Tag Archives: Tri-colored Heron

The Egg Thief. And His Punishment.

Last Sunday the weather finally warmed up and I’ve been able to take a short walk/jog/run to see my feathered friends in the salt marsh several times. It’s been quite a week. Events from high drama to comedy, and everything in between. But I’ll try to be short.

On Monday, the Osprey family’s peaceful life was interrupted by a lightning fast attack by an egg thief. It was the most dangerous event I have witnessed, and also one of the most humbling moments for my bird photography. I missed the main action:  Papa Osprey fighting off a direct attack on the nest. Such is life, I have so much more to learn about these birds. But I’ll tell you the story anyway.

an osprey couple in the nest Sand key park Clearwater Florida
Mama Osprey talks to Papa…

I was standing and watching Mama Sandy sitting on the egg(s) and Papa Stanley keeping her company. She was talking to him. Suddenly Stanley started flexing his wings. Silly me thought he was getting ready to fly out. So I zoomed in and started shooting. Little did I know that from right behind me a big bird was approaching the nest. I should’ve understood something serious was up. See for yourself.

osprey sees a danger approaching at the Sand kay nest Clearwater Florida osprey sees a danger approaching at the Sand kay nest Clearwater Florida osprey sees a danger approaching at the Sand kay nest Clearwater Florida osprey sees a danger approaching at the Sand kay nest Clearwater FloridaPapa Stanley turned around and in the next half second I saw a big bird above my head flying right towards the nest. Mama Sandy was already pressed tight over the egg(s)…not visible from the ground.

The next one second was crucial. While trying to refocus my camera, I saw a fight in the air just a feet or two above the next. Papa Osprey was defending the nest against the intruder with his talons and the intruder was attacking Papa with his bill. I didn’t even register what bird it was, only that it was much bigger than Papa Stanley. I got a shaky picture of papa and half of the bird 🙂 just below the nest where the intruder fled. Papa was right on his tail. Mama screamed. I think I might have too.

male osprey dives chasing an intruder
Papa Stanley dives down repeatedly at the far end of the marsh…

While the attack was thwarted in one second, Papa was chasing the egg thief over the salt marsh for several minutes. He was diving down repeatedly and I couldn’t see what was going on. Mama Sandy sat up in the nest and watched the drama.

female osprey in the nest
Mama Osprey watches the chase…

Finally after about 10 minutes Stanley returned to the nest to ensure Mama and the egg(s) were fine.  And it’s my understanding they were.

male osprey returns to the nest sand key park clearwater florida
Papa flies right up to the nest after he’s satisfied the threat is over…
male osprey flies into the nest sand key park clearwater florida
…and checks on Mama and the egg(s)

Now I looked at my picture of the half bird. I saw it was a Great Blue Heron.  On my way home I found him at the very opposite end of the marsh. It looked like he got his butt kicked pretty good by Papa Osprey. I hope he learned his lesson.

great blue heron sand key park cleaarwater florida
The culprit, a Great Blue Heron, got his feathers messed up…

The rest of the week has been rather fun. Sandy and Stanley have been taking turns in incubating the egg(s).  It seems that Sandy gets at least two long breaks every day, maybe more.

male osprey sits on the eggs while female dries herself sand key park clearwater florida
Papa Osprey sits on the egg(s) while Mama dries herself…

And now it’ll be only a couple of weeks before there should be a hatchling!

Papa Stanley still goes to his man cave to eat. He seems to be eating the head and the tail of the fish, giving Sandy the best part. He’s a good hubby and dad.

male osprey eats on his perch sand key park clearwater florida
Papa enjoys lunch in his man cave… with a white feather sticking up from his wing…

One day I saw him eating there, and the next day there was a colorful visitor borrowing his perch, a Nanday Parakeet, again. Stanley flew somewhere else close by to finish his fish.

nanday parakeet in sand key park clearwater florida
A Nanday Parakeet borrows Papa Osprey’s perch…

To tell you the truth, there were two visitors. A Red-bellied Woodpecker was hard at work to find food in the same dead palm trunk.

A red-bellied Woodpecker in sand key park clearwater florida
A Red-bellied Woodpecker looking for food…

Back in the marsh, many birds have been showing off their fishing skills, the most expressive being the Reddish Egret. He is the showman of the marsh, but that’s another story altogether.

tricolored geron gets a fish sand key park clearwater florida
A Tricolored Heron caught a fish…
reddish egret hunting in sandkey park clearwater florida
A Reddish Egret performs a traditional hunting dance…

I can tell you the Great Blue Heron has been keeping a very low profile. Staying at the other end of the marsh every day.

I wish you all a great weekend. Reporting from the salt marsh, Tiny

 

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.

 

Birthday Birds and Engine Roar.

Last Sunday was my birthday. Not that I need to be reminded of the years piling up, but it was a great day. A balanced affair of spectacle and peace. The spectacle was provided by the annual Clearwater Speed Boat Race, and the peace by the birds … and other good friends and family.

After a night of torrential rains, the morning was beautiful.

Willet shore bird
A little Willet patrolling the beach…
rock pigeon
A Rock Pigeon, a rare sight on the beach…
royal tern flying
A Royal Tern returning from a swing on the ocean…

I took a long walk on the beach, where the birds were getting breakfast and people of all ages were preparing to watch the boating event of the year.

little boy on the beach
A little boy exploring the beach…

Some were more interested in other explorations, of course.

treasure hunter
A treasure hunter…

On the ocean, thousands of boats were lining up along the 2.5 miles long race track. And helicopters were circling overhead. Quite a spectacle!

speed boat race an overview
Boats lining up along the race route where boats are already practicing…

I decided to seek my peace in the nature reserve. On my way there I saw something remarkable. Papa Osprey was flying in after a swim in the ocean. When he approached the nest, he shook himself in mid-air, almost like a dog would do, to get rid of excess water. I had read that ospreys do this, but never seen it before.  Unfortunately my camera was in its bag as I tried to negotiate a path to the park that wouldn’t require a swim suit.

wet papa osprey
Wet Papa Osprey saying birthday greetings…

When I reached the nest, Papa Osprey was there. All spread out under the natural hair dryer. He was still wet and held his wings up to dry his underpants. He gave me a friendly birthday nod, but it’s difficult to say if he smiled.

great egret
A Great Egret…

I also spotted a Great Egret perched on a tree near the osprey nest. After posing politely for a photo, she flew away over the water.

great egret flying
…flying away.

It was getting hot and the Great Blue Heron, whom I’ve named the Mayor of the Marsh,  was seeking shade hunched down in the bushes.

great blue heron enjoying shadow
The Mayor, Mr. Blue Heron…

I stayed in the park for a while receiving calls from family abroad, and snapped another picture of him little later.

great blue heron 2 920
…all tall and handsome.

Herons were out in force that morning. I saw a Yellow Crowned Night Heron and a Green Heron too. While the latter is most often perched on a tree looking like he’s dreaming of some faraway place, now he was hunting and all stretched out.

yellow crowned night heron closeup 2
A Yellow Crowned Night Heron…
green heron 2
A Green Heron hunting…

And what would a birthday be without a Tri-colored Heron showing off his beautiful colors. This time I saw him hunting, diving right into the water.

tricolored heron diving
A Tri-colored Heron diving…
tricolored heron after a dive
…and then shaking off the water.

And then shaking his feathers. The gracious little bird was all buffed up.

So after getting my peace in the morning, I came home and we watched the speed boat race from our terrace. Luckily they raced at some distance. No water spray on our lunch, but the engine roar was clearly audible. I’ll put a few pictures here for the boat enthusiasts in the readership.

speed boat 4 3
A speed boat and spectators in thousands of boats…
speed boat 8
A racing speed boat…
speed boat 6
Another racing speed boat…
speed boat and spactators
A speed boat almost flying on water…spectators on Pier 60

The rest of the day was lots of fun, culminating in a sumptuous seafood dinner with friends and family. Bang Bang Shrimp, Rainbow Trout, and chocolate… I could do it again. Any day.

I will probably be posting/reading a little less than usual in October as I’ve a few travels planned before NaNoWriMo hits in November. I hope your week is going well.

No Schedule. It’s Liberating.

Hi Mom, you’re  back already! I decided to jump back to bed when I saw you’d gone out for your morning run. Come and join me! But take your shower first. I’ll keep the bed warm…and you can have half of my pillow. Is that a deal, Mom?

It’s nice to sleep in when we’re not going anywhere. No visit to the Grooming Shop, no doctor, no errands and no trip to Smart Pet. No schedule! It’s liberating. And it’s Saturday. Again. Where did the week go? It’s like Labor Day was just yesterday. I remember ’cause I got to taste Wieners.  Right from the grill at sunset time. Memorable.

sailing boat at sunset Gulf Beach
Sunset on our beach…

I want to plan some unscheduled fun for today. Like taking Mom for a long walk. But we’re not going to the nature reserve. I’m tired of waiting when she sets up her portrait studio. For the birds.

tri-colored heron portrait
One of mom’s portraits, a Tri-colored Heron…

Come here. Look this way. No, look that way. It sounds quite ridiculous when she tries to get the birds to pose for her camera. And very boring.

 

bayside shopping center c
The bay-side shopping center…

So we’ll be walking south today. We’ll pass the shopping center. And on the way back we’ll pop into Carmen’s deli. Just long enough to say hi and get a treat.

Bayside waters Clearwater
The bay from the board walk…

Then we’ll walk back on the bay side board walk. And just around the corner we’ll stop again. At the ice cream shop.

Bumble in the morning
Me…just waking up…

You look great, mom! I’m not tired anymore. I have a plan. I’ll tell you after you get your coffee. Let’s go! It’ll be a great day!

I hope you all have a great day and a wonderful weekend ❤ Bumble

 

 

Stress Relief Routine. Instructions.

Morning run on the beach…

On my morning run (I did run for a bit!) I spotted a Tri-colored Heron in the salt marsh. She was doing a fascinating new exercise routine.  Or maybe it was bird yoga? Whatever it was, I caught it on camera and will share the instructions, frame by frame, right here. In case you want to try it at home.

tri-colored heron Sand Key Park Clearwater
Stressed out and tense…

When I first saw her she was looking really stressed out. Her pose was hunched and her neck was nailed onto her shoulders. She clearly had some tension in her otherwise gracious body.

tri-colored heron Sand key Park Clearwater
Letting loose…

She started by shaking loose. Vigorously. The whole body.  Her feathers became fluffed and her hairdo instantly went from old-fashioned sleek to a modern pixie look.

tri-colored heron
Starting to stretch…

After loosening up a bit, she stretched her neck down and to her right. Streeetch.

tri-colored heron
And now to the right…

Then, still holding her head down, she stretched to her left.

tri-colored heron
Then down, down…

Next, she stretched down, down. Now her bill was hardly visible. She was immersed in her feathers.

tri-colored heron
Completely immersed…

And then she let her head go completely.  It disappeared. Mind over body.

tri-colored heron
Coming out of it…

Finally her head reemerged, her neck still twisted and the feathers on her shoulders fluffy. And she stretched up.

tri-colored heron
Head up, far up…

After this exercise routine, I observed her head was high above her shoulders. No more hunching. She appeared happier and more balanced. Maybe something there.

More like this duck...
More like this duck…

I continued my run (more of a walk now, to be honest) inspired to exercise more. Losing one’s head once in a while can be beneficial both for the body and the soul. Maybe I’ll finally try yoga. As recommended by my friend Nancy. I know I’m not as flexible as this heron, rather more like the duck I met later on my trail.  It might still be worth a try.