Tag Archives: Great Blue Heron

Really?! Surprising Developments at the Salt Marsh.

It’s been difficult to get pictures of our osprey girl, Bubbette. She is a very ambitious student and attends the fishing school with Papa Stanley all day long. A few days ago when I started to get worried about her staying away so long, I went to our terrace with Dylan in tow and spotted Mama Sandy waiting for her at the nest. A Blue Jay had conquered the perch and kept flying over Sandy numerous times. He even landed on the nest. Sandy just ducked and made no effort to chase him away. She demonstrated great patience with the little one. I have to say I was impressed. I documented this rare event, but as the pictures were taken with my 1200mm zoom the quality leaves a lot to desire.

mama osprey and a Blue Jay 2 ud162

blue jay lands at the nest ud162

blue Jay flies over the nest UD162Did you spot the second Blue Jay at the edge of the nest? Sandy certainly did. But she took it all with stride.

In the last couple of days Sandy has joined the faculty at the fishing school, and the nest has been mostly empty. Bubbette leaves around sunrise when this night owl is still soundly asleep and often returns only just before sunset. In the last two weeks I have only found her at the nest once during our day time walks.

osprey chick with mama osprey ud162But when we go to the doggy park in the evenings, she and Sandy have been back at the nest and we have spotted Stanley fishing on the bay.

mama osprey with chick after sunset ud162The other night we saw the Blue Jay again. He was sitting on the perch and talking to Bubbette and Sandy.

blue jay and Bubbette ud162

blue jay ud162I was wondering what he was saying. It looked like he was asking to be adopted. He flew repeatedly over the nest and always landed back on the perch. Both ospreys were extremely understanding with him.

Blue jay flies ud162Anyway, on our one daytime walk we spotted several familiar faces. The Mayor was back! And he caught a big fish!

mayor GBH with a fish ud162This surprised us and one of the Snowy Egrets watching near by.

snowy egrets ud162But the Reddish Egret, aka the Clown, only got more motivated to continue his fishing expedition. I really like to watch this charming red head. And he knows it.

Reddish Egret is hunting ud162Harry, the younger GBH, did not witness the catch. Wisely, he stayed out of the Mayor’s sight at the opposite end of the marsh.

the younger blue heron ud162Yesterday I monitored Bubbette from my terrace. She was away the whole day and I started to get worried. Finally around 7 p.m. I spotted her alone in the nest. I took my camera along for the walk to the dog park. You see, I am not sure she will be here when I come back from my travels in about one week. She is an advanced flier already and the past couple of nights, Sandy has let her sleep alone in the nest. That means she’s considered almost ready to move from home and is fed only sporadically by her parents. We found her in the nest asking for food, although it was a quite half-hearted request. Her crop was fairly full.

Bubbette girl 6 15 UD162When we were close to the dog park, I turned around and noticed she had company. The little Blue Jay was back on the perch. They enjoyed the last rays of the day together.

Bubbette and the blue jay at sunset ud162When at the dog park, we heard her asking for food again and I walked up to the fence to see if Sandy was back at the nest with a bite for the night. She wasn’t. But the marsh bathed in the warm glow of the setting sun.

Bubbette at sunset 6 15 ud162Bubbette was learning that the free meals would be fewer and far between. When we left the dog park, we spotted a few more friends at the almost dark marsh. I saw a flash of red and noticed a male Northern Cardinal landing on a tree just ahead of us. My assistant kept a low profile and I managed to get a shot before he flew off.

male cardinal ud162A Tri-colored Heron was getting a late snack and Harry was, as he often is, watching the osprey nest.

tricolored heron at sunset ud162

young GBH at sunset 2 UD162 He saw that Bubbette had flown up to the perch. A sign of mastering the skill of flying. Perhaps she was checking if any of her parents were nearby and hoping for a late night snack.

Bubbette at night Friday 6 15 UD162And, indeed, Sandy was perching at the Sailing Center right across the road. She was looking at Bubbette. It might have been too dark to go fishing, but who knows…

sandy at sunset ud162Today at lunch time, I spotted both Sandy and Bubbette at the nest. And faintly heard the fish-fish song again. I will miss that song and hope to hear it again when I come back next weekend.

sandy and Bubbette at the nest 6 16 ud162I will leave you with last night’s beautiful glow over the salt marsh. Thank you for visiting. Be well.

salt marsh sunset 6 15 UD162

Bubbette Says Hello. To Alberto.

The season’s first subtropical storm, Alberto, will soon be making landfall on the northern Gulf coast, now packing 65mph/105kph winds. Yesterday it was churning past us about 135 miles out on the Gulf. It didn’t come here, but the “low” associated with it has brought rainy weather and gusty winds already much of last week for us. And although we now see glimpses of sun every now and then, the winds are still very gusty. As far as I know, Miss Bubbette has not yet fledged. I think Mama Sandy has put her under strict orders not to try her wings in this weather. On Wednesday, Thursday and yesterday when we had some dry weather, Dylan and I went to see her.

osprey chick waits for mama osprey ud161On Wednesday we found her alone in the nest keeping a low profile. Mama Sandy was flying overhead and sounding loud warnings.

Mama Osprey chased an intruder ud161I realized she was chasing away a male intruder who had ventured too close to the nest.

Mama Osprey chases a male osprey ud161Sandy soon returned to the nest and I understood she had flown away in the middle of her lunch. She continued eating. Bubbette had probably already eaten, but asked for more so Sandy was feeding her a few more bites from her own lunch. Mother’s love.

Mama osprey is feeding chick 2 ud161After finishing her lunch, Sandy flew up to the perch. Bubbette continued her wing exercises.

Mama osprey is back ud161We walked around the marsh and saw a few friends. Miss Rosa was visiting…

miss rosa ud161

snowy egret and miss rosa ud161… and foraging together with a Snowy Egret. A Yellow-crowned Night Heron was hunting too, which is rarely seen in the middle of the day.

yellowcrowned night heron ud161And Mr. Moorhen was checking out his territory. Otherwise the marsh was quiet.

moorhen ud161On Thursday we went out again quickly between the rain showers. Bubbette was exercising her wings again. She did not take off the nest, but ‘flew’ onto the highest branch in the nest.

Osprey chick bubbette practices flying UD161And she was hungry. She had, indeed, learned the most common osprey song: Gimme Fish.

And she knows her “head bob”, so typical for ospreys. Mama Sandy just sat on the perch. After a while she took a short flight towards the bay. Perhaps to check if Papa Stanley was somewhere close by eating the head of their lunch fish. You see, I had witnessed a small brawl between Sandy and Stanley the previous night when watching the nest from my living room. Stanley had brought a fish and was sitting on the perch when Sandy suddenly flew up and literally pushed him away. I had no idea what he’d done, or if he would still bring in fish for that matter. I have not spotted him at the nest since.

mama osprey returns ud161The sky had filled with clouds and we left Bubbette and Sandy to wait for their lunch.

Osprey chick perching on the highest branch in the nest ud161Yesterday I went out to the terrace to take a picture of the nest through the rain. I was thrown off balance several times by the strong wind gusts. No wonder Sandy doesn’t allow her girl to get airborne as yet.

osprey chick and mom in the rain ud161Later in the afternoon when the sun came out, I looked at the nest again…and could not spot Bubbette! I thought the poor girl might have taken off in the gusting wind, which made it difficult to fly even for experienced fliers. I took my camera and went out Dylan in tow. The wind hit us hard.

Mama osprey UD161We arrived at the nest, but could only see Sandy on the perch. The wind was blowing so hard that it forced three Anhingas on their way to the bay to land at the marsh.

Anhinga 1 ud161

Anhinga 2 ud161

anhinga 3 ud161Still no Bubbette in sight. This ‘osprey granny’ was starting to get worried. We walked around the marsh and spotted Harry, the younger Great Blue Heron.

Yoiung great blue heron UD161And a tiny, juvenile Green Heron, who was trying to keep her balance on a low branch.

Juvenile Green Heron UD161A male Red-winged Blackbird had to flap his wings to stay put on his sturdy tree stump. Normally he would land in the middle of the marsh on one of those slender bushes, but I guessed he didn’t like the idea of ‘swinging’ in this gusty wind.

redwinged blackbird male ud161When we approached the nest again, pushing against the wind, I still didn’t see the osprey chick, but a pregnant Mama Moorhen walked by.

mama moorhen ud161Suddenly I heard a faint song…fish, fish. It was Bubbette! But where did the sound come from? Dylan and I stayed quite a while close to the nest looking around. Finally we gave up and decided to walk home. When on the side-walk, I looked out to the nest again, and saw her. Phew.

Bubbette ud161She had been lying low in the nest cup all along, probably ordered to take shelter by Mama Sandy. It is windy today too…and the fledging watch continues. Thanks for visiting. Happy Memorial Day and have a great week.

It’s a Girl! And Other Breaking News from the Salt Marsh.

It’s been a busy two weeks since we last checked on the Osprey Family. The week after my last update, Dylan and I went by the nest late one evening, but it was really windy and Mama Sandy was covering the chick. Nothing to be seen. Other than the waxing moon. Presented here for evidence.

evening moon ud159Yesterday, after I had returned from my latest work trip on Friday night, we went to the salt marsh twice. We found the Osprey Family all gathered in the nest for some late-morning family time.

Osprey family ud159Papa Stanley took a nap on the perch, but his sleep was interrupted by Sandy reminding him it was time to fetch lunch. And that’s when I saw it. The chick is a girl! She looks just like her mom, with a ‘necklace’ already at six weeks of age. She had grown beautiful feathers and was as alert as ever.

all three ospreys in the nest ud159Stanley is quite funny. He never leaves on a fishing trip right away when Sandy asks for food. He  flew down from his perch and parked himself in the nest for a while. Sandy continued her “we-want-fish-fish” song and the little one chimed in a couple of times. It was obvious she had learned to talk.

papa mama and osprey chick ud159Finally Stanley glanced at his watch and saw it was lunch time. He left for his 3rd fishing trip of the day. Both females observed his departure. Better late than never, they seemed to think. And then they settled side by side to observe the life at the marsh. Sandy soon nodded off, but the chick was watching her environment. Perhaps already dreaming of flying.

sandy and osprey chick ud159She could see the ‘Clown’ down below. He was playing peek-a-boo with the chick.

reddish egret 2 UD159

reddish egret ud159And little further away Papa Moorhen was inspecting his territory.

mr moorhen ud159We went home before Stanley returned. But when we walked back in the evening it was like we never left. Stanley had a newly caught fish. He was eating the head on ‘his’ lamp-post, like he always does before he gives the fish to Sandy.

papa osprey has dinner ud159But then I discovered an Osprey flying high above the street. It was Sandy.

mama osprey in flight ud159So who was with the chick? Nobody! She was lying low in the nest all by herself while mama was stretching her wings and flying around just for the fun of it. Now that the chick is six weeks old, Sandy is free to do just that…and even go fishing should she feel for it.

osprey chick alone in the nest ud159After a few minutes of pre-dinner exercise Sandy returned to her chick. She was watching the setting sun and waiting for Stanley to drop off the fish.

mama osprey at sunset ud159We walked to the dog park passing right below the nest and discovered several familiar faces. Harry the trouble-maker, the younger Great Blue Heron, was hiding in the high grass.

younger GBH UD159He didn’t want to be seen and I soon understood why. The Mayor was marching around at the beach end of the marsh.

GBH the Mayor ud159Usually there’s not enough space for the two of them at the marsh, but this time Harry was not spotted. A Yellow-crowned Night Heron could see both of them from his sun-soaked islet, but he didn’t tell.

night heron UD159Dylan sat down as in waiting for some drama to occur, but there was none. A Mourning Dove sat on a branch just above my assistant and enjoyed the peace of the evening.

Dylan at sunset ud159

Mourning Dove ud159We went to the dog park and when we returned the sun was setting over the salt marsh.

salt marsh at sunset 2 UD159It was almost dark, but we saw some movement in the water. Miss Rosa was out and about getting her late night snack. I didn’t think the light would be enough to get anything but a pink blob, but in one picture you can actually see her. A little.

miss rosa ud159Soon there was only the full moon.

full moon april 28 ud159 I’m sure that Dylan, keeping with the tradition, will invite you all to provide name suggestions for the new osprey girl and reveal the lottery prize in the next post 🙂 Thank you for visiting and have a wonderful week.

 

Sshhh…Mama and Baby Are Sleeping.

This week has been sunny and warm, until today. And it’s been busy. Exacerbated by my laptop’s moody behavior. On its fourth birthday, it decided to go on strike. Not to work at all. I had to use all my tech wiz skills to wake it up. Since then it’s been misbehaving to the point I ordered a new one. And have to set it up later today. But before I say goodbye to this old blogging veteran, I want to give you a short update from the salt marsh. I’m asking it to cooperate for one last time.

osprey family portrait 2 april 14 ud158Finally yesterday, my assistant and I had an opportunity to get out and check on the osprey chick. We arrived soon after the family brunch. Papa Stanley was still on the perch, guarding his little family from intruders. The baby was sleeping and Mama Sandy nodded off for a while as well. She shielded her baby from the sun and the wind that was already picking up.

mama osprey and chick ud158But soon Stanley saw a danger in the skies (beyond my horizon) and sounded frequent loud warnings.

papa osprey sounds an alarm ud158The chick woke up and peered out from behind the baby gate with its head lowered. Sandy became alert too, but nobody came close to the nest.

mama osprey and baby ud158The salt marsh appeared deserted. The only other bird present was the Reddish Egret. And he was completely absorbed in his hunting dance.

reddish egret ud158At sunset time Dylan took me for another walk. He loves to walk on the bayside and look down to the water. I don’t mind such a detour because I often spot birds enjoying the low tide next to the sea wall. And we were lucky. Two Oystercatchers were looking for supper.

two Oyster catchers ud158And a bit further away, a Great Egret was enjoying the last rays of the day.

great egret on the bay side ud158The sun was still up when we reached the salt marsh. We found the younger Great Blue Heron, aka Henry the Troublemaker, on his usual spot staring at the osprey nest.

young great blue heron ud158And a beautiful Snowy Egret was looking for her evening meal. And checking us out.

snowy egret at sunset ud158A Yellow-crowned Night Heron had woken up to get his breakfast. He was planning his hunt on the little islet that also serves as the Mayor’s office. The Mayor was nowhere to be seen.

yellow-crowned night heron ud158When we approached the Osprey nest we heard the typical whistles of the Red-winged Blackbird. Finally I spotted one smack in the middle of the marsh.

redwinged blackbird male UD158Then Dylan alerted me to a lovely Mourning Dove walking right on our path. It was not eager to meet us and hurried away.

mourning dove ud158We found Stanley on his guard post. He nodded a friendly good evening to us. But Sandy was hunkering down over the baby and we could only see a few feathers sticking up.

Papa osprey at sunset ud158Just before dark we finally reached the dog park and my assistant got a well deserved rest after walking around the marsh and running back and forth at the park.

Dylan at sunset ud158When we returned to go home it was already dark. Stanley had gone to his sleeping quarters, but we saw Sandy in the nest beautifully silhouetted against the sunset’s after-glow.

mama osprey at dusk ud158This afternoon the skies darkened and the storms arrived. Right now I can hardly see the osprey nest from my terrace through the heavy rains. Gray walls of water are swept sideways by the strong winds. I went out quickly and took one picture. Sandy had placed her baby in the nest cup and was shielding it from the elements with her wings. Even her head was down. Possibly to reassure the baby that this too shall pass. She knows her stuff.

sandy in the storm Ud158With that we wish you a great week ahead and hope it will be sunny and bright. Thank you for visiting.

The Paparazzi and the Baby.

As many of you know, Mr. Dylan and I have been stalking the Osprey Family for first baby pictures for a couple of weeks now. Yesterday at lunch time we finally succeeded. Dylan’s persistence to go to the dog park, for first time since my work trip this past week, paid off. We are all smiles.

osprey family with chick ud157When we arrived at the marsh, Stanley had just brought in a fish. Sandy was eating and feeding the chick, whose little head was sticking up in front of her. Stanley decided to fly up to the perch to have a better overview. He often stays at the nest or close by when Sandy is feeding. The provider and guardian that he is.

Papa osprey flies to the perch ud157

papa osprey flies UD157Sandy continued eating and feeding, but soon told Stanley that more was needed. You better go fishing again, she told him with determination. But Stanley stayed put.

Mama osprey asks for more fish ud157We went to the dog park. When we returned Stanley had left. I wondered whether he had gone fishing or just to chill out a bit in his man cave. We walked around the marsh and spotted Miss Rosa.

miss rosa ud157For the first time this season she was there in the middle of the day, beautiful as ever.

roseate spoonbill ud157At the far end of the marsh, we also spotted the older Great Blue Heron. He was walking confidently, his head high, inspecting the marsh. He is a tall, handsome bird. And, indeed, a great Mayor.

the mayor ud157Of course there were some smaller birds flitting around as well. We spotted several European Starlings…

european starling ud157…and a very skittish Blue Jay. One look at the paparazzi and he was gone.

Blue jay in the grass UD157When we approached the osprey nest again, we noticed that the little one had moved closer to the edge. Unfortunately we had to ‘shoot’ almost right into the sun, but you can see that the chick seems curious about the outer world already. At less than three weeks of age. A future explorer for sure.

osprey chick ud157The baby had also discovered its little wings and was flapping them right in mama’s face.

mama osprey and the chick ud157The paparazzi are almost sure that there is only one chick this year. But they have been proven wrong before. What we know for sure is that this little chick is alert and energetic. It’s not yet ready for beauty competitions, but will be very soon. Its feathers will grow out and its eyes will turn from dark to beautiful bright orange. With these happy thoughts we said our goodbyes and walked home.

papa osprey arrives with fish UD157Reaching our front yard we saw, from a block away, that Staley was landing on his usual lamp-post with a new fish. Two fishing trips in about 90 minutes! No wonder the poor man looks a bit exhausted.

Much love from the paparazzi, the Mayor, Miss Rosa and the Osprey Family.

Sunrise, Sunset and All the Birds in Between.

This time of the year it’s a bit easier for this night owl to get up and witness the sunrise. The silent hour when nature is waking up brings incredible colors over the bay and beautiful reflections in the clouds over the ocean. Peace reigns.

sunrise on the ocean UD156Creatures living in harmony with nature start their day. Some sit and enjoy the sunrise, others get on with breakfast preparations.

birds at sunrise all varieties UD156Papa Stanley returns from his first fishing trip of the day, one of many to come …

papa osprey brings a fish UD156A few minutes later, he nods off on the lamp-post just outside the marsh border. As we know, taking care of babies is quite tiring for the parents. He has eaten the fish head and takes a short nap before bringing the meaty parts of the fish to Mama Sandy and the kids.

papa osprey sleeping with a fish UD156And so the day has started. Late morning yesterday, when Dylan and I were spying on the osprey family from our terrace, we finally spotted a little chick! Or perhaps two? The first born should be almost two weeks old now. Here is the first grainy family picture of 2018. We hope for better ones soon.

first osprey family portrait 2018 ud156Throughout the day many other birds made appearances. My assistant and I went on a short walk in another park nearby and spotted a Limpkin, a Double Crested Cormorant and a couple of White Ibis.

Limpkin ud156

cormorant ud156

two Ibis ud156We also found two different blackbirds…

red-winged blackbird ud156

blackbird UD156…and a few turtles enjoying the water and the mild spring weather.

turtle ud156

turtle swimming ud156Later on, around sunset time, we walked through the bay side to the salt marsh and discovered a beautiful Snowy Egret enjoying the low tide and the last rays of sun.

snowy egret ud156We noticed that Sandy was on her dinner break at their usual lamp-post table. She had left Stanley to look after the kids.

papa osprey at the nest ud156We also spotted Ms. Rosa! Long time no see. There was just about enough light to see that she still looks great.

Roseate spoonbill at sunset ud156She forageed around the shallow water as we watched her. Then ended up posing for another picture with Mr. Blue-winged Teal.

a blue-winged teal and a roseate spoonbill UD156The younger GBH was watching the osprey nest, as he had been for the past few nights. But Stanley seemed relaxed. He might know the youngster has now grown up and adopted better manners. The latter was evidenced by a short nod in our direction.

younger Great Blue Heron at sunset UD156Before we knew it the sun had gone down and the marsh filled with shadows. We saw some movement in the bushes but it was too dark for pictures.

dog park trees at sunset UD156

salt marsh 2 at sunset ud156We enjoyed the peace of the evening for a while on ‘my’ bench. When we finally wanted to leave, the park gate had already closed. We had to use our secret escape path out of the park. Dylan led the way in the moonlight. He had done this before.

full moon ud156Thank you for visiting us between the sunrise and the sunset. And Happy Easter to all who celebrate! I leave you with my one of my favorite sunset pictures from our beach. Sail well into the new week.

sailboat at sunset UD156

The Salt Marsh. Our Favorite Place.

After learning about this week’s photo challenge, my first thought was that it will be impossible for me to select one favorite place. There were too many great candidates for that title. Victoria Falls? The pyramids in Giza? The many great wildlife spots in Africa? The ancient treasures in Italy or Greece? My childhood lake in Finland? The Old Town in Stockholm? The list was long. But thinking about it I always came back to a place I can see every day right through my office window. The salt marsh at the north end of our barrier island. It’s always there. At sunrise and sunset. Rain or shine. Its mood constantly changing.

sunset at salt marsh 3 ud155

marsh at sunset UD155

salt marsh w iphone UD155And Dylan agrees with my choice. Whenever I say let’s go to the park, it’s clear from the speed of his tail that I’m on the right track. He loves to play at the dog park next to the marsh with his amigos, Saki, Eli, Snickers and others.

saki smiles 2 ud155

Eli march 23 UD155

snickers march 23 UD155So here we are, on ‘hatch watch’. From what we have been able to glean looking at the osprey nest from our terrace, the osprey couple now has hatchlings. While Mama Sandy is not yet allowing her chicks to be shown in public, her moves in the nest reveal that she is in the ‘mothering mode’. Sorry for the poor picture quality as these two images were taken handheld from almost 300 yards on my compact superzoom camera.

mama osprey attends to chick ud155Sandy gets up often and bends her head down into the nest cup. And after Papa Stanley has brought in a fish, her head stays down for several minutes. She moves around as in feeding more than one chick.

mama osprey feeds hatchling ud155Last night around sunset time, when we passed the nest and Stanley had just left to get dinner, she even stood up in the nest to preen herself. A sure sign that the eggs have hatched this week.

mama sandy at sunset ud155The nest cup is so deep that it will probably take a week or two before I can get ‘proof’ of the newly hatched chicks in the form of a grainy picture from my terrace. And a couple of more weeks before I can get the first baby portraits from the ground. Patience girl. Patience.

papa osprey ud155Papa Stanley is guarding the nest whenever he is not on a fishing trip. Yesterday, again, there was another osprey flying around the nest.

another osprey ud155Stanley sounded alarm and when that was not effective, he promptly went to chase it away.

papa osprey lands at the nest UD155When we passed under the nest a few minutes later, he was back on his guard post and nodded a friendly greeting.

papa osprey UD155I’m sure he had noticed that both the Mayor and the younger Great Blue Heron were present close to the nest. Staring at each other from the opposite sides of the deep water.

great blue heron Mayor ud155

younger Great Blue Heron ud155The Mayor’s presence was a good thing. It was less likely that the younger GBH would get bad ideas. Like considering attacking the osprey nest. He may remember that any attempt to approach the nest will not be tolerated. He would get his butt feathers ruffled by Stanley.

mama osprey UD155 9x16Mama Sandy was alert too. Maybe she remembered her dramatic encounter with the youngster a couple of years ago (below). Despite the difference in size, she did give the young heron a lesson.

mama osprey prevents attack by blue heron ud155But there was one fellow who only had time for himself … and the camera. As soon as the Reddish Egret, aka the Clown, saw my camera, he started his usual hunting dance.

reddish egret 1 UD155

reddish egret 2 UD155

Reddish Egret hunting UD155I always enjoy watching his performance, but this time he didn’t catch a fish. Someone else did. A young Great Egret walked around at the far end of the marsh showcasing his catch.

great egret with a fish ud155He kept an eye on us so we didn’t dare to move closer. Instead we spotted a Tri-colored Heron hunting for crustaceans in the shallow water.

tri-colored heron hunts ud155I was wondering if it was the same bird now being exhibited at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts (below). Whatever the case, I am happy that one of the salt marsh residents made it to the “Forever Young” exhibition.

tri-colored heron Sand Key Park AHK UD155Just before leaving the park, we discovered something you can only see at the salt marsh. A bird reading a sign.

great egret read a sign ud155The Great Egret was wet. He looked relieved to see the no swimming sign pictured a human rather than a bird. He had already been swimming.

We all wish you a pleasant weekend and a great week ahead. Thank you for visiting our favorite place.