Good morning from the finally sunny Eastern Shore of Maryland! After days of rain, clouds and ferocious winds, we have finally had a couple of beautiful sunny days. Unfortunately, rain is forecast to start later today and continue through Saturday, with some heavy rains expected. Birds and humans will start to grow moss between their toes! But Sunday is supposed to be beautiful, how fitting for a Happy Mother’s Day for all of the mothers out there, human and avian!
Speaking of the weather, I am sure you have noticed that that wind speed indicated on the camera view doesn’t seem to correlate with what you are observing at the nest. You would be correct, the actual wind speed is frequently way higher than the posted wind speed. COM is working with the explore folks to identify a weather station in the area that more accurately reflects the conditions here at the nest.
While we are on the subject of weather, here is Audrey on the nest hoping the rain will stay away:
There have been three major issues looming over us since the last blog. I will attempt to address them all. Here goes……………
First and foremost, I know you are all waiting with bated breath for the hatching of our first egg. The range of hatching osprey eggs is 35-42 days after they are laid. At our nest, the typical range has usually been 39-41 days. I know you can all do the arithmetic, but as a quick guide, here is what we are looking at:
Egg #1-laid April 12, range of possible hatch dates May 17-24
Egg #2-laid April 15, range of possible hatch dates May 20-27
Egg #3-laid April 18, range of possible hatch dates May 23-30
So there you go, we are getting close!
Issue #2-Oh, Tom, Tom, Tom! Where the heck have you been, buddy? It did not go unnoticed that Tom’s typical behavior seemed to have altered over the last week or so. His usual moniker, Calico Tom the Fishing Fool, seemed to need a revision. Although we have the advantage here at the secret location of seeing what goes on around the nest as well as in the nest, we were also puzzled and perplexed. Tom’s presence was sparse, and he wasn’t seen at his typical hang-outs. When he did show up at the nest, it was usually without a fish. This unusual behavior also caused Audrey to catch her own fish, leading to the crow incident. For those of you who missed it, Audrey’s tummy must have been growling, and she decided to take matters into her own talons and go fishing. The eggs were left unattended, and an obnoxious crow decided he felt like an egg snack. The crow started pecking at one of the eggs, causing Audrey to come barreling back to the nest to protect her potential offspring. The fate of the injured egg is unknown at this time, so we will see what happens during the hatch window. The pesky crows are everywhere and are quite bothersome. In addition to bothering the ospreys, they have taken baby birds out of our bluebird house. COM has modified our two bluebird houses with homemade devices to deter the crows from their nefarious sojourns.
There was also some speculation that perhaps we had another osprey visiting the nest that was not Tom. One of the reasons it was thought that was a possibility was the seeming lack of the buff color on the back of this osprey’s head. We were also perplexed at that observation, having noticed the same thing. What was puzzling was how Audrey treated this possible third player, she did not seem bothered at all to have the bird there. It looked like Tom, but the lack of the obvious darker patch was puzzling and perplexing. I saw Tom a couple of times eating big fish in his usual places, but he wasn’t bringing any to Audrey. Something just seemed off. I knew what I was observing, but I did not know the answers to the questions being posed. As in the past, when something is troubling at the nest, the Crazy Osprey Family calls in the experts and a call was placed to our favorite raptor biologist, Craig Koppie. I explained my observations, and my puzzlement. Here is a synopsis of my lengthy chat with him:
Anything is possible in Nature.
That about covers it all. The bird in question could have been a returning juvenile from previous years at our nest, but probably not from the past two years since those three birds were banded. It could have been Tom, and we just couldn’t see the buff due to the weather. His fishing could have been off due to the turbid water caused by all the wind and rain. He could have been taking refuge from the elements, etc., etc.
Anything is possible in Nature.
Thank you, Craig, for being there when we need you! You are always the voice of reason, and we are so glad to have you as a mentor and friend.
Issue #3 has been the various camera malfunctions. Believe me, no one likes having these camera issues. We are all doing the best we can to correct problems when they happen. We are in a transition year with the switch over to being one of the explore cameras, and everyone is learning. Bear with us, we are all trying very hard to make this a wonderful experience for everyone. Think positive, not negative and we will all get through these learning curves together! Thanks so much for your patience and understanding.
I have taken a bunch of photos the past two weeks, and will finish the blog with some of them.
Here is a series of photos of Calico Tom the Fishing Fool, taken on May 6:
Tom and Audrey have allowed me to come much closer to them this year than in years past. Dr. Spitzer told us to talk to them, which we have been doing. I really do think it is working, they seem much less bothered when we are around them this year.
I had another close encounter with Tom, but this time, he decided to move on when I got close:
We have other visitors in the neighborhood besides those that fly:
Speaking of eagles, over the last two weeks, we have seen Tom and Audrey chase off an eagle that has been in the area a couple of times. There is definitely an eagle pair living near by, we think across the street in the woods. They are probably busy with their own young ones, as we haven’t seen them as frequently as we did over the fall and winter.
Some of you have been wondering about our dear scareowl, Roger. He is back on duty, still kind of scraggly and dirty from his ordeal in the storm, but sporting a new chapeau:
As Audrey has been spending the vast majority of her time incubating, we don’t see her out and about so much these days. She hasn’t been getting equal time in the photograph department. I spotted her on the poop dock a couple of days ago, and wandered next door to memorialize her visit:
Tom has been relieved of egg duty (although he really likes egg duty), and decides to visit our neighbor’s new boat two houses to the south of us:
Here is the new boat, without poop producing ospreys. The swim ladder where Tom and Audrey like to perch is visible to the left of the boat and the two dock chairs. The poop dock is at the end of the dock in the foreground:
Tom then flew to COM’s boat lift on our dock. Unfortunately, he didn’t choose the best place for a photo, but boys will be boys. The two two photos are similar, but I couldn’t decide which one I like best, so decided to use both of them:
So which is your favorite?
Tom is not feeling like humoring Mrs. COM, and continues to the north, where he makes a stop on our neighbor’s dock two houses to the north of us:
This swim ladder is one of Tom’s favorite haunts:
It’s so good to see Tom back at the nest with more regularity. He likes to stand on the nest support:
This will give you some perspective of the nest pole in the water:
Well, it is 2:44 a.m. on Thursday morning, and I have to leave for work at 6:45, so I think it is time for a wrap. Tom and Audrey may be parents again when next we meet. I will leave you with a glorious sunrise here at the secret location. Someone has been getting up early, guess who?
Until next time, we remain-
Crazy Osprey Man (COM), Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man (Mrs. COM) and Osprey Girl.
If you are enjoying the osprey camera and blog, please consider a donation to the Chesapeake Conservancy so they are able to continue supporting programs such as this one. Go to http://chesapeakeconservancy.org today. Thanks very much!