Tag Archives: Tricolored Heron

Face it! Birds Have Expressive Faces Too.

Papa Osprey’s expressive face is definitely one of my favorites! Here he’s watching me watching him. He tilts his head slightly, curious about the long black tube pointing at him. Click. Click.

Miss Rosa, the Roseate Spoonbill, has a photogenic face. Despite her very long spoon-like bill. And I think she knows it. Always poses happily for the camera.

roseate spoonbill FACEForaging birds often have that highly focused expression on their face. It’s necessary to focus all their attention on finding that one delicious piece of food. Here exemplified by the gracious Tri-colored Heron.

tri-colored heron FACEAnd the Little Blue Heron. Look at those eyes! Nothing can escape that stare.

portrait of little blue heron FACEThe reddish Egret often has a his clown face on, particularly when starting his hunting show. But don’t get fooled, he’s highly concentrated on his mission.

reddish egret all buffed up FACEWhen these birds catch a fish, or three, they show a happy face! Demonstrated here by the Great Egret.

great egret with three fish FACEThe Red-bellied Woodpecker has her sharp pecking tool embedded in a surprisingly soft face.

female red-bellied woodpecker FACEBut I can’t say the same about the Snowy Egret, especially when she has an itch right under her chin. Her face shows determination. Away with the itch. Scratch. Scratch.

snowy egret FACEThe Green Heron has a shy face. He looks away when noticing he’s observed. And pretends he’s nowhere to be seen.

green heron portrait FACEBirds, too, can have an old face. Scarred by life and full of wrinkles. Like this old American Black Vulture.

an old american tblack vulture FACEAnd they can have a face of a curious teenager. Just check out this young Muscovy Duck who has yet to learn to fly.

muscovy duck FACEAnd birds can have a face that shows contentment. Everything they need is right here. Right now. This is aptly demonstrated by the Yellow-crowned Night Heron. Here captured in the morning, after what I believe was a successful hunting session the previous night.

yellowcrowned night heron FACEI will have to end this “Faces from the Salt Marsh- series” by showcasing Mama Osprey. Her dancing face is as beautiful as her flowing dress 🙂

mama osprey FACEThe “salt marsh gang” wishes you all a pleasant week. You can find other interesting faces here.

Exhibition At the Salt Marsh Town Hall (WPC Connected)

The older Great Blue Heron, the Mayor of the marsh, is always hatching plans to tighten the community connections at the salt marsh. Permanent marsh residents will need to manage the soon upcoming bi-annual migration conference as a team. Without a hitch. He’s expecting big crowds, like last year.

So he’ll be throwing a Labor Day party at the town hall, with a special exhibition in the tree gallery. Under the theme “Connected”, he wants to show portraits of all those residents who’ll be sharing the salt marsh smorgasbord with migrating visitors, and others just stopping by for a snack. I volunteered to help. And to ensure timely delivery, persuaded this older gentleman to accept digital paintings.

Here my friends, you’ll get a sneak peek of these portraits before we’ll hang them up later today.

older great blue heron paint
Martin, the Mayor – the older Great Blue Heron
portrait of the young great blue heron paint
Billy – the younger Great Blue Heron, also known as the culprit (particularly by the Osprey family)
Harry – the Green Heron
portrait of little blue heron3 paint
Lilly – the Little Blue Heron
yellowcrowned night heron portrait paint
Norbert – the Yellow-crowned Night Heron
black-crowned night heron portrait paint
Nelly – the Black-crowned Night Heron
tricolored heron
Trina – the Tri-colored Heron
great while egret portrait paint
Gregory – the Great Egret
portrait of a reddish egret paint
Rudolf – the Reddish Egret, also known as the clown
snowy egret portrait paint
Sally – the Snowy Egret
nanday parakeet portrait paint
Polly – the Nanday Parakeet
papa osprey portrait paint
Stanley – the Osprey, also known as Papa Osprey
mama osprey portrait paint
Sandy – the Osprey, also known as Mama Osprey
roseate spoonbill portrait paint
Rosa – the Roseate Spoonbill

I’m hoping it’ll be a nice exhibition. And I’m planning to join the party despite allergies that have hit me this weekend. Let’s stay connected, and thanks for visiting 🙂

You can find other replies to this challenge here.

Papa Osprey’s Photo Shoot. And an Illicit Visitor at the Salt Marsh.

The sun was barely up on my first day home after the trip when I stepped out in the garden. Without even a cup of coffee. I just had to go see my feathered friends before starting a busy day. And he was right there. The Little Blue Heron, in a shady spot under the palm trees.

little blue heron in our garden ud21It was wonderful to be welcomed home by one of my friends from the salt marsh. The beach was quiet. And the rainwater “lake” was gone.

sunrise beach ud21The salt marsh looked fresh and misty. And I saw the water levels were almost back to normal. Little islets stuck up from the water, just as they used to.

sunrise at salt marsh ud21Most birds were still in their sleeping quarters, but Mama Sandy was already having her breakfast at the nest. She had a nasty wound on her left leg, but looked okay otherwise.

mama osprey with a fish ud21When I came closer, she greeted me in her typical straight forward, but friendly manner. I thought she even smiled.

mama osprey at the nest UD21I found the young Great Blue Heron (GBH) close to the osprey nest, as often is the case. He didn’t bother to look at me. He might be familiar with my view on his attacks on the nest earlier this year.

young blue heronThe Tri-colored Heron, who had temporarily moved elsewhere during the floods, was back home. She was happily hunting for her breakfast in the shallow waters.

tricolored heron ud21And just when I was about to leave, Rosa, the Roseate Spoonbill flew in. It’s always nice to see her. And it looks like she might think the same about me 🙂

roseate spoonbill landing ud21roseate spoonbill Rosa ud21I continued my walk to the bay side, and marveled at the European Starlings greeting the sun on a lamp-post next to the park.

starling family at sunrise ud21I decided to check if Papa Stanley would be at his resort. He was at home. Still sleeping when I arrived.

papa osprey sleeping ud21He soon discovered me and decided to pose for a photo shoot. A rare treat, and so very kind of him.

papa ospey says hi ud21papa osprey in his resort ud21papa osprey portraIT 2 UD21papa osprey portrait ud21I thought he was quite handsome. That was a great home-coming.

I got another opportunity to get out for a quick walk this morning. I discovered that the “beach lake” had reemerged after yesterday’s short, but intense storm. Many birds were enjoying rainwater baths and the special menu the fresh waters had to offer.

more rainwater and birds on the beach ud21snowy egret 2 ud21theyoung great blue heron ud21black skimmer drinking fresh water ud21juvenile black skimmer sleeping ud21And some, like this juvenile Black Skimmer, were just plain tired of all the excitement.

While the young GBH was frolicking at the “beach lake”, the older one, the Mayor, was back in charge at the salt marsh.

mayor great blue heronI bet he was not happy to see this illicit fisherman trying to capture the fish that belongs to the residents. I was not happy either.

fisherman at salt marsh ud21I wished Sandy had been at the nest and given him a small lesson. But luckily, as soon as I started walking towards the park HQ, he packed his gear and left. Once he was gone, I came back to greet the Great and Snowy Egrets who were enjoying the sunshine in large numbers, and then walked back home.

great egret on the top ud21So much excitement, as always, at the salt marsh. Thank you for coming along. We all wish you a wonderful weekend!

Flooding. Deserted Salt Marsh. And the Mayor’s Speech.

After 21 straight days of storms that dumped over 20 inches of rain on us, I’m happy to report we’re seeing the sun again here on the west coast of the “sunshine state”. When the rain finally stopped on Monday afternoon, I went to check out the flooding. And to see if I could spot any of my feathered friends.

beach and park flooding after the storms sand key clearwater florida

The beach and all the trails to the park were flooded. The new “Beach Lake” was even bigger than last week. As the rain had stopped, some boys tried to play ball at the shallow end of it. Lots of splashing.

playing ball on the flooded beach sand key clearwater florida

It was still gloomy, but the sun tried to show its face from under a hefty cloud cover. I didn’t want to repeat my wading exercise from last week, so I walked to the salt marsh on the street and the partly flooded walkways. The only bird I found on the usually lively bay shore was this Willet bathing in the floodwaters.

a willet bathing in flood water bay side sand key clearwater florida

And I spotted Papa Osprey. He was perched on a lamp-post far away, shaking his feathers and looking quite disheveled.

male osprey on a lamp post sand key clearwater florida

Entering the park, I saw flooding everywhere. All low-lying areas were under water, and the doggy park just north of the salt marsh had become a water feature for the birds.

flooding in the park sand key clearwater floridadoggy park under water sand key clearwater florida

Otherwise the salt marsh was deserted.  I walked around looking for my friends, water sloshing around my boots. The only birds I could find, in addition to those at the doggy park, were the young Great Blue Heron and Mama Sandy.  The heron was walking in the high grass, and Sandy was roosting at the nest. She was clearly tired of the rains. Just like me.great blue heron inspects the marsh sand key clearwater floridafemale osprey perching at her nest Sand Key park Clearwater FloridaThe water level in the marsh was too high for many of the birds to hunt there…and still rising. So they had evacuated.

salt marsh under water Sand Key park Clearwater Florida

Yesterday afternoon, after three days of sunshine, I went back there to check how things were progressing. The flood waters in the park had receded considerably, but the marsh was brimming with water, and the beach was still flooded.

To my delight, I found that many residents had returned. The old Great Blue Heron, the Mayor, was surveying his little village at the west end of the marsh. He was addressing the community. Saying it was safe to return, I gathered.

great blue heron inspects the marsh Sand Key park Clearwater Florida

I had to laugh when I saw the crowd on the fence of the doggy park. They were listening to the Mayor while trying to dry up in the sun. The park was too soggy for the dogs to come back, so it was a safe place to roost.

egrets and ibis perching on the fence in the dog park Sand Key park Clearwater Florida

Egrets and Ibis were perching on trees and bushes in big numbers. Like white dots sprinkled all over the marsh. And the Roseate Spoonbill was enjoying some shade at her usual spot below the osprey nest. She kindly agreed to a photo shoot.

birds in the salt marsh after the storms Sand Key park Clearwater Floridaa roseate spoonbill Sand Key park Clearwater Florida

The young Night Heron was back too, drying his feathers next to the deep water. It looks like he’s become a permanent resident. Decided the salt marsh was a safe place to grow up.

juvenile night heronSand Key park Clearwater Florida

The tiny Tricolored Heron surveyed the water levels at the east end of the marsh, looking a bit anxious. She probably understood it’d be some time before she could go hunting there again. The grassy little pools where she’d normally go fishing were now part of the “lake”. Full of big, scary fish.

tricolored heron on a stormy day Sand Key park Clearwater Floridafish in the salt marsh Sand Key park Clearwater Florida

The Mottled Ducks were happily cruising the waters, and so were the Moorhen families. With kids of all ages.

moorhen chick Sand Key park Clearwater Florida

moorhen chick Sand Key park Clearwater Floridamoorhen chick and a juvenile moorhen Sand Key park Clearwater Florida

And Mama Sandy was perched in her “watch tower”, monitoring the busy air traffic between the bay and the beach. I saw the young Great Blue Heron fly over the nest, and heard Sandy give a stiff warning. She has no tolerance for fools who’ve attacked her nest.

female osprey Sand Key park Clearwater Florida

Before going home, I had to check on Papa Stanley too. He was back in his resort, looking much more put together. And really paying attention to me. I felt tiny under such scrutiny.

male osprey Sand Key park Clearwater Florida

Life at the salt marsh is slowly returning to normal.  We all wish you a wonderful weekend and thank you for coming to see us. Much appreciated. Just like the sunshine.

Playing with Fire. Chilling out. Vacation Time at the Salt Marsh.

It’s a little bit of a summer lull at the salt marsh right now. Residents watch visitors come and go. The older Great Blue Heron, the Mayor, welcomes everyone with open arms.

Great Blue Heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
The Mayor welcomes you!

And Mama Osprey takes the little excitement there might be with a grain of salt. It’s her vacation time. She observes everything from her “watch tower” with dignity, takes baths in the bay, dives for fish, eats and enjoys life.

Female Osprey watches the nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Mama Sandy observes Tiny and dries herself after a bath.

She is not the least provoked by the younger Great Blue Heron. You know, the one who repeatedly attacked her home last spring, and has now made it a habit to hunt right below the nest.

Young Great blue heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
The younger Great Blue Heron hunts close to the Osprey nest.

The other day he even played with fire. He flew low above the nest and settled on a tree top very close to Mama Sandy. Flexed his wings and stared right at her.

young great blue heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…and flies to the top of a tree to watch the nest.

But Sandy didn’t care to participate in a staring competition.  She was more interested in watching Sindile, who was flying by the nest again. This time she was on her own.

female osprey Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…but Sandy turns her head and watches Sindile…
young osprey in flight Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…who flies over the park.

Sandy spends some time at the nest every day making sure others don’t get silly ideas.  Like hoping the property had been vacated. Or was offered for vacation rental.

Papa Stanley has moved back to the same resort he favored last fall, on the top of an old palm trunk.

male osprey Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Papa Stanley enjoys life at his resort.

He sits there like a king, and monitors the air traffic between the beach and the bay. And keeps an eye on Sandy, of course.

So life has settled into a summer slumber at the salt marsh. The ten ducklings hang out with other ducklings.  They are all in their teens, and prefer to chill out together at various corners of the waterways.

young Mottled Ducks Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Young Mottled Ducks chill out together.

The Egrets and Herons come for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Or just to check out who’s there and what’s trending.

great egret and snowy egret Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
A Great Egret and a Snowy Egret check out the ducklings’ get-together with great interest.
tricolored heron hunting Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
A Tri-colored Heron is looking at the menu…
black crowned night heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…and a Black-crowned Night Heron, who should be getting his daily sleep,  is fully awake at lunch time.

Last night I spotted a few familiar dinner quests. And even had an exchange with the Roseate Spoonbill.

roseate spoonbill at sunset Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Hi! Is that you Tiny?
roseate spoonbill at sunset Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
I said HELLO Tiny!
roseate spoonbill Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Oops, sorry.  That was too loud. I didn’t mean to be rude…
roseate spoonbill sleeping at sunset Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…but if you excuse me, I’m very sleepy.

On the bay side, Sandy was basking in the last rays of the setting sun. Her crop was full after a quick dinner, but she was not yet dry. She shook her feathers and then greeted me quietly.

wet female osprey shakes herself Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Mama Sandy shakes herself to get rid of water after a dinner dive…
female osprey at sunset Sand Park Clearwater Florida
…and says hi.

I continued to the bay shore. A Brown Pelican waived good night while flying to his night quarters. And a White Ibis was considering an evening bath. She was not-so-white anymore after the day’s adventures.

brown pelican at sunset Sand Key Clearwater Florida
A Brown Pelican waves good night…
White ibis at sunset Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…a formerly White Ibis prepares for an evening bath. Hopefully.

While the sun rises over the bay, it sets over the ocean. I walked home through the beach, and saw the sunset wouldn’t disappoint. Mother Nature’s art at its best.

Sunset on the Gulf Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Sunset on the Gulf.

I hope your week’s been going well. Have a peaceful rest of the week.

Sunrise Pageant in the Salt Marsh. And a Bombshell.

Last Sunday was my big outdoors day. I was up before dawn and went for a walk to see the natural world wake up to a new day. I was happily surprised to find so many birds up and running at the early hour. It was like watching a pageant right there in the salt marsh. One beauty arriving after another. I invite you to join me.

tricolored heron at sunrise Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
First out was the Tricolored Heron carrying her multi-colored feathers with exquisite beauty…
a great blue heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
The Great Blue Heron was next….pausing  to showcase the whimsical cut on the back of his suit…
The Snowy Egret on Sand Key Beach Clearwater Florida
The Snowy Egret was walking like a pro, demonstrating her elegant white gown and great posture.
a roseate spoonbill in Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Next out was the Roseate Spoonbill in her hot pink dress…something worth reflecting on.
 Little Blue Heron in Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Ms. Pink was followed by the Little Blue Heron showcasing her deep purplish-blue dress with sophisticated grace.
a reddish egret in Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
The pageant file-through  was completed by the Reddish Egret, appropriately clad in striking colors for his upcoming show.

Needless to say, I was delighted by all this natural beauty. But where were the Ospreys?  The answer: still sleeping. It’s wonderful that the exhausted parents got to sleep in on a Sunday morning, isn’t it?

sleeping osprey in Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Everyone in the nest is still sleeping…it’s barely daylight.

When I arrived at the nest, Mama Sandy was the only one visible. Slowly she opened her eyes, and soon another sleepy head appeared. Papa Stanley was waking up. It looked like he had slept in the nest, for a change. I observed their morning ritual. Both flexing and preening for a few minutes. Then Sandy started asking for breakfast. And Stanley complied after a short, remarkably quiet discussion. No sign of the kids, they were still sleeping.

osprey couple at sunrise in Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Mama Osprey asks Papa to go get breakfast just after 7 a.m.
male osprey leaves for an early morning fishing trip Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Papa Stanley leaves for an early morning fishing trip.

I took another walk at sunset time the same day. I found a late dinner in progress at the nest. Again, I didn’t get to see the chicks.

Dinner at 7:40 p.m. at the osprey nest in Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Dinner at 7:40 p.m. Sandy is feeding, but no chicks visible.

So on Monday morning, having my coffee on the terrace, I looked at the nest with binoculars. I blinked. And blinked again. But still saw the same scenario: not two, but three little heads came up when Sandy distributed breakfast. That’s dropping a “bombshell” on me. And a very good one at that. Sandy and Stanley have three chicks!

I didn’t get the opportunity to go see the chicks, who must be about three weeks old by now, until midweek. When I arrived at the nest, lunch was being served. And I got lucky. The table was in plain view from the ground. And I could see all three chicks being fed in turn.

osprey feeding chickSand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Sandy feeds the first chick.
three osprey chicks in Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Sandy feeds the middle chick…but you can see all three here.
osprey female feed chicks Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Gimme food! Sandy feeds the last chick.

They are already moving around, and one of them even came close to the edge and looked out into the big, wide world. I’m guessing it was the first born.

A curious osprey chick looks out of the nest in Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
A curious chick scans its environment.

The kids’ lunch lasted about 40 minutes, and then it was Sandy’s turn to eat. Finally Stanley started collecting what was left of the fish, took it and flew to his man cave to enjoy a late lunch.

male osprey collects the rest of the fish in Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Stanley collects his lunch box…
male osprey flies with the rest of the fish after chicks have been fed Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…and flies to his man cave, passing right above my head.

This ritual is repeated at least three times a day, maybe four. I hope all three nestlings will thrive, despite the hotter than normal weather. And that we’ll be able to watch their flying lessons in about a month. That should be fun. Here’s a teaser. This is how their only nestling, a girl, fledged last year.

Osprey chick learns to fly on May 13, 2014, almost landing on her mama Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Their chick learns to fly on May 13, 2014, and almost lands on Sandy (I didn’t have my current zoom last year, so the picture is a bit grainy)

That’s all for this week.  The salt marsh gang sends ❤ to all friends, and particularly to those whose week hasn’t been the best.  Tiny

Wordless Wednesday: Shake Baby, Shake. Frame by Frame.

Start by shaking off all anger. So it doesn’t poison your being.
Then shake off your fears. So that love can come to your heart.
Then shake off your fears. So love can come to your heart.
reddish egret shaking off water Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Next, shake off all your worries. They won’t do you any good.
Next shake off all remaining negativity. So you make room for positive thoughts.
Then shake off any remaining negativity. So you make room for positive energy.
osprey shaking off water Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Next, shake away and leave behind old baggage. It will just weigh you down.
snovy egret shaking off water Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
And finally, shake some more to get rid of any lingering doubts. So you can go on trusting life.
Time for a happy dance on a lamp-post? Shake baby, shake 🙂