Tag Archives: Osprey

Bye, bye. This is how I learned to fly.

The young osprey has now left the nest. She’s independent and fully capable to take care of herself. And with that, the 2014 nesting season is officially over for the osprey family I’ve been following since January.

I saw this magnificent young bird eating and resting in the nest for a few hours on Monday and then again (from my terrace) on Tuesday.  She left that evening to explore her wider surroundings and has not returned.

My last picture of the juvenile osprey on June 23
My last picture of the juvenile osprey on June 23

I thought this might be a good time to look back on the nesting season’s most interesting events, and particularly on the day when the nestling became a fledgling.

Building the nest , or rather renovating last years home, started in mid January.  Papa osprey went back and forth to the Home Depot store and brought home building materials. Mama osprey was the designer and put it all together.

Papa osprey brings in a twig - Jan 16
Papa osprey brings in a twig on Jan 16

The couple had a few interesting and fairly loud arguments during this DIY renovation project. Wouldn’t any couple?  This happened particularly at times when papa osprey came home empty-handed.

Landing empty-handed is not popular...on Jan 16
Landing empty-handed is not popular…on Jan 16

Then mama osprey was sitting on the egg and papa osprey was feeding her.

Mama osprey sitting on the egg on Feb 16
Mama osprey sits on the egg on Feb 16

And protecting the nest from intruders. A dramatic show of force was displayed by both mama and papa osprey when two dogs took their people for a walk on the wrong side of the nest on March 15. I assume the egg had hatched (or was about to) at that time.

Soon the nestling was big enough to peek out from the nest. That’s when I spotted her first.

Osprey nestling peeks out on April 23
Osprey nestling peeks out on April 23

Papa osprey went on frequent fishing trips and brought home the “beef” that mama osprey fed to the nestling.

Mama osprey feeds the nestling on April 25
Mama osprey feeds the nestling on April 25
Papa osprey brings home a big fish on May 7
Papa osprey brings home a big fish on May 7

Mama osprey kept feeding the nestling and took care of her until she started “wingersizing” and then finally fledged. I have put together a sequential gallery of photos I took over a two-hour period on May 13. You can see how determined the young one was to fly. Mama osprey had to be careful not to be hit in the head by a flying twig or by the youngster. I had to laugh when I looked at these photos again 🙂

Anyway, that’s the day the youngster learned to fly. Soon after that papa osprey took over her training. They went on fishing trips together and he then kept an eye on her until last week when I witnessed her coming back to the nest with a fish.

The young osprey comes home after a fishing trip with her papa
The young osprey comes home after a fishing trip with her papa on June 19

I hope all of them will have a great summer and fall wherever they are going.  I’m already looking forward to the return of mama and papa osprey in December-January. The juvenile will probably return to breed in her birth environment only in her third year.

I hope you enjoyed this successful nesting season as much as I did.

Cheereek! Papa osprey and the fat fish.

I grabbed the binoculars and checked the osprey nest while my coffee was brewing this morning. It’s become a part of my morning ritual this nesting season.

empty nest on 620
The empty nest this morning

Nobody was at home. I assumed that the youngster, who’s been living there solo since early last week, had gone to fetch some breakfast. Maybe she was fishing on the bay-side, just behind the Dunkin’ Donuts shop.

Around midday, I decided some exercise would be in place. A quick walk on the beach and in the nature reserve would do. I was hoping to say hello to the young osprey and maybe spot some other birds too.

osprey juvenile at the nest
Hi Tiny!

I was happy to find the juvenile at the nest. She was not alarmed when I approached and sat down on a bench under some trees nearby. She’s seen me since she was old enough to peek out of the nest. I thought she nodded a greeting.

osprey juveniles alarm call
Cheereek! Intruders!

It was hot and I was thirsty. I put my camera away and opened a water bottle. Relaxed for a bit.  Right then the youngster gave out a loud and very upset alarm call. Cheereek! From where I sat, I didn’t see anything unusual.   Next that I knew, I saw papa osprey zooming in from the bay-side and sweeping over the nest! Checking that everything was okay. I was scrambling with my camera … and only caught the tail-end of him at a distance.

papa osprey came to check juvenile 619
Papa osprey checked on the youngster…

In the meantime, the youngster was already in flight following her papa. Talk about paying a price for putting my gear down. I missed all the action.

Soon enough I got an explanation to why the youngster was so upset in the first place. Three men came walking from the grassy area behind the nest pole! Walking there is a no-no in the osprey book. Some of you may remember the big alarm by mama osprey when the dogs and their people walked that way back in March. This time I sat in a different place and didn’t see it coming.

So there I was, mulling over my bad luck with the camera. While waiting (and hoping)  that the juvenile would return to the nest, I discovered some movement in the water. I went to check it out and look what I saw: a blue crab swimming happily in the murky water!

a crab in the marsh
A blue crab in the salt marsh

I went back to my bench and was about to pack up and leave when I saw the youngster return. She was holding  a fat fish in the talons of her right foot! Correctly positioned head first to diminish air resistance!

young osprey caught a fish
Fish! I did it!

I guess papa osprey took her right where the fish was congregating. The whole trip took less than 10 minutes. Good for her! She started eating immediately.

young osprey lands back at the nest
Perfect landing on the left foot…
young osprey eating lunch
Lunch time!

I left her to enjoy her food. It was fun to see how papa osprey is still keeping an eye on the youngster and that they go fishing together.

tri-colored heron
A tri-colored heron

On my way back I saw a tri-colored heron and several ibis birds. Thanks for coming along. I hope you enjoyed the lesson on how to transport a fish in the air. It could prove useful one day.

Have a wonderful Midsummer – celebrated this weekend in the Nordic countries. Love always, Tiny

The Gallinule Kids. And Another Juvenile.

Yesterday, for the fist time in more than a week, I was able to take a walk in the nature reserve. I was delighted to find the Gallinule  family, mom and all three kids. Fluffy black balls with red sprinkles.

mama common gallinule 615
Mama Gallinule leads the troops…

Mrs. Gallinule is extremely skilful in hiding her chicks even when they are on the move, but a little movement under bushes and grass next to the water gave her away.

Common Gallinule chick
Chick number one is following mom…
Two chicks follow behind them...
Two chicks follow behind them…

They were getting swimming lessons. Common Gallinules have big feet and walk well on the ground, but they are also good swimmers. And these cuties were already moving pretty fast 🙂

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Osprey juvenile having brunch…

While in the park, I also had to check on the osprey nest. I found the juvenile there alone. She looks more and more like an adult now as the white feathering on her wings is becoming less marked. She was having brunch, fish that she’d caught by herself. It seems that she is completely independent now, but  still continues to use the nest for eating and resting. I saw her there also late last night when I checked the nest from my terrace. It seems she was sleeping there, but by morning she was gone again. Probably to get some breakfast.

Juvenile checking on some gulls who were too curious...
Juvenile checking on some gulls who were too curious about her brunch table…

The last time I saw her there together with papa osprey was five days ago. Mama osprey might have left the nesting area already (the female often leaves before the young ones are fully independent), but I’m almost sure papa osprey is still hanging around somewhere in the vicinity. Keeping an eye. As you can see the nest is becoming very “bare bones” now. Its duty for this season is almost done…serving as a home for the osprey couple who produced one healthy offspring. And that is a great thing!

Continued Education. And Change of Guard.

Little more than two weeks ago, I saw mama osprey sitting tight in the nest with the recently fledged junior (above). Since then a lot has happened. Papa has returned and mama has moved out. Don’t worry, that’s how it’s supposed to be according to the research I’ve got my hands on (became a  subscriber to Cornell Ornithology Lab’s research). Mama now lives somewhere in the vicinity, and papa osprey has taken over the continued education of the increasingly independent teen.

papa osprey and juvenile 603
Papa osprey with the juvenile

The appearance of the nest has changed along with the family dynamics. Many of the “necorations” have been discarded or have fallen off. A little bit of a “man cave” feel to it now. Mama osprey’s balcony flowers are still hanging in there by bare teeth, dry and not blooming anymore.

I’ve been following the dad-teen duo through visits to the nest (until I caught a cold bug end of last week) and many times a day from my terrace. I’d like to understand what’s happening towards the end of their nesting season.

osprey fledgling 605
The fledgling is observing Tiny

Last week I found them at the nest most mornings. In the afternoons the nest was usually empty until close to sunset time when papa osprey returned first and the teen shortly thereafter. Every evening I could see that both papa osprey and the youngster were back in the nest. Often having dinner under the last rays of sun. All was well.

osprey fledgling returns to nest 603
Osprey fledgling coming back home…papa is behind her.

One day last week, I saw something interesting. I was standing behind my usual camouflage tree when I heard papa osprey’s call. It was different from what I’ve heard before, very agitated or maybe I should say emotional. The youngster joined in, singing a different tune.

papa osprey looking for mama 603
Papa osprey peering south…before he calls out loud

I saw papa sitting at the south-west edge of the nest (his favorite spot) and peering intently at the south skies. I followed his line of sight and saw a small prick flying high in the sky. It moved like an osprey and I thought it might have been mama osprey checking on her family from the distance. I got a quick shot, and it looks like it’s an osprey (when I made it bigger and more blurry) but the bird was much too far away to tell whether or not it really was mama osprey.

mama osprey flying by 603
Is that mama osprey flying by?

This week the nest has been used even a little less. I’m sure the fishing lessons are happening somewhere on the ocean-side, and that the youngster already flies long distances very confidently. It’s like getting a driver’s license. A new freedom to come and go. Some evenings, just minutes before dark, I’ve seen papa osprey alone,  watching the skies and waiting patiently. The teen tends to stay out very late,  I’m sure well past her curfew time. In the morning the next day I’ve seen both of them again.

papa osprey waiting alone 606
Papa osprey waiting at sundown
juvenile and papa osprey 603
Together again – juvenile and papa

This afternoon, while observing the duo from my terrace, I saw the juvenile suddenly fly away over the bay and follow another osprey. I wonder if that might have been mama osprey? Papa stayed put at the nest.

Papa osprey and fledgling at the nest (as seen from my terrace)
Papa osprey and fledgling at the nest this afternoon (as seen from my terrace)

Ospreys are solitary birds, apart from during the nesting season. It lasts about five months, from the time the usually monogamous parents come together to build or upgrade the nest to the time when the young are independent and everyone starts preparing for their migration south. These guys started their nest-building early January so it’s five months about now. I’m not sure whether this couple and the youngster will actually migrate (we see ospreys here year round), but if they do decide to go further south, it’ll happen in July-August.

A feather next to the osprey nest...likely one from the fledglings wings
A feather next to the osprey nest…likely one from the fledglings wings

I will do one more post about the osprey family little later, summarizing my most interesting observations and best pictures for this nesting season. I discovered I have a few exciting pictures I didn’t include in any of my posts so far. So stay tuned…

I’ve also decided to try to get some new gear to be able to observe them better when they (hopefully) return for the next nesting season. And I’ll also go back to school. Need to understand these fascinating birds a little better.

 

 

 

 

It’s Complicated.

I am puzzled. I’ve visited the osprey family four times in the last one week. I had expected to see the young lady do frequent flying practice, but that hasn’t been the case. Regardless of the timing and length of my visit, I’ve found mama osprey and the nestling sitting tight in the nest. Deeply involved in discussions.

Do you hear me mama?
Do you hear me mama?

I’ve witnessed a wide array of vocalizations, from pleasant discussion tones to loud shouting matches between mom and daughter. To the point that I’ve rummaged the internet for a rosetta stone version in osprey language. No luck so far.

Shall we talk or shall we fly?
Shall we talk or shall we fly?

The other day both mama osprey and the teen did some wing exercises in the nest. The nestling was flexing, but did not fly, and mama osprey did some Pilates. Lots of stretching going on, and lots of communication.

Mama osprey doing Pilates..streeetch...left, right
Mama osprey doing Pilates..streeetch…left, right

On the top of that, papa osprey has not shown up during any of my visits since more than two weeks back. Last time I saw him, he came empty-handed and mama osprey flew away immediately. Is there a rift between the parents? Papa sleeping on a couch somewhere? Or did something happen to him? I have no way of knowing.

My latest picture of papa osprey on May 11
My latest picture of papa osprey on May 11

This morning I went to see them much earlier than I usually do. First I saw only mama osprey. I was hoping the nestling had finally gone out for flying practice, but then I saw the breeze lift up a few feathers and discovered a brown back in the nest. The youngster was still sleeping! At 10:30 in the morning.

Mama osprey guarding her sleeping nestling
Mama osprey guarding her sleeping nestling

Soon the teen woke up and slowly stood up.

The osprey teen is waking up...
The osprey teen is waking up…

The dialogue they have been having every day since last Sunday started almost immediately. I waited and waited. No flying practice this morning either. But I noticed many new decorations hanging down from the nest. And the balcony flowers were still alive and well.

Osprey discussion...on the loud side this morning
Osprey discussion…on the loud side this morning

I started to get worried and wondered if something was not right. I decided to check on them more often from my terrace (using our strongest binoculars) to see if the youngster would fly at all during the day.  To my delight I saw her flying two short rounds fairly close to the nest late this afternoon! She didn’t soar high like her mama as yet, but at least these practice rounds were a bit longer than what I’d seen her do earlier, a few minutes each. So I’m hoping everything is alright. And that fishing lessons will follow. Family life can be complicated indeed.

Tri-colored heron in the reserve
Tri-colored heron in the reserve

I have to tell you something else. The other day I saw yet another bird I haven’t seen in the nature reserve before: a tri-colored heron!

And today I witnessed a “crowd” of four different birds on a little island in the marsh. The vacation season has started. Lots of demand for prime real estate with water views.

Four different birds on an island: small blue heron, small white egret, roseate spoonbill and two ibis.
Four different birds on an island: small blue heron, small white egret, roseate spoonbill and two ibis.

Will keep you updated on developments. Hope your week is going great.

I Have a Surprise for You, Tiny!

After returning from my trip this morning, I headed out to see the osprey family. Before even unpacking my suitcase. About a week ago, I’d seen the youngster take off for a short flight above the nest, and I was excited to see if she would fly out of the nest today.

Im flying look mama osprey nestling 513
Last week’s achievement!

You noticed I said “she”? I’m now almost sure it’s a girl.  She is much like her mama. Just look at them side by side, the decorations on her breast are quite marked, like an elaborate “necklace” typical for female osprey.

mama osprey and youngster watching tiny ed
Mama (on the left) and youngster last week

When I arrived in the nature reserve, mama osprey was keeping an eye on the youngster, as usual. Papa osprey was nowhere to be seen. I assumed he was on fishing duty. I took my position under the trees and observed the two quietly for about 15 minutes. As there were no signs of anything much happening, I relaxed, put down my camera and just sat there lapping the morning sun.

The youngster is checking out something in the marsh
The youngster is checking something in the marsh

Suddenly the youngster turned, looked down…and just “fell” from the nest spreading her wings. She took me by total surprise! I had expected to see some wing flexing, but she just went over the edge and eased into flight! Of course I didn’t catch that very moment with my camera, but caught up a few seconds into her flight.

osprey youngster flying 521
Hello fish…I see you!

She was flying really low, close to the water. I’m sure she had seen some fish close to the surface and wanted to check it out. Since I was way back from the marsh, I could only see her a few times above the brush and the trees.

osprey youngster flying 3 May 21
Here I come!
I’m coming back mama!
osprey youngster back in the next
I made it!!

It was fantastic to see her fly. Her wings flapped a lot and were not yet perfectly synchronized, but she was in the air on her own flying about 2-3 minutes above the marsh! Then she soared upwards and made a successful, if not perfect, landing back into the nest. I’m sure you noticed how mama osprey was leaning outward to make room for her flapping wings.

Back in the nest waiting for lunch
Back in the nest waiting for lunch

I stayed with them for a while but there didn’t seem to be more practice sessions planned for this morning. I assume that the young one needs a little more flying practice before the diving and fishing lessons will start. I will try to keep a close eye on developments.Juvenile AND PAPA OSPREY 521

Before I left them, I noticed that mama osprey’s balcony plants are still green with some white flowers – after three weeks! I have to admire her gardening skills, among other impressive stuff I’ve seen over the last couple of months.

Hope your week is going great!

 

 

 

Look Mama! I’m Flying!

Since my last “report” from the nature reserve I’ve had two opportunities to visit with the osprey family.  First on Sunday afternoon, after a sumptuous Mother’s Day lunch, and then again two days ago.

Mother’s Day was fairly cloudy, but Tuesday was sunny and breezy. The two visits were quite different,  although it was clear already on Sunday that the nestling’s flying practice had started!

Mama osprey and nestling resting after lunch
Mama osprey and nestling resting after lunch

When I arrived in the vicinity of the nest on Sunday, mama osprey was looking after the youngster. She appeared a bit irritated. I soon discovered that some gulls were flying back and forth fairly close to the nest.  Too close. There might have been a “doggy bag” left from the family’s Mother’s Day luncheon, but mama didn’t welcome uninvited guests. After a few loud warnings, she decided to make it very clear that she preferred some privacy. It was her day, after all.

Mama osprey on her warning tour above the marsh
Mama osprey on her warning tour above the marsh

She flew a few fast and furious rounds above the marsh, and that seemed to do it. No more disturbance from the gulls.

mama ospreys warning flight 511  ed
Mama osprey on her patrol

It was funny to see how the nestling was laying low while alone in the nest. I couldn’t even see his/her (still not sure about the gender, but leaning towards a girl) head. It appeared above my horizon again only when mama was returning!

Mama osprey returns to nest
Mama osprey returns to nest

As soon as the peace was restored, the youngster started flexing his wings. Mama was still checking out something on the south side of the nest.

osprey nestling flying practice 511 ed

I overheard mama osprey giving some advice to the youngster, but unfortunately I didn’t understand all of it . I’m still a beginner in osprey language.

osprey flying practice 1 511 ed

The youngster jumped into the air and hopped from one side of the nest to the other. Accompanied by flying motions. I saw his/her feet in the air, not touching the nest for a second or so! I have a picture to prove it, but it’s completely blurred…silly me did something stupid in the excitement of it all.

Papa came home to take over child care duties...
Papa came home to take over child care duties…

After a little while papa osprey returned from his afternoon tour of the neighborhood. As soon as he touched down, mama osprey told him to take over the child minding duties, and flew away. I guess she needed some exercise too!

osprey mama and nesting best 513

Two days ago, my short visit was even more exciting! The youngster did real practice sessions above the nest under mama osprey’s strict supervision. I have prepared a small gallery below so that the youngster can show off his/her newly acquired skill!

When the young one was 3-4 feet up in the air, I was almost sure s/he would fly out! But it was not that time as yet.

It looks like I might miss the fishing lessons. Unless the youngster decides to wait for me to come back home from my upcoming trip.

I need to “fly” now.  See you all later, Tiny