Tag Archives: Northern Mockingbird

Osprey Chick Boot Camp. And Other Life Lessons.

The Osprey chick is in boot camp. Mama Sandy is trying to get her ‘wingersizing’. It’s time to strengthen her wings by exercising them.  And to improve her self-confidence after the tragedy that killed her sibling two weeks ago. So now Mama Sandy is often retreating to her perch to give the little one room to move around in the nest and spread her wings. Why do I say her? It is because I snapped this picture the other night at sunset time when Dylan walked me through the marsh.

osprey chick at sunrise ud125Her ‘necklace’ is very much like Sandy’s. So it’s a girl. Again. In the last few years Sandy and Stanley have produced mostly girls: one girl in 2014, two girls and one boy in 2015 and one girl in 2016.

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Now this girl needs to learn to fly. But she is not yet exercising enough. At least in Sandy’s opinion. So yesterday when I sat on “my” bench watching the nest, I saw Sandy teaching her. By role modeling flight from start to end. She walked the talk, so to speak. She took off from the perch and just flew around for a minute. And landing back on the perch she demonstrated her well-practiced “come-from-below” approach.

mama osprey flies around the nest ud125

Mama osprey returns ud125She did this repeatedly. She did not go anywhere, just flew around the nest so the chick could see her. And the chick watched intently. Even flexed her wings a few times.

osprey chick watches mama flying ud125

osprey chick streches her wings ud125

Mama osprey lands on the perch ud125I was impressed by Sandy’s home schooling skills. Then my camera battery warning light began blinking. I started to change the battery. And…like so often previously, that’s when Stanley appeared. My camera’s bottom wide open, I watched him zoom in, leave the fish to Sandy and leave. Sandy divided it into two pieces and they started to eat.

mama osprey and chick are eating ud125_edited-1The chick was hungry and wanted more. Or maybe her piece was smaller.

mama osprey and the chick ud125_edited-1In any case, after Sandy had eaten enough, she started to feed the chick.

osprey female feeds the chick ud125_edited-1Perhaps Sandy made a point right there. If you’re a baby and don’t want to learn to fly, I’m going to feed you like a baby. Or maybe that’s just my speculation. In any case, the chick’s recovery seems to be going quite well. The intensive flight preparation classes should get her airborne shortly.

After spending quite a bit of time with the Osprey family, I only had time to walk quickly around the marsh. I spotted my friend, the beautiful Tri-colored Heron.

tri-colored Heron 2 UD125And a hybrid Mottled Duck, whose friend put up quite a show for me. Or maybe I should say gave me a free preening lesson. If you have the time to actually be at the salt marsh, and need a smile, please watch the short video below.

duck ud125

A White Ibis family was foraging close by, and among them was this beautiful juvenile. She was only partly white. I am guessing she was born last year.

juvenile white ibis ud125At the far end of the marsh, the Clown (Reddish Egret) sported his red, spiked up hair do. He was busy chasing a Great Egret away from his fishing camp. The latter obliged.

Reddish Egret chases a Great Egret ud125Just when I was leaving the marsh, I spotted a Blue Jay. He didn’t care to pose for a portrait, but showcased the gorgeous colors on his back.

blue jay 2 ud125When I arrived home, a tiny Mockingbird baby was practicing her songs on the garage roof. Her repertoire was not yet well developed, but her obvious joy of just being alive was enough to give me a big smile – and something to ponder.

baby northern Mockingbird ud125Thank you for being here. Please stay tuned…the now traditional chick naming lottery is starting next week. Dylan will take care of it, just like last year. Peace.

Covert Operations to Distract the Paparazzi

Early this week, I finally had an opportunity to check everything out at the salt marsh. In broad daylight. But that didn’t spare me from bumping into some covert operations. By the osprey couple. The main target of my surveillance.

mama osprey on her break ud113When I arrived at the marsh I found Mama Sandy on one of her regular breaks from incubating. Papa Stanley was sitting on the eggs.

Papa Osprey sits on the eggs ud113

mama osprey 3 ud113She was looking well and happy to air her brooding patches for a while. It’s been over five weeks now, which means she has endless patience and that addition to the family is imminent.

mama osprey returns to the nest ud113She flew back to the nest and immediately sat on the eggs. The shift change was seamless. Thirty seconds tops. Stanley flew away and I saw him dive down into the marsh waters behind some trees and bushes, pick up a fish and fly away to eat it. They almost never fish at the marsh, so I believe this was a surprise maneuver to distract the paparazzi.

papa osprey leaves the nest ud113And he succeeded. No pictures. You just have to take my word for it. As everything was quiet at the nest, I continued my inspection round. The first friend I spotted was the Mayor.

mayor ud113As always, he was keenly surveying the marsh. I’m almost sure he has a nest close by. I have seen him fly with nesting materials only to land in the middle of the marsh. And I’ve caught him  returning there at night. But he keeps his family secrets close to his chest.

And so does the Tri-Colored Heron family. I have figured out that the male likes to hide in the trees below the Osprey nest, while the female practices her yoga whenever she has a break. I spotted the male first.

tri-colored heron ud112A half an hour later, Mrs. was out and about stretching her wings and airing her brooding patches on one of the islets.

tri-colored heron ud113Another couple nesting at the marsh now are Mr. and Mrs. Yellow-Crowned Night Heron. Apparently Mister had been fishing. He was drying his feathers in the sun.

yellow-crowned night heron ud113I also saw my friend Little Blue Heron. I am almost sure she’s not yet mature enough to start a family.

little blue heron ud113The same probably applies to the really tiny Snowy Egret, who was observing the wild world from a tree next to the deep water.

small snowy egret ud113Suddenly I heard Sandy’s alarm call. I looked up and saw another female Osprey circling above the nest.

mama osprey sounds alarm 2 ud113

another female osprey ud113I assumed she was the wife of Stanley’s fishing buddy, Steve. They are nesting on the roof of a high-rise building about one mile south of the marsh. Perhaps she was on a break to stretch her wings and was curious about the trendy furnishings in Sandy’s new home. She was not aggressive in any way and Sandy soon calmed down.

I continued my walk and saw that the Reddish Egret was visiting. He might have been looking for some special bites to take back to the bird island, where I’m assuming he’s nesting right now.

reddish egret 3 ud113Next, I saw a duck that I haven’t seen at the marsh for a couple of years, a male hybrid between Mallard and Florida Mottled Duck. It looked like he was canvassing suitable home sites.

hybrid florida mottled duck ud113He had some completion from Papa Moorhen. Although I think the Moorhens have already rented a home for this nesting season. Mama Moorhen was likely already incubating at this time.

mr moorhen ud113But where were all the smaller birds, you might ask. Oh, they were flitting and flying around in big numbers. The super tiny Sedge Wren was foraging in the grass, hardly visible beneath the leaves.

SEDGE WREN UD113The Blue Jay was flying around singing his monotone song – and moving non-stop.

blue jay 3 ud112The Mockingbird’s song was not boring. He had a large repertoire that I greatly enjoyed.

Mockingbird UD112The European Starling, the Grackle and the Eurasian Collared Dove just sat there admiring the gorgeous spring weather.

european starling UD112

common grackle ud112

mourning dove ud113I had to walk home not knowing whether or not there was a little hatchling in the Osprey nest.

Then, on Thursday afternoon, I was spying on them again…from my terrace. Sorry for the poor picture quality, but it was so windy that I could hardly stand straight and zooming full out, handheld, is quite hazardous in those conditions. Anyway, I caught a moment when Stanley was sitting on the perch and Sandy was incubating – her wings a little bit spread out. Suddenly she got up and started working on something.

osprey couple ud113I can’t be sure of what she was doing. But when I inspected my blurry and shaky shots at length, it sure looked like she could have been feeding (by regurgitating) a newborn chick…or two. But you know my imagination.

mama osprey feeding a second chick 2 maybe ud113

mama osprey feeding maybe 3 ud113Sandy was certainly ‘doing something’ both in front of her and to her side. I have learned that when there is a hatchling,  it still looks like she is incubating. Why? She broods the newly hatched chick(s) for 10 days, initially also incubating still unhatched eggs. Her wings are just slightly spread out at that point. As the minimum incubation time has now passed, we could already have one or two tiny chicks…carefully protected from paparazzi by the parents. Whatever it is, we’ll know soon enough.

parasailing ud113We all wish you a beautiful weekend and week ahead. Fly high.

A Good Match. Definitely.

Mid-morning on Saturday, Mama Sandy was sitting on the egg(s) her eyes closed. I assumed she had her breakfast soon after sunrise, and was now taking a nap in the sunshine. While she was sleeping, I was observing several smaller birds busy looking for food in the grass near the nest. A beautiful Mourning Dove tried to decide whether or not to trust me.

mourning-dove-2-ud109And a Northern Mockingbird decided that a fat worm was worth the risk of staying close by.

northern-mockingbird-ud109 Then I saw several tiny birds, Pine Warblers I thought, playing around in a cypress tree. They were moving very fast and almost impossible to spot high up in a tree.

pine-warbler-male-ud109That’s when I sensed that something was up at the osprey nest. Papa Stanley was on incoming.

papa-osprey-flying-into-the-nest-ud109And he didn’t come empty-handed. He had been fishing and brought a whole fish to Sandy. A small mid-morning surprise, which Sandy gratefully accepted.

sandy-gets-the-fish-ud109The fish changed hands. Stanley inspected the egg(s) and started his incubation shift. Sandy flew up on the perch to enjoy her meal.

papa-osprey-inspects-the-eggs-ud109

papa-osprey-incubates-ud109That was a smooth shift change, less than a minute. Not one word was said, both knew exactly how this was done. They are such a good match for each other, Sandy and Stanley.

I left them and took a walk around the marsh. It was fairly quiet. I am sure most residents were either at their nests in the middle of the marsh where nobody could see them or on the small ‘bird island’ in the bay. However, I spotted the ‘yoga bird’ again. She was in a secretive pose, hidden behind her wing for a while, but then I saw it was the Tri-colored Heron.

tricolored-heron-does-yoga-ud109

tricolored-heron-ud109And, as usual, the Little Blue Heron was present too. He was looking for food in the shallow part of the marsh.

little-blue-heron-2-ud109At the beach-end of the marsh I spotted a visitor. First I thought it was an American Bittern, but concluded it might have been a juvenile Green Heron. They tend to be very ‘streaky’ on their chest.

juvenile-green-heron-ud109There were several Ibis around and a few Night Herons were sleeping in the bushes.

yellow-crowned-night-heron-ud109Walking back towards the osprey nest, I saw the Mayor fly in. He settled next to the water management installation, but kept off of it. I think he knows how to read.

gbh-ud109I saw Sandy had eaten her fish, but was still on her break. Just then, almost exactly 30 minutes from the time she received the fish, she flew back to the nest to relieve Stanley.

mama-osprey-leaves-the-perch-1-ud109

mama-osprey-leaves-the-perch-3-ud109The second shift change was as efficient as the first one.  One up, side by side, one down. Done.

shift-change-at-osprey-nest-ud109Sandy was back incubating and Stanley flew away. Walking home by the bay side, I discovered he had parked himself on the wind device at the Sailing Center. Ready for the next fishing trip.

papa-osprey-at-sailing-center-ud109I also spotted a remarkable 12-person row-boat on the bay. First I thought there were several boats next to each other, but realized it was all one boat. A strange-looking ‘installation’. I have never seen anything like this before, have you?

row-boat-on-the-bay-ud109Last night Dylan wanted to go to the dog park and we passed by the osprey nest coming home in the dusk. From far I saw Stanley returning to the nest. He sat down on the perch, perhaps ready for a short night shift. It was cloudy and almost dark, but I shot one picture towards the osprey nest from the foot path we followed. As the night fell, papa was sitting right there with mama.

salt-marsh-at-dusk-4x6-ud109We all wish you a wonderful week. Stay positive.

 

A Weekend Holiday Party. Hosted by the Mayor.

This past weekend was a bit winter-like. Cool winds from the north, bright sunshine and then yesterday a bit warmer and cloudier with a few sprinkles. I was invited to a lively holiday party at the salt marsh. Two days of guests mingling happily in anticipation of the holidays. Residents hosting visitors who seemed happy to have escaped the real cold up north.

dozen-wood-storks-ud94And there were early signs of romance brewing in the bird community. Many couples, breeding plumages growing…and a few loud comments exchanged between suitors in some quarters.

The Reddish Egret was entertaining. Perhaps he was also trying to impress on his girlfriend, who had taken possession of the Mayor’s office. She was well put together and watched the Clown’s performance intently.

the-other-reddish-egret-ud94

reddish-egret-shaking-off-water-ud94And Miss Rosa was, of course, the object of everyone’s admiration. Including mine. I first spotted her hanging out with the big boys.

roseate-spoonbill-with-wood-storks-ud94Then she flew to a pond where she could fish undisturbed. Photogenic. And I think she knows it.

roseate-spoonbill-2-ud94While Rosa didn’t seem to have a boyfriend, the Yellow-crowned Night Heron did have company. She was sitting shyly in the bushes below the osprey nest, while her admirer was openly staring at her from a tree across a small ‘strait’.

yellow-crowned night heron ud94.jpg

yellow-crowned-night-heron-2-ud94Mama Sandy was there too. She looked regal on her new perch. And she was in deep thought. Perhaps mulling over ideas for home decoration, which is about to start in 3-4 weeks now.

mama-osprey-on-her-perch-ud94Suddenly I heard osprey speak. I looked up and saw Papa Stanley right above the nest looking down. They talked.

papa-osprey-flies-over-talking-to-mama-ud94I would have loved to know what was said in that brief exchange! You see, he has not yet been allowed to land in the new nest. I know it will happen early January, but only after he has performed his proposal dance and brought a gift to Sandy. Then they will start decorating their new home together. That shall be interesting. I will make only one New Year resolution this year, and that is to follow their nesting season as much as I can. And then share this couple’s joys and challenges here with you.

After Stanley flew away towards the ocean, Sandy greeted me from her ‘high chair’. She is a beauty. No wonder Stanley is so besotted by her.

mama-osprey-closeup-ud94I walked around the marsh and spotted two of our permanent residents, the Tri-colored Heron and the Little Blue Heron. They are such gracious little waders and by now not a bit shy when I approach them.

tricolored-heron-2-ud94In fact, the Little Blue Heron kept me company. She walked with me quite a while along the southern border of the marsh.

little-blue-heron-ud94Soon I saw the big birds chilling out in the ‘west wing’ of the marsh. Mainly Wood Storks and Great Egrets, in clans, couples or solo enjoyed the holiday smorgasbord.

wood-stork-ud94I learned something new, namely how the Wood Storks ‘sit’ on the ground when only their heads are visible above the high grass.

wood-stork-2-ud94This is how. They actually sit on their knees – bent the other way round compared to ours.

wood-stork-sitting-ud94The older Great Blue Heron, the Mayor of the Marsh, was hosting the party. He patrolled the waters and talked to the guests.

great-egrets-blue-heron-reddish-egret-ud94At one point he said something to a Great Egret. I thought I heard “let’s compete who’s first at the osprey nest”.  I can’t be sure, but off they went.

mayor-and-great-egret-ud94

great-blue-heron-and-great-egret-ud94

great-blue-heron-and-great-egret-in-flight-ud94

great-blue-heron-and-great-egret-flying-ud94I have no way of knowing who won. Or even if that matters. But when I arrived back to the nest, I found each of them in trees close to the nest…in the company of the Night Heron couple.

great-blue-heron-and-night-heron-2-ud94

great-egret-and-night-heron-ud94But were there no small birds at the party?  Of course there were. But these birds make me work too hard to get even one acceptable picture 🙂 I managed to make two of them to pose just for half a second, a Northern Mockingbird and a tiny Least Flycatcher who moved all the time. And I mean all of the time, which is obvious from my soft picture.

northern-mockingbird-ud94

alder-flycatcher-2-ud94After being hosted by the Mayor, entertained by the Reddish Egret and greeted by Mama Sandy and Miss Rosa, I left the party and walked home by the bay side. There I spotted only one bird, a Brown Pelican at the Sailing Center pier. The pelicans prefer the bay or the ocean for their smorgasbord.

brown-pelican-ud94I hope you enjoyed this holiday party as much as I did. We all wish you a wonderful, stress-free week.

 

 

We are Flying! But Are We Ever Gonna Eat?

The Osprey chick caught me completely off guard! She really did. Last Tuesday when I took my “birding” camera on the morning walk with Dylan, she was still a nestling. We walked past the nest and nothing much was up. The chick was alone in the nest, I guessed Mama Sandy had gone to run some errands after breakfast. Osprey moms do that from the time the chicks are 5-6 weeks old.

osprey chick ud62Right when we were leaving Sandy came back and gave us a friendly look. I think she has now accepted Dylan as a part of this paparazzo’s entourage.

mama osprey gets something to the nest ud61We saw many smaller birds, like this Northern Mockingbird who lives at the marsh.

northern mocking bird ud62And a Brown-headed Cowbird, who doesn’t love dogs very much. I can tell from the sharp warning calls as soon as Dylan approaches.

brown-headed cowbird ud62A Great-tailed Grackle sang for us from a lamp-post along the walkway.

Boat-tailed Gragle ud62And the Mourning Dove sat on the driveway fence checking us out, just like she does almost every morning.

Mourning dove in the morning ud62So late yesterday morning, after all the necessary morning chores, I set out by myself to check the beach and the developments at the salt marsh. I took my new camera with me and shot some macros in the garden before heading to the beach. This girl needs to get acquainted with her new gear.

bee macro ud61I got my first tiny insect, a bee in the White Bird of Paradise flower, but he didn’t care to look into the camera. And a couple of flowers and buds too, of course.

garden flower macro ud62

flower bud macro 2 ud62

new leaf opening 2 macro

flower bud macro ud62I still have tons to learn, and have to start carrying the heavier camera and the lenses to experiment with macros and other more advanced types of shots. I’m sure I will get a hang of it by time.

Our beach was quiet. Idyllic, if I may say. But the public beach just off the salt marsh was already buzzing with activity.

our beach on Sand Key ud62All kinds of fun stuff was going on in the water and in the air. This is one of the busiest weekends of the year around here.

parasailing ud62But the salt marsh was serene as always. I walked directly towards the Osprey nest. On my way I saw a Yellow-crowned Night Heron. He had caught something big, maybe a crab, and didn’t quite know what to do with it. It could be that he hadn’t been successful during his night shift and grabbed the biggest piece available for brunch.

yellow-crowned night heron was hunting ud62I heard Mama Sandy’s alarm calls, and again didn’t see anything threatening in the air. But just as I arrived to the East-end of the marsh, something big flew by me. Yes, you guessed it. The younger Great Blue Heron made his entrance and landed right below the Osprey nest.

young great blue heron ud62 He has grown to a big handsome bird, and hopefully his manners have improved. But Sandy didn’t take any chances. She immediately flew down and swooped by this fellow. Just to make a point. It all happened in a couple of seconds and I only caught her when she landed back in the nest.

mama osprey returns to chick ud62The chick was taking notes. Then I realized that apparently their brunch was late. The chick was fairly vocal about it.

I hadn’t noticed Papa Stanley fly by with a fish, but when both the chick and Sandy were asking for fish and looking in the direction of the woods on the other side of the trail, I thought I’d better  investigate. And soon I found him in a pine tree with a big fish.

papa osprey with a fish 2 UD62Stanley was soaking wet and had just started to eat the head of the fish.  He looked in the direction of the nest where the chick was hurrying him along. And briefly checked on me too.

papa osprey with a fish ud62I walked back to the nest, took some portraits of the two ladies and waited with them. But still no fish delivery.

portrait of mama osprey ud62

osprey chick 2 ud62

mama osprey and chick waiting for fish ud62So finally I decided to go back home not to be late for my own lunch date. Just when I reached the street and looked back towards the nest, I saw the chick take off! She had fledged in the last few days! She flew a round high over the bay and also took a swing over the woods where Stanley was working on the fish. Sandy sat alone in the nest and watched her. Proud mama.

mama osprey watches chick flying ud62I decided to wait right there to see the chick come back to the nest. In a couple of minutes she approached. It looked like she might miss the nest.

osprey chick approaches the nest ud62Sandy got ready for action, but luckily the chick could work her wings and steer onto the edge of the nest.

osprey chick landing ud62.jpgAnd she landed safely next to Sandy.

ocprey chick is back in the nest ud62She got some motherly advice from Sandy right away. I wish I would’ve understood what was said. But I’m sure it was something wise.

mama osprey advises osprey chick 2 ud62I had witnessed one of the chick’s first flights. And now I had to run home. I hope friends in the US are having a nice long weekend. All of us at the marsh wish everyone a wonderful week ahead. Thanks coming along on this long Memorial Day weekend walk.

Life is good. Period.

I’m back from my self-imposed work exile! Phew. I survived, but that was something else. And the truth is I’ve missed you all. I have no idea what’s been going on, but now I’ll have much more time to find out. So hello everybody!

northern mockingbird ud58Thanks to Dylan, who wants to visit the dog park next to the salt marsh at regular intervals, I have some news to tell. But since you asked, I’ll first need to explain how the “dog stabilizer” works.

See, when we walk past Mama Sandy’s nest, I stop. Then I say “hi Mama”, and Dylan stops too. Unless a squirrel happens to be in the vicinity. If everything is good this far, I’ll check the settings and raise my camera. I say “wait for mama”. Dylan sits down and I can grab my camera with both hands while his leash is around my elbow. Performed like this, the “dog stabilizer” works about half of the time now. And we’re getting better. Like the other evening around sunset time when Miss Rosa was visiting the salt marsh.

miss rosa ud58That same evening we spotted the “Mayor” again, for the first time in a few weeks. I have a feeling he had some family affairs to take care of, such as feeding his young, on the bird island in the bay. It was lovely to see him again.

great blue heron mayor ud58When walking back from the dog park we saw both Papa Stanley and Mama Sandy in the nest – and two little heads peeking out. Dinner was over, but Stanley had stayed for a while. Maybe for some parental discussions.

osprey family at sunset ud58This morning we slept late. I mean I did, and Dylan let me. He sat on the floor next to the bed when I opened my eyes quite a bit after 8 am. Luxurious feeling after many late nights with too little sleep.

The first thing on the day’s program, even before a cup of coffee, was a walk at the salt marsh. And who flies in if not the Reddish Egret. The Clown of the marsh.

reddish egret 2 ud58But he was unusually calm at this relatively early hour. And I, of course, only had a few seconds of observation time. The “wait for mama” only works for so long.

reddish egret ud58The Osprey family had already enjoyed their breakfast. Only Sandy was visible from the ground. But when she started preening herself both chicks raised their heads. You can see how small the second chick is compared to the firstborn. But s/he is still hanging along, right under Sandy’s wing. The firstborn is already very curious about the world outside the nest and looked at us with great interest.

Mama Osprey with two chicks ud58We also spotted another baby, a young Little Blue Heron. She was really tiny, about 9-10 inches tall from top to toe. And there was just a first hint of blue on her. But she was brave, exploring the salt marsh all on her own.

Little Blue Heron in white phase ud58Just when we were leaving, we saw two other youngsters, Snowy Egrets. This one was really small too.

snowy egret 2 ud58So that’s the latest. Tomorrow I will start experimenting with my new camera gear. It’s time to have some fun. Life is good.

I wish you all a great week and look forward to catching up. Asap.

 

Devoted Parents Hide the Baby. And Other News from the Salt Marsh.

I don’t even know where to begin the salt marsh news as I’ve been away far too long from here. Completely buried in work trying to get my project finished. But there’s been a couple of walks around the salt marsh, one around sunset more than a week ago and one yesterday morning. And there’s been looking for a small homeless dog to adopt. Bumble whispered to me from the rainbow bridge that it was okay to fall in love with another homeless poodle. So we’re in the process of applying for a job as adoptive dog parents. Again.

sunset at salt marsh 2 ud50It was late. Hardly any light reached beyond the beach where the sun was about to dive into the ocean. I spotted Papa Stanley on a lamp-post at the parking lot next to the marsh. As per his usual routine, he was eating the first part of the fish before bringing the rest to Mama Sandy, who was still sitting on the eggs in the nest. I heard her calling to him asking for dinner.

papa osprey eats dinner ud50While working on the fish he was constantly checking on Sandy. He knew she was hungry too. And that the hatching was imminent.

dinner delivery ud50He landed very close to Sandy who was not even visible from the ground, and sat on the egg(s) immediately.

papa osprey sits on the eggs ud50

So that Sandy could take the fish and have her late dinner. I was really taken by his loving look when Sandy took off with her half of the fish. She settled down to eat it on the same lamp-post close the nest.

mama osprey flies away with her dinner ud50I walked around the marsh and spotted a few birds that had not yet settled down for the night, like this tiny Snowy Egret who was still fishing in the shallow waters.

young snowy egret ud50And the White Ibis, who was patrolling the marsh, no doubt in search for some munchies before the night fall.

white ibis ud50Then I walked on to the beach just in time to see the sun dive into the ocean. And the darkness fell over the earth.

sunset 3 ud50I kept an eye on the nest from my office window during the whole last week. And discovered a change of pace. There was no quick shift change when Stanley came in with the fish. Instead both stood up and it looked like Sandy was feeding a tiny hatchling while the proud father looked on.

papa and mama osprey feeding the chick ud52So yesterday morning I went to see them again. Sandy was sitting in the nest, probably brooding the newly hatched chick(s). She will do that for about ten days, until the hatchling(s) are too large to fit under her. It was hot and humid, and she was cooling herself with her tongue hanging out. She acknowledged my presence, but Stanley was nowhere to be seen.

mama osprey ud52So I continued my walk and spotted the young Great Blue Heron. He was very close to the Mayor’s office, but didn’t dare to step on that little islet in his elder’s absence. That was good.

young blue heron ud52At the other end of the marsh I found a couple of Florida Mottled Ducks, but got a picture only of the female.

florida mottled duck female ud52That’s when I realized Stanley was back at the nest. I quickly walked back and found the Osprey parents attending to the hatchling(s), whom they were effectively shielding from all attention by the paparazzi.

papa and mama osprey 16x9 ud52Stanley was wet. He’d obviously been fishing. And Sandy was eating the fish and I assume, also feeding small pieces of fish to the chick(s). So I sat there, walked round the nest and climbed up on benches in the hope of capturing a small head or hearing a little peep. But nothing. Not yet.

papa osprey with his fish ud52Then Stanley flew off with the rest of the fish. I spotted him and his fish on a tree branch nearby when walking home. He looked at me as in saying “have patience lady”. So I walked home happy knowing that things seem to be fine with the Osprey family.

northern mockingbird ud52This Northern Mockingbird and I wish you all a great week. Keep well. Peace.

 

Christmas Morning at the Salt Marsh. But Don’t Come without a Gift. Please.

The Christmas morning was beautiful. Little on the warm side. Okay, we were probably one of the warmest places in the country. No jacket required, not even in church. Late morning everybody was heading to the beach, including Santa.

christmas morning on the beach I got out too,  for a much needed walk. A solitary break from cooking and eating. And eating again. I took the shortcut through our garden to the beach and then to the salt marsh.

gardenIt was very peaceful. You see, the park was actually closed. No cars coming in. The birds were not many either. A couple of Great Egrets, a few White Ibis, Moorhens and several Night Herons sleeping in the bushes.

great egret white ibis and moorhen ud38

This juvenile was the only one agreeable to a photo shoot. Albeit half-heartedly.

juvenile yellow-crowned night heron christmas ud38

When I arrived to the east end of the marsh, the Osprey nest was empty. But I enjoyed the company of the “duckies” who have pretty much reserved the deep water for themselves. A young Moorhen came up on land and was quite funny walking the “plank” with his big feet.

moorhenmoorhen

Soon the Ibis also wanted to show me his style, balancing on the edge of the installation that regulates the ocean water coming into the marsh.white ibis The young Muscovy duck was resting further out, at the corner of the same installation. He lifted his head to acknowledge me, but didn’t move.

muscovy duck christmas portrait

I was admiring the little Grebe, who seems to have made the marsh her home, when Mama Sandy flew into her nest.

Grebe female osprey arrives at the nest

After saying hello, she settled on the back edge of the nest and scanned the skies. Looking up, I didn’t see anything interesting.

female osprey at the nest

And she scanned the ground too. Two unleashed dogs came running with their owner. When outside the dog park, dogs must be on leash. But I don’t think they knew how to read. It’s a pity that their human didn’t  either.

Mama Sandy continued to stare at the sky, and suddenly she gave a sharp, loud warning. I saw the young Great Blue Heron approaching the nest with his landing gear already down.

great blue heron 2 ud38But Sandy was adamant he wasn’t welcome.  Full stop. So he picked up his legs and flew towards the bay side. Soon after that I saw Papa Stanley fly high up in the sky, not far from the nest.

male osprey in flightAnd he was coming close. Very close. He was about to land, but Sandy told him not to come to the nest. Not without the customary gift!

female osprey is upset See, that’s a clear message. You don’t arrive empty-handed. Stanley changed his mind in the last minute. Sandy knows what she wants. And he knows very well he needs to bring a gift to be allowed into the nest.  So he flew towards the bay. This courting is getting serious.

male osprey not allowed at the nest Soon after Stanley disappeared from sight, Sandy flew away too. Maybe to check on him.

female osprey

When I walked out from the park, I spotted the Northern Mockingbird again. He lives somewhere close to the wooden fence of the park. He was in deep thought. Very serious. Maybe he’s been following the Osprey saga, and was pondering where to find a mate of his own.

northern mockingbird 2 ud38

Just before arriving home, I saw Sandy and Stanley flying together very far over the bay. It looked like she would get her gift. Sooner or later. Stanley had already caught a fish. I didn’t get a good picture of the two of them as they flew so far apart, but I’ll share what I’ve got so you’ll see I’m not kidding. He clearly has a fish. In less than ten minutes. There’s hope for this romance.

male osprey with fish and a female osprey

With that continuing excitement at the salt marsh, I wish you all a great Boxing Day! Peace.

 

Homecoming. And Little Miracles.

She saw me. Looked twice. And sang a short welcome-home-song for me. Loud. From the heart.

roseate spoonbills welcome song ud35Then she looked at me as in asking whether I liked it. Miss Rosa made me smile. And I felt welcomed back to the salt marsh.

roseate spoonbill 2 ud35I had finally managed to make the time for a walk to check on my feathered friends. And there was no doubt I was back in Florida. The salt marsh was blooming in all possible colors, delicate and bold.

flower ud35 yellow flowers ud35 red flower tree ud35I found the Mayor at his favorite spot on a small islet. He was in deep thought. Maybe pondering about the upcoming holiday party. It’s always a lively event at the salt marsh.

great blue heron ud35I noticed the herons and egrets had already started changing into their festive breeding plumage. Demonstrated here by the Snowy Egret, and the Great Egret little further away.

snowy egret ud35 great egret ud35Mama Sandy was at the nest when I arrived. But she was scanning the  skies where another Osprey was circling high up at a distance. She nodded a brief hello and flew away after a couple of minutes.

mama osprey at the nest ud35I was trying to get a picture of a Yellow-crowned Night Heron, who was hiding in the high grass, and a juvenile resting in the bushes right below the nest, when I heard Osprey speak.

yellow-crowned night heron ud35juvenile night heron UD35I looked up, and saw Sandy fly right over the nest with Stanley following close behind. Courting behavior. And by flying right past the nest, I thought, Sandy gave Stanley a hint about the proposal gift and the customary dance expected to take place shortly. A strategic reminder that the time for Stanley to come back to the nest was getting close. Three weeks tops.

mama and papa osprey fly by the nest ud35They flew together for quite a while and I decided to check who I could find on the bay side. On my way there, I saw this beautiful Northern Mockingird.

northern mockingbird UD35And was offered a demonstration in magic when a leaf on the ground suddenly started walking. One of nature’s little miracles.

walking leaf ud35On the bay side I was greeted by a flock of White Ibis feeding on a patch of grass. And then strolling back and forth on the sea wall.

ibis on the bay side ud35Close by a female Red-bellied Woodpecker was working on a thick palm trunk. Most of the time only half of her body visible.

female red-bellied woodpecker ud35I was just leaving to go home when I spotted Stanley at the Sailing Center. He was not scanning for fish, instead he was staring intently at something in the direction of my home.

papa osprey looks at mama ud35Walking back home, I spotted the object of his interest. Sandy was perching on the holiday decorated lamp-post closest to our driveway. Love is clearly blooming between the two of them. He couldn’t take his eyes off her.

mama osprey ud35When I reached our front yard, I noticed Sandy was watching me. She clearly knows where I live, and I hope she had missed seeing me when I was away. At least a little bit. It will be a privilege to witness their upcoming nest renovation project and hopefully get pictures of the chick(s) when the time comes.

mama odprey looks at me ud35We all wish you a great week. Cheers from the salt marsh ~

 

 

 

Little Beauty on a Gloomy Day. From Our Friends at the Salt Marsh.

Fall has finally arrived here in Florida too. Breezy days with moderate chop on the ocean and on the bay. Many days have been bright and gorgeous, others grey and gloomy. Like today when I took my only “proper” walk this week to check on the residents at the salt marsh.

gull flying over waves ud32At the first glance the marsh looked empty. Most birds had already taken shelter in anticipation of storms in the afternoon.  But Mama Sandy was perching at the nest. She was turned towards the bay looking intently at something I couldn’t see from the ground.

mama osprey checks on papa ud32She greeted me, of course, and I spent some time with her. Then I walked around the marsh to see if anybody else would be at home.

First I spotted the Reddish Egret. He was hunching on one of the little islets, and looked very serious. Like waiting for the rain to arrive. And not in the mood for any entertainment.

reddish egret 2 ud32Looking carefully into the bushes and trees I saw the Yellow-crowned Night Heron hiding in a tree next to the deep water.

yellow-crowned night heron ud32In nearby tree I found a juvenile, maybe his offspring. Another juvenile, a Black-crowned Night Heron, was hunkered down in the shallow water not too far away. After all, there was lots of life at the marsh, but everybody seemed prepared for the rains to come.

juvenile night heron ud32

juvenile black=crowned night heron ud32The young Muscovy Duck was there too. He had now fully recovered after losing a bunch of feathers a couple of weeks back.

muscovy duck 2 ud32I spotted some egrets and the Moorhen family too, but decided to go search for Papa Stanley. Wanted to make sure he was somewhere nearby and had not taken another vacation. So I walked towards his resort to accompaniment provided by a Northern Mockingbird.

northern mocking bird ud32The resort was empty. I crossed the street and walked towards the Sailing Center on the bay side. From afar I could see an Osprey perched on the mast of a sailing boat.

papa osprey ud32It proved to be Stanley. He was looking towards the salt marsh, and I realized he could see Sandy.

papa osprey looks at mama ud32papa osprey sees mama at the nest ud32And I understood that Sandy had been looking at him. After what happened last week, he might be under strict instructions not to disappear from sight. Mama Sandy knows what she wants. Her hubby nearby.

Even on a somber day, like today, Mother Nature has the ability to elevate my mood and refresh my spirit.  I wish you all a wonderful weekend and hope you too will have the opportunity to spend some time in nature. Peace.