shade hunched down in the bushes.

great blue heron enjoying shadow
The Mayor, Mr. Blue Heron…

I stayed in the park for a while receiving calls from family abroad, and snapped another picture of him little later.

great blue heron 2 920
…all tall and handsome.

Herons were out in force that morning. I saw a Yellow Crowned Night Heron and a Green Heron too. While the latter is most often perched on a tree looking like he’s dreaming of some faraway place, now he was hunting and all stretched out.

yellow crowned night heron closeup 2
A Yellow Crowned Night Heron…
green heron 2
A Green Heron hunting…

And what would a birthday be without a Tri-colored Heron showing off his beautiful colors. This time I saw him hunting, diving right into the water.

tricolored heron diving
A Tri-colored Heron diving…
tricolored heron after a dive
…and then shaking off the water.

And then shaking his feathers. The gracious little bird was all buffed up.

So after getting my peace in the morning, I came home and we watched the speed boat race from our terrace. Luckily they raced at some distance. No water spray on our lunch, but the engine roar was clearly audible. I’ll put a few pictures here for the boat enthusiasts in the readership.

speed boat 4 3
A speed boat and spectators in thousands of boats…
speed boat 8
A racing speed boat…
speed boat 6
Another racing speed boat…
speed boat and spactators
A speed boat almost flying on water…spectators on Pier 60

The rest of the day was lots of fun, culminating in a sumptuous seafood dinner with friends and family. Bang Bang Shrimp, Rainbow Trout, and chocolate… I could do it again. Any day.

I will probably be posting/reading a little less than usual in October as I’ve a few travels planned before NaNoWriMo hits in November. I hope your week is going well.

It’s Complicated.

I am puzzled. I’ve visited the osprey family four times in the last one week. I had expected to see the young lady do frequent flying practice, but that hasn’t been the case. Regardless of the timing and length of my visit, I’ve found mama osprey and the nestling sitting tight in the nest. Deeply involved in discussions.

Do you hear me mama?
Do you hear me mama?

I’ve witnessed a wide array of vocalizations, from pleasant discussion tones to loud shouting matches between mom and daughter. To the point that I’ve rummaged the internet for a rosetta stone version in osprey language. No luck so far.

Shall we talk or shall we fly?
Shall we talk or shall we fly?

The other day both mama osprey and the teen did some wing exercises in the nest. The nestling was flexing, but did not fly, and mama osprey did some Pilates. Lots of stretching going on, and lots of communication.

Mama osprey doing Pilates..streeetch...left, right
Mama osprey doing Pilates..streeetch…left, right

On the top of that, papa osprey has not shown up during any of my visits since more than two weeks back. Last time I saw him, he came empty-handed and mama osprey flew away immediately. Is there a rift between the parents? Papa sleeping on a couch somewhere? Or did something happen to him? I have no way of knowing.

My latest picture of papa osprey on May 11
My latest picture of papa osprey on May 11

This morning I went to see them much earlier than I usually do. First I saw only mama osprey. I was hoping the nestling had finally gone out for flying practice, but then I saw the breeze lift up a few feathers and discovered a brown back in the nest. The youngster was still sleeping! At 10:30 in the morning.

Mama osprey guarding her sleeping nestling
Mama osprey guarding her sleeping nestling

Soon the teen woke up and slowly stood up.

The osprey teen is waking up...
The osprey teen is waking up…

The dialogue they have been having every day since last Sunday started almost immediately. I waited and waited. No flying practice this morning either. But I noticed many new decorations hanging down from the nest. And the balcony flowers were still alive and well.

Osprey discussion...on the loud side this morning
Osprey discussion…on the loud side this morning

I started to get worried and wondered if something was not right. I decided to check on them more often from my terrace (using our strongest binoculars) to see if the youngster would fly at all during the day.  To my delight I saw her flying two short rounds fairly close to the nest late this afternoon! She didn’t soar high like her mama as yet, but at least these practice rounds were a bit longer than what I’d seen her do earlier, a few minutes each. So I’m hoping everything is alright. And that fishing lessons will follow. Family life can be complicated indeed.

Tri-colored heron in the reserve
Tri-colored heron in the reserve

I have to tell you something else. The other day I saw yet another bird I haven’t seen in the nature reserve before: a tri-colored heron!

And today I witnessed a “crowd” of four different birds on a little island in the marsh. The vacation season has started. Lots of demand for prime real estate with water views.

Four different birds on an island: small blue heron, small white egret, roseate spoonbill and two ibis.
Four different birds on an island: small blue heron, small white egret, roseate spoonbill and two ibis.

Will keep you updated on developments. Hope your week is going great.

Solid Food!

Today is gray and rainy. I am happy I was “on assignment” in the nature reserve yesterday when it was hot, windy and just very cloudy. I half expected to see the osprey nestling standing on the edge of the nest ready to spread his wings so that a wind gust would take him up in the air. But he was not quite “there” yet.

When I approached their nest, I saw the papa osprey flying out for a fishing trip again.

papa osprey going fishing
Gone fishing…

The mama osprey and the youngster soon discovered that I was approaching. Both were peering out in my direction.

Mama osprey and nestling have discovered Tiny
Mama osprey and nestling have discovered Tiny

That’s when I saw that the nestling had grown a lot from last week! He was almost two-thirds of the size of his mom. And he was no longer been fed by the mama osprey. He had graduated to solid food! His head was bobbing up and down as he was happily eating from the fish that papa osprey had brought in a little earlier.

nestling and mama osprey ed
The wind was airing the young osprey’s feathers…

I stayed with them for quite a while. It was funny to see how the mama osprey always moved to the side of the nest closest to me. She was protective, but not alarmed. I hope that means she knows by now that Tiny is a friend 🙂

I might miss the exciting flying lessons as I have a grand baby of my own to welcome to this world any day now…

Take care and have a wonderful weekend – Tiny