Tag Archives: Pelican

A Cool Day. With Just a Hint of Color.

Nature always wears the colors of the spirit. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today we had a spell of winter weather here in Florida. The birds in the salt marsh were hiding from the cold winds. I didn’t get to go out on my usual walk, but thought I’d play a little with my photos.  So here are some of my friends in their temporarily cool, monochrome environment. With a hint of color.

night heron hoc
Yellow-crowned Night Heron
tricolored heron hoc
Tri-colored Heron
snowy egret hoc
Snowy Egret
spoonbill hoc
Roseate Spoonbill
Royal Tern
Royal Tern
Pelican eating
Brown Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Papa Osprey
Mama Osprey

Please stay warm and be safe! ❤ Tiny

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

 

Holiday Travel. And All Its Trials.

Make no mistake, the holiday travel rush has started. At the busy airport on the ocean side, those wanting to land there had to wait for their turn to hit the runways.

congested landing strip
Terns lining up for landing…

Some were put into a holding pattern and had to circle the airport.

trio of flying pelicans
Pelicans in a holding pattern…

Others became a bit desperate and decided to make an emergency descent to a lower altitude. Just in case.

pelican diving 2 (2)
A Pelican diving…

Luckily everyone attempting to land got their gear down on time. No accidents reported, but there definitely were some close calls.

royal tern coming in for landing tm
A Royal Tern asking for permission to land…
pelican landing and tern flying
A Pelican landing…

Some of the departing flights demonstrated excellent on-time performance, some not. But that’s to be expected.

pelican taking off
A Pelican taking off…

Those who had landed were happy to reach their destinations. A few showed signs of exhaustion, particularly those travelling with children.

royal tern mom and child
A Royal Tern kid complaining to his mom…

But most took it in stride. And a few even took advantage of the showers in the arrival lounge.

sandwich tern bathing 2
A Sandwich Tern taking a shower…

That’s what holiday travel is at busy airports. But at smaller airports, like the salt marsh, it was much more laid back. One takeoff or landing every now and then.

great egret flying_tm
A Great Egret taking off…
anhinga 2
An Anhinga just landed…

And even the personnel in the tower could take a nap in between flights. With a half eaten lunch still on the table.

papa osprey sleeping w a fish in his talons_tm
Papa Osprey taking a nap with full crop…and a fish tail still in his talons…

There was some through traffic though above the salt marsh. And some cargo traffic too.

great egret flying
A Great Egret passing over salt marsh…
another osprey with half fish flying
Another Osprey, probably Stanley, flying over the salt marsh with a fish…

The control tower was certainly alert when needed. Some landing permissions were not granted.

papa osprey following the traffic
Papa Osprey scanning the skies…

Particularly for big “birds” like these.  They didn’t have feathered wings.

flying moped boat_tm
A manmade bird flying over the salt marsh…
flying moped_tm
…and another one…

All holiday travelers were not going by air, of course. There was some boat traffic too on the lakes in the salt marsh.  Very relaxing cruises, suitable for those who have all the time in the world.

muscovyduck and moorhen
A Muscovy Duck and a Moorhen cruising in the salt marsh…

May your holiday travels be pleasant and safe. ❤ Tiny

Papa Osprey and His Friends. Important Introductions.

This past weekend was a delight. The weather was gorgeous between two cold fronts, but even more importantly our son popped in for a short visit. After all the good eating, I took him on a walk to enjoy the beach and to introduce him to my winged friends in the salt marsh.  I hoped they would behave. Or at least not go into hiding.

blue ocean nov 16
A sailing boat on the calm, blue Gulf…

The ocean was sky blue and calm. Sailing school students were gathering for a class little further out.

sailing school nov 16
Sailing school students gather for a class…

Pelicans were flying back and forth close to the water, tiny Sanderlings were running around on the sand picking food, and to my surprise a Snowy Egret was fishing in the calm waves rolling in. A welcome committee already on the beach.

pelican flying low 2
A Pelican flies close to the calm waters…
sanderling
A little Sanderling picks for food…
A Snowy Egret fishing on the ocean shore...
A Snowy Egret fishing on the ocean shore…

When we reached the north end of the beach, Mister Blue Heron had courteously come to welcome us to the park and the salt marsh. I made introductions and we got some nice pictures.

mister blue heron on the beach
Mister Blue Heron shows off his welcome pose…

As we walked through the park, we spotted a beautiful Mourning Dove in the grass. And reaching the salt marsh we observed a Tricolored Heron fishing in the shallow waters. I was happy to see we still had some visitors. A team of Wood Storks was guarding a sleeping Spoonbill. He was taking an after lunch nap, I assumed.

mourning dove
A graceful Mourning Dove…
wood storks and roseate spoonbill
Visiting Wood Stork team and a Roseate Spoonbill…
tricolored heron
A Tricolored Heron patrols the marsh…

I made some quick introductions again, but was in a hurry to see if I could introduce my most cherished friend, Papa Osprey. And he didn’t disappoint.

papa osprey with a fish
Papa Osprey says hi to Tiny & son…

He was having lunch. He saw I had someone important to introduce so he interrupted his eating for a while to say hi. So very thoughtful of him. After saying our goodbyes to him we walked back home. And saw a new guy on the block circling high above the beach, a Turkey Vulture. I have no idea whether he’s moved in or was just visiting over the weekend.

Turkey vulture in flight
A Turkey Vulture circles high up…

It was a great weekend, but now we’re all back to work. Mine being to finish the first draft of my second book before the end of the month. I’ll need to catch up on my word count as writing was not a priority over this particular weekend. I’ll try to catch up on your blogs as well this week.

Have a great week, my friends.

 

Papa Osprey Goes Fishing. And Other Serious Stuff.

We are having our best weather so far this year. It’s been calling me to go outside. Finally yesterday morning I got an opportunity to spend a couple of hours on the beach and in the nature reserve. I needed that quiet time in the midst of everything going on in the outer world. It was simply beautiful. I invite you to come along.

snowy egret, Florida, Sand Key
A Snowy Egret drying in the sun…

Just outside our garden, I was greeted by a Snowy Egret who was enjoying the beautiful morning at the top of a tree. Close by, two Mourning Doves were admiring the sun. I thought they looked like a happy old couple. Content with life. No worries of the world.

mourning dove couple, Florida, Sand Key
Mourning dove couple

Once on the beach I was walking along the water line, watching the terns and gulls play and bath in the surf. And pelicans fly back and forth in search of fish.

sandwich tern bathing 2
A Sandwich Tern baths in the surf…
pelican flyinng low, Florida, Sand Key
A White Pelican glides above the waves…

I also found mama Royal Tern and her teenage offspring…arguing as usual. I had to smile. Some things stay the same.

Mom and juvenile royal tern
Mama and juvenile Royal Tern argue….again.

I was just about to turn towards the nature reserve when I spotted two ospreys. They were on a fishing trip.  Flying high above the waves and peering down on the water. They were far out so I couldn’t see who they were, but snapped a picture of both. And guess what?

 osprey fishing, Florida
Stanley, the second osprey, fishing with P.O.
 osprey over the ocean, Florida, Sand Key
P.O. on a fishing trip with Stanley on Mexican Gulf

That was Papa Osprey and Stanley! They have become pals, it seems. They flew further away on the ocean and I took the path to the salt marsh.

I walked on the north side of the marsh and was greeted by a Great Egret on the very top of a huge tree. I guess having an overview was trending among egrets yesterday.

great egret at the very top of a tree, Florida, Sand Key
A Great Egret on the top of the world…

I spotted many other egrets, a juvenile Night Heron, and Tricolored Heron, among others. And my pal, the Muscovy Duck, who tends to come and greet me whenever I rest and sit on a bench.

tricolored heron Florida, Sand Key
A Tri-colored Heron hunting in the salt marsh…
muscovy duck Florida, Sand Key
A Muscovy Duck swimming in the salt marsh….

I didn’t expect to see Papa Osprey because I’d just seen him over the ocean. But when I approached the nest, there he was. All wet. But with no fish.

wet papa osprey returns from ocean
Papa Osprey is wet…but didn’t catch a fish…

I guess he was disappointed that the dive in the ocean didn’t result in fresh seafood lunch. And he must have been hungry. He turned to look at me as if saying he can’t stay.

osprey Florida, Sand Key
Papa Osprey…says he’s hungry…

I assured him I understood, and that I’d wait for a while. Off he flew  to the drive-thru fish place, aka the intra-coastal bay.

osprey goes fishing Florida, Sand Key
Papa Osprey goes fishing…again.

I wanted to see if he’d catch a fish, so I decided to take a run around the park. I approached his nest again after about 15 minutes. And he was already back! Soaking wet and with a fish  firmly in the talons of his left foot. It looked like one from the lunch menu.

Papa osprey back with a fish
Papa Osprey comes home with a fish…

The second fishing trip was a success. Persistence pays off. After drying himself for a few minutes, he looked up towards the wooded end of the park and talked to someone I couldn’t see. In a friendly voice. Maybe he told his pal Stanley where he had caught the fish?

papa osprey has a fish 2
Papa Osprey starting his lunch…

After checking the airspace around him he started to eat his lunch. Soon thereafter I said my goodbyes. I may not see him until after a couple of weeks due to my upcoming travels.

It was a great little outing. I hope you enjoyed it too. Be good now and enjoy the weekend. ❤ Tiny

 

 

 

Mama Osprey. The Female Leader with Natural Clout.

I know a leader when I see one. That’s how I’ve made my livelihood, at least to a part. Spotting leadership talent and helping it flourish.  Now I’ve spotted such talent in the nature reserve. Ready to lead. No coaching required.

roseate spoonbill and snowy egret
Community representatives: a Roseate Spoonbill and a Snowy Egret.

That’s Mama Osprey, of course. You knew it, right? Or you may want some proof? I have plenty.

First, she cares about her community. The salt marsh has plenty of fish, from huge footlongs to medium and small. It would be easy to just dive down from the nest and get breakfast, lunch and dinner. Like opening the fridge. But she doesn’t fish there.

Plenty of fish in the salt marsh
Plenty of fish in the salt marsh

She leaves the food supply for residents who can’t fish in the ocean. Like this tiny Tri-colored Heron.

tricolored heron caught a fish
A Tri-colored Heron caught a fish…

Second, she ensures peace in the community. She constantly scans the skies and the grounds for any threats. And warns the residents whenever she detects a potential danger. Like dogs walking their people or bicyclists on the foot path closest to the marsh.

 osprey watching the sky
Mama Osprey watching the sky to the South…
papa osprey watching the sky 2
…and to the North.

Or the two other ospreys, Stanley and Steve,  who have settled in the area. Don’t get me wrong. Mama Osprey lets them thrive in the park. And even allows them to use her favorite dead palm trunk as their breakfast bar.

Stanley, the second Osprey, eats breakfast on the dead palm trunk...
Stanley, the second Osprey, eats breakfast on the dead palm trunk…

But she keeps a watchful eye on their movements. And sends a message of caution, as and when warranted. It’s clear that she has earned their respect.

third osprey flying 6
Steve, the third Osprey, flies above the salt marsh…

Third, she’s on the top of everything in the community. Has the big picture. Gently keeps tabs on the residents’ comings and goings. Like this Great Blue Heron, who periodically takes trips to the bay-side to socialize with fishermen in exchange for free fish.

blue heron flying high up
The Great Blue Heron on his way from the salt marsh…
blue heron flying high 3
…to the bay-side.

Or the Pelicans who fly in shuttle traffic between the ocean and the bay right over the salt marsh.

two pelicans flying
Pelicans flying over the marsh towards the bay…

And the young Night Herons who practice landing at the tree tops with varying degrees of success.

A juvenile Night Heron about to land...
A juvenile Night Heron about to land…

And not to talk about the large Egret population that tends to move back and forth between the tiny islands in search of the best fish.

egret flying
A Great White Egret flies to better hunting grounds…

Fourth, Mama Osprey trusts her gut. I got proof of that just a couple of days ago when I met a nice bird photographer. He was a visitor, not familiar with the nature reserve . So we started to chat and I told him about the nest. After a while I heard Mama Osprey’s warning calls.  Unwanted disturbance too close to the nest.

papa ospreys nest from afar
Papa Osprey’s nest seen from the East end of the marsh…

And then saw the poor guy walk away from the vicinity of the nest. After he left, I went to see Mama Osprey. She was her calm, good-looking self and turned to greet me when I walked right under the nest. Not a peep, just a friendly nod. She definitely trusts her gut.

papa osprey saying hi to tiny
Mama osprey says hi…
papa osprey looking at the flowers
…and then admires the flowers on the ground.

Then we both admired the bright yellow wild flowers that had popped up right next to the nest pole. I snapped a picture, she checked on the little worm crawling on one of the flowers.

wild flowers below the nest

My conclusion, based on all this evidence, is that Mama Osprey is a pioneering community leader with natural clout. I hope you agree with my assessment.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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

 

Wordless Wednesday: Diving 101. Frame by Frame.

pelican before the dive
Start off by flying as usual. Keep an eye on the water.
pelican dive aa
Once you detect something you want to fetch, choose your dive style (shown below). Then turn your nose down, speed up and prepare to dive.
pelican dive style 11
Dive style 1: The back flip.
pelican dive style 22
Dive style 2: The fighter jet.
pelican dive  style 33
Dive style 3: The torpedo.
pelican dive cc
Whatever style you choose, in the water you go. With a splash.
pelican dive dd
Once you’ve fetched whatever you were after, start the surfacing process immediately by flapping your wings vigorously.
pelican after the dive
Back on the surface, shake off excess water as shown. That’s it. Good luck to you.

Flooding in Paradise. Birds’ delight.

Yesterday was a magnificent day. Wednesday’s rain event of the year was over. The sky was blue again, and everyone in the nature was happily active. And I mean just about everyone.

birds in flood water mass shower
Public bath…in the brand new rainwater lake.

I went for a long walk on the flooded beach, where the gulls and the terns where taking a collective bath in the brand new rainwater lake. It was like a crowded salon spa. A place for everyone to be.

two pelicand flying be
Tandem flying by pelicans.

The pelicans were back on the beach too, practicing tandem flying and synchronized diving.

two pelicans double dive 3
A dive well synchronized…

But I also witnessed them trying to catch the same fish. Not a recommended practice. Like in any competition, only one can win. Or perhaps the fish wins.

two pelicans dive for same fish
Diving for the same fish?

That’s exactly what happened. The fish was spared this time around. One of the pelicans was back up on his wings immediately, but the other one appeared a bit dazed for a while.

pelicans landing
What just happened?

I was curious to see what the torrential rains had done in the nature reserve and found a path to the park that didn’t require a kayak.

salt marsh after rains
West end of the salt marsh…and formerly dry grassy patches now underwater…

I immediately saw that the water level in the salt marsh was up by several inches.

salt marsh after rain flood
East end of the salt marsh…fish swimming in the previously very shallow water…and my usual photo spot is underwater too.

Some of the small “islands” were completely or partially underwater, and fish were happily swimming in areas that were very shallow or dry earlier this week. Including my low-lying photo spots 🙂

great white egret and small blue heron
Great White Egret and a Little Blue Heron surveying the landscape…

It was lovely to see how the birds enjoyed the revitalized environment. They were out and about in big numbers!

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A Green heron…not in hiding today…

Mister Green Heron, whom I hadn’t spotted for quite a while was enjoying the great views. He was in such a good mood that he even posed for a portrait.

green heron portrait 2
A Green Heron sitting for a portrait…

He shared the tree with a juvenile Yellow Crowned Night Heron, who was perfectly camouflaged between the branches.

another juvenile yellow crowned night heron 2
A juvenile Yellow Crowned Night Heron well camouflaged…

A little later I spotted her cousin, a juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron, at the other end of the marsh.

juvenile yelloe crowned night heron
A juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron not so well camouflaged …

Papa Osprey was there too, at his nest like I’ve seen him every single day from my terrace, keeping an eye on the skies.

papa osprey watching the skies 2
Surveillance underway by Papa Osprey…
papa osprey in the nest 918
What’s going on down there?

And the ground, where Tiny was waving to him, and where a Muscovy Duck and a Tricolored Heron were looking for food in the new shallows.

tricolored heron and muscovy duck
A Tricolored Heron and a Muscovy Duck looking for lunch…

After spending more than an hour with the birds, I decided to go home through the beach, taking a shortcut at the tree line. There was a small strip of sand free of water and I managed to walk dry-footed to the side of our garden, which is elevated several feet higher.

beach flooded after the rains
A new and temporary lake on the beach…

But there I was trapped by a new  four-foot wide “river” and my shortcut became a longish detour instead.

It was great to see such joy and activity among the birds. I truly enjoyed my long walk. I hope you did too. Have a wonderful weekend ❤ Tiny