Tag Archives: Little Blue Heron

Papa Osprey’s Photo Shoot. And an Illicit Visitor at the Salt Marsh.

The sun was barely up on my first day home after the trip when I stepped out in the garden. Without even a cup of coffee. I just had to go see my feathered friends before starting a busy day. And he was right there. The Little Blue Heron, in a shady spot under the palm trees.

little blue heron in our garden ud21It was wonderful to be welcomed home by one of my friends from the salt marsh. The beach was quiet. And the rainwater “lake” was gone.

sunrise beach ud21The salt marsh looked fresh and misty. And I saw the water levels were almost back to normal. Little islets stuck up from the water, just as they used to.

sunrise at salt marsh ud21Most birds were still in their sleeping quarters, but Mama Sandy was already having her breakfast at the nest. She had a nasty wound on her left leg, but looked okay otherwise.

mama osprey with a fish ud21When I came closer, she greeted me in her typical straight forward, but friendly manner. I thought she even smiled.

mama osprey at the nest UD21I found the young Great Blue Heron (GBH) close to the osprey nest, as often is the case. He didn’t bother to look at me. He might be familiar with my view on his attacks on the nest earlier this year.

young blue heronThe Tri-colored Heron, who had temporarily moved elsewhere during the floods, was back home. She was happily hunting for her breakfast in the shallow waters.

tricolored heron ud21And just when I was about to leave, Rosa, the Roseate Spoonbill flew in. It’s always nice to see her. And it looks like she might think the same about me 🙂

roseate spoonbill landing ud21roseate spoonbill Rosa ud21I continued my walk to the bay side, and marveled at the European Starlings greeting the sun on a lamp-post next to the park.

starling family at sunrise ud21I decided to check if Papa Stanley would be at his resort. He was at home. Still sleeping when I arrived.

papa osprey sleeping ud21He soon discovered me and decided to pose for a photo shoot. A rare treat, and so very kind of him.

papa ospey says hi ud21papa osprey in his resort ud21papa osprey portraIT 2 UD21papa osprey portrait ud21I thought he was quite handsome. That was a great home-coming.

I got another opportunity to get out for a quick walk this morning. I discovered that the “beach lake” had reemerged after yesterday’s short, but intense storm. Many birds were enjoying rainwater baths and the special menu the fresh waters had to offer.

more rainwater and birds on the beach ud21snowy egret 2 ud21theyoung great blue heron ud21black skimmer drinking fresh water ud21juvenile black skimmer sleeping ud21And some, like this juvenile Black Skimmer, were just plain tired of all the excitement.

While the young GBH was frolicking at the “beach lake”, the older one, the Mayor, was back in charge at the salt marsh.

mayor great blue heronI bet he was not happy to see this illicit fisherman trying to capture the fish that belongs to the residents. I was not happy either.

fisherman at salt marsh ud21I wished Sandy had been at the nest and given him a small lesson. But luckily, as soon as I started walking towards the park HQ, he packed his gear and left. Once he was gone, I came back to greet the Great and Snowy Egrets who were enjoying the sunshine in large numbers, and then walked back home.

great egret on the top ud21So much excitement, as always, at the salt marsh. Thank you for coming along. We all wish you a wonderful weekend!

Wordless Wednesday: Shake Baby, Shake. Frame by Frame.

Start by shaking off all anger. So it doesn’t poison your being.
Then shake off your fears. So that love can come to your heart.
Then shake off your fears. So love can come to your heart.
reddish egret shaking off water Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Next, shake off all your worries. They won’t do you any good.
Next shake off all remaining negativity. So you make room for positive thoughts.
Then shake off any remaining negativity. So you make room for positive energy.
osprey shaking off water Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Next, shake away and leave behind old baggage. It will just weigh you down.
snovy egret shaking off water Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
And finally, shake some more to get rid of any lingering doubts. So you can go on trusting life.
Time for a happy dance on a lamp-post? Shake baby, shake 🙂

 

Papa Osprey is a Modern Dad. And Other Foggy Stuff from the Salt Marsh.

This winter mix of weird weather gave us a short break last Sunday. Sizzling 72 F (22 C) and sunny. I took a long walk on the beach and in the park around the salt marsh.

Boring...a Royal Tern is yawning...
This heat makes me so sleepy….a Royal Tern yawns in the company of a Ring-billed Gull.

After the temps had lingered in the cold to cool zone for so long, it felt like summer. Even Mama Osprey was breathing with her tongue sticking out, cooling herself while sitting on the egg(s). I’ve seen her do this previously, but only when it’s 90+ degrees in the summer. I was tempted to do that too, sweaty in my light gear. But grateful for the sun showing up.

Mama Osprey sits on the egg(s) and cools herself...
Mama Osprey sits on the egg(s) and cools herself…

The salt marsh was full of activity. The resident Little Blue Heron even posed for a close-up (featured), and later showed off her catch.

Little Blue Heron caught a frog...Snad Key Park clearwater florida
Look Tiny, I caught a frog…

And the Osprey Family went about their usual daily routine. Papa Stanley brought fish to Mama Sandy and when she was done, he took the rest for himself. To be enjoyed in his man cave about 100 feet away.

Papa Osprey flies to his man cave with the rest of the fish...
Papa Osprey flies to his man cave with the rest of the fish…

But that turned out to be a brief respite as far as the weather gods were concerned. The sea fog came in on Monday.  For three full days I couldn’t see the osprey nest from our terrace. On Thursday afternoon, when the wind finally chased away the fog, I got this picture of Mama Sandy sitting on the egg(s). All was good.

mama osprey incubating the eggs by tiny
Mama Osprey incubating the egg(s)…as seen from our terrace.

Then, yesterday, it was finally just plain cloudy and gray. I went out for a short run. Approaching the nest I saw Mama Osprey sitting on the egg(s) with only her head visible. After a few minutes Papa flew into the nest bringing a big stick. But boy, wasn’t I in for a big surprise!

Papa Osprey sits on the egg(s)...
Papa Osprey sits on the egg(s)…

I discovered it was Mama Sandy who just flew in! And she was wet. Papa Stanley had given her a break from incubation duties so she could stretch her wings, refresh herself and also stop for a quick meal, in addition to going to Home Depot. How nice! Papa was participating in child care duties, like any other modern dad. So Mama could get some time for herself and whatever she wanted to work on.

opsprey brings in nest materials materials
Mama Osprey brings in reinforcements to the nest…

After completing her design project, Sandy perched for a while at the edge of the nest to dry herself.

Papa sits on the eggs while Mama dries herself...
Papa sits on the egg(s) while Mama dries herself…and they both see something approaching…

But the peace didn’t last long. Osprey Steve was approaching the nest. Yet again. He flew right above the nest, stopping and briefly treading air as if courting Mama Sandy. He seems to be young and overconfident that way.

Steve flies above the nest and looks down...
Steve flies above the nest and looks down…

Needless to say, Papa Stanley was furious! He warned his pal Steve in the loudest way possible.

Papa Osprey warns Steve...
Papa Osprey warns Steve…

Even the Night Heron who had been sleeping at the water right under the nest woke up and looked around curiously.

The Yellow-crowned Night Heron woke up...
The Yellow-crowned Night Heron woke up…

But Steve was insistent. To the point that Papa decided it was necessary to chase him away, in person. He set after Steve, who quickly disappeared back into the woods.

Osprey on defense mission...Sand key park clearwater florida
Papa Osprey on his defense mission…

Papa flew around the nest a few more times. Just to make the point. Once again peace was restored in the salt marsh.

Today it’s raining. Nonstop. I looked out from our living room window towards the nest.  At first I couldn’t see anybody. But then a white head came up, just a little bit. I’m guessing it’s Mama Sandy pressed tightly over the egg(s) to keep them warm and dry.

I hope your weekend has started well. Reporting from the salt marsh, Tiny

Wordless Wednesday: Get Your Feet Wet. Frame by Frame.

Get your feet wet…and explore the world, even your own backyard.
Great blue heron
Get your feet wet…and get out of your comfort zone.
Get your feet wet…and shake away your fears.
Royal tern sand key clearwater florida
Get your feet wet…and don’t back off when challenges roll your way.
Little blue heron sand key clearwater florida
Get your feet wet…and pursue your adventure, even if your hair stands up.
Get your feet wet...and drink from the source of all wisdom.
Get your feet wet…and drink from the source of all wisdom.
snowy egret sand key park clearwater florida
…and then go where your heart calls you to go. Get your feet wet.

 

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

 

 

Papa Osprey and His Friends. Important Introductions.

This past weekend was a delight. The weather was gorgeous between two cold fronts, but even more importantly our son popped in for a short visit. After all the good eating, I took him on a walk to enjoy the beach and to introduce him to my winged friends in the salt marsh.  I hoped they would behave. Or at least not go into hiding.

blue ocean nov 16
A sailing boat on the calm, blue Gulf…

The ocean was sky blue and calm. Sailing school students were gathering for a class little further out.

sailing school nov 16
Sailing school students gather for a class…

Pelicans were flying back and forth close to the water, tiny Sanderlings were running around on the sand picking food, and to my surprise a Snowy Egret was fishing in the calm waves rolling in. A welcome committee already on the beach.

pelican flying low 2
A Pelican flies close to the calm waters…
sanderling
A little Sanderling picks for food…
A Snowy Egret fishing on the ocean shore...
A Snowy Egret fishing on the ocean shore…

When we reached the north end of the beach, Mister Blue Heron had courteously come to welcome us to the park and the salt marsh. I made introductions and we got some nice pictures.

mister blue heron on the beach
Mister Blue Heron shows off his welcome pose…

As we walked through the park, we spotted a beautiful Mourning Dove in the grass. And reaching the salt marsh we observed a Tricolored Heron fishing in the shallow waters. I was happy to see we still had some visitors. A team of Wood Storks was guarding a sleeping Spoonbill. He was taking an after lunch nap, I assumed.

mourning dove
A graceful Mourning Dove…
wood storks and roseate spoonbill
Visiting Wood Stork team and a Roseate Spoonbill…
tricolored heron
A Tricolored Heron patrols the marsh…

I made some quick introductions again, but was in a hurry to see if I could introduce my most cherished friend, Papa Osprey. And he didn’t disappoint.

papa osprey with a fish
Papa Osprey says hi to Tiny & son…

He was having lunch. He saw I had someone important to introduce so he interrupted his eating for a while to say hi. So very thoughtful of him. After saying our goodbyes to him we walked back home. And saw a new guy on the block circling high above the beach, a Turkey Vulture. I have no idea whether he’s moved in or was just visiting over the weekend.

Turkey vulture in flight
A Turkey Vulture circles high up…

It was a great weekend, but now we’re all back to work. Mine being to finish the first draft of my second book before the end of the month. I’ll need to catch up on my word count as writing was not a priority over this particular weekend. I’ll try to catch up on your blogs as well this week.

Have a great week, my friends.

 

Flooding in Paradise. Birds’ delight.

Yesterday was a magnificent day. Wednesday’s rain event of the year was over. The sky was blue again, and everyone in the nature was happily active. And I mean just about everyone.

birds in flood water mass shower
Public bath…in the brand new rainwater lake.

I went for a long walk on the flooded beach, where the gulls and the terns where taking a collective bath in the brand new rainwater lake. It was like a crowded salon spa. A place for everyone to be.

two pelicand flying be
Tandem flying by pelicans.

The pelicans were back on the beach too, practicing tandem flying and synchronized diving.

two pelicans double dive 3
A dive well synchronized…

But I also witnessed them trying to catch the same fish. Not a recommended practice. Like in any competition, only one can win. Or perhaps the fish wins.

two pelicans dive for same fish
Diving for the same fish?

That’s exactly what happened. The fish was spared this time around. One of the pelicans was back up on his wings immediately, but the other one appeared a bit dazed for a while.

pelicans landing
What just happened?

I was curious to see what the torrential rains had done in the nature reserve and found a path to the park that didn’t require a kayak.

salt marsh after rains
West end of the salt marsh…and formerly dry grassy patches now underwater…

I immediately saw that the water level in the salt marsh was up by several inches.

salt marsh after rain flood
East end of the salt marsh…fish swimming in the previously very shallow water…and my usual photo spot is underwater too.

Some of the small “islands” were completely or partially underwater, and fish were happily swimming in areas that were very shallow or dry earlier this week. Including my low-lying photo spots 🙂

great white egret and small blue heron
Great White Egret and a Little Blue Heron surveying the landscape…

It was lovely to see how the birds enjoyed the revitalized environment. They were out and about in big numbers!

green heron 2 918
A Green heron…not in hiding today…

Mister Green Heron, whom I hadn’t spotted for quite a while was enjoying the great views. He was in such a good mood that he even posed for a portrait.

green heron portrait 2
A Green Heron sitting for a portrait…

He shared the tree with a juvenile Yellow Crowned Night Heron, who was perfectly camouflaged between the branches.

another juvenile yellow crowned night heron 2
A juvenile Yellow Crowned Night Heron well camouflaged…

A little later I spotted her cousin, a juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron, at the other end of the marsh.

juvenile yelloe crowned night heron
A juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron not so well camouflaged …

Papa Osprey was there too, at his nest like I’ve seen him every single day from my terrace, keeping an eye on the skies.

papa osprey watching the skies 2
Surveillance underway by Papa Osprey…
papa osprey in the nest 918
What’s going on down there?

And the ground, where Tiny was waving to him, and where a Muscovy Duck and a Tricolored Heron were looking for food in the new shallows.

tricolored heron and muscovy duck
A Tricolored Heron and a Muscovy Duck looking for lunch…

After spending more than an hour with the birds, I decided to go home through the beach, taking a shortcut at the tree line. There was a small strip of sand free of water and I managed to walk dry-footed to the side of our garden, which is elevated several feet higher.

beach flooded after the rains
A new and temporary lake on the beach…

But there I was trapped by a new  four-foot wide “river” and my shortcut became a longish detour instead.

It was great to see such joy and activity among the birds. I truly enjoyed my long walk. I hope you did too. Have a wonderful weekend ❤ Tiny