After learning about this week’s photo challenge, my first thought was that it will be impossible for me to select one favorite place. There were too many great candidates for that title. Victoria Falls? The pyramids in Giza? The many great wildlife spots in Africa? The ancient treasures in Italy or Greece? My childhood lake in Finland? The Old Town in Stockholm? The list was long. But thinking about it I always came back to a place I can see every day right through my office window. The salt marsh at the north end of our barrier island. It’s always there. At sunrise and sunset. Rain or shine. Its mood constantly changing.
And Dylan agrees with my choice. Whenever I say let’s go to the park, it’s clear from the speed of his tail that I’m on the right track. He loves to play at the dog park next to the marsh with his amigos, Saki, Eli, Snickers and others.
So here we are, on ‘hatch watch’. From what we have been able to glean looking at the osprey nest from our terrace, the osprey couple now has hatchlings. While Mama Sandy is not yet allowing her chicks to be shown in public, her moves in the nest reveal that she is in the ‘mothering mode’. Sorry for the poor picture quality as these two images were taken handheld from almost 300 yards on my compact superzoom camera.
Sandy gets up often and bends her head down into the nest cup. And after Papa Stanley has brought in a fish, her head stays down for several minutes. She moves around as in feeding more than one chick.
Last night around sunset time, when we passed the nest and Stanley had just left to get dinner, she even stood up in the nest to preen herself. A sure sign that the eggs have hatched this week.
The nest cup is so deep that it will probably take a week or two before I can get ‘proof’ of the newly hatched chicks in the form of a grainy picture from my terrace. And a couple of more weeks before I can get the first baby portraits from the ground. Patience girl. Patience.
Papa Stanley is guarding the nest whenever he is not on a fishing trip. Yesterday, again, there was another osprey flying around the nest.
Stanley sounded alarm and when that was not effective, he promptly went to chase it away.
When we passed under the nest a few minutes later, he was back on his guard post and nodded a friendly greeting.
I’m sure he had noticed that both the Mayor and the younger Great Blue Heron were present close to the nest. Staring at each other from the opposite sides of the deep water.
The Mayor’s presence was a good thing. It was less likely that the younger GBH would get bad ideas. Like considering attacking the osprey nest. He may remember that any attempt to approach the nest will not be tolerated. He would get his butt feathers ruffled by Stanley.
Mama Sandy was alert too. Maybe she remembered her dramatic encounter with the youngster a couple of years ago (below). Despite the difference in size, she did give the young heron a lesson.
But there was one fellow who only had time for himself … and the camera. As soon as the Reddish Egret, aka the Clown, saw my camera, he started his usual hunting dance.
I always enjoy watching his performance, but this time he didn’t catch a fish. Someone else did. A young Great Egret walked around at the far end of the marsh showcasing his catch.
He kept an eye on us so we didn’t dare to move closer. Instead we spotted a Tri-colored Heron hunting for crustaceans in the shallow water.
I was wondering if it was the same bird now being exhibited at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts (below). Whatever the case, I am happy that one of the salt marsh residents made it to the “Forever Young” exhibition.
Just before leaving the park, we discovered something you can only see at the salt marsh. A bird reading a sign.
The Great Egret was wet. He looked relieved to see the no swimming sign pictured a human rather than a bird. He had already been swimming.
We all wish you a pleasant weekend and a great week ahead. Thank you for visiting our favorite place.