Tag Archives: Cormorant

New Year. New Dreams.

Mama Sandy is flying high. It’s January and that always brings a new proposal from her faithful husband Stanley. A brand new nesting season. And new dreams.

mama and papa oprey flying together January UD147Early on Sunday morning Papa Stanley brought her the proposal gift. A big fish she enjoyed on the perch while Stanley was watching her feast. I witnessed this annual ritual from my living room window while having my first cup of coffee. In the afternoon I went out with Dylan and found Stanley eating his own fish on a lamp-post close to the nest. We wished him Happy New Year and he nodded in response.

papa osprey eats fish UD147Sandy was watching him from the perch at the nest.

mama Sandy UD147And when he had finished his meal, he flew to the nest. Before long Sandy sent him back to the ‘home depot’. While there was evidence of hard work already that morning as large branches were sticking out from the nest, more building materials were needed.

papa and mama osprey in the nest UD147After Stanley left, we walked around the marsh and wished Happy New Year to Sandy too. She looked a bit stern, but I’m sure she was just inspecting Dylan’s new haircut.

mama osprey looks at us UD147The salt marsh was quiet. Most birds were still in hiding after the week-long cold spell. We found one Black-crowned Night Heron in a sunny patch close to the nest. He was wide awake. That was it.

black-crowned night heron ud147Walking back home we spotted only one Cormorant at the Sailing Center, where they usually like to congregate in large numbers. It was still very cool and windy.

cormorant ud147_edited-1Yesterday the weather had warmed up somewhat and we went to the dog park again. We noticed the salt marsh was getting more lively. Mr. Mayor was huddling right below the Osprey nest…

the mayor UD147… where Sandy was having lunch on the perch, while Stanley observed her from the nest. I noted considerable progress in their remodeling effort.

Mama osprey eats fish UD147

papa osprey at the nest UD147Some Wood Storks were visiting again. And a little Snowy Egret bravely shared their accommodations.

wood storks ud147_edited-2The Reddish Egret had recovered from his New Year celebrations and was doing his magical dance in search of a bite for lunch.

reddish egret 2 UD147_edited-2

reddish egret fishing UD147

reddish egret UD147And finally we spotted Miss Rosa on the other side of the marsh. But she didn’t see us. She was taking a nap in the sun.

Roseate spoonbill UD147Walking back towards the nest we noticed from afar that Sandy was in the middle of her daily exercise routine. Right foot up, left foot up. Dylan sat down and I tried to capture her movements.

mama osprey morning gymnastics UD147From a nearby islet a Tri-colored Heron was watching how it’s done. She stretched her neck to get a better view.

tri-colored heron ud147And a Blue Jay was paying attention too. He was exercising his neck trying to find a straight line of sight between the branches.

blue jay ud147Walking home, we spotted a small songbird with raptor’s habits. A Loggerhead Shrike was waiting for lunch to appear in his line of sight.

loggerhead shrike ud147_edited-1Exciting times! We will be sure to follow the highs and the lows of Mr. and Mrs. Osprey’s nesting season. I am certainly hoping there will be less drama and more highs than last year…for them and for us humans.  Thanks so much for visiting the salt marsh gang.

Nest Takeover. And Nanday Chatter at the Salt Marsh.

Oh, I thought, now they have abandoned me. I have been buried under a huge project and not made it to the salt marsh for over a week, and now nobody was home. At the first glance, the marsh looked abandoned. Even the Osprey nest was empty.

empty nest ud45No Muscovy Duck and no Moorhens on the water. The sun peeked out and I decided to walk around the marsh. When I reached half way towards the other end, I spotted the Mayor! He was busy in his office on a Sunday, much like me.

great blue heron ud45Then I saw a bird from a distance. It looked like a Kingfisher. But when I raised my camera, it was gone. I looked around and found him – happily taking in the views at the Osprey nest (sorry for the poor quality as I had to shoot against the sun).

kingfisher ud45The Kingfisher was enjoying the big birds’ house! But that adventure came to an abrupt end in a minute. Mama Sandy arrived. She was wet and quite upset.

wet and angry mama osprey ud45And right after, Papa Stanley was there too. Where did they both come from so quickly?

papa osprey arrived ud45Nest occupations don’t last long at the salt marsh. I decided to continue my walk and spotted a cormorant hiding in the high grass.

cormorant ud45Walking back towards the nest, I met a beautiful Mourning Dove. She was busy having lunch in the grass.

mourning dove UD45And then, suddenly, there were more birds. Several Night Herons had come out from the bushes, juveniles and adults.

juvenile yellow-crowned night heron ud45

yellow-crowned night heron ud45And the young Muscovy Duck was back too, on his favorite spot at the water installation.

muscovy duck ud45The Moorhens were back too, and a squirrel was climbing up a palm tree to get a good look at it all. Now things were back in order.

squirrel 2 ud45I went back to say bye to the Osprey couple. They were as handsome as ever. And posed for a joint portrait.

mama osprey and papa oprey ud45Sandy was still wet…and now she was hungry too. She started asking for her lunch fish. Stanley pretended not to hear her. He was unmoved and stared at me instead.

mama osprey asks for fish ud45I was waiting for him to oblige, but couldn’t wait too long. I had to get back home. So, as usual, I walked home on the bayside. Some Brown Pelicans were flying at the distance, and the beautiful Snowy Egret (featured image) was at the same spot as I had found her a week ago. Suddenly I heard Osprey speak. It was Stanley. Probably telling Sandy he would get her a fish after all.

papa osprey flying ud45He settled on Marriott’s roof to scan the bay for fish.

papa osprey snanning for fish ud45But he didn’t stay long. He took off after a few minutes and flew over the bay.

papa osprey goes fishing ud45Finally I could witness his fishing expedition! But no. He flew far off to the south and I lost sight of him. A bit disappointed I walked home. Only to get a nice consolation prize right at our driveway. I heard familiar, loud chatter. Wild Nanday Parakeets were on the move. A family of eight landed on a palm tree right in front of me. All but one of them were busy playing hide and seek and impossible to capture.

nanday parakeet 2 ud45This one friendly individual was curious about me and posed nicely so I could capture her beauty from all angles.

nanday parakeet ud45Happy after seeing my friends had not abandoned me, I came back home. For the next 2-3 months I will not be able to post or read as much as I would like to. I hope all friends will be as understanding as these guys at the salt marsh. I will have some (work related) adventures coming up soon so I’m hoping to bring you a few posts that are a bit different, while still trying to keep up with the excitement of the nesting season at the salt marsh.

Have a great week ahead. Much love from all of us.

 

Behind the Grid. In the Bird Sanctuary.

In the bird sanctuary many of the injured or otherwise handicapped birds live in enclosures. Behind the grid. Like these two Blue Jays, siblings brought up by humans since they were nestlings. And then abandoned. They don’t know they are birds, and cannot manage in the wild despite best rehabilitation efforts. They always return to their little row house in the sanctuary. It’s home.

two blue jays scbsThe Seabird Sanctuary here on Florida’s west coast is the largest non-profit wild bird hospital/sanctuary in the US.  On average, 15-20 injured birds are brought into their medical facility on a daily basis, and up to 5,000 are admitted annually. Unfortunately about 90% of their injuries are related to human activity.

snowy egrets SCBS

Luckily most of these birds (over 80%) only stay here for a little while. First in the hospital and then, if required, in observation and rehabilitation. Once healed, they are released back into the wild, usually in the same area where they were found. All baby birds born in the facility are also released into the wild as soon as they have gained independence.

young great blue heron SCBSBut quite a number of birds have injuries that make it impossible for them to live in the wild. They’ve lost parts of their wings and can no longer fly, they are blind or partly blind, or have injuries to their bill so they can no longer fetch food. Birds with a permanent handicap are offered a forever home here, or in another reputable facility.  Like these pelicans who enjoy splashing in the many small swimming pools. Or just floating around on a lazy afternoon.

pelican bath SCBS GThe oldest permanent resident is a Red-shouldered Hawk. She is blind in one eye, and almost blind in the other. She is over 20 years old, and has called this sanctuary home for quite a while. She lives in her little studio apartment, but is also able to enjoy the park and the beach thanks to a volunteer, who comes and takes her for regular outings.

Red-shouldered hawk scbsred-shouldered hawk on outing scbsThe day of my latest visit her human friend had just arrived. She turned around towards the back door in anticipation of her walk. barred owl SCBS G2And it was a great outing. The weather was fabulous, and I could see how much this old hawk enjoyed it.

Among the residents there are also two owls. They have wing and eye injuries, but are well taken care of here.The Barred Owl insisted on sitting in the attic so I only got a shaky portrait of him. But the Great-horned Owl was very curious about me (or the camera?) and posed nicely for a picture.

great-horned owl 2 SCBSThere are many other residents, like this Cormorant, who all have large and remarkably clean enclosures.

cormorant at scbsIn the surrounding park, I found other birds, old and young, who call the sanctuary home. Like this old Black-crowned Night Heron who was waiting for lunch time right in front of the hospital building when I arrived. And this buffed up youngster on the roof of the education center.

old black-crowned night heron at scbsjuvenile blackcrowned night heron An old American Vulture also hangs around in the park. He might be a former patient, who just feels comfortable staying close by.

american black vulture at SCBS I have made it a habit to visit this sanctuary every now and then. Just to offer little support as I don’t have the time to volunteer. They depend solely on donations, and you can imagine the amount of food that is needed here on a daily basis. And medicine, medical supplies, materials for the “homes” and equipment to keep the place clean and comfortable. Wonderful work by staff, volunteers and caring donors.

I wish you all a great week ahead.

This post is also my response to the Weekly Photo Challenge “Grid”. You can find other responses here.

Swan Songs and Alligators.

I’m back home after a great trip. I shouldn’t really say this was a short vacation, as I feel no need to take time off from my permanent vacation here on our barrier island. My travels nowadays are usually connected to work or visiting family overseas. But this was different. A trip back in time. To my musical youth. One of those nostalgic journeys I like to make occasionally. Changing my zip code for a few days. This time it was 32805.

orlando downtown
Downtown Orlando

So I went with hubby to see the good ol’ Stones. And I wasn’t disappointed. They are still rolling with an amazing speed.  And a strong, familiar beat in a masterful production. After playing together for over 50 years they still fill stadiums with 60K people. Remarkable.

Orlando zip code…
…concert.

That was an experience to add to the previous ones. Several of which were said to be the last tour, the swan song. But retirement doesn’t seem to be in these guys’ vocabulary. Mick said “see you in 30 years”. And I’m not sure whether or not he was joking.

So I saw an alligator, even if I didn’t have the time to go to the wetlands. But fortunately I could see some birds. Like this Swan family.

two juvenile swans orlando
Juvenile Swans
baby swan 2
One of the juvenile Swans
daddy swan orlando
Papa Swan

And many other birds familiar from the salt marsh, including a few juveniles.

great egret orlando
A Great Egret
cormorant
A Cormorant
juvenile great egret
A juvenile Great Egret

Now I’ll need to catch up on your blogs. And first thing tomorrow I’ll go see the Osprey family. I’ve heard there were very strong storms here at home last Friday night. I hope all of them are safe. I already have a sense that a lot has changed while I was away. But that will be for another story later this week.

Keep rolling, and have a wonderful week.

Parents Shield the Newborn from Paparazzi. And Other Late Breaking News from the Salt Marsh.

It’s really hard to be a paparazzo. While some “duckies” are happy to be photographed, and even pose for the camera with their kids at times, that’s not the  case with the Osprey family. The happy parents announced their baby news when I returned from my travels earlier this week. My guess is the baby was born between Thursday and Saturday last week. I could see both parents bent over the depression in the nest tending to the baby. But all my attempts to get a picture of the tiny hatchling have been thwarted by the protective parents. Almost.

Baby food transport arrived and feeding started.
Baby food transport has arrived and feeding started.

I have leaned far out over my terrace railings trying to get a clear line of sight into the nest, or a better angle. That’s not a totally risk free undertaking when your terrace is on the 14th floor and you’re trying to hold a 200x/1200mm zoom steady. When visiting the salt marsh, I’ve have climbed up on benches closest to the nest. And even considered using stilts or climbing a tree. But despite my best paparazzi tricks, the only picture that I might have of the baby is below. I’m not sure if it’s the hatching, it could be wishful thinking. What do you think?

osprey nest
Mama Sandy…and the chick?

The parents have now built a bit higher baby fence on the side facing my terrace so picture taking will be even more challenging. Good for the baby, bad for the paparazzo.

I’ve walked around the nest yesterday and today. And while I will not be able to see the little one from the ground for a few weeks, I’ve observed interesting parenting stuff. Check out this photo story.

Mama Sandy broods the chick...
Mama Sandy broods the chick for the first 10 days…it’s quite warm and she’s getting sweaty.
Papa Osprey comes in with a lunch bag of fresh fish, flies over the nest to show it to Mama...
Papa Stanley comes in with a lunch bag of fresh fish, flies over the nest to show it to Mama…
...and goes to eat the head in his man cave, then brings the best part to Mama and baby...
…and goes to eat the head in his man cave, then brings the best part to the nest…
...where Sandy starts feeding the baby...
…where Sandy immediately starts feeding the baby…
...while Stanley watches and learns...
…while Stanley watches and learns…
…until it’s his turn to feed the baby … under strict supervision by Sandy.
...then they both bend over the baby and feed it in turn...
Then they both bend over the baby and feed it in turn…
...until the feeding is done and Sandy has eaten. Then Stanley flies away with the rest of the fish...
When the baby has been fed it’s Sandy’s turn to have a bite, if she’s hungry. Finally Stanley flies away with the rest of the fish.

I’ve seen this routine several times now. But I should add that Stanley is even more protective of the nest now. Yesterday I saw him fly away with his fish and return almost immediately. Osprey Steve was flying by and Sandy sounded an alarm.

Papa Stanley returned back home...
Papa Stanley returns back home…
...to defend the nest...Mama Sandy is still sounding a stern warning to Steve...
…to defend the nest…Mama Sandy sounds a stern warning to Steve…
Osprey Steve over the marsh
…who flies over the marsh.

And only when everything is calm again will Stanley go to his man cave to finish his meal.

Finally everything looks peaceful and Stanley leaves for his man cave again to finish his meal.
Finally everything looks peaceful and Stanley leaves for his man cave again to finish his meal.

I think Sandy and Stanley are amazing, doting parents. And I’m happy they are not alarmed when a clumsy paparazzo lurks around the nest. They are just not yet ready for a photo shoot with the baby. I get that. Later will do.

When I was saying goodbye to Mama Sandy yesterday afternoon, I discovered a drama playing out in the deep water just below the nest. It was the Cormorant. Again. This is how it went down. The fish, I mean.

The Cormorant caught a fish...
The Cormorant caught a fish…
...and it's a big one!
…and it’s a big one!
He swings it up...
He swings it up…
...and down it goes!
…and down it goes!
Slowly.
With some effort, slowly but surely.

Such is life in the salt marsh. Never a dull moment in this beautiful place, where wildflowers greet the newborn. The little hatchling will learn all that in time.  Bless his/her heart.

Birthday flowers for the newborn. You can see the reflection of the nest pole in the water.
Birthday flowers for the newborn. You can see the reflection of the nest pole in the water.

Late Breaking News! Just before this was going to press, I was hanging out from the terrace again and got a confirmation it really was the hatchling in the first picture. Sandy was feeding the baby, now approximately 5-7 days old, and moved aside to take another bite. I got a few pictures where the chick was moving, and also enlarged one where s/he waits for another bite with an open mouth. If you look carefully at the second, very grainy and pixelated photo (feel free to get your goggles) you’ll see a tiny brown/white Osprey, about the size of Mama’s head, in the red circle 🙂

A tiny baby Osprey between Papa and Mama.
A tiny baby Osprey between Papa and Mama.
osprey chick enlarged
Osprey chick wants food.

I hope your Easter week is going smoothly. Reporting from the salt marsh this Thursday evening, Tiny