Tag Archives: Hatchling

Parents Shield the Newborn from Paparazzi. And Other Late Breaking News from the Salt Marsh.

It’s really hard to be a paparazzo. While some “duckies” are happy to be photographed, and even pose for the camera with their kids at times, that’s not the  case with the Osprey family. The happy parents announced their baby news when I returned from my travels earlier this week. My guess is the baby was born between Thursday and Saturday last week. I could see both parents bent over the depression in the nest tending to the baby. But all my attempts to get a picture of the tiny hatchling have been thwarted by the protective parents. Almost.

Baby food transport arrived and feeding started.
Baby food transport has arrived and feeding started.

I have leaned far out over my terrace railings trying to get a clear line of sight into the nest, or a better angle. That’s not a totally risk free undertaking when your terrace is on the 14th floor and you’re trying to hold a 200x/1200mm zoom steady. When visiting the salt marsh, I’ve have climbed up on benches closest to the nest. And even considered using stilts or climbing a tree. But despite my best paparazzi tricks, the only picture that I might have of the baby is below. I’m not sure if it’s the hatching, it could be wishful thinking. What do you think?

osprey nest
Mama Sandy…and the chick?

The parents have now built a bit higher baby fence on the side facing my terrace so picture taking will be even more challenging. Good for the baby, bad for the paparazzo.

I’ve walked around the nest yesterday and today. And while I will not be able to see the little one from the ground for a few weeks, I’ve observed interesting parenting stuff. Check out this photo story.

Mama Sandy broods the chick...
Mama Sandy broods the chick for the first 10 days…it’s quite warm and she’s getting sweaty.
Papa Osprey comes in with a lunch bag of fresh fish, flies over the nest to show it to Mama...
Papa Stanley comes in with a lunch bag of fresh fish, flies over the nest to show it to Mama…
...and goes to eat the head in his man cave, then brings the best part to Mama and baby...
…and goes to eat the head in his man cave, then brings the best part to the nest…
...where Sandy starts feeding the baby...
…where Sandy immediately starts feeding the baby…
...while Stanley watches and learns...
…while Stanley watches and learns…
…until it’s his turn to feed the baby … under strict supervision by Sandy.
...then they both bend over the baby and feed it in turn...
Then they both bend over the baby and feed it in turn…
...until the feeding is done and Sandy has eaten. Then Stanley flies away with the rest of the fish...
When the baby has been fed it’s Sandy’s turn to have a bite, if she’s hungry. Finally Stanley flies away with the rest of the fish.

I’ve seen this routine several times now. But I should add that Stanley is even more protective of the nest now. Yesterday I saw him fly away with his fish and return almost immediately. Osprey Steve was flying by and Sandy sounded an alarm.

Papa Stanley returned back home...
Papa Stanley returns back home…
...to defend the nest...Mama Sandy is still sounding a stern warning to Steve...
…to defend the nest…Mama Sandy sounds a stern warning to Steve…
Osprey Steve over the marsh
…who flies over the marsh.

And only when everything is calm again will Stanley go to his man cave to finish his meal.

Finally everything looks peaceful and Stanley leaves for his man cave again to finish his meal.
Finally everything looks peaceful and Stanley leaves for his man cave again to finish his meal.

I think Sandy and Stanley are amazing, doting parents. And I’m happy they are not alarmed when a clumsy paparazzo lurks around the nest. They are just not yet ready for a photo shoot with the baby. I get that. Later will do.

When I was saying goodbye to Mama Sandy yesterday afternoon, I discovered a drama playing out in the deep water just below the nest. It was the Cormorant. Again. This is how it went down. The fish, I mean.

The Cormorant caught a fish...
The Cormorant caught a fish…
...and it's a big one!
…and it’s a big one!
He swings it up...
He swings it up…
...and down it goes!
…and down it goes!
Slowly.
With some effort, slowly but surely.

Such is life in the salt marsh. Never a dull moment in this beautiful place, where wildflowers greet the newborn. The little hatchling will learn all that in time.  Bless his/her heart.

Birthday flowers for the newborn. You can see the reflection of the nest pole in the water.
Birthday flowers for the newborn. You can see the reflection of the nest pole in the water.

Late Breaking News! Just before this was going to press, I was hanging out from the terrace again and got a confirmation it really was the hatchling in the first picture. Sandy was feeding the baby, now approximately 5-7 days old, and moved aside to take another bite. I got a few pictures where the chick was moving, and also enlarged one where s/he waits for another bite with an open mouth. If you look carefully at the second, very grainy and pixelated photo (feel free to get your goggles) you’ll see a tiny brown/white Osprey, about the size of Mama’s head, in the red circle 🙂

A tiny baby Osprey between Papa and Mama.
A tiny baby Osprey between Papa and Mama.
osprey chick enlarged
Osprey chick wants food.

I hope your Easter week is going smoothly. Reporting from the salt marsh this Thursday evening, Tiny