Tag Archives: Great Egert

Drama and Entertainment. At the Salt Marsh.

I hear a stern warning from the nest. I hear another warning from somewhere close by. Then I hear a perfect duet of loud Osprey warnings. And I look up and around. Up in the air a male Osprey is circling low over the nest, looking down and making sweeping fly-bys towards the nest where one of the parents is sitting on the egg(s).

another osprey ud49The parent in the nest turns out to be Papa Stanley. Because Mama Sandy happens to be on her break. She is perching on a lamp-post at a parking lot just outside the park boundary. She has a straight line of sight to the nest and helps Stanley to warn the unwanted visitor.

mama osprey on her break ud49The “Mayor”, a Great Blue Heron, happens to be just below the nest when all this unfolds. Being an old friend of the Osprey couple, he finds such a disturbance highly unfortunate too. Hair-raising in fact.

great blue heron follows the drama ud49As the drama progresses, and the guy in the sky continues his stalking, Sandy decides it’s best to return to the nest, take over from Stanley and let him handle the defense department.

shift change papa osprey leaves ud49The shift change is fast, two-three seconds tops. Stanley leaves immediately to take care of the threat.

papa osprey leaves ud49He chases the intruder away from the salt marsh. And continues patrolling the sky above the nest for at least 20 minutes afterwards. Impressive.

papa osprey gives chase 2 ud49Peace returns and I can move on to enjoy the entertainment provided by the Reddish Egret at the other end of the marsh. The “Clown” has returned while I was away. He is as exuberant as ever and puts up quite a show. So please check it out.

He runs around, jumps, flexes his wings, covers his head from the sun so he can see the bottom, and has a generally jolly time in search of that perfect lunch item. I’m smiling. But I’m not alone watching the spectacle. A Great Egret is following the hunting party at a safe distance with great interest.

great egret ud49The newly returned Mottled Duck couple have their eyes nailed to the Clown’s performance as well.

Mottled duck couple ud49In a nearby palm tree, the female Red-bellied Woodpecker almost twists her neck trying to see what’s going on.

redbellied woodpecker female 2 ud49But at the other end of the marsh nobody cares. The gracious Tri-colored Heron has the fishing waters all for herself.

tri-colored heron 2 ud49Well, almost. The tiny Grebe and a few Moorhens are there too enjoying the sunny afternoon. But my buddy, the Muscovy Duck, has left the salt marsh – possibly to search for a mate, just like last year.

grebe ud49Another returnee, the Green Heron, and his cousin, the Yellow-crowned Night Heron, are both taking in the now peaceful scenery close to the Osprey nest.

green heron B  UD49

yellowcrowned night neron ud49And up in the nest, Mama Sandy is sitting on the egg(s) after her interrupted break. We may have some tiny hatchlings in a couple of weeks 🙂

mama osprey incubates ud49Just when I am leaving, I spot the tiny Snowy Egret I first saw in January. She may be one of the many wading birds that were born here last year.

little snowy egret ud49Walking back home, I find Papa Stanley close by on his new “nesting season perch” from where he can see and hear everything that happens at the nest.

papa ospreys new perch ud49I am happy I could finally visit my friends at the salt marsh (twice) after almost a month of absence and before my next work trip at the end of next week. I wish you all a wonderful weekend.

 

 

Homecoming. And Little Miracles.

She saw me. Looked twice. And sang a short welcome-home-song for me. Loud. From the heart.

roseate spoonbills welcome song ud35Then she looked at me as in asking whether I liked it. Miss Rosa made me smile. And I felt welcomed back to the salt marsh.

roseate spoonbill 2 ud35I had finally managed to make the time for a walk to check on my feathered friends. And there was no doubt I was back in Florida. The salt marsh was blooming in all possible colors, delicate and bold.

flower ud35 yellow flowers ud35 red flower tree ud35I found the Mayor at his favorite spot on a small islet. He was in deep thought. Maybe pondering about the upcoming holiday party. It’s always a lively event at the salt marsh.

great blue heron ud35I noticed the herons and egrets had already started changing into their festive breeding plumage. Demonstrated here by the Snowy Egret, and the Great Egret little further away.

snowy egret ud35 great egret ud35Mama Sandy was at the nest when I arrived. But she was scanning the  skies where another Osprey was circling high up at a distance. She nodded a brief hello and flew away after a couple of minutes.

mama osprey at the nest ud35I was trying to get a picture of a Yellow-crowned Night Heron, who was hiding in the high grass, and a juvenile resting in the bushes right below the nest, when I heard Osprey speak.

yellow-crowned night heron ud35juvenile night heron UD35I looked up, and saw Sandy fly right over the nest with Stanley following close behind. Courting behavior. And by flying right past the nest, I thought, Sandy gave Stanley a hint about the proposal gift and the customary dance expected to take place shortly. A strategic reminder that the time for Stanley to come back to the nest was getting close. Three weeks tops.

mama and papa osprey fly by the nest ud35They flew together for quite a while and I decided to check who I could find on the bay side. On my way there, I saw this beautiful Northern Mockingird.

northern mockingbird UD35And was offered a demonstration in magic when a leaf on the ground suddenly started walking. One of nature’s little miracles.

walking leaf ud35On the bay side I was greeted by a flock of White Ibis feeding on a patch of grass. And then strolling back and forth on the sea wall.

ibis on the bay side ud35Close by a female Red-bellied Woodpecker was working on a thick palm trunk. Most of the time only half of her body visible.

female red-bellied woodpecker ud35I was just leaving to go home when I spotted Stanley at the Sailing Center. He was not scanning for fish, instead he was staring intently at something in the direction of my home.

papa osprey looks at mama ud35Walking back home, I spotted the object of his interest. Sandy was perching on the holiday decorated lamp-post closest to our driveway. Love is clearly blooming between the two of them. He couldn’t take his eyes off her.

mama osprey ud35When I reached our front yard, I noticed Sandy was watching me. She clearly knows where I live, and I hope she had missed seeing me when I was away. At least a little bit. It will be a privilege to witness their upcoming nest renovation project and hopefully get pictures of the chick(s) when the time comes.

mama odprey looks at me ud35We all wish you a great week. Cheers from the salt marsh ~

 

 

 

Playing with Fire. Chilling out. Vacation Time at the Salt Marsh.

It’s a little bit of a summer lull at the salt marsh right now. Residents watch visitors come and go. The older Great Blue Heron, the Mayor, welcomes everyone with open arms.

Great Blue Heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
The Mayor welcomes you!

And Mama Osprey takes the little excitement there might be with a grain of salt. It’s her vacation time. She observes everything from her “watch tower” with dignity, takes baths in the bay, dives for fish, eats and enjoys life.

Female Osprey watches the nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Mama Sandy observes Tiny and dries herself after a bath.

She is not the least provoked by the younger Great Blue Heron. You know, the one who repeatedly attacked her home last spring, and has now made it a habit to hunt right below the nest.

Young Great blue heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
The younger Great Blue Heron hunts close to the Osprey nest.

The other day he even played with fire. He flew low above the nest and settled on a tree top very close to Mama Sandy. Flexed his wings and stared right at her.

young great blue heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…and flies to the top of a tree to watch the nest.

But Sandy didn’t care to participate in a staring competition.  She was more interested in watching Sindile, who was flying by the nest again. This time she was on her own.

female osprey Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…but Sandy turns her head and watches Sindile…
young osprey in flight Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…who flies over the park.

Sandy spends some time at the nest every day making sure others don’t get silly ideas.  Like hoping the property had been vacated. Or was offered for vacation rental.

Papa Stanley has moved back to the same resort he favored last fall, on the top of an old palm trunk.

male osprey Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Papa Stanley enjoys life at his resort.

He sits there like a king, and monitors the air traffic between the beach and the bay. And keeps an eye on Sandy, of course.

So life has settled into a summer slumber at the salt marsh. The ten ducklings hang out with other ducklings.  They are all in their teens, and prefer to chill out together at various corners of the waterways.

young Mottled Ducks Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Young Mottled Ducks chill out together.

The Egrets and Herons come for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Or just to check out who’s there and what’s trending.

great egret and snowy egret Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
A Great Egret and a Snowy Egret check out the ducklings’ get-together with great interest.
tricolored heron hunting Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
A Tri-colored Heron is looking at the menu…
black crowned night heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…and a Black-crowned Night Heron, who should be getting his daily sleep,  is fully awake at lunch time.

Last night I spotted a few familiar dinner quests. And even had an exchange with the Roseate Spoonbill.

roseate spoonbill at sunset Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Hi! Is that you Tiny?
roseate spoonbill at sunset Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
I said HELLO Tiny!
roseate spoonbill Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Oops, sorry.  That was too loud. I didn’t mean to be rude…
roseate spoonbill sleeping at sunset Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…but if you excuse me, I’m very sleepy.

On the bay side, Sandy was basking in the last rays of the setting sun. Her crop was full after a quick dinner, but she was not yet dry. She shook her feathers and then greeted me quietly.

wet female osprey shakes herself Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Mama Sandy shakes herself to get rid of water after a dinner dive…
female osprey at sunset Sand Park Clearwater Florida
…and says hi.

I continued to the bay shore. A Brown Pelican waived good night while flying to his night quarters. And a White Ibis was considering an evening bath. She was not-so-white anymore after the day’s adventures.

brown pelican at sunset Sand Key Clearwater Florida
A Brown Pelican waves good night…
White ibis at sunset Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…a formerly White Ibis prepares for an evening bath. Hopefully.

While the sun rises over the bay, it sets over the ocean. I walked home through the beach, and saw the sunset wouldn’t disappoint. Mother Nature’s art at its best.

Sunset on the Gulf Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Sunset on the Gulf.

I hope your week’s been going well. Have a peaceful rest of the week.

Empty Nesters Are Enjoying Themselves. And the Mayor of the Marsh Is Back.

This week’s been hot, and I’ve been busy. Since my sunrise walk on Monday, I only went to see my feathered friends around the salt marsh today at lunch time. But wanted to say a quick hello before the end of the week. So you know I’m still alive and well, and looking forward to catching up on your blogs over the weekend.

Mama and Papa Osprey are empty nesters since ten days, as many of you know. But they are staying close to each other, which is a bit unusual for Osprey once the nesting season is over.  They’re perching on the bay side – featured image taken from my terrace on Wednesday night at sunset. Or flying together and chatting. Last night when it was too dark for a photo shoot, but not for my new binoculars, I spotted them perching at the Sailing Center. Each at the top of a sailing boat mast, next to each other. That was too cute.

female osprey at the nest with full crop Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Mama Sandy uses the nest as her feeding and resting perch. Today her crop was really full.

Mama Sandy has been at the nest several times since she came back to the area last weekend. Today she was perching there again. Her crop was really full. She must have eaten a huge fish for lunch. Finally she has time to take care of herself.

And I spotted Stanley too. He was still planning what to have for lunch. Scanning for fish high up on the roof of Marriott Resort on the bay side. That’s one of his favorite spots. Excellent visibility into the clear water below. The fish he craves for is likely to be his.

male osprey scans for fish on a hotel roof Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Papa Stanley checks his lunch options at the corner of Marriott’s roof.

At the salt marsh, the “Mayor” is back! Some of you may remember the older Great Blue Heron who keeps order among the moorhens, egrets, ducks, other herons, the many ibis families and all the smaller birds.

GBH UD15
The “Mayor” surveys his community.

Not that he needs to work hard. This is usually a well-mannered crowd. There are plenty of nice spots at this resort, and the smorgasbord in the shallow waters has something for everyone.

mottled duck Sand Key Clearwater Florida
A female Mottled Duck enjoys a nice spot in the grass.
juvenile ibis Sand Key Clearwater Florida
The young ibis is still around, now foraging on his own.
moorhen family with four chicks Sand Key Clearwater Florida
All four Moorhen chicks are out and about.
great egret ibis and mottled ducks Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Great Egret, Ibis and two Mottled Ducks share a small islet.
A Blue Jay forages in the grass.

That’s all I have for this week. I’m still working on the recap of the nesting season. Mama Sandy’s calendar is full of scribbles about all kinds of drama and other happenings, so it’s a bit like detective work to get it all correctly 🙂

We all wish you a wonderful weekend. Peace.

Goodbye Girl! And Other Breaking News from the Salt Marsh.

Little Sindile, the youngest of the three Osprey chicks, was alone in the nest. Her siblings had left for their independent adventures several days ago, but Papa Osprey was still around to look after her.

male osprey eating fish Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Papa Stanley eats fish for lunch…

He perched on the bayside at the Community Sailing Center, with a direct line of sight to the nest. He would bring fish to Sindile a couple of times a day, usually in the morning and in the evening. Sometimes he would eat lunch, but not bring anything to her. That’s tough love. It’s called motivation. He wanted her to go fishing. And after frenetically asking for lunch, she usually flew a few rounds over the bay scanning for fish. I didn’t see her catch any, but she might have.

osprey chick is cooling herself Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Sindile is cooling herself and asking for fish…
sindosprey chick learns to fish Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Sindile is fishing far over the bay – as seen from my terrace more than half a mile away…

On Monday, I discovered something funny. Sindile was in the nest and she asked for fish. But in a way that sounded a bit half-hearted, there was no urgency in her call (unlike in the video clip below I shot on Sunday). I thought of it when I walked away from the nest to greet other residents of the salt marsh.

great blue heron and black skimmer Sand Key Clearwater Florida
A Great Blue Heron observes a Black Skimmer at work…
great egret looks for fish Sand Key Clearwater Florida
A Great Egret scans the water for breakfast…
juvenile yellowcrowned night heron Sand Key Clearwater Florida
A juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron inspects the marsh…
soaking wet yellowcrowned night heron Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Mama Yellow-crowned Night Heron is soaking wet after falling into the water…

I marveled about Mama Yellow-crowned Night Heron, who tried to land on a thin branch close to her juvenile offspring. The branch broke off, and she fell into the water.  Like most moms, she must have been sleep deprived. Then I looked back towards the nest again and saw Sindile with a big, half-eaten fish. She was nibbling on it. She had it all along. Apparently it was too big to finish at breakfast, but I was too close previously to notice it from the ground. She may have caught it herself that morning, but thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask for another one 🙂 I had to smile.

osprey chick has a fish Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Sindile with a half-eaten fish…

I saw her for the last time on my early morning walk yesterday. She was looking down into the water where a big fish was making waves.

osprey chick in the nest Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Sindile on Tuesday morning observing a fish jumping below the nest…

I walked along the northern side of the marsh and saw a Roseate Spoonbill perched on a small tree, still fast asleep.

roseate spoonbill sleeping Sand Key Clearwater Florida
A Roseate Spoonbill is sleeping in…

And spotted an old friend, the Reddish Egret, also known as the “showman”.  He might have brought his juvenile offspring for a fishing trip at the marsh.

 reddish egret Sand Key Clearwater Florida
The showman is back!
reddish egret hunting Sand Key Clearwater Florida
…and demonstrates his hunting skills…
juvenile reddish egret
…to this juvenile, who might have been his offspring.

I took a short video clip of the early morning activities. And later added my last footage on Sindile from Sunday.

I had to leave the salt marsh quite abruptly as a morning storm was approaching from the ocean.

storm is brewing on the ocean Sand Key Clearwater Florida
A morning storm is brewing over the Gulf.

Passing the nest again, I snapped one more picture of Sindile. She looked so “adult” and in control. Little did I know it would be my last picture of her. At least for now. I checked on her from my window before going to my lunch meeting. She was still in the nest. But when I came back around 3 p.m., the nest was empty.

empty osprey nest Sand Key Clearwater Florida
The empty nest at sunset yesterday.

I kept an eye on the nest in the evening until it was dark. She didn’t come back. Papa Stanley was perched on his usual lamp-post at the Sailing Center. It’s quite a bit further than the nest, but I could see he caught a fish two times last night. Just in case Sindile would come back. He is a good dad. And his tough love had worked. He was eligible for a good vacation.

male osprey eats a fish Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Papa Stanley starts on his second fish for the night – as seen from my terrace. I’m sure he only ate the head in order to bring it to Sindile in case she returned to the nest.

This morning he was perched there again, turned toward the nest. I’m not sure whether or not he spent the night there. But Sindile had left the nest for good. She had enough confidence in her fishing skills to embark on independent life. Goodbye and good luck, Sindile! I will miss you.

osprey fledgling Sand Key Clearwater Florida
My last picture of Sindile in the nest yesterday morning.

Next week, I’ll peek into Mama Sandy’s calendar to prepare a short recap of Sandy’s and Stanley’s successful nesting season. I have to lift my hat to them, such talented parents! That’s all from the salt marsh this week. Have a great week!