Tag Archives: White Ibis

Family Dramas. And a Possible Election Challenge. At the Salt Marsh.

There’s a hint of autumn in the air now. Finally it’s cooler, breezy and less humid. Okay. I’m going for full disclosure. It’s been gorgeous. And the beach has been lively with all kinds of shorebirds. Little Sanderlings and little humans enjoying the tidal pools together.

sanderling ud26 One morning I also witnessed a bit of a drama in the Royal Tern family. This is how it went down.

Mommy....I'm hungry! My older brother got more fish for breakfast.
Daddy….I’m still hungry! My older brother took almost all the fish.
Lunch time, Mommy!!
Did you hear me Daddy? I’m hungry!
Bring me fish! It's my turn!
Bring me fish! It’s my turn!
What about me, Mommy?
When Daddy returned empty-handed, Mommy was there too….Where’s the fish? Can’t you see our little one is hungry?

I hope all that was settled amicably after I had to leave. While all kinds of excitement was going on among the families on shore, the Brown pelican was sitting calmly on his observation pole off shore, watching it all. I could feel him thinking “this too shall pass”.

pelican ud26

The salt marsh has been fairly quiet. No big rush of migrants as yet. As usual the Mayor has been keeping order among the residents. The other day I saw him chasing the younger GBH around the marsh. I wondered what mischief he’d been up to. Or maybe he wanted to challenge the Mayor and run for office? Like so many these days.

mayor older blue heron ud26

That wouldn’t be such a good idea. I doubt he would get any votes at all. Even Mama Sandy sounded a sharp warning when he as much as flew towards the nest the other day. But he was challenging his fate, as usual, and landed in the water just below the nest. He has a big ego, it seems.

mama osprey closeup ud26

The ducks would definitely gang together against him. They’ve been having these large sunset gatherings lately. Perhaps planning a super pack to support the Mayor? And they’ve been very inclusive. Mallards, Mottled Ducks, and even the tiny Pied-billed Grebe. Like one big, happy family.

mallard meeting ud26Pied-billed Grebe ud26

I wonder if Papa Stanley and Mama Sandy were communicating about that very issue the other day. Papa was at his resort looking south, shouting something to Sandy. And posing for a photo in between. She was about half a mile south, sending replies perched on a huge antenna at the very top of the Marriott Resort on the bay side. That went on for a while before they said “over and out”.

papa osprey ud26mama osprey on the TV antenna ud26

In any case, if the young GBH was dreaming of running for office, my prediction is he’d not get support even from his own. The other Herons. The Tri-colored Heron seems to have her head firmly on her shoulders. And the juvenile Night Heron, although he might perhaps be persuaded by aggressive campaigning, is too young to vote anyway.

tricolored heron ud26juvenile night heron ud26

As to Miss Rosa, she seems very happy with the Mayor’s work. Nobody, but maybe a photographer, could make her to turn her head. And her friend Ibis may be blue eyed, but let me tell you, he’s not easily charmed. By anyone.

roseate spoonbill ud25 bibis ud26

As to the smaller birds, like this Blue Jay, they like to keep a safe distance to anybody showing signs of aggression.

Blue Jay ud26

Based on this official, highly reliable polling, my prediction is that the Mayor will sit firmly in the office for quite some time to come. And I take a new rainbow over the salt marsh as a good sign.

rainbow salt marsh to bay panorama ud26

With that, I’ll wish you all peace. And a wonderful upcoming weekend ~

Breakfast on the go. Morning Meditations. And Gardening at the Salt Marsh.

She is a very good gardener, Mama Sandy. She “planted” some greens in the nest about 10 days ago, and they are still green, in fact in great condition as of this morning. And standing tall despite some breezy days in between.

female osprey babysitting the decorated nest.I’d like to know her secret, but she’s tight-lipped, as always. She and Papa Stanley are still molting, but start to look more put together day by day. They both even posed for a portrait photo last weekend.

female osprey sand key park clearwater floridamale osprey sand key park clearwater floridaSandy in the nest and Stanley close by at his resort. But he didn’t look as representable this morning when I caught him coming fresh from the bay with his carry out.

male osprey caught a fish sand key park clearwater floridaI took a swing to the bay side and saw a beautiful Great Egret in the middle of his morning meditation, and several Brown Pelicans flying back and forth in search of breakfast. They seemed to be quite successful.

great egret at clearwater bay floridabrown pelican takes off clearwater floridapelican eating a fish clearwater bay floridaWalking back to the salt marsh, I spotted a Northern Mockingbird. I love their brilliant medley performances, and have smiled many times  at their Osprey imitations. But she didn’t sing for me today. She had something else on her mind.

northern mockingbird sand key park clearwater floridaI stopped to have a gulp of water and saw this little fellow in a tree right behind me. He looked at me suspiciously when I raised my camera, and then ran away.

squirrel sand key park clearwater floridaThe migrating birds have not yet arrived in any big numbers, but the salt marsh was spotted with white birds, lots of Snowy Egrets and White Ibis.

ibis and snowy egret hunting sand key park clearwater floridaI also saw a new juvenile Night Heron busy grooming herself, and an Anhinga stretching out on a branch.

juvenile night heron sand key park clearwater floridaanhinga sand key park clearwater floridaFor those of you, who’ll wonder about the Mayor, I can tell he was there too. But it seemed he was taking an after-breakfast-nap in the high grass, so I didn’t get a picture of him this time. I walked home through the beach and the trail was surrounded by wild flowers, brilliant colors from yellow to purple to pink.

beach wild flowers ud 24wild flowers 2 on the beach ud25The beach was lively, as usual, but I’ll just leave you with a couple more pictures. A Sandwich Tern, who shows us how best to get breakfast on the go. Just dip your bill into the water in mid-flight and you’re good to go.

gull eating on the fly sand key clearwater floridaAnd a Oystercather who was half asleep and let me walk fairly close to take his portrait.

oystercatcher sand key clearwater floridaWith that, I’ll wish you all a wonderful upcoming weekend. Cheers from all friends at the salt marsh ~

And Then There Was Only One. In Papa Osprey’s Fishing School.

The event rich and quite dramatic 2015 nesting season for Mama Sandy and Papa Stanley is almost complete. They can let out a sigh of relief, and proudly exclaim : We did it again!

female and male osprey Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Sandy and Stanley in mid February before eggs were laid.

Only one of the three osprey chicks is still in the nest, little Sindile. Lofty left first, on Tuesday last week. My last picture of him was in flight with Papa Stanley, which I shared in the previous update. Aspire, who fledged about four weeks ago just one day after Lofty, was hanging around until Saturday. I found her perched on a lamp-post close to the nest.  And I knew her farewell was imminent. On Sunday morning she was gone. I wish them good luck, and I will miss them. I hope our paths will cross at some point later.

an osprey fledgling Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Aspire perches just outside the salt marsh on Saturday…
an osprey fledgling perching close to the nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…and says hi to the ever-lurking paparazza.

Mama Sandy has left too. She may have taken a well deserved vacation miles from here. Chilling out among swaying palms on a secluded island in the Gulf, with a smorgasbord of tasty fish right at her talontips. Or she may have followed the two older chicks to keep an eye on them from a distance. Just in case they’d still need fishing lessons. She left Stanley in charge of feeding Sindile. And he’s been doing well. Perching close to the nest, fishing and sharing his catch with her. Sometimes he’s brought her a whole fish, like the morning I spotted them both eating at the same time.

Male osprey just caught a fish Sand Key Clearwater Florida
Stanley gave the first fish to Sindile, and caught another one for himself…
osprey fledgling eating in the nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Sindile is working on her fish…

But I have a sense that his food deliveries have been less frequent in the last couple of days, maybe only twice a day. You see, the strategy Ospreys use to get their young serious about moving out, is to bring them less and less food.  Motivates them to learn how to fish. Sindile fledged about two weeks ago, and it’s time for her to go to the fishing school.

sindile cooling herself UD13
Sindile is hot and cooling herself…

It’s been brutally hot and muggy, with heat index well over 100 F (close to 40 C) almost every day. Since Ospreys don’t sweat, Sindile’s been cooling herself by letting her tongue hang out. After a refreshing thunderstorm on Tuesday afternoon, the temperature plunged down to icy 74 F (23 C), and she seemed to have more energy. She made several short flights over the salt marsh, diving down to the water a few times. She may have tried to catch a fish, or just wanted to take a cooling “breast bath”, popular among Ospreys on hot days.

sindile is fishing on the bay UD13Then she flew over to the bay side. When I spotted her again after fetching my camera, she was very far on the bay, close to the opposite shore. She flew back and forth trying to locate a school of fish close to the surface, within her max diving depth of 3 feet (about one meter). She didn’t catch any fish, or even dive for it, but she made a good effort lasting about ten minutes. She’s getting there. She has already beaten the odds ~ only 36% of thirdborn chicks survive until they fledge. And now she’s learning to fish. I wonder how long she’ll be hanging around, maybe one more week, if that. So I made a short video clip while I still could. For those of you who don’t get dizzy from my wobbly footage.

The salt marsh has been popular with lots of birds during this heat wave. One day I counted over 20 Great and Snowy Egrets. And a dozen other birds. All sharing this little “village” peacefully.

snowy egret Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
A Snowy Egret is looking for food.
great Blue Heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
A young Great Blue Heron is hunting too.
roseate spoonbill Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
A Roseate Spoonbill is wondering about all the visitors.
five egrets in the salt marsh UD13
A party of five…Great Egrets.
ibis family with a juvenile Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Parents are teaching a juvenile Ibis foraging skills.
reddish egret Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
A Reddish Egret is curious about all the visitors.
snowy egret and tricolored heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
You go that way, I go this way…a Snowy Egret and a Tri-colored Heron cross paths.

I took a short walk just to see Sindile today at lunch time. She was thoroughly wet, but she didn’t have a fish.

a wet juvenile osprey Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Sindile is wet after a dive…Thursday, June 25.

I’m hoping to capture her flying with a self-caught fish one of these days before she also takes off. You go girl!

Warm greetings and much love from all of us at the salt marsh.

Teen Moods. Flying Feathers. And Other Excitement at the Osprey Nest.

The morning was beautiful. A few birds were out and about at the salt marsh, still looking for breakfast. Some were trying to hide in the bushes. And yet others chose to pose for the visitor.

spoonbill and ibis Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
A White Ibis is looking for food, but Ms. Spoonbill is more interested in the paparazza…and someone is hiding in the bushes (to the left)
snowy egret Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
A Snowy Egret is shopping for breakfast…

At the Osprey nest the breakfast was over.  Lofty was again looking after little Sindile, who has not yet fledged.  Mama Sandy had left to fetch her own breakfast, and middle sister Aspire was flying around somewhere, getting her exercise. Everything appeared peaceful.

But soon it was obvious something was amiss. When Aspire tried to return to the nest, Lofty got very excited. He was watching her approach and made it very clear she shouldn’t land in the nest.

two osprey chicks Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Look who’s flying there, it’s Aspire…

I have no idea what had happened between them earlier, perhaps at breakfast time. Maybe Aspire took the fish for herself, like I saw her do last week, and didn’t share enough with her siblings. But that’s just my speculation. What I saw is in this 1.5 minute video clip. The last segment is on half speed to let you see more in detail how it went down.

After this incident Aspire tried to land in the nest one more time while I was still there. Lofty chased her a short distance before returning to Sindile in the nest. Wondering what had caused this seemingly serious dispute between the two best buddies, I walked to the bay side.

Great Egret fishing in the bay Clearwater Florida
A Great Egret is fishing on the bay side…

I was on my way home, on the other side of a busy street, when I heard Lofty getting very vocal for the third time. I tried to capture the drama, shooting pictures from quite a distance over and between passing cars (you should have seen me, good I didn’t get killed). The shots are not very sharp, but the sequence of events is even clearer than in the video. Like in slow-er motion. Although for the two siblings it was fast enough, I’m sure of that.

osprey chick wants to return to her nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Aspire approaches the nest…
osprey chick gets excited and vocal Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Lofty gets vocal…and Sindile prepares to turn her back…
one osprey chick kicks out the other Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Lofty block’s Aspire’s new tactics, to come from below…
osprey chick prevents the other from entering the nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Lofty puts his foot down…on Aspire’s back…
osprey chick chases the other chick away Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Lofty flies after Aspire…
One osprey chick flies away while the other returns to the nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Aspire flies away again, while Lofty returns to the nest…feathers and decorations are flying in the air…

Poor Sindile didn’t want to know anything about the drama playing out while Mama Sandy was away. She turned her back and stared out into the distance. Maybe she was reflecting on the perils of fledging.

three ospey chicks in the nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
All three chicks are in the nest one hour later…everyone in their own corner…

About an hour later, I checked on the chicks from my terrace. And saw all three in the nest. They didn’t talk, but at least they didn’t quarrel. The whole dispute, whatever it was about, was settled in good time before Sandy came back with fresh lunch. Such is life. Forgiveness always wins.

This is a scheduled post. I wish you all a great week and a wonderful weekend. See you next week 🙂


Wordless Wednesday: Get Your Feet Wet. Frame by Frame.

Get your feet wet…and explore the world, even your own backyard.
Great blue heron
Get your feet wet…and get out of your comfort zone.
Get your feet wet…and shake away your fears.
Royal tern sand key clearwater florida
Get your feet wet…and don’t back off when challenges roll your way.
Little blue heron sand key clearwater florida
Get your feet wet…and pursue your adventure, even if your hair stands up.
Get your feet wet...and drink from the source of all wisdom.
Get your feet wet…and drink from the source of all wisdom.
snowy egret sand key park clearwater florida
…and then go where your heart calls you to go. Get your feet wet.