Tag Archives: Egret

Papa Osprey Goes Fishing. And Other Serious Stuff.

We are having our best weather so far this year. It’s been calling me to go outside. Finally yesterday morning I got an opportunity to spend a couple of hours on the beach and in the nature reserve. I needed that quiet time in the midst of everything going on in the outer world. It was simply beautiful. I invite you to come along.

snowy egret, Florida, Sand Key
A Snowy Egret drying in the sun…

Just outside our garden, I was greeted by a Snowy Egret who was enjoying the beautiful morning at the top of a tree. Close by, two Mourning Doves were admiring the sun. I thought they looked like a happy old couple. Content with life. No worries of the world.

mourning dove couple, Florida, Sand Key
Mourning dove couple

Once on the beach I was walking along the water line, watching the terns and gulls play and bath in the surf. And pelicans fly back and forth in search of fish.

sandwich tern bathing 2
A Sandwich Tern baths in the surf…
pelican flyinng low, Florida, Sand Key
A White Pelican glides above the waves…

I also found mama Royal Tern and her teenage offspring…arguing as usual. I had to smile. Some things stay the same.

Mom and juvenile royal tern
Mama and juvenile Royal Tern argue….again.

I was just about to turn towards the nature reserve when I spotted two ospreys. They were on a fishing trip.  Flying high above the waves and peering down on the water. They were far out so I couldn’t see who they were, but snapped a picture of both. And guess what?

 osprey fishing, Florida
Stanley, the second osprey, fishing with P.O.
 osprey over the ocean, Florida, Sand Key
P.O. on a fishing trip with Stanley on Mexican Gulf

That was Papa Osprey and Stanley! They have become pals, it seems. They flew further away on the ocean and I took the path to the salt marsh.

I walked on the north side of the marsh and was greeted by a Great Egret on the very top of a huge tree. I guess having an overview was trending among egrets yesterday.

great egret at the very top of a tree, Florida, Sand Key
A Great Egret on the top of the world…

I spotted many other egrets, a juvenile Night Heron, and Tricolored Heron, among others. And my pal, the Muscovy Duck, who tends to come and greet me whenever I rest and sit on a bench.

tricolored heron Florida, Sand Key
A Tri-colored Heron hunting in the salt marsh…
muscovy duck Florida, Sand Key
A Muscovy Duck swimming in the salt marsh….

I didn’t expect to see Papa Osprey because I’d just seen him over the ocean. But when I approached the nest, there he was. All wet. But with no fish.

wet papa osprey returns from ocean
Papa Osprey is wet…but didn’t catch a fish…

I guess he was disappointed that the dive in the ocean didn’t result in fresh seafood lunch. And he must have been hungry. He turned to look at me as if saying he can’t stay.

osprey Florida, Sand Key
Papa Osprey…says he’s hungry…

I assured him I understood, and that I’d wait for a while. Off he flew  to the drive-thru fish place, aka the intra-coastal bay.

osprey goes fishing Florida, Sand Key
Papa Osprey goes fishing…again.

I wanted to see if he’d catch a fish, so I decided to take a run around the park. I approached his nest again after about 15 minutes. And he was already back! Soaking wet and with a fish  firmly in the talons of his left foot. It looked like one from the lunch menu.

Papa osprey back with a fish
Papa Osprey comes home with a fish…

The second fishing trip was a success. Persistence pays off. After drying himself for a few minutes, he looked up towards the wooded end of the park and talked to someone I couldn’t see. In a friendly voice. Maybe he told his pal Stanley where he had caught the fish?

papa osprey has a fish 2
Papa Osprey starting his lunch…

After checking the airspace around him he started to eat his lunch. Soon thereafter I said my goodbyes. I may not see him until after a couple of weeks due to my upcoming travels.

It was a great little outing. I hope you enjoyed it too. Be good now and enjoy the weekend. ❤ Tiny

 

 

 

At Home. In My Habitat.

It’s nice to be away. Change surroundings every now and then. Enjoy the company of people precious to us. Do other stuff. Take a break. But after a wonderful time away, it’s good to come home too. To me it also means coming home to my nature experience. So soothing.

pelican at sunset
A Pelican at sunset time…

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home” – Gary Snyder

You guessed it. The first thing I wanted to do after returning home was to take a walk on the beach and check on Papa Osprey in the nature reserve.

papa osprey portrait
Papa Osprey says hi…

He was doing just fine. And seemed quite happy to see me, don’t you think? Actually, everything was fine and very lively. It seems that the “snow birds” have returned in big numbers. Just look at this Ibis island.

family of ibis with juvenile
Family gathering…

The whole extended family with a juvenile had come to enjoy the comforts of the nature reserve. And Egrets were out in big numbers as well. I counted 22 Great and Snowy Egrets in the salt marsh!

great white egret
Great Egret hunting…
snowy egret grooming
Snowy Egret grooming…

And a Roseate Spoonbill was flying high over Papa osprey’s nest on her way to the more dense areas of the park.

roseate spoonbill flying
Roseate Spoonbill flying high over the park…

I witnessed many interesting developments, but I’ll leave those for later posts in the next couple of weeks. Now I’ll be off reading blogs, lots to catch up on!  ❤

Congested Airspace. Papa Osprey in the Control Tower.

Yesterday was the liveliest air traffic day in the nature reserve so far this year. Everybody was flying somewhere. At whatever altitude. Papa Osprey perched on the corner of his nest and watched the skies, much like an air traffic controller.

papa osprey alarmed watching the skies
Papa osprey watches the skies…

He was busy shouting instructions on when and where to land. And, in some cases, not to land at all. He was very clear about that. And loud. Landing permit denied.

papa ospey's warning calls
Papa Osprey controls his airspace…

The two gentlemen in question were ospreys. He saw these guys zooming into his airspace like fighter jets, one chasing the other.

two ospreys flying
Two ospreys zoom in…

The pursuer also had some questionable cargo. A half eaten fish was dangling from his talons.

other osprey or who
One osprey has become the hunted…he flies towards the ocean
another osprey with half fish flying
Another osprey with his meal in tow…is chasing the first one.

Papa Osprey must have concluded that something fishy was going down. Maybe the hunted, who strongly resembled the other guy hanging around the area, had tried to steal the cargo. And now had to flee to avoid punishment.

the cause for alarm the other osprey
Full circle, now flying towards the bay…
osprey with half fish
The pursuer doesn’t let up the chase…

They flew a couple of rounds above the nature reserve. You know, as in circling the airport. But got no permit to land from Papa Osprey. So off they went to settle their dispute on the bay-side. I could see Papa Osprey relax just a bit. But the congested traffic pattern continued. A Great Egret was taxing out and took off at the other end of the salt marsh.

Egret flying
A Great Egret jets by…

She reached her cruising altitude in no time and was shooting away like a small jet in the general direction of the bay.

egret landed
A Snowy Egret lands in the high grass…

In another part of the salt marsh, a Snowy Egret had a rough landing on a small island. She missed the airstrip and landed in high grass. Almost simultaneously, a Roseate Spoonbill landed on the neighboring island. Dangerously close to an Ibis waiting on the taxiway. But so far so good. No accidents to report.

A Roseate Spoonbill lands on a neighboring island...
A Roseate Spoonbill lands on a neighboring island…

In the meantime, the island hopper, a Great Blue Heron, took off from the runway closest to the ocean.

great blue heron bird taking off
A Great Blue Heron takes off…

He flew extremely low. Like trying to fly stealth under the radar.

blueheron flying 826
…and flies over the water, under the radar…

I’m sure Papa Osprey detected him anyway. But he let it be.  It was a short domestic flight from one island to another.  Soon the heron landed safely at his destination.

Blue Heron landed safely
The Blue Heron lands safely…

After that a pelican passed over the salt marsh at an unusually high cruising altitude. I guessed he was going on a fishing trip in the ocean as the landing gear was still up.

pelicAN IN FLIGHT

Then the traffic finally calmed down. The skies were empty and peaceful again. Well ahead of the Labor Day weekend. Papa Osprey took a well deserved break.

papa osprey says hi 826

Be well now…and if you’re going somewhere for the long weekend, please stay safe in air, on the road and in the water.  ❤ Tiny

 

Drama in the Nature Reserve.

One day at the end of July, I witnessed quite a drama in our peaceful nature reserve. A thunder storm approached from the ocean and severe lightning followed, but no rain. Suddenly the lightning hit very close. An explosion I could feel in my feet. Lights flickered and the ground shook. The storm was over in a few minutes, as it usually is, but then I heard emergency vehicles. I went onto the terrace to see what had happened.

fire trucks in Sand Key park
Emergency vehicles in the park
firemen at work in the park
Firemen at work…and the Thriller on its way out on the ocean

I could see fire trucks at the north parking lot, and an ambulance was just leaving.  It seemed to me that the lightning strike had hit the northern end of the park, somewhere close to the beach. Apparently someone had been injured and there was a fire.

lightning stike fire in Sand Key Park Clearwater
The burnt area of the park

After such a drama in our usually tranquil environment, I decided to go out and check on the birds in the salt marsh and see what damage the lightning strike had done. I was happy to learn from the firemen that the injured beachgoer was going to be fine. And to find that the bush fire had been put out very quickly. It had only burned a very small area of grass and damaged two palm trees. It had spared this huge old tree nearby!

giant  tree sand key park
The trunk of the huge old tree
The essence of summer Sand Key Clearwater
Activities resumed…

People were back to their normal activities of beach fun and fishing. And the birds were too. In the salt marsh, on my way back, I spotted a rare visitor, a wood stork.

wood stork in nature reserve 724
Mr. Wood Stork in the salt marsh

The Great White Egret was enjoying peaceful fishing too.

Egret in the nature reserve Sand Key Clearwater
The beautiful Great White Egret

And the duck family was already on the move.

And everyone is accounted for...
And everyone is accounted for…

The drama was over. Life had returned to normal. And that’s how we prefer it.

Have a wonderful, peaceful weekend, everyone!

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.

Lunch. Fresh Seafood.

I couldn’t keep myself from checking on the osprey family again. You knew that, right? I had been spying on the nest from our terrace using binoculars …unfortunately it’s too far for me to get sharp pictures with my current camera gear.

The nest as seen from our terrace (almost half a km away)

So yesterday, after shoving down half a salad late in the lunch hour, I ran out to the nature reserve. Ok – I didn’t really run, but that’s how it felt in the afternoon heat.

Approaching the nest I only saw the mama.  She was observing me. The nestling was laying low, but I could see little movement of his head every now and then. They were not eating lunch as yet.

mamaosprey and nesting lying low
Mama osprey observes Tiny while the nestling is resting (head visible in front of mom). Note the balcony flowers still blooming.

It was about 2 p.m. and papa osprey was nowhere to be seen.  That’s until mama osprey thought I had been too sloppy with my camouflage. She gave out a few short high-pitched whistles, cheep cheep.  The calls were not the kind of frenzied cheereeks I had heard earlier when the dogs approached the nest, but papa osprey appeared almost immediately! He flew over the nest, looked down on me and tipped his hat (sorry, I missed that picture). That’s old Tiny, he seemed to think, no danger from her. He didn’t even circle the nest, just continued to fly high towards the beach. He has great intuition.

ibis flexing
An ibis bird fluffing her feathers
small heron wet 2
A reddish egret drying herself

I decided to turn and walked around the marsh to the other side of the nest  where the ospreys are more used to see joggers and other loose folks like me. I was still a bit away, busy watching some ibis birds and egrets washing and drying themselves in the marsh, when I sensed something in the air. I looked up and saw a huge fish hanging from the talons of papa osprey’s right foot high up in the air!

papa osprey bringing home fish for lunch
Papa osprey brings in fresh seafood

Lunch had arrived, fresh from the ocean! There was activity in the nest. I guessed the fish was portioned out. But I got a surprise! The nestling was being fed by his mama again!

gimme food says baby osprey
Mama, gimme food!
here you go baby mama osprey feeding
Here you go, baby…

I left them to enjoy their lunch in peace and quiet.  It was not yet the time for flying practice.

Fly high now – Tiny