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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
I’m sure Stanley will be a good neighbor. And a good dad. Maybe already next week if my estimates are about right.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Steve was flying over the nest. Repeatedly. With a half eaten fish in his talons.
After the “situation” was over, Mama Sandy asked for fish. And Papa flew away again. Life was returning to normal in the salt marsh.
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.
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.
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”.
But he didn’t eat. Something else had caught his attention high up in the sky.
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.
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.
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.
The danger was over and weekend was going great again.
I hope your weekend is going well too. Reporting from the salt marsh, Tiny
This weeks report from the salt marsh is all good news, but no breaking news as yet. No eggs in the nest for Mama and Papa Osprey. Not that they haven’t been trying, but I guess it’s not yet the time.
It’s been great seeing the two. Now that the nest is all repaired, and the nursery done, they have devoted time to each other, mating and feasting on all kinds of fish. And they share, too. When Mama is done, Papa eats the rest, and vice versa. Like another honeymoon, yet again.
Papa Stanley does most of the fishing now. The other day I saw him fishing far out on the ocean, ready to dive. But then I lost him in the bright blue skies.
Papa does most of the shuttling too. He comes and goes, Mama stays at the nest most of the time.
This morning, however, I was surprised to find Papa Stanley alone in the nest. He was on guard duty. Scanning the skies with a sharp eye. I was wondering about Mama Sandy. Where did she go?
I walked away from the nest to see other birds. Then saw Mama Sandy fly in with a huge fish, half eaten. She had either been fishing by herself or gotten a fish from Papa, but had preferred to “eat out”. I guess variety is the spice. Both of them were too full to eat more, so she just held on to it and dozed off. Under Papa Stanley’s watchful eye. With the fish still in her right talon. I guess that’s what pregnancy does even to the ospreys, lots of napping.
The breeding season is getting closer for many other residents as well. I noticed the Great Blue Heron, the Mayor of the Marsh, is sporting longer plumes now. Quite impressive looking, even when hunching like this.
And so is the Reddish Egret, the showman of the marsh. He is loud and very expressive, to say the least. And he’s a good hunter.
So the circle of life in the salt marsh is slowly turning towards spring, many nests will be built under the mangroves and in the bushes close to the water. And in the next couple of months we may spot some little ones, in the osprey nest and around the marsh.
Have a wonderful week. Reporting from the salt marsh, Tiny
I haven’t had the time to take a walk for quite a few days, so I started feeling the deficit today. You know, like an itch in the soul and tingling in the toes. I knew that a long walk on the beach and in the nature reserve would provide a complete cure. So that’s what I did.
Arriving in the nature reserve, I discovered that the Gallinule kids had grown up in the last one month, transformed from fluffy black fur balls to beautiful teenagers.
The three chicks didn’t want to pose for a portrait together (what’s new?), but here’s how they all look today. They are about two-thirds of the size of mom now, And they don’t want to be seen with her. They are full of energy and busy exploring the world on their own. Luckily I didn’t see them thumbing on smart phones 🙂
Walking a bit further, I found a young roseate spoonbill. She was sleeping in the shadow of a tree and woke up when I approached her “bed”. She gave me the look. You’re waking me up and it’s not yet even noon.
Then to my total surprise, the young osprey came to say hello. She’s been hanging around on the bay-side (across the street from the park) after she left the nest about three weeks ago. Thanks to excellent binoculars I’ve seen her fishing on the bay and then eating the fish on her favorite lamp-post at the sailing club. Now she flew right over her birth home, fairly high up, and looked down on me. Sorry for the bad quality of the pictures, but she didn’t send me a text that she was coming 🙂 It was great to see her again “in person”, even if very briefly!
There were so many gen Zs in the reserve today, they far outnumbered all the other generations. Next, I saw the resident great blue heron patrolling the marsh. He’s a mature adult, a boomer like me. I bet he’s the Mayor of the marsh. Always there, always in control.
There were several other herons present in his municipality. I saw the green heron again. He was taxing out on the sand dune and then took off.
Before I left the reserve, I spotted a tri-colored heron. She’s such a beautiful and gracious bird. And a great fisher too.
I’m quite sure the night heron was there too. He’s always hiding in the bushes around the marsh and very difficult to spot.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the walk, whether gen x, y, z or an older version like me. Have a great week.