Tag Archives: Florida Gulf coast

Adieu Lady Cawcaw. Hello Summer.

Lady Cawcaw left last Monday. Just like every Osprey chick born at the salt marsh in the past three years, she left exactly one month after fledging. And I haven’t spotted her since. This is the last picture I got of her. She had a full crop and had taken a bath. This beautiful bird was ready to take on the big world outside the salt marsh. I wish her the best! And hope to see her again.

last picture of osprey chick lady cawcaw ud69It looked like the birds were saying their goodbyes to her. The Yellow-crowned Night Heron peered towards the nest.

yellow-crowned night heron ud69The Green Heron was in deep thought. Maybe pondering how fast the time flies. And how fast the kids grow up.

green heron ud69Miss Rosa was on her favorite ‘island’ close to the Osprey nest. She took her customary beauty nap and then walked around looking for food.

roseate spoonbill ud69Life goes on and we all have to eat. That was true also for the Black Skimmer, who was flying around lightning fast and skimming the waters.

Black skimmer ud69The salt marsh feels somehow quieter now in the absence of Lady Cawcaw’s performances. The birds go on with their daily chores, but the action has been more low-key. Maybe they miss her. Or maybe it’s the midsummer heat.

Mama Sandy has been hanging around the nest for a few hours almost every day since Lady Cawcaw left. On Friday I found her eating a big fish.

mama osprey at the nest ud69And Papa Stanley has been around too. They have not gone on vacation this year, like they did last year and the year before. May it be that Lady Cawcaw has stayed somewhere nearby and they are keeping an eye on her?

papa osprey ud69This morning I took another quick walk to see who was at home. The first bird I saw was the Loggerhead Shrike (or butcherbird),  who hasn’t been around for a while. He was scanning for prey.

loggerhead shrike ud69And a Red-winged Blackbird was singing his heart out close to the Osprey nest.

female red-winged blackbird ud69Sandy was babysitting the nest. It’s unusual she does that directly after the nesting season, but she must have her reasons.

mama osprey at the nest ud69She was keeping an eye on the skies as well as on the young Blue Heron who was very close to the nest. He earned a few warning calls. Again.

young great blue heron ud69The Moorhens were out in big numbers. One was doing her beauty routine at a small pond.

moorhen 3 ud69.jpgThe Egrets were well represented too, both big and small.

snowy egret 2 ud69And so were the White Ibis. They had invaded the popular ‘resort island’, and had it all for themselves.

white Ibis ud69But Miss Rosa was represented only by this hot pink marker. Probably left there last night after her evening bath. A feather that was not up to her high standards.

miss rosas feather ud69This is all from the ‘Salt Marsh News’ for tonight. I have a feeling these news will be broadcasted at a more random schedule over the summer. This reporter will take her summer vacation, which involves various travels. She will still post and read. But it will be more like ‘whenever’ until after mid August.

summer beach ud69From all of us to all of you: Thank you for being here, have a wonderful week! Enjoy summer!

 

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

Wordless Wednesday: Take a Walk at Sunrise (10 images)

A waning moon greets you at sunrise…
…and the beach is painted in soft pastels.
Walking from the beach towards the salt marsh wild flowers greet the hazy morning...
Walking from the beach towards the salt marsh wild flowers delight the hazy morning…
Only a few birds are out and about looking for breakfast...
Only a few birds are out and about looking for breakfast…
The shallow waters are quiet...
The shallow waters are quiet…
...but the juvenile night heron is already awake...
…but a juvenile night heron is already awake…
...and so are Papa and Mama Osprey. They enjoy the quiet of the first rays...
…and so are Papa and Mama Osprey. They enjoy the first rays together…
...until Papa decides he has a better overview of the marsh from a tall cypress. he intends to go fishing...
…until Papa decides he has a better overview of the marsh from a tall cypress. He intends to fetch breakfast…
...while Mama looks after the baby.
…while Mama looks after the baby 🙂

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