Tag Archives: Moorhen chick

Juvenile Sightings. Familiar Faces. And Death in the Salt Marsh.

I met this adorable Royal Tern fledgling on the only walk I’ve managed to take between all the thunderstorms and ordinary downpours this week. She looked at me curiously, then decided to demonstrate her newly acquired flying skills. She flew right onto the water’s edge, where quite impressive waves came crashing in. Her mom flew there too, probably to keep an eye on her.juvenile Royal Tern 2 UD 16Arriving at the salt marsh, I saw a flock of young ducklings on a little islet. I tried to get down to the water through some dense bushes and trees…and discovered I’m not that tiny. I scared them off with all the rustling of the dry palm leaves. Once they were on the water I counted them. Seven. Then I saw another three ducklings swimming off from a neighboring islet. The alarm bells had gone off there too. If, indeed, these were the same ten ducklings I’d discovered in April, then all of them had survived their first three months. That would make the salt marsh an exceptionally safe place for bird babies. mama mottled duck with 10 chicks UD3ten ducklings about three months old now UD16Soon they all disappeared together into an area of high grass where I thought their nest had been. That was a treat!

I continued my walk towards the Osprey nest. Mama Sandy was there. Her head was turned towards the skies and she was talking to someone up in the air.Mama Osprey watches Papa and Sindile UD16I looked up too and saw two Ospreys flying above the nest. I recognized Papa Stanley immediately, but who was the other one? I could see it was a young osprey with whitish edging to its flying feathers. Likely one of the chicks, but which one?papa osprey and sindile UD16Sandy and the two of them communicated back and forth as they circled over the salt marsh. I wished I’d taken osprey speak as an extra curricular activity back in school. I had no idea what they said. But it must have been something important. As soon as the two disappeared from sight, Mama Sandy took off and flew after them.

mama osprey flies after papa UD16After this exciting encounter I continued my walk. And spotted another familiar face. The young Night Heron I’ve seen on my recent walks was hiding in a tree next to the deep water.

juvenile night heron ud16She looked too cute, with baby hairs on her head standing right up. My hair was almost standing up too when I heard the loud noises. Unfamiliar. Definitely manmade. I turned around to witness the death of a huge palm tree close to the park entrance. I noticed the hard hats had also removed another dead palm tree I had shot a picture of some time back.death of a palm tree 2 ud16I was marveling about this park and the good care it gets, when I spotted something very much alive. A dragonfly. It was resting on a broken branch, enjoying the temporary pleasure of bright sunshine. Just long enough for me to snap a picture.dragonfly 2 UD16Walking towards the beach along the Northern side of the salt marsh, I found the tiniest Moorhen chick I’ve ever seen. She was struggling in the grass with her huge feet, flapping her little wings-to-be for balance, and finally came down to the water where her mom was waiting.moorhen chick 2 UD16moorhen chick UD16Walking home through the beach I spotted more young birds. Mr. Willet was teaching foraging skills to his two juveniles. Mrs. Willet was taking a walk nearby. Just another ordinary family in Mother Nature’s village. Much like us, I mused.willet in breeding plumage UD16I came home just before the storm dragons started dancing in the skies again, in line with the weather pattern we’ve been seeing so far this week.storm clouds UD16It was a good time to do some detective work based on the pictures I have on the three Osprey chicks in flight. I came to the fairly reliable conclusion that the young Osprey flying with Stanley had been Sindile, the youngest chick who left the nest only two weeks ago. Yay!

I hope you enjoyed this short walk between the downpours. Have a great rest of the week.

 

Empty Nesters Are Enjoying Themselves. And the Mayor of the Marsh Is Back.

This week’s been hot, and I’ve been busy. Since my sunrise walk on Monday, I only went to see my feathered friends around the salt marsh today at lunch time. But wanted to say a quick hello before the end of the week. So you know I’m still alive and well, and looking forward to catching up on your blogs over the weekend.

Mama and Papa Osprey are empty nesters since ten days, as many of you know. But they are staying close to each other, which is a bit unusual for Osprey once the nesting season is over.  They’re perching on the bay side – featured image taken from my terrace on Wednesday night at sunset. Or flying together and chatting. Last night when it was too dark for a photo shoot, but not for my new binoculars, I spotted them perching at the Sailing Center. Each at the top of a sailing boat mast, next to each other. That was too cute.

female osprey at the nest with full crop Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Mama Sandy uses the nest as her feeding and resting perch. Today her crop was really full.

Mama Sandy has been at the nest several times since she came back to the area last weekend. Today she was perching there again. Her crop was really full. She must have eaten a huge fish for lunch. Finally she has time to take care of herself.

And I spotted Stanley too. He was still planning what to have for lunch. Scanning for fish high up on the roof of Marriott Resort on the bay side. That’s one of his favorite spots. Excellent visibility into the clear water below. The fish he craves for is likely to be his.

male osprey scans for fish on a hotel roof Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Papa Stanley checks his lunch options at the corner of Marriott’s roof.

At the salt marsh, the “Mayor” is back! Some of you may remember the older Great Blue Heron who keeps order among the moorhens, egrets, ducks, other herons, the many ibis families and all the smaller birds.

GBH UD15
The “Mayor” surveys his community.

Not that he needs to work hard. This is usually a well-mannered crowd. There are plenty of nice spots at this resort, and the smorgasbord in the shallow waters has something for everyone.

mottled duck Sand Key Clearwater Florida
A female Mottled Duck enjoys a nice spot in the grass.
juvenile ibis Sand Key Clearwater Florida
The young ibis is still around, now foraging on his own.
moorhen family with four chicks Sand Key Clearwater Florida
All four Moorhen chicks are out and about.
great egret ibis and mottled ducks Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Great Egret, Ibis and two Mottled Ducks share a small islet.
A Blue Jay forages in the grass.

That’s all I have for this week. I’m still working on the recap of the nesting season. Mama Sandy’s calendar is full of scribbles about all kinds of drama and other happenings, so it’s a bit like detective work to get it all correctly 🙂

We all wish you a wonderful weekend. Peace.

Empty Fridge. Life Lessons. And Romantic News from the Salt Marsh.

Mama Osprey’s fridge has been empty many times this week. The chicks are growing fast and have an endless appetite. Like teenagers usually do. When the meal time is over, all that’s left for Mama Sandy can be some shreds of a fish tail.

fame osprey feeding her chicks Sand Key park Clearwater Florida
A shred of a fish tail remains for Sandy’s lunch.

I’m no longer wondering why female ospreys lose 15% of their body weight during the nesting season. Sandy is a good example of a mom who always puts her chicks first. Male ospreys lose about 10% of their weight too. I guess the fish heads are not that filling. When the chicks were smaller, Stanley either waited in the nest until everyone had eaten or came back for the remaining tail. More recently he’s stopped waiting, and he doesn’t bother to come back to check for any leftovers. He knows there won’t be any.

male osprey leaves the nest Sand Key park Clearwater Florida
Stanley leaves after his drop-off.

It’s been very hot this week, more like July-August temperatures. Luckily all three chicks are now big enough to be able to cool themselves. Sandy is still often protecting them from the hottest afternoon sun with her wings half-spread out. And the chicks are fluffing themselves up to let the sea breeze cool their skin.

Female osprey and an osprey chick Sand Key park Clearwater Florida
Sandy and one of the chicks managing the heat last weekend.

The chicks are also learning the skill of watching for any dangers. The oldest one, in particular, often sits upright and helps Sandy to scan the skies. And s/he is also able to eat directly from the fish now, once the smaller siblings have been fed.

Female osprey with a chick Sand Key park Clearwater Florida
Sandy checks out Tiny and one of the chicks scans the sky.

I haven’t spotted Papa Stanley making a fish transport since last Sunday. But that’s not so strange because his visits to the nest now are all about dropping off the fish, which only takes a few seconds.  I’m sure he’s still there. In any case Mama Sandy has started to fetch food too. It’s common for osprey moms go back to work as soon as the kids are big enough to be left alone for a while. There’s a need to complement what dad brings in.

female osprey returns to her chicks Sand Key park Clearwater Florida
Sandy returns to the nest from one of her short outings. The oldest chick was in charge 🙂

This morning Sandy totally surprised me. And I think she surprised the chicks too.  I heard the youngest chick ask for fish. She stretched herself up, looked over to the shallow part of the marsh. And off she went. I was taking a picture of the chicks alone in the nest – and whoops, she was back! With a fish. It took maybe about 30 seconds for her to pick up the fish from the water. I have never seen her fishing right there. Needless to say I was impressed.  Here’s the sequence of Mama Sandy going to the neighborhood seven eleven.

female osprey with osprey chicks Sand Key park Clearwater Florida
Sandy stretches up and watches intently…
female osprey with chicks Sand Key park Clearwater Florida
Then she just flies out … down into the marsh.
osprey chicks waiting for female osprey to return Sand Key park Clearwater Florida
The two oldest ones watch her, but the youngest one is just asking for fish.
female osprey is back with a fish Sand Key park Clearwater Florida
Sandy is back with a fish…
female osprey got a large fish Sand Key park Clearwater Florida
…and it’s a fairly big one.

Sandy started feeding them right away. Less than two hours later I checked on them from home with my binoculars and they were eating again. Stanley must have brought another fish right after they finished the first one 🙂

Otherwise everything is good around the salt marsh. The Red-winged Blackbird has made himself home and is busy singing his songs in one tree or another. I love to see him, but wouldn’t pay to download his songs.

redwinged blackbird 3 UD6
A Red-winged Blackbird sings to his heart’s delight.

The Nanday Parakeet couple still lives happily in their condo apartment. The balcony and the patio perch come to good use in the heat.

nanday parakeet in her nest Sand Key park Clearwater Florida
A Nanday Parakeet on her balcony (I’m guessing it’s the female)…
nanday parakeet Sand Key park Clearwater Florida
…and her hubby on their perch patio.

The Red-bellied Woodpecker is still there, but no longer alone.  He’s gotten hitched! It was impossible to persuade both of them to sit together and pose for the camera. I had to merge two pictures to show you how they play.

Red-bellied Woodpecker couple Sand Key park Clearwater Florida
The Red-bellied Woodpecker couple close to their home.

And the Moorhen chicks continue to grow. I’ve spotted them on most of my walks this week exploring their surroundings with mom and dad.

A Moorhen chick Sand Key park Clearwater Florida
One of the Moorhen chicks came out of the grass to explore a bit further.

That’s all from the Salt Marsh News for this week. I hope you’re learning good life lessons too, and that your week is going great.

Wordless Wednesday: Little Feet. And how to use them. Frame by Frame.

You can use your little feet to run around among the treasures on the beach...
You can use your little feet to run around picking shiny bargains…
two sanderlings on the beach
…or you can lean on one foot to have a lengthy, relaxed conversation
two royal terns
…or you may stand on one foot to rest the other while learning to know your neighbor
royal tern mom and teen
…or you can run after mommy or someone else important you need to talk to
gull taking off
…or you could use them to get away from sticky situations
...or you can use them as landing gear
…or you might use them as landing gear to ensure a soft landing
northern mocking bird
…or you could park your feet on the top of a tree and sing your heart out
mourning dove
…or you can curve your toes around a safe branch to ensure stability in life
house sparrow
…or you might just sit on your little feet in deep thought – and go nowhere at all.