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.
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.
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.
The ocean was sky blue and calm. Sailing school students were gathering for a class little further out.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I also found mama Royal Tern and her teenage offspring…arguing as usual. I had to smile. Some things stay the same.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
She leaves the food supply for residents who can’t fish in the ocean. Like this tiny Tri-colored Heron.
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.
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.
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, 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.
Or the Pelicans who fly in shuttle traffic between the ocean and the bay right over the salt marsh.
And the young Night Herons who practice landing at the tree tops with varying degrees of success.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The pelicans were back on the beach too, practicing tandem flying and synchronized diving.
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.
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.
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.
I immediately saw that the water level in the salt marsh was up by several inches.
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 🙂
It was lovely to see how the birds enjoyed the revitalized environment. They were out and about in big numbers!
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.
He shared the tree with a juvenile Yellow Crowned Night Heron, who was perfectly camouflaged between the branches.
A little later I spotted her cousin, a juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron, at the other end of the marsh.
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.
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.
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.
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
Yesterday was the liveliest air traffic day in the nature reserve so far this year. Everybody was flying somewhere. At whatever altitude. Papa Osprey perched on the corner of his nest and watched the skies, much like an air traffic controller.
He was busy shouting instructions on when and where to land. And, in some cases, not to land at all. He was very clear about that. And loud. Landing permit denied.
The two gentlemen in question were ospreys. He saw these guys zooming into his airspace like fighter jets, one chasing the other.
The pursuer also had some questionable cargo. A half eaten fish was dangling from his talons.
Papa Osprey must have concluded that something fishy was going down. Maybe the hunted, who strongly resembled the other guy hanging around the area, had tried to steal the cargo. And now had to flee to avoid punishment.
They flew a couple of rounds above the nature reserve. You know, as in circling the airport. But got no permit to land from Papa Osprey. So off they went to settle their dispute on the bay-side. I could see Papa Osprey relax just a bit. But the congested traffic pattern continued. A Great Egret was taxing out and took off at the other end of the salt marsh.
She reached her cruising altitude in no time and was shooting away like a small jet in the general direction of the bay.
In another part of the salt marsh, a Snowy Egret had a rough landing on a small island. She missed the airstrip and landed in high grass. Almost simultaneously, a Roseate Spoonbill landed on the neighboring island. Dangerously close to an Ibis waiting on the taxiway. But so far so good. No accidents to report.
In the meantime, the island hopper, a Great Blue Heron, took off from the runway closest to the ocean.
He flew extremely low. Like trying to fly stealth under the radar.
I’m sure Papa Osprey detected him anyway. But he let it be. It was a short domestic flight from one island to another. Soon the heron landed safely at his destination.
After that a pelican passed over the salt marsh at an unusually high cruising altitude. I guessed he was going on a fishing trip in the ocean as the landing gear was still up.
Then the traffic finally calmed down. The skies were empty and peaceful again. Well ahead of the Labor Day weekend. Papa Osprey took a well deserved break.
Be well now…and if you’re going somewhere for the long weekend, please stay safe in air, on the road and in the water. ❤ Tiny