Tag Archives: Laughing Gull

Newsflash. We Have Eggs. And Plenty of Company.

Last Monday night, Dylan and I made a long-awaited discovery while passing the osprey nest: Mama Sandy was incubating. The next morning we promptly took a break from work and went out on the terrace to gather more evidence using my super zoom camera.

Mama Osprey incubates since Feb 12 UD151Sandy was sitting on the eggs and napping. After a while she woke up and turned the eggs. All while Papa Stanley was witnessing the carefully executed procedure from the perch.

Mama Osprey turns the eggs UD151In 30 to 36 days from now it’ll be baby time! Two to three hatchlings if everything goes well.

On Friday Dylan and I took a walk around the marsh and found Sandy on a long lunch break. She had already eaten and was just chilling on the perch. Stanley was taking his turn incubating the eggs, his head peeking out every now and then. He is an exemplary hubby, always gives Sandy nice breaks and brings her breakfast, lunch and dinner.

papa osprey incubates ud151Sandy checked us out thoroughly when we passed right underneath the nest.Mama Osprey has a break UD151We spotted many other birds as well, but I want to show you a bird that I haven’t seen at the marsh in previous years – a Blue Winged Teal. I have a suspicion that a couple or perhaps even two couples are nesting at the marsh this year.

blue-winged teal ud151We also spotted the Mayor. He was all puffed up and looked determined to protect the marsh birds this nesting season.

GBH Mayor ud151_edited-1Then this morning I went on a beach walk and was met by huge crowds. Not people but birds. More exactly, hundreds of Royal Terns, Laughing Gulls, Ring-billed Gulls…

gulls and terns on the beach ud151

ringbilled gull ud151_edited-1

royal tern family ud151…and one juvenile Herring Gull. She was vocal…maybe calling her parents who were nowhere to be seen.

a juvenile herring gull ud151_edited-2As usual, there was a young Royal Tern pestering his mom for food. He was so intense that after a while his mom decided to fly away. Not very far, but just far enough to reinforce the boundaries.

young royal tern pesters parent UD151

mother and juvenile royal tern ud151

royal tern takes off UD151Now I have to reinforce my own boundaries as well and take Dylan out for his evening walk. Next weekend I will be traveling again, and this time I actually look forward to it. I am hoping to find a bird I have not seen “live” before…and be able to share some special fun with you next time we meet.

Thanks for being here. Have a wonderful rest of the week.

Travels, Kids and Chicks.

Looking at the world through the eyes of a three year and a seven year old is a refreshing experience. Pretty much everything is a miracle, there’s so much awe and wonder. Look Farmor, a bird! Take a picture! And I did. Again and again.

great blue heron st Augustine ud122

great egret st augustine ud122We were on a cruise outside St. Augustine last weekend. It is a beautiful historic city, founded in 1565, and lays the claim on being the oldest city in the US. So much excitement on land and on the water. Like dolphins swimming by.

C and M on the cruise ud122

dolphins ud122And the seven year old knows an Osprey when she sees one. So proud of her.

osprey st augustine ud122We saw manmade birds too. Some were coming to old age already, but still flying high.

old planes st augustine ud122And the shores were sprinkled with historic buildings, like the Castillo de San Marcos from 1695, the colorful Flagler college with buildings from 1888 and the Lighthouse, which has a long history going back to early 1800’s.

st augustine fort ud122

Flagler buildings ud122

st augustine lighthouse ud122And, as usual, I did a ‘bird walk’ with the seven year old (and Dylan) every morning around their neighborhood. This time we only spotted a lonely Canada Goose, and speculated on where the usual birds might have gone.

canada goose ud122She also speculated on my age. I told her I was quite old being her farmor (grandma in Swedish). I told her my age was a secret, but she could guess. I asked her to write my age on her writing tablet. She wrote…20. She smiled and looked at me for confirmation.  I laughed and said she was kind. No wonder I was ‘carded’ by a young man last year buying wine at a local store 😀

sunset ud122Coming home at sunset time earlier this week, Dylan and I took a walk though the salt marsh – to and from the dog park. He had to see his friends. And I had to check on the Osprey nest. From afar, we could see Mama Sandy on the perch, but the chicks were laying low. I assumed Papa Stanley was fetching dinner.

mama osprey minds the kids 2 ud122

mama osprey minds the kids ud122We spotted a few friends at this late hour. Mr. Moorhen was around…talking to himself.

papa moorhen ud122And the Mottled Duck couple was getting some supper.

mottled duck couple at sunset ud122The Mayor was not at home. We decided to check the bay side on our way home. And right away, we spotted a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron …for the first time ever fishing on the bay.

yellow-crowned night heron ud122And then I saw a familiar figure flying high above the bay, scanning for dinner for his family. That was Papa Stanley.

papa osprey evening fishing tour ud122I followed him for about 10 minutes while Dylan sat patiently (he got a treat). I saw Stanley dive for fish twice. The Laughing Gull just below the seawall cheered on him vigorously. But unfortunately he didn’t catch a fish.

laughing gull ud122Stanley was close to the opposite shore so my pictures of his dive in the dim light are very soft.

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He then flew north on the intracoastal waterway and I could not see him anymore. But I’m sure he brought a fish to his kids just before dark.

Yesterday around lunch time I got a chance to take a short walk at the marsh on my own. I really wanted to confirm whether there were two or three chicks in Osprey nest. You see, I have not been able to get any “proper” picture of the 3rd chick I thought I saw in one of my grainy pictures taken from our terrace over two weeks ago. When I approached the park, I saw Stanley eating on a lamp-post at the Sailing Center.

papa osprey eats a fish ud122As I arrived at the nest, I could hear that the babies have learned to talk while I was away. They were singing the familiar song ‘bring me fish, daddy’ – and soon Stanley obliged.

papa osprey brings fish ud122He had eaten the head and brought the rest to Sandy. She started feeding the chicks. Two chicks. So now I prefer to think that I suffered a bout of vivid imagination when I thought I saw three chicks that day over two weeks ago.

mama osprey feeds two chciks ud122With the sun right in my face, I watched the feeding for a while and then walked around to see who else might be at home. And I saw a whole bunch of friends at this lunch hour. The Tri-colored Heron was obviously interested in the Ibis flying overhead.

ibis in flight ud121

Tri-colored heron ud121The Reddish Egret, the Clown, was performing his fishing dance and puffing up his red feathers.

reddish egret ud121The Ibis was alone with his thoughts.

white ibis ud121And the Little Blue Heron appeared bluer than ever. Yet upbeat.

little blue heron ud121And…surprise! The Yellow-Crowned Night Heron was out and about in bright daylight.

yellow-crowned night heron ud121When I walked home, I decided to take a few pictures of the Osprey nest from the street very far away…to see the chicks when the perspective flattens and almost the whole nest is visible. And they did not disappoint.

two osprey chicks at 4 weeks ud122

papa osprey and the chicks ud122They were talking to each other and flexing their little wings. I am happy that both of them are about the same size…about five weeks old now. In 3-4 weeks they will be fledging…and we will be able to tell whether they are boys or girls.

In a few days I will be off to some adventures at a much bigger marsh. But since it will be all pleasure and no work, I’ll be in touch. Have a wonderful weekend. Peace.

Flying Again. And True News from the Salt Marsh.

I haven’t been here, or at your place, much since my unlawful adventure on the bay side with Dylan. I’m totally guilty, but I will not keep you in suspense. We were not caught.

Sometimes life gives you ‘stuff’ you can’t ignore, like leaking pipes in the attic, family health issues happening far away and new work projects popping up out of nowhere. So that’s where I’ve been. In the ‘when-it-rains-it-pours-land’, just keeping my feet above the water. I’m sure you’ve been there at some point too. Thanks to friends who have been thinking of me and worrying. What wonderful friends you are!

brown-pelican-taking-flight-ud105But now I’m flying a bit higher and the ‘weather’ is much calmer, both literally and figuratively. I’ve even had an opportunity to visit my friends at the salt marsh yesterday. Since I’ve been away from them too, I wanted to check everything out and make a comprehensive round from the bay side to the salt marsh and back home through the beach.

This Brown Pelican was entertaining me on the bay. Sometimes resting on the calm waters and other times disappearing with a big splash.

brown-pelican-ud105

pelican-diving-ud105And I spotted an Oyster Catcher, the first in several months. He was busy feeding in the low tide and paying no attention to the stunts by the pelican close by.

oyester-catcher-ud105And the same applied to a Snowy Egret, whom I discovered only when hanging out from the very edge of the seawall.

snowy-egret-ud105I had to smile at the three White Ibis standing in formation next to the sailing center boat launch. All of them had received the memo, but apparently it didn’t specify which leg to stand on.

three-white-ibis-ud105Approaching the salt marsh, I could see that both Mama Sandy and Papa Stanley were in the nest. This is not a sharp picture, but since it’s been taken from a great distance you can see that the nest remodeling has been completed. Their new home is brimming with furniture.

mama-and-papa-osprey-at-their-nest-ud105I was particularly happy to note that Stanley was at home. You see, a couple of days earlier when walking with Dylan, I saw a huge Bald Eagle fly towards the salt marsh. Suddenly two ospreys started chasing it back to where it belongs, on the other side of the bay. One was Stanley and I believe the other was his fishing buddy, Steve, who lives only eight blocks south of the marsh on the roof pillar of a high-rise building. I lost sight of them and was worried that something might have happened. Now I’ve seen both Steve and his wife Sheena (earlier pictures) fly above their top-of-the-line home. So everyone is okay.

When I arrived at the nest, Stanley had disappeared and Sandy was busy working. She was refitting some pillows in the nest. As in preparing the soft ‘nest cup’ for the eggs.

mama-osprey-works-on-the-nest-ud105Just below the nest I spotted the Mayor, the older Great Blue Heron. He was sitting there deep in his thoughts when a Black Crowned Night Heron zoomed in and startled him. But there was no reason for alarm, and the new-comer settled right below the Mayor’s retreat.

great-blue-heron-and-black-crowned-night-heron-ud105

blackcrowned-night-heron-ud105I walked around the marsh and spotted two couples of Yellow-crowned Night Herons, all in the vicinity of the deep waters close to the osprey nest.

yellow-crowned-night-heron-ud105I’m hoping they’ll nest at the marsh so we can see some Night Heron kids this spring. They look too funny with their baby hair standing straight up.

Further out I spotted a Little Blue Heron and a beautiful Great Egret. The former was busy selecting suitable food items, while the latter showcased her beautiful breeding plumage.

little-blue-heron-ud105

great-egret-ud105Suddenly I saw a strange shadow and looked up to the sky. Starlings by the hundreds! The tail end of this party decided to occupy a few palm trees at the marsh.

starling-murmurations-ud105

murmurating-starlings-ud105They sat on every branch, and while some of them seemed to be quiet for the photo shoot, the discussion flowed non-stop between the birds in different trees. Until, like on a secret command, they all flew away again.

By that time I was at the beach end of the marsh and saw that Stanley had sneaked back into the nest. He had brought a fish for his pregnant wife. How thoughtful of him.

mama-and-papa-osprey-2-ud105

mama-osprey-eats-fish-ud105Just before I left to walk home through the beach, I spotted Mr. Moorhen, whom I haven’t seen for several weeks. I think he was scouting for suitable nesting sites.

moorhen-ud105The beach was lively too. Hundreds of birds resting in several colonies. A large group of tiny Sanderlings, several groups of Royal Terns, Laughing Gulls and a few Willets and Ringbilled Gulls. And Brown Pelicans, of course. Here just a few pictures of shore birds I encountered on my way home.

sanderlings-ud105

royal-terns-ud105

ringbilled-gull-ud105

a-brown-pelican-and-a-gull-ud105I thought that was it for the birds. But when I walked into our garden, I heard a familiar sound. A male Red-bellied Woodpecker was working hard in a palm tree next to our garage entrance. His tempo was almost too fast to get a clear picture of his head.

mr-red-bellied-woodpecker-ud105-2I wish you all a wonderful weekend and will do my best to visit all my friends in the next few days. We all wish you peace.

Summer at the Salt Marsh. Beach Party. Rivalry. And Construction Plans.

Hello friends! I’m still on my summer break, but since I’m at home right now I want to give you an update on the affairs at the salt marsh. H.J’s visit early this month brought in the regular thunderstorms with downpours that belong to our summer. At the salt marsh, water levels are up and everything is fresh green.

salt marsh ud73

salt marsh ud73A couple of days ago I took a walk on the beach and was invited to a beach party attended by hundreds of feathered guests. It was a jolly event with Black Skimmers, Royal Terns, Sandwich Terns, Laughing Gulls, Herring Gulls, including juveniles, enjoying the freshwater ‘lake’ formed on the beach by the frequent torrential downpours. The ‘lake’ occupied almost the whole beach, leaving only a wet, narrow strip of sand next to the salt marsh.

beach party after the rain UD73Some partygoers were flying back and forth looking for the perfect spot, others were catching up on the latest, bathing or preening. It was lively indeed.

birds on the beach 2 ud73

royal tern UD73

juvenile gull ud73Some guests were resting, and yet others had partied enough and fallen asleep on the sand. But in such a crowd you’d better sleep with your eyes open, like this Black Skimmer.

black skimmer sleeping ud73Despite being attired with my newly acquired cheerful rain boots, I decided not to test the water depth in the ‘lake’, but instead to walk to the salt marsh through the bay side.

my new rain boots ud73.jpgThat was a great decision. I was rewarded with a pleasant discovery. Papa Stanley had returned from his 4-week vacation!

papa osprey ud73He was perching on the wind measurement device at the Sailing Center, obviously planning his next fishing trip. I could hardly see him as the sun was right in my eyes, but looking at my photos I realized he had definitely recognized me. From there I went to see Mama Sandy. She was ‘babysitting’ the nest again, and greeted me with a friendly nod. And I thought she tried to tell me about the dismal condition of the nest. We both agree that the nest will not make it through the nesting season starting in December.

mama osprey ud73I was happy to let her know that I’ve finally started the process of getting the nest repaired – or perhaps replaced. This will involve several steps: evaluating the nest pole to see if it has hollowed and will need to be replaced, and if that is the case, evaluating the ground to see if it can carry the heavy equipment needed to replace the whole structure with a new, more durable one. If the answer is yes, then I’ll have to get busy approaching sponsors to get help with the fairly high cost of this project. If the answer is no, then we’ll need to come up with plan B and only replace the nest platform that is falling apart. I hope to have these answers in the next few weeks through the Clearwater Audubon Society. While they don’t have the money to pay for this project right now, they have the required permits and the connections to suitable contractors, and have kindly agreed to help. Wonderful news for our Osprey family.

mama osprey at the nest ud73I promised to keep Mama Sandy updated. As I walked around the marsh, I observed something quite interesting. Both the younger Great Blue Heron and the Mayor were present. Staring at each other from opposite ends of the marsh. Measuring strength. As many of you know, the young one is a colorful character. He is still much smaller than the Mayor, but clearly has the desire to be the king of the hill, so to speak. He has been frequenting the marsh over the last three months, while the Mayor has taken care of his family on the ‘bird island’ in the bay. Last spring the Mayor told us ‘I’ll be back’ – and he has kept his promise.

young great blue heron ud73
Young GBH
great blue heron Mayor ud73
Older GBH, the Mayor

A Great Egret was following the developments with keen interest from a tree in the middle of the marsh.

great Egret ud73And a female Cowbird was excitedly cheering on the Mayor from a nearby tree.

female brown-headed cowbird ud73Miss Rosa was seeking shelter from the sun at her usual spot, but kept an eye on the two rivals as well. Particularly the youngster. She didn’t cheer.

roseate spoonbill ud73The Snowy Egret was staring at the young heron too, and he didn’t cheer either.

snowy egret UD73A family of White Ibis was foraging in the grass close by, probably hoping their youngster wouldn’t need to witness any brouhaha on such a beautiful day.

Juvenile ibis ud73Their wish was granted. The truce lasted, and each heron held on to its end of the marsh. I walked home and shot some pictures of flowers in our garden on my way in. Pink flowers. Just to celebrate summer.

I look forward to visiting my family in northern Europe early August. I may do a short mobile post from there. Otherwise I’ll see you after mid August. Lots to catch up on by then.

Thanks for coming along. I hope you are enjoying your summer too. Much love.