Tag Archives: New Year

A Marriage Proposal. And Happy New Year from the Salt Marsh.

Hello everyone! I hope the Holiday Season has treated you well. I’m back home from my Christmas adventures with family on the Atlantic seaboard in North Florida and Georgia. It was a precious time with our son and his family.

st-simons-island-pier-georgis-fb-ud98Lots of little adventures and places to see. Here a few pictures from our trip to St. Simons Island in Georgia: the lighthouse from 1807, rebuilt in 1872, the Christ Church from 1808 and the beautiful Avenue of Oaks planted sometime before 1850.

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lighthouse-at-st-simons-georgia-ud98

christ-church-2-st-simons-island-georgia-ud98

the-avenue-of-oaks-st-simons-georgia-ud98I did do some bird watching as well with my 6-year old granddaughter. Here’s our catch from Georgia, Double-crested Cormorants and gulls.

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cormorant-and-gulls-georgia-ud98I am happy to say she is also into nature and photography, shooting away with her Nikon Coolpix. Here she discovered some ‘interesting plant’ that needed to be captured close up.

little-photographer-ud98We also did a birding walk in her neighborhood with Dylan in tow. And to my delight I captured my first shots of a Hooded Merganser.

hooded-merganser-2-jax-ud98The rest of the neighborhood birds included a family of Canada Geese, a serious-looking Little Blue Heron and a Snowy Egret.

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snowy-egret-jax-ud98That was so much fun!

Yesterday morning I checked on my friends at the salt marsh. A New Year’s celebration was clearly in the making. So many birds! A large family of Wood Storks, many Great Egrets, and the Mayor, of course, were all enjoying the cool sunshine – and plenty of food offerings.

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great-egret-and-great-blue-heron-ud97As usual, the Reddish Egret was entertaining the crowds and shaking his booty. And for the first time I captured him in full flight.

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reddish-egret-flying-ud97Miss Rosa was there too, delighting everyone with her colorful presence. She always notices me and nods her greeting. I thought she said Happy New Year. How sweet of her.

roseate spoonbill and snowy egret ud97.jpg

roseate-spoonbill-ud97Mama Sandy was sitting on her new perch. Papa Stanley flew by and they had a brief exchange. At the time I was not aware of the importance of the moment.

mama-osprey-at-her-perch-ud97Below the Osprey nest, I spotted a Tri-colored Heron. When I came home and looked at my pictures, I realized she was not alone. A Green Heron was lurking in the shadows right behind her, and another bird further in behind him.

tricolored-heron-and-green-heron-in-shadows-ud97And I witnessed some rivalry between two of the Great Egrets. There was a loud exchange followed by a flight competition.

two great egrets flying 2 ud97.jpgEven the big Wood Stork wanted to get away from such a disturbance to the otherwise peaceful New Year Eve party. He hurried his steps, then ran and flexed his huge wings.

wood-stork-fishing-ud97But the Little Blue Heron was brave. He was a bit startled, but stayed put on the water installation and stared curiously at the big boys’ silly competition.

little-blue-heron-ud97The juvenile Night Heron also observed the hullabaloo from the relative safety of his tree below the Osprey nest.

juvenile-night-heron-ud97I was happy to find everyone in good spirits on the last day of the year and walked home. On my way, I spotted an industrious couple, Mr. and Mrs. Red-bellied Woodpecker. But I was yet to get my biggest year-end surprise.

male-and-female-red-bellied-woodpecker-ud97An hour or so later, when I happened to look out from my office window towards the salt marsh, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I ran out to the terrace and could confirm that Papa Stanley was in the new nest for the first time!

papa-osprey-in-the-nest-ud99And Mama Sandy was happily enjoying her proposal gift on the perch. Wow! The proposal gift was not a fish, but a small mammal, perhaps a squirrel.

mama-osprey-with-her-proposal-gift-ud99If Osprey eats something other than fish, it will probably be at the time when the male makes his annual marriage proposal. I have seen Sandy receiving a mouse in 2015, and that’s the only time before yesterday I’ve seen her eat other than fish. Now this gift was very special, and it was given 11 days earlier than last year.

This morning on my early morning walk with Dylan, but without my camera, I saw that both Sandy and Stanley were sitting in the nest together. And I noticed that some soft nest materials had already been brought in. Sandy and Stanley have renewed their marriage vows once again, and this New Year’s Eve marked the official start of their 2017 nesting season. What a resilient couple they are!

fireworks-2017-ud100I want to thank all blogging friends for a wonderful year. You have inspired me with your thought-worthy posts and generous advice, amazing stories, wonderful poems and beautiful photos and other art! And you have given me laughs when I most needed them 🙂 You have also encouraged me by visiting here and commenting on what I have shared,  which I have immensely enjoyed. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. My furry sidekick also sends his regards, and we both wish you a Happy and Healthy New Year.

A Journey into the First Night. On My Terrace.

The last day of the year was coming to an end. Fleeting rays of the setting sun performed their last dance around the tree tops. Dusk started to settle over the salt marsh. And most birds were tucked away in their sleeping quarters.

salt marsh at night fallThe ‘blue hour’ came. Fully booked dinner cruise boats floated from the bay onto the ocean. But at the darkened northwest corner of the park now closed, activity continued all evening long. Until the last hour of the last day of 2015.

clearwater pass and the sand key park at blue hourAs the midnight hour approached, the moon slept on its big tummy on a misty bed over the bay. The Christmas tree at the local hospital on the opposite shore was brightly lit.  Lights were still shining from many windows. For some fellow passengers on this earthly journey, the first night would be greeted in a hospital bed.

And then the ball finally dropped in front of the crowds in the big city. The skies were set alight. Followed by loud kabooms reverberating over the salt marsh.

first night fireworks Star showers fell towards the ocean and the beach. Shapes in bright colors filled the sky.

first night fireworks fireworks And if the salt marsh residents had not covered their eyes and ears with their wings, they did see  a bird looking right down on them from the skies. A symbol of something we all need. Peace.

new year fireworks 2016The Night Herons and Barn Owls were certainly not the only birds awakened by people’s celebration at this first hour of the first night. But luckily it soon became quiet. The moon wiggled out of its misty bed and shone brightly to light up the first night. Once again, a new year was born.

half moonMay 2016 bring us peace and contentment.

Breakfast in Bed. Now It’s Official.

Yesterday morning I lifted my eyes from the vector graphics on a complex analysis I was doing for work, and glanced out from my office window towards the Osprey nest. Did I overdo it at my computer and had double vision? I saw two white heads in the nest. I went to fetch my birding binoculars, then my camera…and yay! No double vision, but two Ospreys in the nest.

mama and papa osprey in the nest first time ud39Sandy was half asleep with a partially eaten fish in her talons, and Stanley was in protection mode at the front of the nest. It must have been an early breakfast-in-bed proposal scenario. Sandy had finally gotten her gift! The nesting season 2016 had officially started. And I just had to get out there. Right then. So I left my work, gathered my stuff and jogged straight to the salt marsh.

mama osprey sleeps papa osprey watches ud39And there they were, the love birds. Sandy was still sleeping and Stanley was still checking the environment, including me.  I liked what I saw.

While I was standing close to the nest, I noticed a juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron. She was standing on the water installation and staring down into the water, all puffed up.

juvenile yellow-crowned night heron ud39And that’s when I saw them. Two tarpons, 2-3 feet long, were swimming close to the surface of the deep water below the nest.

tarpon in salt marsh ud39They looked huge in that small body of water. Far too much for the young Night Heron, and even for the Ospreys. But then everything is relative. Tarpons can grow to a length of 8 feet and weigh up to 280 pounds. These two fellows captured Stanley’s interest too. He glanced down at them, and then looked at me as in saying these guys are far too big, right?

papa osprey looks down at fish ud39He knows he can carry a fish up to two times his own weight, which would be about 3.5-4.4 pounds. And these were much bigger.

Everybody else noticed them too. Daddy Night Heron stared down into the water from his perch in a nearby tree.

yellow-crowned Night Heron ud39A Snowy Egret on a lower branch got really upset, and gave a loud warning when one of the tarpons jumped up from the water at the shallow end of the pond.

snowy egret is really upset ud39So did Miss Rosa. She had been sleeping and was woken up by all the commotion. She ran further away from the water.

roseate spoonbill shouting ud39The one seemingly not bothered by the appearance of the two visitors was the Mayor. He was back from his Christmas holiday, surveying the marsh leisurely next to his favorite islet.

great blue heron Mayor ud39A large flock of White Ibis was foraging further out in the park. They were not bothered either.

a flock of white ibis ud39After quickly walking around the marsh, I  approached the deep end again. Peace had now returned. Miss Rosa had calmed down, and so had the Snowy Egret.  He was busy cleaning his gorgeous plumage.

roseate spoonbill ud39snowy egret ud39The juvenile Night Heron was still looking a bit wary, but her daddy had already fallen back to sleep.

older juvenile yellow-crowned night heron ud39But Mama Sandy had woken up. She was working on her big fish again.

mama osprey eats papa osprey watches ud39Moorhens were back cruising the deep water, and life had assumed its normal peaceful ways at the salt marsh, on one of the last days of the year.

mama moorhen reflection ud39I returned to my work confident that the new year will bring many new adventures. Happy New Year to everyone! And thank you for being here. Much love, Tiny & co.

 

That Was a Blast. Right Next to the Salt Marsh.

Yesterday, on New Year’s Eve, we watched fabulous fireworks right here on the beach. I mean they were truly fabulous, but the thick fog over the ocean prevented us from seeing all of it.  I didn’t mind. But while I watched whatever we could see, I was getting worried. The loud blasts were coming from the north end of the beach, right next to the salt marsh where the birds live.

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A low “sparkler”…

While taking a few photos of the foggy fires from my terrace, I was hoping all of my feathery friends would be safely tucked in for the night in their sleeping quarters. With ear plugs. And not flying around in the area.

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All we could see below the fog…

So this morning when the sun half-heartedly peeked out, I took a walk to check on them. The first one I spotted was a Snowy Egret. She was cleaning her white dress. I assumed it had gotten dirty at last night’s swing about.

snowy egret grooming Jan 1 2015
A Snowy Egret dry cleaning her dress…

Why do I think there was a swing about? That was quite obvious when I spotted a male Snowy Egret doing exactly the same thing in a nearby tree.

male snowy heron grooming on new year
A Snowy Egret dry cleaning his traditional dress…

Just when I could see Mama Osprey’s empty nest from afar, she flew in.  Phew! You see, a couple of years ago an osprey was killed by fireworks in a nearby town, so I was relieved and happy to see her alive and well.

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Mama Osprey arrives just when I was getting worried…

I got a charming nod for Happy New Year, and also noticed she had continued to work on the nest in anticipation of Papa Osprey’s return. Many more heavy branches and twigs were sticking out of the nest now.

papa osprey says happy new year
Mama Osprey says Happy New Year…

After a while I continued my walk. And spotted a very sleepy Yellow-crowned Night Heron. He opened one eye when I approached. Just like hubs did this morning.

night heron sleeping one eye open on new year
A sleepy Yellow-crowned Night Heron shows little interest…

On a little island nearby, the always curious Muscovy Duck was sound asleep. I found a feather in his iridescent green color on the ground, it must have been a wild night for him.

muscovy duck sleeping on new year
Mister Muscovy Duck is sound asleep…

Then something interesting happened. I heard Mama Osprey sing. And sing. And sing. It was a beautiful tune! My tired head finally realized he didn’t sing just for my enjoyment, and I looked up. An osprey was flying high up above the nest.  It could have been Papa Osprey!

Last year I spotted them in full nest restoration mode on January 16th. And ospreys tend to keep their timetable from year to year. So please stay tuned for breaking good news 🙂

Happy New Year to all of you from all of us in the salt marsh!

Ps. This post has been edited after publishing when I discovered that Papa Osprey (PO) actually was Mama Osprey.

 

Paintings.

The path was winding through varied landscapes. Sunny days of happiness and joy, and darker days of pain and frustration. You know life works that way.

HMI great egret 1

The canvas of the year has been painted. It is complete, and there is no going back. You may now hang it in your gallery of experience, learning and growth.

HMI park Great egret 4

And you look forward. A new canvas on the easel is waiting for its first stroke of paint.  Your mind sees bright colors and lots of light. For health and happiness, and peace on earth.

HMI park great egret grooming 2

And right now, in this moment, you are here. On the threshold of a brand new year. In the flow of life.

May your new year become a wonderful painting! ❤ Tiny

A New Year

A new year is a simple unit of time

a short fragment of eternity

a precious gift from the universe.

A new year is a repeat offering

to try new things, to make mistakes

to learn from them and to grow.

A new year is a renewed invitation

to live each minute of it mindfully

harboring love and hope but no fear.

A new year is a thousand opportunities

to bring a smile on a stranger’s face

a sparkle of joy on an angel’s wing.

As the Sun Sets on 2013

Back home from my holiday travels – a wonderful time spent with family. Now looking out on the ocean and reflecting on the fact that today will be the last sunset of 2013. I thought I’d share one sunset for each month that I have been privileged to enjoy this year here at the Gulf beaches. I hope you enjoy them.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year 2014! May it bring you many blessings and much happiness.  Tiny