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!