Tag Archives: Snowy Egret

Cold Front. Huddling and Hiding.

I came back home last night to the tune of strong winds and a passing cold front. By this morning, the wind had calmed down a bit and the skies were blue again, but it was cool.  I would say cold, but I don’t want to offend anyone. Anyway, I felt the need to get moving again this afternoon so I went out for a walk to check on my feathered friends.

Two Willets and one pair of feet...
Two Willets and one pair of feet…

The beach was quite stormy. And completely empty, apart from a few Willets. When passing the salt marsh,  I found the birds hunching in the grass or hiding in the trees. Even Papa Osprey and his friend Stanley were not perching upright as they usually do. That’s what a cold front does to you.

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A Blue Heron hunching by the water…
snowy egrets and an ibis huddling CF
Two Snowy Egrets and an Ibis huddling together…
black crowned night heron and juvenile huddling CF
A Black-crowned Night Heron and a juvenile hiding in the bushes…
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A Reddish Egret hunching in some bushes…
yellow crowned night heron freezing CF
A Yellow-crowned Night Heron hiding in the tree…
A Great Egret huddling in the shelter of some bushes...
A Great Egret huddling in the shelter of some bushes…
A Wood Stork taking shelter in the long grass...
A Wood Stork taking shelter in the long grass…
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Stanley perched on a lamp post next to the park…
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Papa Osprey at his nest…

The birds were clearly feeling the chill. Winter has arrived to Florida. And that means the start of the nesting season for many residents in the salt marsh.

Speaking of nesting, I have to tell you something I discovered later this afternoon. I saw Papa Osprey flying together with another Osprey.  And singing. I took some pictures of them on the run and when I enlarged them, I saw the other Osprey also had a “necklace”. Stanley and Steve don’t have one, but Mama Osprey does. Couldn’t be sure though it was her so I leave it like that. We’ll see soon enough.

I hope your week is going great!

Flop! You Can’t Surprise Papa Osprey.

This morning I approached Papa Osprey’s nest walking silently on the grass behind the nest. A surprise visit. I was wondering how close I could get before he’d discover I was there. I shot the first picture of his tail feathers. And was discovered right away!

papa osprey discovers tiny
PO discovers Tiny…

In addition to sharp eyes, he has an excellent hearing too. He heard me despite a Blue Jay giving a high-pitched concert in a tree behind me. You know how they sound.

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A Blue Jays serenades in a tree close by…

At the same time Papa was keeping an eye on  a Turkey Vulture circling high overhead. This only confirms my earlier conclusion that he’s a skilled multitasker.

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Look Tiny, that’s a Turkey Vulture!
turkey vulture
And so it is… a Turkey Vulture circles high above the salt marsh…

We talked for a while, as we always do. I told him I’d be away traveling for a few days, and he promised me to continue keeping watch on the skies for Mama Osprey.

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Florida “snow” on the ground…

Then I continued my walk around the salt marsh. In many places the ground was covered by “snow” from the flowering trees. Even the Moorhen was swimming in a light “snowfall”.

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A Moorhen…

Next, I spotted a “long-time-no-see” Reddish Egret in the shallow waters. Initially, he seemed startled to spot me. But soon recovered and continued his search for some brunch items.

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A Reddish Egret discovers Tiny…
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…then continues his search for food.

His relative, the Snowy Egret, was the third one to surprise me. He walked right up from the marsh and did an impressive shake-baby-shake routine on the grass next to me.

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A Snowy Egret appears in the grass…
snowy egret shaking herself tm
…and starts a shake routine
snowy egret shaking some more tm
…that includes a head swinging exercise too.

I decided I’d walk a bit deeper into the park to see if I could find any of Papa Osprey’s friends. I came to the dead palm trunk favored by all three ospreys around here. Nobody at home. Then whoosh! Stanley flew in with a big fish!

Osprey with a fish Clearwater FL
Stanley caught a big fish…

That impressive meal got all his attention. And I decided it was time to go home. Enough surprises for one day. Although quite wonderful ones.

Have a great weekend everyone! ❤ 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.

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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.

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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.

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A Pelican flies close to the calm waters…
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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.

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A graceful Mourning Dove…
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Visiting Wood Stork team and a Roseate Spoonbill…
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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.

 

Migration Conference. At the Salt Marsh Resort.

Earlier this week, I went out for my usual greet-papa-osprey run around the salt marsh, and landed in the middle of a migration conference with over 100 participants! The place resembled a luxury resort, with guests sprawling around every table at the lunch buffet.

migratory birds in Sand Key Park Salt Marsh
A small fraction of the conference guests

I’ve never seen so many birds in this salt marsh! Dozens of migrating Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets and Wood Storks were visiting. I was delighted, but the permanent residents didn’t quite share my enthusiasm. The crowd was a bit unruly at times. Tempers flared, voices – and hairs – were raised.

angry snowy egret in Sand Key Park salt marsh
A Snowy Egret gets upset…
A snowy egret is angry at the salt marsh of Sand Key Park
…very upset!

There were a few really loud exchanges. Followed by rearrangements at the tables. Or maybe I should say, adjustments in the pecking order.

Great Egret flying in to the salt marsh of Sand Key Park, FL
An upset Great Egret makes a loud entrance…
great egret chases another away Sand Key Park FL
… and turns the tables.

But for the most part, the conference luncheon went smoothly. Everyone got their pickings, big or small.

great egret hunting in Sand Key Park FL
A Great Egret begins the hunt…
great egret fishing in Sand Key Park FL
…and there he dives…
great egret fishing in Sand Key Park clearwater FL
…for something delicious, I hope.
tricolored heron hunting in Sand Key Park Clearwater FL
A Tricolored Heron takes a small bite…
B little blue heron with a fish
A Little Blue Heron catches a tiny fish…

After lunch some quests embarked on their exercise routines, while others chatted with their peers. Exchanging the latest. Some paraded the calm waters, showing off their beautiful gowns.

A great egret doing the doggy shake sand key park clearwater fl
Shake, baby shake!
wood storks and egrets in Sand key Park Clearwater FL
One of the Wood Stork teams hangs out…
great egrets in Sand Key Park Clearwater FL
And Great Egrets parade…

I noticed that some permanent residents tried to keep away from the hubbub, seeking calm corners to hide in until the conference would be over. Some stayed out of sight altogether, like the Night Herons.

Roseate spoon bill in sand key park clearwater fl
A Roseate Spoonbill avoids the crowd…
muscovy duck in sand key park clearwater fl
Even the curious and normally social Muscovy Duck keeps to himself…
Tri-colored Heron in sand key park clearwater fl
A Tri-colored Heron hides his head in the grass…

A few elected to let it all pass, and moved to the relative calm of the bay side.

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A Great Egret flies to the bay side
snowy egret fishing on the bayside Sand key clearwater fl
A Snowy Egret enjoys the rich fishing waters on the bay side…

That included the “Mayor of the Marsh”, Mister Blue Heron. I assumed he got tired of policing the crowd.

egret and blue heron and wood stork in sand key park clearwater FL
Mister Blue Heron, a Great Egret and a Wood Stork in the salt marsh…
blue heron policing the crowd
Enough is enough…Mister Blue Heron flies to the bay side.

But Mama Osprey wouldn’t be moved. She’d been there, done that. She knew peace would return in a couple of days.

male osprey in sand key park clearwater FL
Mama Osprey enjoys his peace up in the nest…

And it did. This morning the marsh was calm again, and the twenty odd residents were able to enjoy their home in peace, like the Great Egret does in the featured image.

I hope your weekend is peaceful and calm. ❤ 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…
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…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.

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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.

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The Great Blue Heron on his way from the salt marsh…
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…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.