Tag Archives: Seagull

Rise and Shine. Fall at the Salt Marsh.

We have gorgeous fall weather here on Florida’s Gulf coast. I want to invite you all to join me on a morning walk on the beach, in the park and at the salt marsh.

love-grass-2-ud87Being “evergreen” we do not have the typical fall foliage, but there is plenty of color for us to enjoy right here in our garden.

And the beach is lively with shorebirds, particularly Sanderlings and Willets, in addition to the usual gulls and terns.

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willet-ud87From the beach we walk to the fishing piers at north end of the park. Sun is shining on the bay and the Clearwater Pass.

shine-ud87People are fishing and birds are flying over the water.

bridge-ud87We spot two familiar birds: the “other osprey” who was pestering Mama Sandy last week, and Henry, the younger Great Blue Heron.

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younger-great-blue-heron-henry-ud87For some reason, Henry is not at the salt marsh, but has flown into a kayak enclosure next to the fishing piers. Perhaps hoping for a free meal from one of the fishermen.

sand-key-park-ud87From there we walk south through the park to the salt marsh. And spot more fall colors on the way.

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pink-flowers-ud87Arriving at the marsh, we immediately notice the visitors. A family of eight Wood Storks mingle with Great and Snowy Egrets.

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great-egret-ud87The Great Egret wants to show the visitors who’s the boss, and some loud exchanges follow. But where is the real boss, the Mayor? We walk towards the osprey nest and find him hiding in the bushes right below the osprey nest.

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older great blue heron 2 ud87.jpgIt seems he doesn’t want to get involved in any squabbles, but rather prefers to take some quiet time to enjoy the morning. And the same goes for Mama Sandy. She has just caught a fish and turns to greet us before starting her breakfast.

mama-osprey-with-a-fish-ud87Then we spot the showman. The Reddish Egret performs his hunting dance. The clown of the marsh, as I dubbed him two years ago, draws his energy from a large audience. And today is no exception.

reddish-egret-hunting-ud87But the smaller herons, apart from the Snowy Egrets, have decided to stay away from the ‘big boys’.

snowy-egret-ud87Walking home, we find one of them, the Little Blue Heron, hunting alone on the bay.  The low tide has revealed new and interesting fishing grounds.

little-blue-heron-in-the-bay-ud87I hope you enjoyed this three mile walk in the crisp autumn air – a rare treat for us this early in the season.

At home another treat is waiting. The Audubon Society has received a grant from Duke Energy, our power company. Yay! Thank you to all who have contributed! We are now much closer to having the new dish platform for the Osprey couple installed on time. We all wish you a wonderful week.

Witness

Yesterday was a beautiful, yet extremely windy and chilly day. For Florida I might add. But since I have made a promise to move my old bones every single day this year (thanks Nancy at http://myyearofsweat.wordpress.com/ for the inspiration), I decided to take a walk on the windy side.

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The ocean appeared angry! White hats dominated the scene. The wind was hurting my eyes despite huge shades. The normally lively beach appeared deserted. Pelicans who usually provide free acrobatics lessons were nowhere to be seen.

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A few brave gulls were defying the wind and strolling impatiently on the beach. One had found a dead fish and considered whether or not it was wise to feast on it.

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Another one gave me the look. What are you doing here in this wind?

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That was about everyone I encountered on the beach. I decided the wind was too much to endure and hoped it would be a bit calmer in the nearby nature reserve. So I turned and walked away from the beach to the relative calm of the park. That’s where I became witness to a domestic dispute in the resident osprey family.

female osprey waiting ed

First I saw the female waiting alone on the nest platform. She was keeping a good eye on everything, including me. It seemed she had guard duty. Or maybe she was supervising the nest-building project?

male osprey landing 2 edx

Then I saw the male return to the nest. Empty-handed. No building materials. She started to look fairly agitated. Probably asking where’s the stuff. High pitched discussion ensued already before he landed and settled on the opposite side of the nest platform.

female osprey angry edx

It’s anyone’s guess what he did next, but she became very angry very quickly. She flexed her wings and let him have it. He responded in a harsh tone. Twigs were flying out of the nest. Luckily I couldn’t understand what they were saying. But it wasn’t “I love you”.

osprey couple 2

After a while they both calmed down and the dispute was over. I could see them sharing the nest in relative peace for a good five minutes. They appeared to be discussing something in a more civilized manner. Maybe they agreed on colors and specifications of the building materials he should try to find.

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Then the discussion was over, the male flew away and disappeared towards the bridge far beyond the reserve. She continued to guard the nest.

male osprey flying away edx

I thought he looked fairly determined.  Assembling a nest can be stressful. The pieces have to fit together just the right way. I wished them good luck.

I continued my journey for another hour and found many other birds hiding in the bushes, seeking shelter from the wind. But that is for a later post.

Thanks for joining me, I hope you enjoyed the walkabout. Have a fabulous and peaceful weekend ♥ Tiny