Tag Archives: Royal Tern

Newsflash. We Have Eggs. And Plenty of Company.

Last Monday night, Dylan and I made a long-awaited discovery while passing the osprey nest: Mama Sandy was incubating. The next morning we promptly took a break from work and went out on the terrace to gather more evidence using my super zoom camera.

Mama Osprey incubates since Feb 12 UD151Sandy was sitting on the eggs and napping. After a while she woke up and turned the eggs. All while Papa Stanley was witnessing the carefully executed procedure from the perch.

Mama Osprey turns the eggs UD151In 30 to 36 days from now it’ll be baby time! Two to three hatchlings if everything goes well.

On Friday Dylan and I took a walk around the marsh and found Sandy on a long lunch break. She had already eaten and was just chilling on the perch. Stanley was taking his turn incubating the eggs, his head peeking out every now and then. He is an exemplary hubby, always gives Sandy nice breaks and brings her breakfast, lunch and dinner.

papa osprey incubates ud151Sandy checked us out thoroughly when we passed right underneath the nest.Mama Osprey has a break UD151We spotted many other birds as well, but I want to show you a bird that I haven’t seen at the marsh in previous years – a Blue Winged Teal. I have a suspicion that a couple or perhaps even two couples are nesting at the marsh this year.

blue-winged teal ud151We also spotted the Mayor. He was all puffed up and looked determined to protect the marsh birds this nesting season.

GBH Mayor ud151_edited-1Then this morning I went on a beach walk and was met by huge crowds. Not people but birds. More exactly, hundreds of Royal Terns, Laughing Gulls, Ring-billed Gulls…

gulls and terns on the beach ud151

ringbilled gull ud151_edited-1

royal tern family ud151…and one juvenile Herring Gull. She was vocal…maybe calling her parents who were nowhere to be seen.

a juvenile herring gull ud151_edited-2As usual, there was a young Royal Tern pestering his mom for food. He was so intense that after a while his mom decided to fly away. Not very far, but just far enough to reinforce the boundaries.

young royal tern pesters parent UD151

mother and juvenile royal tern ud151

royal tern takes off UD151Now I have to reinforce my own boundaries as well and take Dylan out for his evening walk. Next weekend I will be traveling again, and this time I actually look forward to it. I am hoping to find a bird I have not seen “live” before…and be able to share some special fun with you next time we meet.

Thanks for being here. Have a wonderful rest of the week.

The Natural Order.

I have come to the conclusion that expressions of order in nature are captivating. Much different from any man-made order, however neat, and more beautiful. In my book, order in nature is of higher quality and its many manifestations are fascinating. I have been digging in my photo archives to show you a few expressions of order in nature as I see them through my lens – with some humor.

Flying in formation: Six White Ibis (featured image) and five Brown Pelicans.

five pelicans in formation UD129Standing in line: Four Willet all standing on their right foot.

four willets on one leg ud129Marching order: Mama Mottled Duck with her ducklings.

mama duck and ducklings ud129Tight formation swimming: Mama Mottled Duck and her ducklings.

mama mottled duck with ducklings ud129Pecking order: 2015 season’s Sand Key Osprey chicks (from the left) 3rd born Sindile, 1st born Lofty and 2nd born Aspire.

three osprey chicks May 27 2015 ud129Landing lineup: Royal Terns’ approach to landing in formation.

royal terns landing order ud129Departure lineup: A group of Wood storks departing in the Everglades.

three wood storks departing ud129Above and below: Four Brown Pelicans flying in “layers”.

four pelicans in flight ud129_edited-1 Backorder: father, mother and baby elephant and three zebras on the savannah.

three elephant butts ud129

three zebras ud129Side order: Two Black Skimmers and two Brown Pelicans flying side by side.

two black skimmers ud129

two pelicans flying tandem ud129Front and back: A Roseate Spoonbill and a Great Blue Heron upfront and a Wood Stork at the back on a small islet.

wood stork blue heron and roseate spponbill ud129_edited-1Law and order: A Reddish Egret chases away a Great Egret, who didn’t have a fishing permit.

Reddish Egret chases a great egret ud129_edited-1Taking turns: One Great Egret eats first, the other one eats second.

two egrets ud129Even disorder in nature can be beautiful: Three White Ibis, one standing on the left foot, two standing on the right foot…

three white ibis ud129…and Monarch Butterflies on a tree in no order at all.

butterfly tree ud129And finally, for our regular readers, there is the current order: The Osprey chick joins her parents to enjoy the sunset glow at the sailing center after a good meal on Marriott’s roof.

osprey chick eats on the roof ud129_edited-1
Arlene has supper on the roof at 7 p.m.
osprey chick hanging out with Mama osprey ud129_edited-1
Arlene and Sandy at the sailing center after sunset around 8:30 p.m.
osprey chick enjoys sunset ud129
Arlene looks for a small “dessert fish” in the water below
mama osprey after sunset ud129
Mama Sandy proudly watches Arlene
papa osprey looks at chick ud129
Papa Stanley lovingly watches his family

I hope you agree that order in nature has many amazing expressions. Have a great weekend!

Fish Trouble for the Tern Couple. A Photo Story.

I spotted this Royal Tern couple on the beach in the middle of all the spring break activity – and just couldn’t leave their story for my next post. I hope you enjoy.

tern couple 1 UD114
You brought this fish for me, right?
tern couple 2 ud114
Go on, give it to me!
tern couple 3 ud114
Hey, I’m waiting…
tern couple 4 ud114
I mean it…give me the fish already!
tern couple 5 ud114
…I’m waiting…don’t make me angry…
tern couple 6b ud114
NOOO! What you doing? I want my fish!
tern couple 7 ud114
Ha! You won’t get away from me…
tern couple 8 ud114
Okay…we can sit and sulk here at the water’s edge … until I get my fish.

 

Flying Again. And True News from the Salt Marsh.

I haven’t been here, or at your place, much since my unlawful adventure on the bay side with Dylan. I’m totally guilty, but I will not keep you in suspense. We were not caught.

Sometimes life gives you ‘stuff’ you can’t ignore, like leaking pipes in the attic, family health issues happening far away and new work projects popping up out of nowhere. So that’s where I’ve been. In the ‘when-it-rains-it-pours-land’, just keeping my feet above the water. I’m sure you’ve been there at some point too. Thanks to friends who have been thinking of me and worrying. What wonderful friends you are!

brown-pelican-taking-flight-ud105But now I’m flying a bit higher and the ‘weather’ is much calmer, both literally and figuratively. I’ve even had an opportunity to visit my friends at the salt marsh yesterday. Since I’ve been away from them too, I wanted to check everything out and make a comprehensive round from the bay side to the salt marsh and back home through the beach.

This Brown Pelican was entertaining me on the bay. Sometimes resting on the calm waters and other times disappearing with a big splash.

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pelican-diving-ud105And I spotted an Oyster Catcher, the first in several months. He was busy feeding in the low tide and paying no attention to the stunts by the pelican close by.

oyester-catcher-ud105And the same applied to a Snowy Egret, whom I discovered only when hanging out from the very edge of the seawall.

snowy-egret-ud105I had to smile at the three White Ibis standing in formation next to the sailing center boat launch. All of them had received the memo, but apparently it didn’t specify which leg to stand on.

three-white-ibis-ud105Approaching the salt marsh, I could see that both Mama Sandy and Papa Stanley were in the nest. This is not a sharp picture, but since it’s been taken from a great distance you can see that the nest remodeling has been completed. Their new home is brimming with furniture.

mama-and-papa-osprey-at-their-nest-ud105I was particularly happy to note that Stanley was at home. You see, a couple of days earlier when walking with Dylan, I saw a huge Bald Eagle fly towards the salt marsh. Suddenly two ospreys started chasing it back to where it belongs, on the other side of the bay. One was Stanley and I believe the other was his fishing buddy, Steve, who lives only eight blocks south of the marsh on the roof pillar of a high-rise building. I lost sight of them and was worried that something might have happened. Now I’ve seen both Steve and his wife Sheena (earlier pictures) fly above their top-of-the-line home. So everyone is okay.

When I arrived at the nest, Stanley had disappeared and Sandy was busy working. She was refitting some pillows in the nest. As in preparing the soft ‘nest cup’ for the eggs.

mama-osprey-works-on-the-nest-ud105Just below the nest I spotted the Mayor, the older Great Blue Heron. He was sitting there deep in his thoughts when a Black Crowned Night Heron zoomed in and startled him. But there was no reason for alarm, and the new-comer settled right below the Mayor’s retreat.

great-blue-heron-and-black-crowned-night-heron-ud105

blackcrowned-night-heron-ud105I walked around the marsh and spotted two couples of Yellow-crowned Night Herons, all in the vicinity of the deep waters close to the osprey nest.

yellow-crowned-night-heron-ud105I’m hoping they’ll nest at the marsh so we can see some Night Heron kids this spring. They look too funny with their baby hair standing straight up.

Further out I spotted a Little Blue Heron and a beautiful Great Egret. The former was busy selecting suitable food items, while the latter showcased her beautiful breeding plumage.

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great-egret-ud105Suddenly I saw a strange shadow and looked up to the sky. Starlings by the hundreds! The tail end of this party decided to occupy a few palm trees at the marsh.

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murmurating-starlings-ud105They sat on every branch, and while some of them seemed to be quiet for the photo shoot, the discussion flowed non-stop between the birds in different trees. Until, like on a secret command, they all flew away again.

By that time I was at the beach end of the marsh and saw that Stanley had sneaked back into the nest. He had brought a fish for his pregnant wife. How thoughtful of him.

mama-and-papa-osprey-2-ud105

mama-osprey-eats-fish-ud105Just before I left to walk home through the beach, I spotted Mr. Moorhen, whom I haven’t seen for several weeks. I think he was scouting for suitable nesting sites.

moorhen-ud105The beach was lively too. Hundreds of birds resting in several colonies. A large group of tiny Sanderlings, several groups of Royal Terns, Laughing Gulls and a few Willets and Ringbilled Gulls. And Brown Pelicans, of course. Here just a few pictures of shore birds I encountered on my way home.

sanderlings-ud105

royal-terns-ud105

ringbilled-gull-ud105

a-brown-pelican-and-a-gull-ud105I thought that was it for the birds. But when I walked into our garden, I heard a familiar sound. A male Red-bellied Woodpecker was working hard in a palm tree next to our garage entrance. His tempo was almost too fast to get a clear picture of his head.

mr-red-bellied-woodpecker-ud105-2I wish you all a wonderful weekend and will do my best to visit all my friends in the next few days. We all wish you peace.

Flying High. Alarm Event. And Other Local News from the Salt Marsh.

To me, local is not only places and people around us. It is also animals around us. And many of you will know I am talking about the salt marsh and its residents. That’s where my heart is. But I have to confess I have not been able to visit my friends for a while. Severe interference by something I call work.

When I finally got time to visit, I found myself right in the middle of a significant alarm event.

mama-osprey-is-alarmed-ud86Mama Sandy was vigorously defending her run-down nest against another osprey couple. Soon Papa Stanley appeared on the scene to support her. He chased the other male out of the marsh.

papa-osprey-chases-away-intruders-ud86But the female was a tough cookie. She continued to circle above the marsh. She was looking right down on Sandy and made a couple of dives towards the nest. Tension was mounting.

another-osprey-2-ud86A light blue juvenile Little Blue Heron in the bushes right below the nest looked frightened. She stayed putt in her hiding place to wait out the storm.

juvenile-little-blue-heron-ud86And the Yellow-crowned Night Heron who had been nodding off in a tree nearby woke up to follow the drama.

yellowcrowned-night-heron-ud86Mama Sandy did not take this provokation lying down. I have never seen her screaming from the bottom of her lungs like this. She sounded like she meant it. And that did it. The female osprey finally followed her hubby and flew towards the north end of the park.

mama-osprey-shouts-alarm-ud86Phew. Peace was restored and everybody was minding their own business again. Like this White Ibis, who was just chilling. Quite beautiful, I thought.

white-ibis-ud86And an adult Little Blue Heron, perhaps the juvenile’s mom, continued her search for that perfect bite.

little-blue-heron-ud86But the Snowy Egret had already spotted her favorite menu item. She flew across the pond…

snowy-egret-flying-2-ud86 …and performed daring acrobatics to fetch her brunch. I was impressed by her reach.

snowy-egret-bending-down-ud86I walked around the marsh and spotted another Snowy Egret hunting. She was working hard for her tiny morsels.

snowy-egret-hunting-ud86At the far end of the marsh a Tri-colored Heron was busy hunting. Everything was back to normal.

tri-colored-heron-ud86As I walked home I spotted the juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk again. She was soaring high in the sky and I felt like doing the same. Just to float above it all.

redshouldered-hawk-2-ud86Our fundraising drive for a new home for the osprey family continues…and I hope we have good news shortly. In the meantime I will try my best to catch up on news in your world.

royal-tern-flying-ud86Be well. And fly high.

 

Operation Osprey. Alien Presence. And Family Feuds at the Salt Marsh.

This past week has been very busy. But the good news is that we have finally made some headway on “Operation Osprey”, as my friend Gladys dubbed the project we are working on. I had never thought that helping the Osprey family to get a safe home would be as simple as someone climbing up to the nest and putting in two new supports for the wooden platform. I had seen the platform was falling apart and knew it had to be replaced. But I had also not envisioned a big “project” involving the county, the Audubon Society, a contractor and a bunch of donors.

osprey-nest-sept-26The local Audubon Society has the required permits for this work. And we now have a commitment from the county to do the necessary tree trimming in the park so that a big truck can get close to the nest. We also have a proposal from a contractor on the installation of a new osprey nest platform. It will be a modern dish with drainage holes widely used in Florida. nest-176-disk-nest-platform-300x225-fl-osprey-watchSomething like this (Osprey nest 176, Florida Osprey Watchers), with an added perch. The perch will serve many purposes. But perhaps most importantly, it will allow Papa Stanley to stay close to Sandy when they incubate eggs and look after the nestlings. Yay!

The fundraising has also started. I’m hoping we’ll get enough donations in the next two weeks so that the materials can be ordered and the project be put on the contractor’s work schedule. Otherwise we’ll run out of time.

mama-osprey-ud83You see, Sandy and Stanley have already started dating again. It’s really sweet to watch. The other night when Dylan and I took a late walk past the Sailing Center, we found both of them perched close to each other admiring the moon raising over the bay. I didn’t have my camera with me, but this is what they would’ve seen.

sunset-and-moon-rise-over-the-bay-ud83And yesterday morning it looked like they were fishing together. First I spotted Stanley scanning for fish at the Sailing Center.

papa-osprey-at-sailing-club-ud83A couple of minutes later, I spotted Sandy flying from behind me carrying a fish. She must have been fishing a bit further out on the bay because I didn’t spot her. She settled down on the lamp-post right opposite Stanley’s favorite resort.

mama-osprey-lands-with-a-fish-ud83And a few seconds later Stanley flew over my head with a fish. He must have picked up a fish from the bay right after I left him.  He settled at his resort to have his breakfast.

papa-osprey-eats-beakfast-ud83So there they were, the love birds, eating their breakfast at the same time and very close to each other.

mama-osprey-eating-breakfast-ud83And in late December, they will start rebuilding the nest. Fingers crossed we can give them a brand new, safe home by then.

the Mayor with his crowd UD83.jpgFrom the bay side I walked into the salt marsh, where the Mayor was leading the morning preening session. The marsh had been ‘taken over’ by several families of White Ibis and Snowy Egrets. I counted about thirty individuals. And I observed some discord in one of the Snowy families. Voices were raised and feathers flew. I have a few unusable pictures of this family ruckus where one can only see white fluffed feathers.

snowy-egrets-ud83

angry-snowy-egret-ud83A few Great Egrets were present too, but held to themselves, away from the boisterous crowds.

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great-egret-2-ud83I also spotted a juvenile Green Heron quietly sneaking in the shadows at the far end of the marsh.

juvenile-green-heron-ud83And a Little Blue Heron observing the wild stuff from a small tree with keen interest.

little-blue-heron-ud83When I was leaving, I saw the Mayor had taken a position in the middle of the large, shallow pool, where he could have an overview of the lively marsh. Perhaps he was hoping the Snowy family would settle their disputes without his intervention.

major-great-blue-heron-ud83On the beach I found hundreds of birds, mainly gulls and terns. They were just chilling. Calmly exchanging the latest news or flying around in search for breakfast.

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royal-terns-ud83

royal-tern-in-flight-ud83And suddenly I came face to face with an alien. He was big and reflected the outer space on his clothing. He was no E.T. but he didn’t frighten me too much, to tell you the truth.

jet-ski-alien-ud83I took comfort in the fact that Mama Sandy had finished her breakfast and was flying towards the ocean right over my head, keeping an eye on any aliens that might pop up on my path. I knew I would need to work harder on Operation Osprey to beat the deadline of Papa Stanley’s forthcoming proposal.

female-osprey-in-flight-ud83That’s all for today. Thanks for joining me on this walk. I wish you all a great week ahead. Peace.

 

 

Juveniles Rule. And Slowly Returning to Normal.

I am not developing an argument here on what ‘normal’ might be or look like. All I know is that our surroundings here at home are slowly starting to look as they used to – before Hermine dumped almost 15 inches/38cms of water on us over five days. The flood waters are almost gone. I say almost because there are still a few pools of water on the beach, in the park and in our garden. And birds love them. Like Snowy Egrets and White Ibis, who were mingling on the beach in large  numbers yesterday.

Snowy Egret at flood water pool ud80.jpg

snowy-egret-and-white-ibis-ud80And juveniles of all sorts were playing and feeding in the shallow pools. Like these two juvenile White Ibis. One of them was quite white already, while his little sister was still much more brown than white.

two juvenile ibis ud80.jpg

juvenile-white-ibis-ud80Another juvenile, a Black Skimmer, who had already left his parents was practicing skimming in one of the shallow pools.

juvenile-black-skimmer-ud80The juvenile Royal Tern pestering his mom was quite entertaining. Although his poor mom might have disagreed. She tried to show him how to catch food items in the shallow water, but he was not interested. He wanted to be fed.

baby-royal-term-pestering-his-mama-ud80

baby-and-mama-royal-tern-ud80Walking into the salt marsh, I noticed the water levels were down and the bird count was up. Despite the fact that the mosquito count was down only a bit, I decided to see who had returned. And right away saw the younger Great Blue Heron. After hanging around for over two years now, I think he has earned to be named. I will call him Henry. He was balancing high up in the cypress tree surveying the marsh. Possibly trying to find out whether or not the Mayor was present.

young-blue-heron-ud80He wasn’t. So Henry decided it was safe to fly down and start hunting at the far end of the marsh, a spot usually reserved for the Mayor.

young-blue-heron-in-flight-ud80

young-blue-heron-lands-ud80A Great Egret was also scanning the marsh from the top of a tree in the middle of the marsh. He might have been counting his relatives, who were many but difficult to spot in the high grass.

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great egret and snowy egret ud80.jpg

great-egret-ud80The only smaller wading bird present, in addition to Snowy Egrets, was a beautiful Tri-colored Heron. She was fishing at the shallow side of the marsh that had already dried up quite a bit. But she was still more than knee-deep in the water.

tricolored-heron-ud80But the Moorhens and Mottled Ducks were present in big numbers. The ducklings born here last spring had returned and were swimming in a nice formation – all ten of them. Juveniles definitely ruled the day 🙂

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ten-ducklings-ud80I finished my walk at the Osprey nest. Mama Sandy was having her brunch and checked on me between the bites. I wanted to tell her that on Sunday, I would be visiting again – with the contractor who will be repairing or replacing (if required) the nest. But I let her eat in peace.

mama-osprey-eats-lunch-ud80I didn’t see Papa Stanley, but I know he is around as I saw him just the previous day. He flew low over our garden and tipped his wings to me and Dylan. Instead I spotted a Red-bellied Woodpecker on my way home. He was showcasing his reddish belly.

redbellied-woodpecker-2-ud80But that was not all. Approaching home, I saw a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk fly past me towards our garden.

hawk-ud80I decided to see if I could spot her again and walked around among the trees where I thought she might have landed. And I found her! She was sitting in a dense tree – on our neighbor’s side. It was an awkward spot to try to ‘shoot’ her. Sun right in my eyes, a thick, high hedge on one side and a large ditch with some remaining flood water on the other. I tried to balance on my toes so I could get a clear shot of her, but this is the best I could get. What a beautiful bird.

juvenile-red-shouldered-hawk-ud80She flew away to continue her hunt, and I spotted another bird in a tree right above me. A Black-crowned Night Heron had settled there to sleep for the day and I inadvertently woke him up.

black-crowned-night-heron-ud80Luckily he didn’t seem to be angry. I was happy to find so many of my feathered friends. I concluded that things are slowly returning to normal around here, but unfortunately the damage assessments still continue elsewhere not too far from here.

We all wish you a very happy weekend. Peace.