Tag Archives: Great Egret

Paintings.

The path was winding through varied landscapes. Sunny days of happiness and joy, and darker days of pain and frustration. You know life works that way.

HMI great egret 1

The canvas of the year has been painted. It is complete, and there is no going back. You may now hang it in your gallery of experience, learning and growth.

HMI park Great egret 4

And you look forward. A new canvas on the easel is waiting for its first stroke of paint.  Your mind sees bright colors and lots of light. For health and happiness, and peace on earth.

HMI park great egret grooming 2

And right now, in this moment, you are here. On the threshold of a brand new year. In the flow of life.

May your new year become a wonderful painting! ❤ Tiny

Peeking into the Salt Marsh. While My Turkey Was Cooking.

I just had to go to the salt marsh on Christmas Eve while my turkey was cooking. Needed to wish Happy Holidays to all my feathered friends, and deliver the greetings many of you sent to the “team”.

Holidays at salt marsh

Upon arrival I was greeted by a dragonfly in full holiday attire. She was busy, just posed quickly for the photo shoot and then flew away.

A Great Egret was playing Santa and delivering Christmas gifts. No reindeer needed. He left a small package in the grass, not far from the osprey nest. Maybe a treat for Papa Osprey?

gift delivery by egret

In a tree next to the deep water, a Green Heron was happily guarding his stocking. It had already been filled by Santa, and was now hanging securely next to him.

Xmas green heron and his stocking

Then I heard music! An Ibis was singing carols, accompanied by bells in a nearby tree. His deep baritone entertained everyone in the salt marsh for quite a while. Including me.

singing ibis

When I arrived at Mama Osprey’s nest nobody was home. I sat for a while on my usual bench admiring her decorations.  Suddenly I saw her fly in with a huge branch! She has started restoring the nest on her own! She worked hard before she was happy with the placement of this large beam. I was impressed. Again.

papa osprey decorating his nest for xmas

After wishing them all Happy Holidays, I hurried back home to check on my turkey. It was a nice little walk before all that eating  🙂 Many more walks are needed, however, in the next few days.

PO, Bumble and I say thanks for the many beautiful cards received from blogging friends thanks to Jackie’s Great Christmas Card Exchange! And we thank you all for being such an inspiring part of our year. ❤ Tiny

Ps. This post has been edited after publishing when I discovered that Papa Osprey (PO) actually was Mama Osprey.

Holiday Travel. And All Its Trials.

Make no mistake, the holiday travel rush has started. At the busy airport on the ocean side, those wanting to land there had to wait for their turn to hit the runways.

congested landing strip
Terns lining up for landing…

Some were put into a holding pattern and had to circle the airport.

trio of flying pelicans
Pelicans in a holding pattern…

Others became a bit desperate and decided to make an emergency descent to a lower altitude. Just in case.

pelican diving 2 (2)
A Pelican diving…

Luckily everyone attempting to land got their gear down on time. No accidents reported, but there definitely were some close calls.

royal tern coming in for landing tm
A Royal Tern asking for permission to land…
pelican landing and tern flying
A Pelican landing…

Some of the departing flights demonstrated excellent on-time performance, some not. But that’s to be expected.

pelican taking off
A Pelican taking off…

Those who had landed were happy to reach their destinations. A few showed signs of exhaustion, particularly those travelling with children.

royal tern mom and child
A Royal Tern kid complaining to his mom…

But most took it in stride. And a few even took advantage of the showers in the arrival lounge.

sandwich tern bathing 2
A Sandwich Tern taking a shower…

That’s what holiday travel is at busy airports. But at smaller airports, like the salt marsh, it was much more laid back. One takeoff or landing every now and then.

great egret flying_tm
A Great Egret taking off…
anhinga 2
An Anhinga just landed…

And even the personnel in the tower could take a nap in between flights. With a half eaten lunch still on the table.

papa osprey sleeping w a fish in his talons_tm
Papa Osprey taking a nap with full crop…and a fish tail still in his talons…

There was some through traffic though above the salt marsh. And some cargo traffic too.

great egret flying
A Great Egret passing over salt marsh…
another osprey with half fish flying
Another Osprey, probably Stanley, flying over the salt marsh with a fish…

The control tower was certainly alert when needed. Some landing permissions were not granted.

papa osprey following the traffic
Papa Osprey scanning the skies…

Particularly for big “birds” like these.  They didn’t have feathered wings.

flying moped boat_tm
A manmade bird flying over the salt marsh…
flying moped_tm
…and another one…

All holiday travelers were not going by air, of course. There was some boat traffic too on the lakes in the salt marsh.  Very relaxing cruises, suitable for those who have all the time in the world.

muscovyduck and moorhen
A Muscovy Duck and a Moorhen cruising in the salt marsh…

May your holiday travels be pleasant and safe. ❤ Tiny

Cold Front. Huddling and Hiding.

I came back home last night to the tune of strong winds and a passing cold front. By this morning, the wind had calmed down a bit and the skies were blue again, but it was cool.  I would say cold, but I don’t want to offend anyone. Anyway, I felt the need to get moving again this afternoon so I went out for a walk to check on my feathered friends.

Two Willets and one pair of feet...
Two Willets and one pair of feet…

The beach was quite stormy. And completely empty, apart from a few Willets. When passing the salt marsh,  I found the birds hunching in the grass or hiding in the trees. Even Papa Osprey and his friend Stanley were not perching upright as they usually do. That’s what a cold front does to you.

blue heron CF2
A Blue Heron hunching by the water…
snowy egrets and an ibis huddling CF
Two Snowy Egrets and an Ibis huddling together…
black crowned night heron and juvenile huddling CF
A Black-crowned Night Heron and a juvenile hiding in the bushes…
reddish egret CF
A Reddish Egret hunching in some bushes…
yellow crowned night heron freezing CF
A Yellow-crowned Night Heron hiding in the tree…
A Great Egret huddling in the shelter of some bushes...
A Great Egret huddling in the shelter of some bushes…
A Wood Stork taking shelter in the long grass...
A Wood Stork taking shelter in the long grass…
osprey stanley huddling CF
Stanley perched on a lamp post next to the park…
papa osprey CF
Papa Osprey at his nest…

The birds were clearly feeling the chill. Winter has arrived to Florida. And that means the start of the nesting season for many residents in the salt marsh.

Speaking of nesting, I have to tell you something I discovered later this afternoon. I saw Papa Osprey flying together with another Osprey.  And singing. I took some pictures of them on the run and when I enlarged them, I saw the other Osprey also had a “necklace”. Stanley and Steve don’t have one, but Mama Osprey does. Couldn’t be sure though it was her so I leave it like that. We’ll see soon enough.

I hope your week is going great!

Not Crowded. After Thanksgiving in the Salt Marsh.

After neglecting my exercise routine for almost a month, and eating far too much over the holiday, I decided it was time to get out. Not to the malls or other crowded venues offering black stuff for mere pittance, but to the salt marsh to check on my feathered friends. The weather was finally sunny and the strong winds had calmed down quite a bit.

salt marsh flower tree nov 29
Sunny in the salt marsh…

I was eager to see how the residents had fared the stormy weather and whether or not Papa Osprey would still recognize me.

after the storm in the nature reserve nov 29 tm

There we signs of minor wind damage, dead palm branches and small debris scattered everywhere. And very few birds out and about. I almost got worried. But then I spotted this Great Egret. He was hunting. Looking intently into the grassy pool of water, waiting patiently, and then making his move.

Great Egret hunting in the marsh nov 29
A Great Egret hunts…

He caught a little frog (click to enlarge, and you’ll see). He ate it and flew away to the sunny side of the marsh.

great egret catches a frog nov 29
…for a little frog
great egret flying 3 Nov 29
…and then flies away.

I continued to Papa’s nest. He was there, initially awake and checking his surroundings. But he had a full crop, much like mine after the holiday.  He was sleepy. After nodding a greeting, he soon fell asleep perching on the edge of his nest to digest his breakfast. I thought that was neat. Tiny was not a threat, it was okay to doze off. He looked cute sleeping like a baby, I thought.

Papa Osprey taking a nap Nov 29
PO takes a nap…

I let him sleep and walked around for a while looking for more birds. I found the Moorhen family, all three together, on an after breakfast swim.

Moorhen family Nov 29
The Moorhen family…

And whoops, suddenly a Little Blue Heron landed almost in front of me. I assume he’d been away for Thanksgiving.  Welcome home you little one!

little blue heron landing Nov
A Little Blue Heron comes back home…

But all the others were still sleeping, hiding or just away somewhere. So I decided to walk to the bay side to look for more familiar faces. But the pickings were slim.  To my delight I spotted at least one resident of the salt marsh, a Yellow-crowned Night Heron.

yellowcrowned night heron hunting on the bay nov 29
A Yellow-crowned Night Heron on a day trip…

That was rare as they usually don’t hunt after daybreak. I always find them dozing off in the bushes, but not this one. I hope he wasn’t sleepwalking.

Yellowcrowned night heron on the bayside nov 29
…walks in the shallow water of the bay.

I feel so much better after the long walk. My “crop” feels a little smaller. I hope yours does too.  ❤ Tiny

 

 

Migration Conference. At the Salt Marsh Resort.

Earlier this week, I went out for my usual greet-papa-osprey run around the salt marsh, and landed in the middle of a migration conference with over 100 participants! The place resembled a luxury resort, with guests sprawling around every table at the lunch buffet.

migratory birds in Sand Key Park Salt Marsh
A small fraction of the conference guests

I’ve never seen so many birds in this salt marsh! Dozens of migrating Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets and Wood Storks were visiting. I was delighted, but the permanent residents didn’t quite share my enthusiasm. The crowd was a bit unruly at times. Tempers flared, voices – and hairs – were raised.

angry snowy egret in Sand Key Park salt marsh
A Snowy Egret gets upset…
A snowy egret is angry at the salt marsh of Sand Key Park
…very upset!

There were a few really loud exchanges. Followed by rearrangements at the tables. Or maybe I should say, adjustments in the pecking order.

Great Egret flying in to the salt marsh of Sand Key Park, FL
An upset Great Egret makes a loud entrance…
great egret chases another away Sand Key Park FL
… and turns the tables.

But for the most part, the conference luncheon went smoothly. Everyone got their pickings, big or small.

great egret hunting in Sand Key Park FL
A Great Egret begins the hunt…
great egret fishing in Sand Key Park FL
…and there he dives…
great egret fishing in Sand Key Park clearwater FL
…for something delicious, I hope.
tricolored heron hunting in Sand Key Park Clearwater FL
A Tricolored Heron takes a small bite…
B little blue heron with a fish
A Little Blue Heron catches a tiny fish…

After lunch some quests embarked on their exercise routines, while others chatted with their peers. Exchanging the latest. Some paraded the calm waters, showing off their beautiful gowns.

A great egret doing the doggy shake sand key park clearwater fl
Shake, baby shake!
wood storks and egrets in Sand key Park Clearwater FL
One of the Wood Stork teams hangs out…
great egrets in Sand Key Park Clearwater FL
And Great Egrets parade…

I noticed that some permanent residents tried to keep away from the hubbub, seeking calm corners to hide in until the conference would be over. Some stayed out of sight altogether, like the Night Herons.

Roseate spoon bill in sand key park clearwater fl
A Roseate Spoonbill avoids the crowd…
muscovy duck in sand key park clearwater fl
Even the curious and normally social Muscovy Duck keeps to himself…
Tri-colored Heron in sand key park clearwater fl
A Tri-colored Heron hides his head in the grass…

A few elected to let it all pass, and moved to the relative calm of the bay side.

great egret flying sand key park clearwater fl
A Great Egret flies to the bay side
snowy egret fishing on the bayside Sand key clearwater fl
A Snowy Egret enjoys the rich fishing waters on the bay side…

That included the “Mayor of the Marsh”, Mister Blue Heron. I assumed he got tired of policing the crowd.

egret and blue heron and wood stork in sand key park clearwater FL
Mister Blue Heron, a Great Egret and a Wood Stork in the salt marsh…
blue heron policing the crowd
Enough is enough…Mister Blue Heron flies to the bay side.

But Mama Osprey wouldn’t be moved. She’d been there, done that. She knew peace would return in a couple of days.

male osprey in sand key park clearwater FL
Mama Osprey enjoys his peace up in the nest…

And it did. This morning the marsh was calm again, and the twenty odd residents were able to enjoy their home in peace, like the Great Egret does in the featured image.

I hope your weekend is peaceful and calm. ❤ Tiny

Mama Osprey. The Female Leader with Natural Clout.

I know a leader when I see one. That’s how I’ve made my livelihood, at least to a part. Spotting leadership talent and helping it flourish.  Now I’ve spotted such talent in the nature reserve. Ready to lead. No coaching required.

roseate spoonbill and snowy egret
Community representatives: a Roseate Spoonbill and a Snowy Egret.

That’s Mama Osprey, of course. You knew it, right? Or you may want some proof? I have plenty.

First, she cares about her community. The salt marsh has plenty of fish, from huge footlongs to medium and small. It would be easy to just dive down from the nest and get breakfast, lunch and dinner. Like opening the fridge. But she doesn’t fish there.

Plenty of fish in the salt marsh
Plenty of fish in the salt marsh

She leaves the food supply for residents who can’t fish in the ocean. Like this tiny Tri-colored Heron.

tricolored heron caught a fish
A Tri-colored Heron caught a fish…

Second, she ensures peace in the community. She constantly scans the skies and the grounds for any threats. And warns the residents whenever she detects a potential danger. Like dogs walking their people or bicyclists on the foot path closest to the marsh.

 osprey watching the sky
Mama Osprey watching the sky to the South…
papa osprey watching the sky 2
…and to the North.

Or the two other ospreys, Stanley and Steve,  who have settled in the area. Don’t get me wrong. Mama Osprey lets them thrive in the park. And even allows them to use her favorite dead palm trunk as their breakfast bar.

Stanley, the second Osprey, eats breakfast on the dead palm trunk...
Stanley, the second Osprey, eats breakfast on the dead palm trunk…

But she keeps a watchful eye on their movements. And sends a message of caution, as and when warranted. It’s clear that she has earned their respect.

third osprey flying 6
Steve, the third Osprey, flies above the salt marsh…

Third, she’s on the top of everything in the community. Has the big picture. Gently keeps tabs on the residents’ comings and goings. Like this Great Blue Heron, who periodically takes trips to the bay-side to socialize with fishermen in exchange for free fish.

blue heron flying high up
The Great Blue Heron on his way from the salt marsh…
blue heron flying high 3
…to the bay-side.

Or the Pelicans who fly in shuttle traffic between the ocean and the bay right over the salt marsh.

two pelicans flying
Pelicans flying over the marsh towards the bay…

And the young Night Herons who practice landing at the tree tops with varying degrees of success.

A juvenile Night Heron about to land...
A juvenile Night Heron about to land…

And not to talk about the large Egret population that tends to move back and forth between the tiny islands in search of the best fish.

egret flying
A Great White Egret flies to better hunting grounds…

Fourth, Mama Osprey trusts her gut. I got proof of that just a couple of days ago when I met a nice bird photographer. He was a visitor, not familiar with the nature reserve . So we started to chat and I told him about the nest. After a while I heard Mama Osprey’s warning calls.  Unwanted disturbance too close to the nest.

papa ospreys nest from afar
Papa Osprey’s nest seen from the East end of the marsh…

And then saw the poor guy walk away from the vicinity of the nest. After he left, I went to see Mama Osprey. She was her calm, good-looking self and turned to greet me when I walked right under the nest. Not a peep, just a friendly nod. She definitely trusts her gut.

papa osprey saying hi to tiny
Mama osprey says hi…
papa osprey looking at the flowers
…and then admires the flowers on the ground.

Then we both admired the bright yellow wild flowers that had popped up right next to the nest pole. I snapped a picture, she checked on the little worm crawling on one of the flowers.

wild flowers below the nest

My conclusion, based on all this evidence, is that Mama Osprey is a pioneering community leader with natural clout. I hope you agree with my assessment.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Ps. This post has been edited after publishing when I discovered that PO (Papa Osprey) actually was Mama Osprey.