How do you get in terms with loss
a devastating double punch by death
that feels unreal?
How do you tell anyone
you lost your husband
the day you buried your father?
How do you make sense of life
through the haze of two funerals
in one single week?
How do you hold on to hope
when the birds don’t fly
and the skies cry empty and dark?
This great dad celebrated this Father’s Day close to his little family on the bay side. After the day’s fishing trips, Stanley perched at the sailing center just before sunset. Like on so many evenings these past two weeks.
That is an excellent location to keep an eye on his daughter, Arlene, who seems to have a long-term rental on Marriott’s roof nearby. She was sleeping there with full crop while drying her wings. All was good in Papa Stanley’s world. One chick had survived and now, exactly three weeks after fledging, she was a thriving young Osprey. That was the best gift he could get.
Mama Sandy kept an eye on their chick from the other side of the same roof. She likes to perch on the antenna, a high vantage point allowing straight line of sight to Arlene’s comings and goings. And a welcome nap after a hot day.
From their respective vantage points, the Osprey family could see the nest and the salt marsh colored by the setting sun. If they looked carefully, they will have noticed that the Mayor and little Miss Rosanna have stricken a new friendship.
And on this evening they were able to observe the lively bird life on the bay too, like the Snowy Egret patrolling the seawall in her yellow shoes…
…and the Little Blue Heron foraging nearby utilizing the low tide.
And of course they saw the sun about to dive into the Gulf on the other side of the salt marsh.
After this beautiful day, Papa Stanley is likely retire to his secret spot in the park. And maybe he’ll stop for a while close to his favorite roosting branch and reflect on his day.
Happy Father’s Day to all other fathers too!
On a stormy evening late last week, Arlene was perching on the boat lift at the sailing center. She was scanning for fish. Suddenly she flew up, hovered for a few seconds above the water and dove feet first into the water. She didn’t catch the fish. Not yet. But she had all the right moves, including shaking off water in mid-air like a pro. This was less than two weeks after she fledged. And that’s nothing short of incredible. I didn’t carry the camera so you just have to take my word for it. Dylan is my witness. After coming home, I caught this picture of her from my terrace. She was back up there staring into the water…and she would try again. I call that determination.
She is scanning for fish often now. And her parents, after seeing her early progress, have clearly taken the back seat. Mama Sandy is still around occasionally keeping watch for any dangers. Sometimes I have not seen her for a day or two, but she comes when Arlene calls her. Like last night when the skies suddenly darkened and the wind picked up before strong thunderstorms. I could not see Arlene, but I heard her. She was somewhere on the roof. Sandy was flying towards her pushing against the strong winds. Really struggling. She came from the north along the bay side and landed on the roof. I guess Arlene needed adult company in the storm and her mama was there for her. Dylan and I ran home and rushed into our garage just when the first fat raindrops started falling. And then pretty much everything went out of focus.
Sandy probably feeds Arlene only once a day now, if that. Her parenting is encouraging independence. But still providing protection. And Arlene is confident in her abilities, as she has been from the day she fledged. A strong female leader in the making, as I see it.
On Sunday morning, Arlene’s two-week fledging anniversary, I saw her perched at the sailing center. Ten minutes later I went for a walk and saw her eating on Marriott’s roof, at her favorite spot. I wouldn’t rule out it was the first fish she’s caught by herself. No parents were in sight.
Young Arlene has not followed the conventional path to independence. You see, normally, Osprey chicks stay at the nest being fed by their parents at least 4 weeks after fledging. They start to follow their parents on fishing trips during the 3rd week and start to try to fish on their own at 4-6 weeks after fledging. Not Arlene. She left the nest the day she fledged and directly started to fly with her folks. She was diving for fish 12 days after fledging…and now, 16 days after her fledging, I think she might be able to provide for herself already. I am sure Sandy will not stay in the vicinity for long. And Arlene, too, is likely to move a bit further soon. But as long as she stays here you’ll have ‘full and impartial coverage’ on this brave and beautiful chick by this media outlet.
On Sunday, I also briefly visited the salt marsh between heavy showers. After two weeks of rains, everything at the salt marsh was green and the water level was high. Consequently many of the waders were keeping away for now. I guess they don’t like their bellies getting wet while wading in high waters.
But that memo had not reached the juveniles. Or perhaps they are more adventurous simply because they are not looking at the world through the lens of conventional wisdom. Some of them were happily wading on previously dry mud flats or amongst the high grass. First I spotted the same juvenile Little Blue Heron I saw a couple of weeks ago. He had turned much more blue already, as you can see.
The second juvenile wading at the marsh was a very small, young Green Heron. He still had some of his white ‘baby hairs’ right on the top of his head, but was bravely doing it alone.
The third juvenile I spotted was a Boat-tailed Grackle. She was in the company of her mother…and although she had fledged, she was still asking to be fed. Quite unlike Arlene.
The fourth juvenile, the Roseate Spoonbill I had named Rosanna, was observing life from a tree at the deep water channel.
The only adult wader I encountered was the beautiful Snowy Egret. I thought she looked like a white flower in the midst of the green grass.
And that’s when they arrived, the two Black Skimmers. They flew at extremely high speeds while skimming the surface, water spraying all around them. They put on a wild show. I enjoyed trying to catch them in flight. But they did beat me time after time…resulting in many pictures of water, sky and grass – without a Skimmer. One has to learn one’s limitations the hard way.
We all wish you a wonderful rest of the week. Thank you for visiting.
This Memorial Day weekend was like one long suspense novel. And I’m afraid this post is also novel-length compared to my usual posts.
It all started on Friday evening when Dylan and I passed the nest on our way from the dog park. I could see the Osprey chick was flapping her wings vigorously and actually getting up, a foot or so, in the air. Finally the survivor would fledge!
So on Saturday morning I took my camera and went to the nest to observe her flying exercises. She flew from one side of the nest to the other. Repeatedly.
Mama Sandy was watching her from the perch. I’m sure she was proud and relieved. And when a juvenile Bald Eagle flew by, she was sounding a sharp alarm.
The chick watched curiously, but didn’t say a peep. Maybe she didn’t know why this was such an alarming situation, or maybe she has yet to learn the alarm call.
It was wonderful to see her up in the air, but she didn’t leave the nest while I was there. At times she was looking at me as if saying look I can fly.
So on Saturday night when Dylan and I went to the dog park, I took my camera along. The chick was still busy practicing.
On Sunday morning I was full of anticipation. I would see the chick fledge! I looked out from my bedroom window – and saw Mama Sandy alone in the nest. The chick had already fledged!
So after breakfast I hurried out to the nest to see her return. Sandy had flown away, but Papa Stanley was waiting for the chick on the perch.
He was looking keenly toward the tall trees in the park. I didn’t know why. I waited at the nest. No chick. Finally I decided to walk around the marsh to greet the other residents. First I spotted a beautiful, young Roseate Spoonbill. She had not yet developed the characteristic dark band around the base of her head, had a few feathers on the top of her head and was much smaller than Miss Rosa. Perhaps a relative, or even an offspring. I named her Rosanna.
Next I spotted another juvenile. This was not a Snowy Egret, but a young Little Blue Heron. She was still almost white, but I could see the first light blue spots developing on her back and wings. This was a day of juveniles and the fledging day for the osprey chick. But she was nowhere to be seen.
I continued to wait…and walk. I spotted both Mama and Papa Moorhen…
…and the Mayor. He was walking past his office inspecting the surroundings.
Suddenly I heard the Osprey chick. She was asking for fish and her call came from the park north of the salt marsh. I walked towards her call, but couldn’t find her. It was very hot so maybe she was seeking shade in the forest. Or perhaps she was resting on the ground just like her brother Lofty, who fledged exactly on the same day two years ago. I had spotted him on the ground the day he fledged.
When I came back to the nest, Stanley was still there. He was talking to Sandy. She was flying from the bay towards the forest carrying a newly caught fish. I assumed she was going to feed the chick.
Finally I had to leave without seeing the newly fledged chick. Papa Stanley was still waiting for her at the nest.
In the afternoon I checked on the nest several times. Nobody at home. I checked again just before going out with Dylan in evening. Still an empty nest. I started to get really worried. Usually the newly fledged chicks fly short rounds over the park and return to the nest in minutes, or at latest by dinner time, just like Lofty had done. But not this chick.
We didn’t go to the dog park in the evening, but instead walked on the bay side. I was hoping I would spot the chick. But no. Until we were almost at home. I saw three Osprey flying together above the Marriott’s roof, a place favored by both Sandy and Stanley in summer time. I didn’t have my camera so there was no way to see who was who. But then I heard the familiar gimme fish. The chick was alive! And probably in the company of her parents.
Then on Monday I kept an eye on the nest throughout the day. The parents visited a few times, but not the chick. It is highly unusual, almost unheard of, that an Osprey chick would follow her parents from the day they fledge. But this girl was an exception to the rule. I would not spot her until Dylan and I went to the dog park at sunset time on Monday evening. I heard her right away. She was sitting on Marriott’s roof asking for fish and looking towards the bay.
A few seconds later, Sandy appeared next to her. But she had no fish.
So there she was hanging out with Sandy. I was very happy she was alive and well. Soon Sandy flew away, probably on a fishing trip, and from far away I saw the chick flapping her wings.
Soon we spotted Stanley too. He was perching at the sailing center about 150 yards away. I snapped a picture of him from the side-walk. Dylan was in a hurry to see his friends.
This was a unique scenario. Either this girl was truly exceptional and had started her fishing lessons right away, or she simply felt the nest was too small a landing strip for her at this time. When I looked towards the Marriott from the dog park, she was gone. Maybe she followed Sandy out to the ocean. Coming back much later, we found Stanley at the Marriott. On the ledge, one level below where the chick had been.
And just when I was ‘shooting’ Stanley, I saw movement in the corner of my eye. I looked up and saw a tail of the chick. She was landing on the upper level. Soon she looked down, both on us and her papa.
Almost the same scenario was repeated last night. Stanley was at the sailing center, while Sandy and the chick were perching on the roof. This time she didn’t ask for fish so I assumed she had already eaten her supper.
This adventurous girl deserves a great name! So today we did the ‘same procedure as last year’. Dylan picked a name from the hat – one among 16 names proposed by you, our friends. So how did we do it? I hope the pictures talk for themselves.
It was difficult to ‘watch not touch’ the 16 treats in the hat, but Dylan waited patiently until I gave him a go ahead. And then, with lightning speed resulting in a blurred picture, he picked only one treat. The winner is…
I was very touched. And I want to tell you why. Pat proposed the name Arlene, I believe, because Arlene was a dear friend of many neighbors here on the island as well as many dog parents at our park. She had a wonderful little puppy, Hogan, who was friends with Dylan and other dogs frequenting the park. One morning in August last year, Arlene left us suddenly after being hit by a car while crossing the road right here in our neighborhood. She and Hogan were on their way home from the dog park. Tiny Hogan survived and was adopted to a good home. So now we have Arlene, this very special Osprey girl, flying the skies above all of us. And that feels just right.
Thank you all for participating in the lottery and congratulations to Pat!
Hi! This is me, Dylan. I’m borrowing mom’s laptop. She is cooking in the kitchen and this is my chance to tell you about my recent adventures. But I have to be brief. I’ll need to go and help mom soon. You see, we have a well-developed division of labor. I have the floor level duty and mom has the stove level duty when we’re cooking together. That usually works very well. Provided she gives me enough to do. Oh, were was I?
Okay, I’ll get to the point. We have gone to the dog park a lot, usually in the evenings around sunset time. I get to meet my friends and mom hers. The latter includes both humans and the birds at the salt marsh. It’s been very hot lately and that is a slight problem. Lots of hanging around the water cooler. And that translates into late night bathroom breaks. Not particularly popular if mom has already changed to her pajamas. You see, I love running around with my friends and I get thirsty. We all do, all the time. Like Eli and Bently here.
I have to admit the water cooler gossip is always interesting. No, I’m not going into details. What happens at the dog park stays at the dog park. But I can tell you that we compare notes. And we share secrets. Like fail-safe tactics to establish a satisfactory treat schedule, how to train your human, and other important stuff like that.
Or how to stay at the park until dark. A skill perfected by my friend Saki.
And we speculate quite a bit. Particularly about our parents’ trips. What they might be doing when they leave us for a day or two. Sometimes we can smell that they have seen other dogs, but most often these trips seem to be fairly innocent. Although they are not fun. Not for us.
After running around at the dog park, I let mom run around in the park too. That usually means walking around the marsh. And making frequent stops.
Oh, there’s a bird, she would say. What that actually means is ‘sit’. And I usually do.
Although it gets a bit tough when there’s a duck couple swimming close to the shore. I could easily go fetch them. For better close-ups, of course.
We always end up at the Osprey nest. And if feeding is going on, we’ll stay there for quite a while. What about my after-walk-snack?
And just when I think we’ll be heading for the bay side, mom discovers another bird. Oh, Miss Rosa is sleeping, she says, come, we need to get a picture. We? I don’t get it, we have already seen this pink bird one time too many.
When we finally get to the bay side, there can be some surprises. Like when I discovered that daddy Osprey, whom I’d just seen at the nest, was suddenly sleeping at the sailing center. How did he get there faster than I can run? That’s a real mystery.
But I actually like sitting on the seawall watching the pelicans. They sit, swim and fly. And then they sit again. What a circus.
And sometimes we see other birds as well. They are looking for supper just before the restaurant is set to close. Hello, the sun is going down!
Or they decide to fly away when they see me at the seawall. And then we’ll finally go home.
Oh, I almost forgot! Mom told me the other day that I get to do the lottery again. The Osprey chick deserves a beautiful name. But you have to help me. You need to propose names for the Osprey girl – an evanescent opportunity to have an Osprey named by you flying the skies for years to come.
Once we have your proposals, mom will write the names on small pieces of paper, wrap them around my biscuits and put them all in a hat. And I get to pick the winner! Yummy! The winner can choose to get mom’s first photo book from 2015…
…OR a beach towel of their choosing from mom’s art shop. I can tell you they are really soft. I’m not supposed to know, but I tried one the other day. I had wet paws after coming in from the rain. What’s a dog to do but dry his paws in a soft towel?
I hope you’ll come up with a great name proposal (one please) and include it in your comments. I’ll get my special biscuit next Wednesday, May 31. As you may have guessed, I’m hoping to eat all of them, eventually. I’m ready for this task of great importance.
Take care now and be good. Love, Dylan.
I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least, and it is commonly more that that, sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements. – Henry Thoreau.
Solitude is not the absence of Love, but its complement. Solitude is not the absence of company, but the moment when our soul is free to speak to us and help us decide what to do with our life. – Paulo Coelho
Solitude is aloneness you choose and embrace. I think great things can come out of solitude, out of going to a place where all is quiet except the beating of your heart. -Jeanne Marie Laskas
Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. – John Muir
Solitude in the summer forest, full of leafy trees, urges us to breathe. To enjoy beingness, just like them. – Tiny K.
It is time now, I said, for the deepening and quieting of the spirit among the flux of happenings. – Mary Oliver
Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness. – Desmond Tutu
Solitude feels like a refreshing shower of light snow. It’s brightening my soul. – Tiny K.
Solitude is the great teacher, and to learn its lessons you must pay attention to it. -Deepak Chopra