Tag Archives: Clearwater

Papa Osprey Hauls in Fish. Mama Bakes. Two Chicks to Feed.

Oh chick! Just after last week’s update I thought I saw two tiny hatchlings in the Osprey nest, but couldn’t get a confirmation until this morning. I was having my second cup of coffee on the terrace when I saw Papa Stanley fly in with a fish. I ran in to get my camera.  And discovered Mama Sandy was feeding not one, but two chicks! They seemed to be about the same size and must have hatched a day or two apart about 12-14 days ago.

Papa and Mama osprey with two chicks Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Papa Stanley is checking the surroundings…
osprey chicks sand key park clearwater florida
…while Mama Sandy feeds the chicks.

Two little heads came up every time Sandy took a bite. I guess they can now eat tiny pieces of fish, and seem to be growing fast! That means a fishing trip after another for Stanley. From what I’ve observed, he brings in three to four fish a day, maybe more.

osprey flies low sand key park clearwater florida
Papa Osprey flies low coming back to the nest.

That’s tiring. The other day I caught him dozing off in a pine tree near his man cave – with what was left for him of the fish. It’s a full time job to feed a family of four, and he seems to be doing it pretty well. I thought he deserved a nap on his lunch break so I didn’t go too close.

osprey with fish taking a nap sand key park clearwater florida
Papa Osprey takes a lunch time nap.

And Mama Sandy is not brooding the chicks anymore as they are now older than 10 days. But because the little ones don’t have any way to cool themselves as yet, she is still protecting them from the sun with her wings most of the time.

Mama Osprey protects the chicks from sun.

One morning I discovered she had started baking. There was a fish hanging on the side right below the nest, baking in the midday sun. Maybe dried fish was on the menu at a later date 🙂 I have no idea how she did it.

mama ospey bakes a fish sand key park clearwater florida
A fish is baking in the sun below the nest.

Sometimes Sandy flies away briefly to fetch something small for the babies from nature’s huge supermarket, and leaves Stanley to look after them. One morning, she left the nest twice and came back with something green, both times. It looked like a small bunch of leaves. I gathered the babies must be ready for some salad with their fish. Or maybe they just needed additional vitamins.

mama osprey leaves the nest sand key park clearwater florida
Mama Osprey leaves the nest to get some greens for the chicks.

This week I’ve also checked on the residents in the condo building. They seem to be doing fine. The Parakeet couple has chosen a particular pine tree for their hugging sessions when not in their apartment. It’s much roomier outside, of course.

parakeets sand key park clearwater florida
The affectionate Nanday Parakeet couple on their perch.
palm trunk condo update
Parakeet and Starling on their balconies.
red-bellied woodpecker in his nest sand key park clearwater florida
The red-bellied Woodpecker in his apartment on the other side of the building.

The Starling and the Red-bellied Woodpecker still live there too. And I’ve not seen any evidence of neighborly disputes, even when Papa Stanley still occasionally uses his penthouse-level man cave.

I’ve come eye to eye with many other salt marsh residents as well, like this Mockingbird who was imitating osprey calls. Big dreams in falsetto for this little fellow.

a mockingbird sand key park clearwater florida
The Northern Mockingbird imitates osprey calls and is surprised to see Tiny.

And the Reddish Egret, who put on quite a show for me and then paused as in waiting for the applause. But that’s for another post.

reddish egret sand key park clearwater florida
The Reddish Egret waits for the applause after his show.

That’s all for this week. Salt marsh residents, from the biggest to the smallest, wish you all a wonderful weekend. ❤ Tiny

Detective Work and a New Condo Building. In the Salt Marsh.

No baby news as yet for the Osprey Family.  Mama Sandy and Papa Stanley are still sitting tight on the egg(s), taking turns. Sandy sits from sunset until sunrise, then gets a nice break after breakfast for bath and exercise.

female osprey drying herself Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Mama Osprey does her morning exercises. She has specialized in greeting me her head upside down   🙂

She also gets a short break in the afternoon, and a last long one just after dinner before sunset. The shift change is quick and smooth, well practiced by now.

shift change for incubating ospreys Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Shift change, Mama Osprey goes back to sit on the egg(s) after her morning break…
shift change for incubating ospreys Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…Papa osprey leaves for his break…
male osprey leaves the nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…and to get the next meal.

Just a little later this day, on my way home, I found him on Marriott’s roof looking for fish in the bay, but also checking on Mama every now and then. It’s quite far from the nest, but I’m sure he could both see and hear her.

osprey on the roof of sand key Marriott resort
Papa Osprey’s lookout on the roof of Marriott Resort.

But I’ve seen some indications that hatching is imminent. Sandy gets up, exercises a bit and inspects the egg(s), which she hasn’t done before. She’s counting the days, I’m sure.

Mama osprey checks on the eggs Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Mama Osprey checks on the egg(s)…

And Stanley has moved his perch closer to the nest. Last few days I’ve found him on a lamp-post just south of the park border and only 30 feet from the nest. I took this picture of him on St. Patrick’s Day through some thick trees. He was sleepy after eating the head of the fish and was just guarding it until Sandy would tell him she wants to eat.

osprey sleeping with a half eaten fish Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…while Papa is sleeping with full crop on his lamp-post.

A wonderful little couple. But has their week been just peace and quiet? Of course not. Osprey Steve has flown by a few times, but heeded the warnings and disappeared quickly. Maybe he’s finally learning. But that’s not the case with the Great Blue Heron who attacked the nest couple of weeks ago. He did it again.

young great blue heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
The culprit, a young Great Blue Heron is hiding close to some tall grass.

This time I had just left to go home and had reached the opposite end of the marsh when I saw a Great Blue Heron fly right over me from the beach towards the nest. I saw Papa Osprey intercepting him in the air about ten feet from the nest. I scrambled with my camera that I had already shut off and placed in my bag. And saw a wild chase over the salt marsh. The culprit was fleeing and Papa was chasing him. I managed to get them both in one of my wild shots from very far. You can see Stanley coming back towards the marsh and the Blue Heron flying over the marsh trying to find a hiding place.

Papa Osprey (on the upper left) chases the Great Blue Heron (on the right)

I just had to return and do some detective work. I couldn’t believe the culprit was the resident Great Blue Heron, whom I had named the Mayor of the Marsh, and seen around for the whole year. And I was right. Little detective work sometimes pays off. There were two Great Blue Herons in the marsh! The youngster (pictured above) who just flew in and attacked the nest, and the older gentleman. He was watching the drama from a small islet, and I had not seen him earlier. That explains a lot.

great blue heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
The Mayor of the Marsh checks on the residents…

I have one more funny thing to report.  You remember the old palm trunk where Papa Stanley has his man cave penthouse? Now that he’s moved closer to the nest and is not using it much, it has become a very busy condo building for nesting birds.

nanday parakeet Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
A Nanday Parakeet couple has the upper unit…
european starling
A couple of European Starlings have the middle unit…
redbellied woodpecker in his nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…and a Red-bellied Woodpecker has the lower unit on the other side of the trunk.
Two residents are on their balconies, the woodpecker is obviously on his way out to run some errands.

Oh, I almost forgot. The Green Heron, whom I haven’t seen for months, returned to the marsh just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.

green heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
The Green Heron is back home!

That’s all for this week. Unless there are breaking news. I hope your week has been great so far.

Reporting from the salt marsh, Tiny

Spring Break. Man Cave Rentals and Guard Duty.

This week has been warm. Spring-like. Birds are courting and building nests. Wild flowers are blooming in the salt marsh. And spring-breakers are everywhere.

spring flowers in salt marsh
Spring flowers are blooming…

The Osprey Family is not taking a spring break.  Sandy and Stanley continue to incubate in shifts. Mama Sandy’s shifts seem to be little longer, and she always takes a bath whenever she gets some time off. Then dries herself in the sun, sits on the egg(s) again and asks Papa to go fishing.

female osprey dries herself Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Mama Sandy shakes off the water after a quick bath…

They seem to have established a regular routine to be interrupted only by Papa Stanley’s guard duty when a potential intruder approaches the nest.

male osprey on guard duty Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Papa Stanley warns Steve…

I’m happy to report that the Great Blue Heron has not repeated his attack on the nest. He’s still keeping an admirably low profile at the opposite end of the marsh.

great blue heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Mister Great Blue Heron keeps a low profile…

But Steve, the young Osprey, has been around again. Several times. The other day he flew very close to the nest. Papa Stanley’s loud warnings scared even a Mottled Duck who was swimming close by. She literally ran on water 🙂

mottled duck runs on water Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Mottled Duck runs on water…

But Steve didn’t give up. He kept circling around the nest. And finally Stanley had no choice but to chase him away in person.

another osprey flies above the nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Steve flies above the nest…
male osprey flies out of the nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…and Papa Stanley decides to chase him away.

Papa Stanley still enjoys his man cave, but spends more time in the nest now. And lets feathery spring-breakers rent his perch from time to time.

male osprey Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Papa Osprey in his man cave
nanday parakeet couple Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Two Nanday Parakeets visiting…

A Red-bellied Woodpecker has been working on his little apartment in the same old palm trunk for a few days now, and today he finally moved in. He appeared to be very pleased with his new home.

red-bellied woodpecker Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
A Red-bellied Woodpecker builds a home…
Woodpecker builds his nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…and inspects the walls…
redbellied woodpecker in his nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Home sweet home…

I’m sure Stanley will be a good neighbor. And a good dad. Maybe already next week if my estimates are about right.

male osprey flies over the nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Papa Stanley flies over the nest to check on Mama.

And he definitely is a good hubby. Today, directly after the shift change at noon, he flew away. I’m guessing to take a bath. But he came back shortly and flew over the nest just to check on Mama before going to fetch some fish for lunch.

All is good. The salt marsh gang wishes you all a wonderful weekend.  ❤ Tiny

 

 

 

Wordless Wednesday: Guess Who? Times Five.

yellowcrowned night heron
Guess who’s hiding beneath this umbrella?
yellowcrowned night heron 2 WW
It’s the Yellow-crowned Night Heron, my friend. Did you get it right in the end?
female osprey preens
Guess who’s veiling her beauty with this glamorous hair do?
It's Mama Osprey! She can be funny too...
Mama Osprey! She can be funny too…says peek-a-boo!
reddish egret hunting
Guess who’s disguised behind these blue “sails”?
reddish egret WW
It’s Mr. Showman, who surprises nails! The Reddish Egret…he never fails!
Guess who’s disappeared underneath this “hang glide”?
papa osprey 2 WW
It’s the brave Papa Osprey showing his might! He’s an impressive sight!
snowy egret guess who by tiny WW
Guess who’s taking a bath in her fluffy white gown?
snowy egret sitting in water
It’s Miss Snowy Egret. She loves refreshing baths and has no regret…getting her gown wet!

 

Wordless Wednesday: Get Your Feet Wet. Frame by Frame.

Get your feet wet…and explore the world, even your own backyard.
Great blue heron
Get your feet wet…and get out of your comfort zone.
Get your feet wet…and shake away your fears.
Royal tern sand key clearwater florida
Get your feet wet…and don’t back off when challenges roll your way.
Little blue heron sand key clearwater florida
Get your feet wet…and pursue your adventure, even if your hair stands up.
Get your feet wet...and drink from the source of all wisdom.
Get your feet wet…and drink from the source of all wisdom.
snowy egret sand key park clearwater florida
…and then go where your heart calls you to go. Get your feet wet.

 

Repairs and Drama. In the Windswept Salt Marsh.

In battering winds and close to freezing temperatures, with a wind chill factor much below freezing, Mama Osprey was tightly pressed down in the middle of the nest in her Florida coat. Her head was down and pointed against the wind. She didn’t move. She was protecting her egg(s). I saw all this from my office window and decided to dare the cold to check on the Osprey Family.

When I arrived, Mama osprey acknowledged my presence. Papa Osprey was nowhere to be seen.

female osprey at the nest
Mama Osprey says hi to Tiny…

I walked over to his “man cave”. He was not there. Then I spotted him huddling in a pine tree close by. He appeared to be wet. Maybe from an unsuccessful fishing trip in the stormy bay waters on the coldest day this winter. That was on Thursday.

male osprey perching in a pine tree
Papa Osprey huddles in a pine tree…

Yesterday the weather improved slowly. The winds calmed down a bit, and after the coldest morning this winter,  the temperatures climbed to balmy 49F (9.5 C) in the afternoon.  Most birds were still in hiding when I arrived in the salt marsh, but the “Mayor” himself was hunching on a small islet. I guess he wanted to give reassurances to the other residents.  This too shall pass.

great blue heron
Mister Great Blue Heron huddles in the wind…

I found Mama Sandy eager to repair her nursery after the stormy night. She gave instructions to Papa Stanley to bring home some sturdy materials. And he promptly delivered a long stick.

male osprey repairs the nest
Papa Osprey delivers repair materials…

But it didn’t seem to be quite what Mama needed. So she left the nest, just for a couple of minutes, to do the shopping herself. And brought home a large piece taken from a palm tree.

mama osprey goes shopping A
Mama Osprey goes shopping…
mama osprey gets materials A
…for the correct materials.

She then arranged the nest to her liking, and sat down on the egg(s)again.  That’s when a threat appear in the sky. Mama sounded an alarm, and Papa Stanley hurried back to the nest.

osprey couple
Mama Osprey sounds warnings…

Osprey Steve was flying over the nest. Repeatedly. With a half eaten fish in his talons.

osprey steve flies by the nest with a half fish by tiny
…with a half eaten fish. It’s Steve.

After the “situation” was over, Mama Sandy asked for fish. And Papa flew away again. Life was returning to normal in the salt marsh.

male osprey leaves the nest
Papa osprey goes fishing…

On my way home I spotted him scanning for fish above the bay, but couldn’t stay long enough to see the outcome. But about half an hour later, I saw him fly past my office window with a small shiny fish. All was good.

male osprey scans for fish
Papa Osprey scans for fish in the bay…

This morning was beautiful. The winds were weak and the temperatures climbed steadily. I just had to get out for a long walk.

The salt marsh was bustling with activity. Ibis, Night Herons, Blue Herons and Egrets were out and about.

great egret
A Great Egret airs her plumes in the sunshine.
yellowcrowned night heron portrait
A Yellow-crowned Night Heron is completely awake.

When I arrived to the nest, Mama Osprey had just finished eating . As usual, Papa Stanley took the rest of the fish and flew to finish it off in his “man cave”.

osprey flies away with the fish
Papa Osprey flies to his “man cave” to finish his meal…

But he didn’t eat. Something else had caught his attention high up in the sky.

papa osprey watching the bald eagles by tiny
…but he can’t eat. There’s danger on the horizon.

I looked up too and saw what seemed like two huge birds circling high, high up in the sky. I took my camera and zoomed all out. Two Bald Eagles. The only real danger to Ospreys, apart from man-made hazards. Papa Osprey didn’t move. His eyes followed the two birds with complete concentration.

two bald eagles flying high above
Could these two be Bald Eagles?
Yes they were...
Yes they were…

I ran back to the nest. Mama Osprey sat on her egg(s), quietly without a peep. Watching the danger in the sky. No alarm calls. It was better to remain silent and pretend to be invisible.

osprey watching the eagles
Mama Osprey watches the Eagles as well…

I knew there was a Bald Eagle nest on the other side of the bay, and gathered this might be the couple. They appeared to be completely taken by their courting dance high up in the air, and not hunting. After about five minutes they disappeared towards the bay. I could almost hear the sigh of relief from Mama Sandy. And soon Papa Stanley arrived back to the nest with his still uneaten fish. Better safe than sorry.

osprey returns with his fish 16x9
Papa Osprey returns with his fish…to be with Mama.

The danger was over and weekend was going great again.

I hope your weekend is going well too. Reporting from the salt marsh, Tiny

 

Wordless Wednesday: Don’t Bite More Than You Can… Swallow. Frame by Frame.

double crested cormorant caught a fish 0
Just lost a big fish. Let me dive for it again…
double crested cormorant caught a fish1
Oh, there you are, that was easy…
double crested cormorant caught a fish 3
Now we just need to get you up…
double crested cormorant caught a fish 4
There you go…up…
double crested cormorant caught a fish 5
I said UP you go!
double crested cormorant caught a fish 6
Oh no! Eeeek!
What’s he doing? All that noise…this is not gonna end well…
double crested cormorant caught a fish 8
Help! He’s trying to escape!
OMG! I can't watch this!
OMG! I can’t watch this!
Swing...up you go!
Swing…up you go!
You're huge, alright...
You’re huge, alright…
...but down you go!
…but down you go!
That's it! My throat is so full...
That’s it! My stomach…er…throat is so full…
...now just need to stretch a little...
…now just need to stretch a little…
...and flap my wings. Aah, that feels better.
…and flap my wings. Aah, that feels better.