Hold My Beer-A Request From Mother Nature

Good morning from the ever-lovely Eastern Shore of Maryland. Well, well, well, once again our nest is full of wonder and surprise. At the end of my last blog, one of our three eggs had been accidentally broken by a clumsy visiting young osprey, and the dastardly crows had destroyed the last two remaining eggs. Our usually faithful but quirky Audrey had flown the coop (so to speak), and was no where to be found. Our season seemed to be over before it had hardly started. But had it? There had been a young female osprey making regular visits to the nest. Although Tom seemed interested in this younger woman, she did not seem to be interested in his advances. All eyes and the camera were waiting and watching to see how this new drama would unfold. Little did we know about the events that would soon occur at the secret location.

After being gone for several days, Audrey returned like nothing had ever happened. She unceremoniously dispatched the young interloper, and got right back to business. The nest, which had not been one of Tom and Audrey’s more substantial undertakings, began to take shape with noticeably more attention from our favorite osprey couple. They hung out together in all of the usual places. Our two lovebirds began behaving like it was still March and they hadn’t seen each other for many months. Chatter amongst our camera-watching fans revolved around Tom and Audrey’s seemingly normal actions (had the season just been starting). Hope began to grow that perhaps, for the first time in the history of our nest, a second clutch of eggs might be in the works.

Tom and Audrey hanging out together in the nest, with Tom either in mid-blink or trying to catch a few winks. The nest is looking rather paltry at the moment.
Don’t you dare close your eyes when I’m trying to talk to you, screeches Audrey.
Damn, woman, can’t a guy get a little shut-eye around here? Tom is now awake.
Togetherness-Tom and Audrey on the ladder which is being stored on the dock.
Sort of togetherness-Tom on the boat lift, Audrey on the NEMA box post.
Togetherness-Audrey and Tom on the boat lift, with the winter camera in view.
Togetherness while Tom is thinking “Would someone please shut her up?”

As May progressed, it was hard to believe there had ever been a first clutch of eggs. On the face of things, it looked like a normal spring return. Tom and Audrey were working diligently on the nest and were enjoying each other’s company (wink, wink).

Audrey on one of her favorite hang-outs, the NEMA box. Take note of how clean the new box looked in early May. Hardly an entrail in sight.
One-legged Tom on one of his favorite haunts, COM’s boat lift.

The May Full Moon, or Strawberry Moon, was glorious. Here are a few photos from a most special evening with friends, howling on the end of the dock.

The moon rose before the sun had fully set. I am still having trouble getting the moon to look as beautiful in my photos as it does through the camera lens.
A few minutes later and a little darker
The moon looked completely in focus and had magnificent detail looking through the camera lens, but not in the photo. Maybe I need a tripod and shoot with a slower speed? Anyone?
After it was completely dark, Tom and Audrey’s silhouettes could be seen against the glow of the moon on the water. Spectacular!

Life at the nest had taken on a regular, nothing to see here kind of vibe. Tom and Audrey were acting like, well, Tom and Audrey.

Tom appears a little wet up on his favorite look-out. And Audrey, well it is Audrey, letting him know she could use a little snack.
Audrey hanging out at the nest on a dreary day. We never could figure out what the grassy-looking addition was, but it wasn’t visible for too long.

Here at the secret location, we dared not hope beyond hope that a second clutch of eggs was imminent. The first clutch had barely been laid when the three eggs met their untimely demise. Tom and Audrey were acting just like they normally did prior to laying a clutch of eggs. All of the reading and research we had been doing indicated that a second clutch was indeed possible if the first clutch was lost early. And then on May 31, Mother Nature showed up and said “Hold my beer”! So we did, and…..

Lo and behold, Egg #1 of Clutch #2 arrived! Happy day and great joy all around!! First time for a second clutch at the secret location, thank you Mother Nature!

Here is Audrey tending to Egg #1 of Clutch #2. Isn’t the nest looking marvelous?
Tom on the NEMA box waiting his turn while Audrey does her motherly duties

A couple of days later, I spied Tom drying off on COM’s boat lift.

Yes, I’m really wet. Want to throw me a towel, or are you just going to stand there and take photos, Mrs. COM?

While Tom is drying off, someone is reminding him she is still tending to their eggs, and is really hungry. Take a look at the nest, looking much better than it did during the first clutch and for the few days after Audrey disappeared.

And while Tom is drying off, someone is reminding him that she is still there and still hungry.

Tom has had enough of Mrs. COM and her ever-present camera. He takes off to the north.

Tom trying to escape from the crazy woman with the camera.

Tom lands on a neighbor’s dock a few houses to the north of us.

I am not sure if this is one of our ospreys. I don’t think so, because it flew off to the east which is not like Tom or Audrey. But I thought is was cool, so took a photo while I was out there.

Some birdy will be happy to have this piece of decor arrive at their nest.

On June 3, 2022, Mother Nature asked us to hold her beer once again, and Egg #2 of Clutch #2 made its way into the nest. As in years past, Tom took his Fishing Fool duties seriously, and kept Audrey well-fed. Tom is no dummy, and knows when he brings Audrey a snack she leaves, so he gets to incubate the eggs. He loves, loves, loves to incubate those eggs.

Audrey is trying to have a nice, quiet meal on the dock next door to the south when you-know-who comes sneaking around. Audrey is not happy.

Maybe if I make myself look big, the camera lady will get scared and leave. It’s worth a try, thinks Audrey.

Nope, didn’t work, so I guess I’ll leave. I’ll show her.
Mrs. COM manages to intercept Audrey for one more photo before she escapes the camera.

Tom enjoying his incubation time. The further away Audrey flies, the more time he gets to stay on the eggs. Chase her some more, Mrs. COM!

We were all waiting to see if there would be an Egg #3 in Clutch #2. Audrey was taking a break one morning before the sun was fully up when I saw her on Osprey Girl’s boat lift.

Audrey enjoying a lovely breakfast on the dock.

An enchanting sunrise the next morning.

Here comes the sun!

Another day, another wet osprey. I’m not sure if Tom was successful, but it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying.

I’m still waiting for that towel, Mrs. COM.

It became obvious a few days after Egg #2 of Clutch #2 was laid that Audrey had laid her last egg for the season. I think five eggs in one season for one older osprey is plenty, don’t you?

Now the wondering was over and the waiting began in earnest. I continued to keep an eye out for photo ops, and have way too many photos once again. I guess I should have written another blog a month ago, but I didn’t. So now you will have to slog through all of these photos that I am going to display for your viewing pleasure.

Here is Audrey in what remains of the scraggly stick tree, which is not much.

Audrey’s punk look on a dreary day in the scraggly stick tree.

Another angle of Audrey in the sst (scraggly stick tree for the uninitiated)

As you may have noticed, Tom and Audrey are wonderful co-parents. I think Tom would incubate the eggs all the time if Audrey would let him (which she won’t). Here is a changing of the guard.

Audrey returns to the nest, but Tom is in no hurry to leave.

A break from osprey photos is in order. What do you see in these clouds?

I see two alligators fighting. The one on the right is taking a bite out of the one on the left. Any one else?

Tom on our ladder/crab net storage device on a sunny afternoon.

Here is a series of photos starting with Audrey taking a late afternoon break with Tom in the nest. This is a typical scenario of late.

It starts with Audrey on the dock next door, trying to encourage Tom to go fishing and let her take over in the nest.
Between Mrs. COM, the camera and being hungry, Audrey decides to take matters into her own “hands” and fly back to the nest.

Back to the nest she goes, yakking all the way.

Audrey arriving back at the nest while getting the hairy eyeball from Tom. No help needed here, his body language is saying.

Okay Tom, time to go.

Tom is ignoring Audrey, and she seems perplexed.

Okay, Tom, this is not funny. Hmmm, now what, Audrey thinks.

Tom finally acquiesced, but not willingly.

Another break from osprey photos. This is an early morning work boat headed out to earn a living.

Headed out before sunrise. A Chesapeake Bay workboat and a duck blind (the duck blind is not heading out, just the boat).

A few moments later, the sun makes its first appearance of the day, and the vista is quite lovely.

Lighting up the sky and water, so lovely.

I have a gorgeous butterfly bush in the rip-rap behind the house that grew from being a volunteer. It is magnificent, and the butterflies love it. COM cuts it back every fall to about one third of its size, but it comes back bigger and better than ever every year.

My butterfly bush with the pole complex out in the water. Look closely for an osprey head in the nest.

Tom is taking his turn incubating while Audrey is on the NEMA box, one of her favorite places to eat.

Tom in the nest incubating our two precious eggs from Clutch #2.

Audrey on the NEMA box while Tom is in the nest. Notice that the NEMA box isn’t quite as clean as it was earlier in the season? It’s actually quite disgusting close up.

You may have noticed that there is a really, really big stick in the nest. I wouldn’t even classify it as a stick, I would call it a small log. I did not see it arrive, but there is very little chance it will blow out! Here is a different view of it than you are able to see from the camera.

How did they get that huge stick/small log up there? I wish I could have seen that delivery. Tom is incubating.

Both Tom and Audrey like to hang out on various docks in the immediate vicinity of our dock. Here is Audrey on the dock one house to the south of us, practicing her one-legged stance.

Damn, she found me, thinks Audrey
I will just ignore Mrs. COM and her camera, and maybe she will go away.

Another photo of Audrey in the scraggly stick tree (sst, remember for next time).

Another dreary day for Audrey in the sst.

Audrey arrives back at the nest while Tom is thinking, “are you back already? I don’t want to leave”.

You’re back already? Phooey!

Has anyone wondered about Roger this season? As you may remember, COM placed him at his duty station earlier in the season, then put him away after losing the first clutch of eggs. Well, Roger is back! In anticipation of a potential hatch in a few days, Roger is back at work with a new shirt (new for Roger) for this year.

Now you see him
Now you don’t. Look carefully at both photos!

Welcome back, Roger! Take that, you Great Horned Owls!

I will post a few more random photos before closing for this blog.

Tom headed back to the nest.
Hey, Audrey, whatcha doin’? I think someone is calling you, better go check it out.

I almost always post sunrise/moonrise photos, but here is a little snippet of sunset across the street from the front of the house. The sunsets have been spectacular of late, the sunrises have been rather bland.

Sunset over the trees, not our view over the water.

Tom on Osprey Girl’s boat lift in the late afternoon sun.
Leaving Mrs. COM’s prying eyes on the way back to the nest.
Tom arriving back at the nest just in time to get an earful from Audrey. He is stuck between a rock and a hard place for sure, the camera or the yapper?

The hour is late, and I have posted way too many photos for one blog. Nonetheless, I hope you have enjoyed them. When next we speak, finger crossed for two new additions to our favorite osprey family!

Before I finish up, I would be remiss without an absolutely humongous shout-out to our dear friend Poppy. Thank you, thank you, Poppy, for all of your hard work and dedication to our osprey family and others over the past years. We all miss you terribly, but understand that it was time to step back. I hope you are watching and reading from afar, and know how much we all appreciate what you have done to further the love of ospreys all over the world.

I will leave you with some of my deck flowers.

Looking good before the heat of summer really sets in.

Until next time, we remain-

Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man 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!!

Ospreys, Omicron, Occupation and Ova

Good evening from the perplexing, topsy-turvy, never a dull moment Eastern Shore of Maryland! I have started this blog several times over the past few days, and keep having to change the tone and direction of my musings. For my own sanity, this is going to be it, and if something should change later today, so be it!

So here are the facts as I know them: On March 6, 2022, we were very fortunate to have had a visit from Joe and Andrew from Explore at the secret location. They moved the old camera to the dock to be able to view our swans in the winter. The next day, our dear friends Phil and Dean from the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage and Michael from the Chesapeake Conservancy put the camera and nest poles back in place. With the help of COM, Joe and Andrew, a new camera was installed on the camera pole for better viewing and sound. The NEMA box was rewired to allow the Explore camera operators to switch between the dock camera and pole camera. Here are a few photos from that install.

Andrew working on the dock camera while Joe is rewiring the NEMA box. COM has his hands in his pockets waiting for orders. You can see the camera pole with perch to the right of COM while Joe wires it up.

The sun has disappeared, and the day became quite chilly as evidenced by COM’s newly donned coat. The swans were hoping for a hand-out.

By this time in March, most of our swans had already left for their summer digs up north. A few hardy souls remained, and were duly rewarded with corn every morning.

Dean, COM, Andrew and Phil installing the camera pole.

Phil is getting ready to attach the cross piece which stabilizes the two poles and keeps them moving at the same time in the same direction during wind and wave action.

The kayak contains a trash pump, which is used to jet the poles into the bottom. Dean is pulling it back to land.

With all the equipment installed and ready to go, our handy dandy giant step ladder is carried back to land along with the trash pump kayak.

Our new camera in place next to the nest platform.

Our newest addition at the secret location is a dedicated camera on the dock for winter viewing. Now COM doesn’t have to move the camera to the dock every winter, which was not an easy task.

A close-up of the new permanent dock camera. Thank you, Joe, Andrew and Explore!

Our dedicated crew-Michael, Andrew, COM, Joe, Phil and Dean with the pole complex in the background so you can get some perspective of where it is.

I will tell you one quick story before moving on to other facts that I know. In 1960, COM’s parents gave him a socket wrench as payment for painting their house. He used the wrench to build a hot rod while he was in high school. This wrench has stayed in his voluminous tool collection ever since, and has been used to secure the cross beam between the poles for many years. As everything was being cleaned up, COM realized his beloved socket wrench was no longer in his waders. A massive search ensued, with the wrench eventually being found, but not before a water search was conducted by Dean and Phil. I was so relieved the wrench was found, I really didn’t want to see a grown man cry.

Dean and Phil searching for COM’s socket wrench in the water. Talk about finding a needle in a hay stack! What dedication, what resolve, how fruitless.

Audrey returned on March 18, 2022. We were all so happy to see her. Tom wasn’t far behind, and made his way back to the secret location on March 26, 2022. On March 19, 2022, COM and Mrs. COM left for a fifteen day vacation with another couple, dear friends who used to be neighbors and have since moved to Florida. The sojourn included two days in Lisbon, followed by a cruise to Madeira and the Canary Islands, with a return date of April 2, 2022. April 1 was April Fool’s Day here in the United States, but there was no fooling when Mrs. COM and her friend Sue tested positive for COVID after taking a mandatory rapid antigen test on the ship (confirmed by a PCR test) to be able to fly back to the United States the next morning. We were both fully vaccinated and boosted, and had tested negative twice before boarding the ship. COM and Tom tested negative, and were able to leave as planned on April 2. Sue and I remained in Lisbon in COVID prison until April 11, when we were permitted to fly back home. I can assure you that there is a much longer story about Linda and Sue’s Great COVID Adventure, but that is another story for another day with a different audience. Bottom line is that my 15 day trip turned into a 25 day trip, way longer than I had ever anticipated or wanted. Hence the Omicron portion of this blog title.

During our time away, I kept a close watch on the goings on at the nest, complemented by information from our dear friend Poppy, who at the time was a moderator extraordinaire on the Explore Chesapeake Osprey site. She kept me up to date with the rotten cold, windy, rainy weather. From past experience, we know our ospreys, especially Audrey, do not like that type of weather. They were absent from the nest platform for extended periods of time, but eventually started nest building. Before we left for our trip, many sticks were put out in the back yard to give Tom and Audrey a head start with some prefab building materials. It did not go unnoticed that some of the sticks were adorned with blue and yellow ribbon in solidarity with Ukraine. Poppy is a true friend to the Crazy Osprey Family, and we will miss her sound counsel and voluminous osprey knowledge as part of the Explore organization.

Sticks in the back yard adorned with blue and yellow ribbons ready for pick-up.

The nest was visited by other neighboring ospreys, both male and female. During an extended absence by Audrey, one female osprey in particular was persistent in trying to claim squatter’s rights. She was dubbed “The New Lady” by Poppy. The New Lady was resistant to Tom’s attempts at osprey nookie, and was quite proficient in blocking Tom’s attempts to build a nest. This new drama caused consternation among our viewers, and much speculation about the new female occupant of the nest. As predicted by Poppy, Audrey reappeared to reclaim her rightful place as the Grand Dame of the secret location, and all seemed right again. The nest continued toward its former glory as the egg wait began.

The return of Audrey on March 18. She is viewing her digs from way up high in Joe’s big tree.

A closer view of Audrey in the tree on 3/19/2022

This was as close as I could get without scaring her off. I can always tell when she has had enough by her head bobbing and unhappy sounds.

The above photos were the last I took before Linda and Sue’s Great COVID Adventure. My photo journal resumed on April 12, the morning after I successfully received my boarding pass (with some trepidation it wouldn’t happen). I received a stupendous welcome home present from Mother Nature.

My welcome home sunrise gift from Mother Nature

April 12 turned out to be a great day to be home to gather photos for my next blog. Calico Tom the Fishing Fool was in full fishing fool mode.

A yummy bite from an unfortunate fish while on the swim ladder of my neighbor’s dock two doors to the south of us.

I love the ooey, gooey parts, thinks Tom.

Tom’s exorcist impression. Just please don’t throw up green vomit!

Tom takes his fish from the swim ladder to our neighbor’s boat lift. Do you think the fake owl is keeping the ospreys away?

I don’t know about you, but I kind of think the owl has lost his effectiveness.

The great photo ops continued on April 12. I looked out my kitchen window to an incredible chase between an eagle and two ospreys, one of which had a fish. The eagle was trying to purloin the fish from one of the ospreys, and the second osprey came in to defend his pal. As you can imagine, the action was fast and furious. Most of the photos I took didn’t focus on the action, but on the houses on land. I was able to get a few usable ones, but they aren’t the greatest photos in my repertoire.

Osprey with fish on the left being chased by an eagle in the center, with a second osprey in the mix on the right

The battle continues
The eagle is much bigger than the osprey

A little while later after the aerial battle was over, I caught Audrey on a stick hunt after she left the paltry nest.

Audrey waiting in the nest for Tom to bring her some dinner.

She gives up on Tom, and begins searching for the perfect stick.

Audrey headed to the Crazy Osprey Family stick farm and snagged one, but my camera focused on the grass instead of her, and the photo was unpostable. You will just have to believe me on this one! I was able to get one in focus as she flew back to the nest.

Nest bound with the perfect rail stick.

And back to the nest she goes. The nest could use some help.

Audrey looks quite proud of herself. That was a big stick.

Time to start rearranging the furniture. Tom is no help as he gives himself a manicure at the top of the camera pole on his favorite perch.

Right over here, I think

Just a little more to the right…….

April 12, 2022 was a great day for my camera. It was a good thing, because for the rest of April except for the weekends and two other days, I worked every day. Now you know where the “Occupation” part of my blog title originated.

While we all watched and waited for the first egg to be laid, Tom and Audrey continued to add to their nest and get to know each other again (wink, wink) after their long hiatus. Their meet and greets (wink, wink) paid off on April 19, when Audrey presented us with her first beautiful egg.

The proud almost papa on COM’s boat lift on April 20, with two close ups following

Tom is such a handsome fellow.

Just on schedule, Audrey laid her second glorious orb on April 22, 2022, which was preceded by an equally glorious rainbow the day before on April 21.

This was a full rainbow, but so large I couldn’t capture the entire arch.

Can you see a pot of gold?

The opposite end of the rainbow as it fades away.

The day after Audrey presented Tom with their second egg, the proud papa spent some time on top of the dock camera while Audrey incubated.

Tom surveying his kingdom on the day after the second egg arrived.

Audrey right below the camera pole, nestled down on the two eggs.

Audrey took a little break from the nest on April 24 while Tom took over incubating duties. There was no doubt who was on the NEMA box. Guess why?

Getting ready for a changing of the guard.
Audrey flies to the NEMA box, and joins her purple martin buddies. Mrs. COM loves, loves, loves the purple martins. They sing the sweetest songs ever. But they dive bomb me when I walk out on the dock, must have some eggs in there!

After Audrey arrives at the NEMA box, she gives Tom an earful. “Hey buddy, I am supposed to be eating on this box!”

Looking over at Tom on the nest. “Hey, buddy, let’s get moving!”

I guess you couldn’t hear me the first time. Let’s try this again, louder this time.

April 24 was the day before the third and last egg was laid. COM and I witnessed one of the more amazing sights we ever see here at the secret location. Fortunately, it was a Sunday and I was home and not working. I looked out the window to see Tom diving for a fish and catching it. As he tried to fly off with his meal, it became obvious that the fish was too big for Tom to carry. After several failed attempts to become airborne with his prize catch, Tom decided to swim the fish into shore. It was an amazing sight to say the least. I am not going to comment on each of the photos in the next series. What you will be seeing are Tom’s attempts to get airborne, which failed, and what was happening in between each attempt to fly. As Tom reaches the rip-rap (the large rocks protecting the shoreline from erosion), he loses the fish and flies off. He certainly gave it his all, but the fish was just too big. Thank you, COM, for taking some photos while I ran upstairs to get properly dressed for a photo session in the back yard on a Sunday morning.

Tom has lost Moby Dick, and flies to Joe’s big tree to dry off.

While Tom has been doing battle with Moby Dick, Audrey has been watching with great anticipation while conducting her incubation duties in the nest, and is mentally cheering him on.

Come on, Tom, you can do it, you big, strong, handsome osprey. Do it for Mama, come on Tom, please?

Even with Audrey’s urging, it couldn’t be done. Several minutes later, I saw a really big, really dead fish floating out from the shore. I am fairly certain it was Moby Dick, and took a photo, but it was too far out to capture the size of the one that got away.

Tom drying off way up in Joe’s big tree after doing battle with the whale.

Tom is really wet.

Maybe if I lift one wing, I will dry out faster, thinks Tom

Audrey laid her third and last egg right on schedule the next day, April 25, much to everyone’s delight. The weather remained cold and windy, and I was starting to feel uneasy when Audrey didn’t seem to be incubating her eggs (ova per blog title above) properly. The last time I saw Audrey before yesterday was on April 27 as she hunkered down in the rip-rap trying to stay out of the cold wind.

Audrey is hunkered down in the rip-rap on a cold, windy day.

On April 29, just four days after the laying of the third egg, tragedy ensued at the nest. Audrey had not been seen for a couple of days. The eggs were unattended, and the New Lady visited the nest, only to step on one of the eggs and break it. Shortly thereafter, a dastardly crow discovered the newly broken egg, and devoured it. The second egg was soon to follow. After trying with gusto to break and eat the third egg, the crow gave up. Several more times that day, crows arrived to attack the remaining egg with no success. Obviously, the egg had some type of abnormality and the shell was way too thick for even a crow to break. On May 1, 2022, a crow finally succeeded in breaking into the last remaining egg. The empty nest sat as a sentinel, reminding us of yet another unfulfilled promise of new life in our little osprey world. I could hardly bear to look out the window, with the nest and camera poles standing silently and without activity. A simmering melancholy fell over the secret location, as well as over all of the faithful camera watchers and blog readers in our midst. The season was over before it barely began.

Or was it? The New Lady visited the nest several times after Audrey’s disappearance, and she and Tom seemed to be maintaining a truce, although it didn’t last long. There was some hope that this New Lady might interest Tom and salvage the season, but things didn’t work out. Tom chased her off several times, and she didn’t come back. We were all worried about the fate of Audrey, who still had not been seen.

While at work today, I received a text from Poppy, telling me that Audrey was back. Where had she been? We will never know. I do not have any answers as to why she didn’t behave as a female osprey should, not incubating her eggs properly and disappearing for days at a time. I am not an ornithologist, or educated in the way of birds. All I have learned about ospreys and their behavior has been gleaned from observations, reading and talking to others who are experts. So I don’t have an explanation for you as to why this keeps happening. I will try to talk to some real experts, listen to their opinions and report back in the next blog.

What I do know is that I am so relieved to have Audrey back, and in full voice I might add. I do not know what will happen for the rest of the season. But it is still early. She didn’t arrive back at the secret location last season until April 28, 2021, after I had already written my obituary blog in her memory. Her first egg wasn’t laid until May 14 last season. So I will keep my fingers and toes crossed, and we will have to wait and see what Mother Nature has in store for us over the coming days and weeks. In the words of the immortal Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over”! Here’s hoping!

I know I usually end my blogs with a beautiful photo of a sunrise or moonrise. I have been working more days than not working, and frequently leaving before the sun comes up. My early morning photo taking has been quite stymied. So I will leave you with a photo that I don’t claim to be beautiful, but captures the spring we have been having here at the secret location. The local car wash owners are quite happy. Can you say Claritin?

A thick layer of pollen blankets the water by our rip-rap, turning it green. Gesundheit!

Until next time, we remain,

Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man and Osprey Girl

If you are enjoying the osprey camera and blog, please consider a donation to the Chesapeake Conservancy so they ae able to continue supporting programs such as this one. Go to http://chesapeakeconservancy.org today. Thanks very much!

The Master Procrastinator

Well, look who is back! Welcome to the sunny but chilly Eastern Shore of Maryland. Winter is still with us, but spring is just around the corner. I have annointed myself the Master Procrastinator, and with good reason. The promised last blog of 2021 has officially become the first blog of 2022, but it is here nonetheless. I will pick up where we left off, in early September 2021.

Audrey left us in August, as she usually does, leaving the boys to their own devices. Here is one last Tom and Audrey photo taken just before she left.

Audrey, Calico Tom the Fishing Fool and an unwanted hopeful visitor

C.J. grew bigger and sassier, and definitely inherited her mother’s robust squawking gene.

C.J. has inherited her mother’s robust voice and her father’s penchant for sitting on top of the camera pole

C.J. hanging out at the nest in the late afternoon

Calico Tom The Fishing Fool rarely fails to live up to his moniker. His fishing skills continue to amaze us.

Tom hanging out at the NEMA box on a cloudy day enjoying the fruits (well, sort of) of his labor while Roger continues to pose no threat to Tom’s hard won meal.

A meal way up high in Joe’s big tree

One afternoon in September, I looked out to see our fishing fool on the dock picnic table next door to the north. I quite enjoyed observing the events that took place during the fish feast.

Tom was enjoying his fish when he noticed Mrs. COM and her darn camera, and sounded the alarm

Mrs. COM wasn’t the only one who noticed Tom and Moby Dick

Now Tom appears to want my help. Can’t you do something about this bothersome ring-billed gull, Mrs. COM? (so aptly named, don’t you think?)

Tom looks disgusted. Are you kidding me? First the gull, now this dastardly crow?

Enough is enough, says Tom. Time for you to go, crow

The crow decides Tom is not messing around, and leaves without a look back. He knows there will be another fish on another day

And take this while you’re at it, you wretched crow.

Did you notice how slyly I snuck in the best poop shot of the season? I told you I had a good one. Was it worth the wait? You’re welcome!

Some of the lovely parts of living where we do, with the fabulous eastern exposure, are Mother Nature’s vistas. Here are some of them.

September’s glorious full moon shortly before the sun fully set
No changes were made to this photo other than some minor cropping. Are we lucky to live here or what?

And what would a good eastern exposure be without a few sunrise photos?

Mother Nature in all her glory

Looking to the northwest the same morning

Tom seemed to be enjoying his yearly stint at bachelordom. He continued to frequent his usual haunts.

A quiet afternoon on COM’s boatlift.

There are many other avian visitors to our secret location in addition to our favorite ospreys. Great Blue Herons are frequently seen, during the day as well as resting in our nest at night. A very adorable young heron spent a great deal of time in and around our area. One cloudy late afternoon, the heron’s presence was not appreciated by Tom.

Tom takes exception to the young heron using his digs and swoops in to stake his claim

Tom has captured the youngster’s attention and junior prepared to take flight

Our young Great Blue Heron likes to explore the surroundings.

The youngster decides to take a stroll down the dock to the north of us

While Tom’s away, a heron takes advantage of the view from the boat lift. COM was quite happy that the front of the heron was closest to his boat and not the back

Time for a sunrise break!

The essence of serenity

As the ospreys start to leave, we see more and more of our bald eagles. They are such magnificent birds, and still cause a flutter of pride every time we see one.

Way up in Joe’s big tree, a majestic adult bald eagle enjoys a late summer day

This looks like a good place to enjoy a fish, thinks the eagle. Needs a little renovation, but it will work fine for now

The eagle is learning what our ospreys have discovered years ago. The crazy woman with the camera will appear when you least expect it. He leaves with a stick tangled up with his fish. Check out his beak peaking out from under his wings

COM took this photo for me just recently while I was at work. SWEET! Thank you, COM!

C.J. used her last few weeks to hone her fishing skills and hang out. She was quite happy when the purple martin house was stowed for the winter, and took advantage of the newly available perch at the top of the purple martin house pole.

C.J. has that sexy wind-blown look to go along with her yellow bling

Are you feeling like a couple more sunrise and moonrise photos? Well, I feel like posting some!

Good morning, sunshine!

October full moon. Notice the sun has set earlier

No words needed, just enjoy and marvel at nature

As fall deepened, our beloved ospreys finally headed to their winter climes. It was time for the fall take-down of the poles, nest and cameras. As luck would have it, I was chasing the almighty dollar the day of the work party. I managed to get home for a little while, and was able to memorialize some of the day’s events.

Phil, Dean and COM readying the camera pole for take-down
The nest had to go, and Phil was wearing his gloves this year
Check out the marked stick!
The nest and the marked stick are floating off. Not sure where the plastic bag came from, must have been in the nest
The debris scatters, kind of sad. Dean plucked out the marked sticks and the plastic bag. Thank you, Dean!!

Phil and Dean’s faithful kayak, complete with trash pump for jetting the pole in and out
With the nest gone, the lines are attached to be able to safely lower the poles. The camera cannot go in the drink
COM is bringing out some equipment. The wind, weather and tides were being cooperative, which was a nice change from some other years
Down comes the camera pole. Notice the pulley system and lines, well engineered
With the camera pole down, Phil carefully keeps the camera and hopefully the junction box out of the water

The camera pole is back to the dock, allowing Phil to show off some fancy footwork
The camera end of the pole is placed in a wheelbarrow for easier transport. It doesn’t look it, but that pole and camera are incredibly heavy
The nest pole still needs to be removed. Can you see the pulley at the bottom of the platform?
Dean is getting ready to jet out the nest platform pole while Phil is getting posts ready to mark where the poles were located
Down comes the nest platform
Poles markers are going in for ease during spring installation
Back to land for the platform and kayak
The poles are all gone, and just the super duper stepladder remains to be retrieved
COM is changing out the pole markers with PVC pipe, the reddish colored ones did not work out
The work crew with the camera pole visible resting against the dock. You can see a good view of the perch on top of the pole
The nest platform will remain on the pole this winter, and rest quietly on the riprap awaiting March installation
The camera and junction box which we hoped would be functional for swan watching this winter

I had to go back to work, so wasn’t able to capture any more of the fun and missed taking the obligatory group photo. I hope you were able to get a little taste of the work it required so we are all able to enjoy our favorite osprey family. I want to extend our eternal thanks and gratitude to Phil and Dean of the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage for their continuing support of our camera and ospreys (and our purple martins). We could not do this without them.

After the cameras were taken down in November (the new daytime tilt pan zoom camera and the infrared camera), we sent the TPZ camera back to the Explore folks for troubleshooting. As I am sure you are well aware, we did not have suitable audio this past season, although the video portion of the transmission was fabulous. We just received the camera back a couple of days ago, and are anxious to determine if the video and audio will be working this season. COM is working very hard to try to capture the last few weeks of swan season for you, so hopefully there will be some good news on that front very soon.

And yet another sunrise photo. It’s been a long winter, you know!


Have you wondered about the fate of the scraggly stick tree over the winter? We have had some ferocious winds, and weren’t sure it would make it, but the tree is still there. It is leaning precariously, but is hanging in there for the time being.

The scraggly stick tree the day of the November pole take-down

The time has come to close for now. I really wanted to get a blog published before the poles were installed this spring, and I made it! I hope you have enjoyed my better late than never words and pictures, and are looking forward to the upcoming season as much as we are here at the secret location. Hopefully the swan camera will be up and running in the next couple of days, so keep your eyes on the camera and will away those pesky highlights!

Here are my last sunrise photos of our off season. Come on, Spring!

Birds in flight just before sunrise (as Mrs. COM freezes her tushy off waiting for that golden orb)
The elusive light pillar, also known as an ice pillar.
Light pillar with a flock of seagulls. Light pillars are somewhat rare, so enjoy!

That’s it for now. Until next time, we remain-

Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man 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!

CJ All The Way-Part Two

Good morning from the gorgeous Eastern Shore of Maryland! Well, it’s taken a little longer to get this blog published than I had planned, but get ready to enjoy Part Two of the adventures of our favorite fledging. When last we met, the primary topics were stories and photos from C.J.’s banding. Shortly after her big adventure with Craig and COM, C.J. fledged on August 20, 2021, which was a gloomy, wet day. I guess when nature calls, it’s time to fly. So without further adieu, please enjoy the rest of the story..

Here are some family photos before C.J.’s first flight.

A typical peaceful day at the nest. Tom is on his favorite perch drying his wings, Audrey is on her little post and C.J. is happy to be at home with mom and dad

Now Audrey is looking my way and C.J. is on high alert. Tom figures the girls can take care of themselves, and pays no mind to them or Mrs. COM

A little nature break for you to observe some wild clouds

Can you see the little lamb and plump chicken? Or how about the pig head? What else do you see?

As I mentioned, C.J. took to the skies on a less than ideal day for taking photos. This was her first stop after leaving the safety and security of the only home she had ever known.

C.J.’s first stop after leaving her nest, the good old, large target boat lift.

Such a gloomy day to leave a nice cozy nest

C.J. stayed on the boat lift for a good long while, but not as long as some of our previous new fledglings. Her next stop was one of the pilings.

Hmm, now what?, thinks C.J.

Does anyone know I’m here? Can anyone hear me? I’m hungry!

It didn’t take C.J. too long to master the one-legged stance. Her bling is tucked away for now while she is looking at something behind her

C.J. is ready for take-off with beautiful flying wings and her bling showing

Here is your first peek at C.J. in flight. She looks like a pro in just a few hours

C.J. is in focus, but Audrey, near the NEMA box, is not. The fish is not in focus either, but it doesn’t really care

This is what C.J. was looking at and squawking about while on the boat lift. Audrey is near the NEMA box with a substantial fish

Yes, I did, can you see it? Poop shot! COM thinks I am disgusting. I was delighted with my action photo. Such range, Audrey!

C.J.’s first day of flight was glorious. She didn’t stay as long in one place as some of our other fledgings have. After taking their first flights, some of our other youngsters have stayed at their first landing sites for hours. But not our C.J.!

While Audrey was eating and pooping, C.J. was delightful to watch as she flew around the neighborhood. Visible bling in this photo!

And back to Old Faithful, the trusty boat lift

Does this look like half an osprey to you? Kind of creepy, don’t you think?

Oh, no, what have I done? C.J. looks terrified

C.J. on the left, Roger on the right and Audrey in the middle, still munching on her fish as her baby roams the neighborhood. Wonder if she has given C.J. a curfew?

Another view of the same tranquil scene. Still looking kind of grey on the horizon

Time for a nature break from ospreys. My butterfly bush was magnificent this year. I couldn’t resist a few close-ups of visitors to my volunteer gone wild (the volunteer butterfly bush, that is).

Upside down butterfly

Same butterfly, this time right side up

A different visitor

Okay, last butterfly photo

Thanks for letting me take an osprey break, now back to what you all really want to see. Poor Tom hasn’t gotten very much press so far this blog, so here is a shout out to our fishing fool. Tom hasn’t spent as much time in the top of Joe’s big tree this season, but I did catch him surveying his kingdom from way up high in Joe’s big tree a couple of days before the big fledge.

I saw this osprey way up high, and decided to take a closer look

Lo and behold, it was Calico Tom the Fishing Fool. Hi, Tom!

Okay, back to fledge day and the escapades of C.J. in her new found flight.

After hanging on the boat lift for awhile with no fish delivery, C.J. decides to go back to the piling and make her hungry presence known to Audrey, who was still munching on her fish from near the NEMA box. Can’t you just hear C.J.?

C.J. is certainly her mother’s daughter in the squawking department

After being ignored, by her mother no less, C.J. takes her ball and goes home
Arriving back to the nest as the skies begin to clear.

As the days went on, it was truly heartwarming to watch C.J. getting used to her new flying skills. Over the years, I have always found great pleasure in watching our fledglings soar and dive and revel in their ability to finally experience the joys of flight.

Do you remember when Audrey Three was in our midst? Much to Tom’s chagrin, she took over his favorite perch on top of the camera pole. Well, shades of Audrey Three have returned. The young whippersnapper decided she wanted to hog the camera perch. Can a male osprey be henpecked? Inquiring minds want to know.

Audrey spreading her wings in the nest while the whippersnapper takes over the camera perch. Tom was off sulking somewhere

Be careful up there, says Audrey to C.J., who is looking a little precarious and off balance

After getting yelled at by mom, C.J. holds on for dear life before she gets grounded

C.J. does not let any interesting perch go empty, even with intruders going by.

Excuse me, sir and madam. Did you not notice the giant purple martin on top of the purple martin house?

C.J. does not seem bothered by the water travelers

A lovely duet with mother and daughter. Mother is on the nest perch yapping, and daughter is claiming squatter’s rights on her dad’s favorite digs while joining in the cacophony.

You may have noticed a dearth of photos that include the scraggly stick tree. Since the tree’s partial demise, our ospreys haven’t spent nearly as much time in it as in the past. But there are still times when I will notice one of the three hanging out in the remains of the scraggly stick tree.

Someone has been in the water

A wet Audrey drying off in the scraggly stick tree

Where’s Waldo, a.k.a. C.J.?

Do you see Waldo yet?

How about now?

A giant hint! And if you were here, you would probably hear her before you could see her, which is exactly how I found her in the tree!

Audrey is also looking for Waldo

Audrey is still looking. Maybe she hears C.J. yakking for some food?

Exorcist osprey

I slowly approached Audrey to take a close-up

After I took the above photo, this is the next thing I saw:

Mrs. COM manages to chase off Audrey yet again. She is really good at that

I wasn’t sure how much longer Audrey would grace us with her presence. I know we all had questions as to how long she would stay. In a normal year, which this hasn’t been due to Audrey’s late arrival and subsequent delayed egg laying and hatching, Audrey would leave sometime in mid August. As the end of August arrived, Audrey was still here.

Audrey and a gull, who was pretending it wasn’t interested in what was going on at the next piling

A really good view of Audrey’s eye markings. The fish has no eyes left to have markings, so we will just have to imagine how his eye markings appeared during better days

The gull tips its hand, and shows its interest in Audrey and the fish

Audrey and the unfortunate fish

Not one step closer, Mrs. COM, and I really mean it

Meanwhile, back at the nest, C.J. is patiently waiting for some of that fish.

C.J. is being a good girl and waiting patiently for lunch

Patience hell, I am going to get me some fish

Can you tell why C.J. is landing here?

Does this help? Looks like dad is also a meal possibility. Check out Tom on the picnic table while C.J. waits on the right side chair

Meanwhile, Audrey is still munching on eyeless Moby Dick and the gull is still hoping Audrey will somehow drop the fish or get full and leave it for her new best friend.

Would someone please call security?

No doubt why they are called ring-billed gulls. Audrey is starting to get annoyed

Are you still here?

Well, the hour is getting late and it’s time to wrap up for now. In my next blog, I will start with September 3, 2021, which was the last day I was able to photograph Audrey before she left for her winter digs down south of the border. I am sure she is down there by now enjoying her well-deserved winter break. Tom is still around, and I have lots of fun photos of him to share with you to take the sting out of Audrey’s departure. C.J. is a real character, and we enjoy watching her antics (albeit with ear plugs). She has definitely inherited her mother’s strong, loud set of lungs. C.J. has a very distinct call, which is different from her parents. Many of the other ospreys in the area have left for the season, although there are a few still with us. The bald eagles are more noticeable now, both by their presence and their distinct calls and crys. Between the ospreys leaving and the eagles becoming more prevalent, we know our osprey season is coming to a close, but not finished yet!

I will leave you with a couple of magnificent sunrise photos from the secret location.

Looking to the east on a late summer morning at sunrise

A quiet scene at sunrise at the secret location

Until next time, we remain-

Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man and Osprey Girl

CJ All The Way-Part One

Good morning from the hot and humid Eastern Shore of Maryland. The summer has been flying by so quickly. Between work and life, I have managed to let way too much time slip by without regaling you with tales from the secret location. When I sat down to finally start going through some photos and preparing for my next blog, I realized I was going to have to compose a two-parter due to the number of photos I wanted to post. The subject of this blog and the next one will be our darling CJ. My plan is to get this blog published today, followed closely by Part Two over the coming weekend. So let’s get down to business!

Since my last blog, the Chesapeake Conservancy’s naming contest held our interest for a couple of weeks. Although there were some interesting and fun names nominated, the crowd favorite came out on top. A fitting name was certainly chosen, and we all welcomed CJ to the fold. CJ is certainly her mother’s daughter, and inherited Audrey’s dominant squawking gene and then some. I know the camera sound has been a problem this season, but rest assured sound has not been a problem when one lives a couple hundred feet from the nest.

Here are mother and daughter hanging out in the nest. Note the lovely tree branch in a scrumptious shade of burnt sienna, along with a long-buried marked stick.

Audrey and CJ gazing wistfully at the horizon. See the burnt sienna tree branch and the long-buried marked stick?

Those of you who have been following my blogs know that I am delighted with our new purple martin house. We have only had it a couple of years after not having any success with our old house. Check out our lovely purple martins. We had a full house this season, and are thinking about installing a second one.

A plethora of purple martins. After ospreys, these are my favorite birds.

Roger seems to have successfully performed his duties this season as Protector and Defender of the nest. Although the bird predators were kept at bay due to better spring weather and our spiffy friend, the gulls were not impressed with Roger’s skills.

Tom had just landed with his catch when a hungry gull arrived and sat on Roger’s head.

Oh, the indignity of it all. Tom stands up for Roger, and tells the gull exactly what he thinks

Hey, where are you going with that, thinks the gull with some dismay

Tom decides not to reward the gull’s bad behavior, and takes off with his catch, one foot on the fish and one tucked up under him

One of the big events since the last blog was the banding of CJ by our dear friend and raptor biologist extraordinaire, Craig Koppie. We first met Craig in 2015, the summer of our great foster experience with Maine, Montana and E.T., which is memorialized in my blogs from that summer. You can also read about out foster summer in Craig’s book “Inside An Osprey’s Nest”, which is available for purchase from the Chesapeake Conservancy and is a fabulous osprey treatise. Craig continues to be one of our favorite people, and we truly enjoy his friendship and expertise.

Craig was able to come to the secret location to band CJ on August 5, which was before she fledged. Craig likes to band ospreys at around age 6-7 weeks, which was right on target for our CJ. I have made it a tradition to treat all of the experts who help with our ospreys to homemade muffins. Craig was most fortunate to be with us when blueberries were in season.

Banding Day blueberry muffins. Yummy in the tummy!

Meanwhile, back on the dock, Craig and COM were getting ready to begin the day’s agenda. The lighting was not ideal for photos from some of the angles, but I did the best I could.

Getting ready for pre-banding photos

Audrey is used to me taking photos from the dock, so wasn’t too perturbed just yet. That would soon change.

Heading into the drink with one glove. Craig doesn’t need any stinkin’ waders, a manly man

Out goes the manly ladder to go with the manly men with no waders

Now Audrey realizes this is no ordinary photo-taking session, and sounds the alarm. CJ assumes the pancake position, and can hardly be seen

Sorry CJ, I love ya but you are on your own. Audrey prepares to get out of dodge. You can barely see CJ pancaked down in the left of the nest just over the burnt sienna decoration

Audrey gives CJ one last look, and flies off to safety. CJ remains out of sight (she hopes)

Audrey is agitated, but doesn’t go far from her nest and chick

Audrey is keeping an eye on the situation while Craig and COM set up the super duper step ladder

Come out, come out wherever you are!

CJ is hoping to scare Craig off with her big, bad wings. Nice try, CJ, but this isn’t Craig’s first rodeo.

Look out, Craig, incoming!

The grab. Oh darn, this isn’t going to be good, thinks CJ

Securing precious cargo

It may look like Craig has a smile on his face, but it is a grimace as he is getting bitten by a none too happy CJ

Don’t look now, COM and Craig, but you are being followed

I think Craig has handled a bird or two in his career, what do you think? Take note of the glove, no longer on Craig’s hand

CJ is giving COM the stink eye

You really did it this time, Koppie. I am going to rip your f*!#&%g face off, thinks CJ

Craig gives CJ the glove to bite instead of his flesh. Check out CJ’s nictitating membrane in her eye.

Let me at’m, says CJ

Craig sure knows how to handle a frightened young osprey. He is so good with them

Gorgeous CJ

I have so many incredible close-ups that I just couldn’t choose. If any of the following photos aren’t captioned, I didn’t think they needed one.

Yikes! Look at those talons!

The next two photos are very similar, but in one you can see CJ’s nictitating membrane, and in the other you can see her eye color. See if you can tell which is which.

Poor fish don’t have a chance. Wow!

Craig’s bloody hand. It got worse later, but I had a camera malfunction

Check out the coloring on the back of CJ’s head. I think burnt sienna is the color of the day (thank you, Crayola)

The next photo is one of my absolute favorite photos out of all the osprey photos I have taken in the last nine years. I chuckle each and every time I look at it.

CJ and Craig sticking their tongues out at each other. Silly kids!

It looks like Craig is trying to hypnotize CJ in the following photo.

You are getting sleepy. Your eyelids are getting heavy.

Getting the band ready. I didn’t notice it was upside down until I looked at the photos. Oh well

Band going on. Craig gave CJ a glove to bite instead of him

Okay, before I continue with the rest of the banding photos, I have a sad story to tell. When I downloaded my photos from banding day, it looked like I was missing some. I went back and looked at the photo numbers, and I was missing photo numbers 9293 through 9358. Those photos are just plain gone. I have no idea where they went, or what happened, but was so dismayed. The missing photos included Craig’s really bloody hand after CJ took a couple more bites out of him, COM assisting Craig in attaching the yellow tape to CJ’s new bling and some really cute photos of COM with Craig holding CJ and Roger in the middle. I am so sad those were the photos that vanished into thin air. I do have one photo of Craig showing COM how big to cut the piece of tape.

All right, people, get your minds out of the gutter. This is how big Craig wants COM to cut the piece of tape, nothing more.

To add insult to injury, as I continued to take photos of Craig and COM returning CJ and her new bling back to the nest, I ran out of space on my camera to take any more photos. So here are some of the remaining few I managed to take before the card filled up.

Headed back to the nest

Audrey is back in the nest, but on high alert

As Craig and COM approach, Audrey decides the coast is not clear after all

Back in the nest

CJ is asking Craig what the heck just happened

Smile! You smile, thinks CJ

COM at the ready. He is a very good helper, but can’t help but hope the jellyfish don’t get up his pants. Where are those waders when you need them? Had to be manly, didn’t you?

Don’t look now, but Audrey is ready to kick some ass

Craig and COM are keeping a watchful eye on the agitated mama. Good plan

Time to go, boys

Taking the ladder down under Audrey’s watchful eyes

Trudging back to the dock as Mrs. COM’s camera runs out of space. That’s all, folks!

While Craig was up in the nest, he removed the unhatched egg with great care. He said if the egg blew up, it would be quite malodorous so he wanted to get it out of the nest. The egg is now in his freezer, but he didn’t say if it was his home freezer or his work freezer and I didn’t ask. His wife is a very nice woman, so I hope it is in the work freezer.

Craig is holding the unhatched Egg #1 very gingerly

Here is one of the photos that Craig took of CJ from the ladder.

I just love this photo of CJ and her new bling. Thanks for letting me use it in my blog, Craig!

Of course, one of the big questions was the gender of CJ. Based on her leg size and the way the band fit, Craig felt that CJ was female.

Here are a few more answers to a few more questions we asked Craig. He is not sure when Audrey might leave since she was a month late in arriving, but was leaning toward her leaving at her normal time, which would be around now. I asked him about the types of bands that are used (metal vs. color) and here was his answer: “The Bird Banding Lab authorizes the use of auxiliary bands (anodized color bands) only for specific research projects. Currently, I band osprey incidental to other raptor conservation efforts such as your birds. The Poplar Island restoration project would like to begin using auxiliary color bands for osprey. We are entertaining this for next year. I consider your pair to be associated with the greater (local) group, so I could use color bands in the future. I will let you know. The colored tape is a benefit to you when observing post fledging behavior of your bird. There will be other fledglings in the area soon including those from Poplar Island, potentially. The tape is temporary. Reading of the band numbers can only be done when in the hand so it doesn’t matter if the digits are obscured.”

Here is the last photo of this blog, which was taken at our July Full Moon Dock Party.

It never gets old

So that’s it for now. I have another fun blog planned for you in the very near future, CJ All The Way Part Two, so stay tuned!

Until next time, we remain-

Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man 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!

Me, Myself and I

Good morning from the hot, sultry Eastern Shore of Maryland! As I sit in my office, I can look outside and see Audrey in the nest while Tom hangs out at his favorite location, COM’s perch on top of the camera pole. Our little chick is not visible from my seat in front of the computer, but I know he/she is safe and sound in the nest, awaiting the next fish delivery from Calico Tom the Fishing Fool. Such a bucolic scene for our ospreys, after living through crazy town earlier this season and the unhappy events of the 2020 season. We are really enjoying the status quo, which helps keep my blood pressure in the normal range. I will take boring any day over what life has dealt us the past sixteen months!

When last I wrote in June, there were still two eggs being incubated and we were all anxiously waiting for the big day. I posted a little tutorial on how to tell Tom and Audrey apart, and did not give credit to the creator of one of the photos which adeptly pointed out some of their differences. So a big thank you to our Explore friend LynTuck for the use of her osprey differentiation aid.

As a review, after arriving back at the secret location a month late, Audrey 2 reclaimed her nest from Audrey 3. Osprey life proceeded like crazy town had never occurred, and three beautiful eggs were laid on May 14, 17 and 20. On May 30, the third egg was cracked and was no longer viable. Using my astute higher math skills, the estimated date range for our first egg to hatch was June 22-24 (39-41 days after laying, typical for our nest). The hatch window for the second egg was June 25-27. When June 24 came and went with no visible pip, my heart sank.

However, there was great joy and relief during the wee small hours of June 25, when egg #2 hatched right on time and presented us with our first chick in two years! I know we would all loved to have two little ones, but we are thrilled with our one spoiled rotten only child, hence the name of this blog, Me, Myself and I. The non-viable first egg is still around, but will not hatch. It will eventually break, and that event has the potential of being rather odiferous. I hope the wind isn’t blowing from the south when that happens, because I sure don’t want to be downwind of that little blast.

As soon as our two resident ospreys became three, COM went to the garage and dusted off our faithful Roger. For those of you who haven’t met Roger, he is our Defender and Protector of the nest from dastardly predators. Roger made his appearance at the end of our dock five years ago at the suggestion of our dear friend and raptor biologist, Craig Koppie, after a nighttime attack by a Great Horned Owl. The owl snatched one of our newly hatched chicks and damaged the remaining unhatched egg, leaving us with another only child. Roger has been residing inside the garage for two years, and was certainly ready to see the light of day. Our fearless defender is starting to look a little worse for wear, but he is still functional, albeit in need of a new suit of clothes. COM will have an additional project to revitalize Roger, although fashion is not his forte (or mine for that matter). For Roger’s whole story, go back and read my blog “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood”, published June 30, 2016. It’s a good one if I don’t say so myself!

COM and Roger, newly released from his digs in the garage. What a dynamic duo!

Roger doing a little line dance with the crab pots as his partners. Since this photo was taken, he has now lost his crab pot partners to the drink, where they are hopefully catching crabs.

Roger looks like he has to use the men’s room with those legs tightly crossed. Only kidding, just the wind. This is a good view of Roger and the nest complex.

A little blurry due to the wind and low light for my camera, but here is ferocious Roger lit up at night. Take that, you Great Horned Owls!!

So now that we have a family of three, where do our adult ospreys hang out? Audrey spends the majority of her time in the nest. She will leave to take a spin around the neighborhood to stretch her wings, but does not spend much of her time outside of the nest. I have seen her once in what is left of the scraggly stick tree. The days of Tom taking over incubation duties, which he greatly relished, are done for now. Tom spends quite of bit of time on top of the camera pole on the little perch that COM installed to make it easier for ospreys to hold on. You may recall that Audrey 3 loved that little perch, much to Tom’s chagrin. He has reclaimed his roost, and loves to survey his kingdom from that altitude. He also likes to sit on the boat lift, with or without a fish. Once in a while, we will see him in the scraggly stick tree. In the past, we would frequently see Tom in Joe’s big tree along the riprap, two houses to the north of us. For some reason, he does not spend much time there this season. There are many other ospreys in the area, and when we see an osprey in that tree, it is not usually Tom. He has kept his daytime hangouts a secret from us, although I keep looking for him when he is not in the immediate area. When Audrey 3 would take over the top of the camera pole, Tom would frequently spend time on the swim ladder on our neighbor’s dock two houses to the south, but I have not seen him there in quite a long time.

Audrey, complete with wonky feather, in the scraggly stick tree.

And off she goes! Audrey, you hurt Mrs. COM’s feelings

Tom on the perch either yakking or choking on something while Audrey feeds her chick

Audrey takes a break from feeding her chick when she spots Mrs. COM. Check out the marked sticks and the collapsing nest.

I don’t play favorites when it comes to chasing off our osprey. Tom decided I was close enough, and got out of dodge.

Mrs. COM does it again. Bye, Tom!

Let’s take a quick break from all things osprey.  Here is some of the flora and fauna we are seeing around the secret location.

Horseshoe crabs mating and laying eggs during the June full moon high tides. This is on a neighbor’s beach, which we don’t have at our house.

Mating horseshoe crabs all over the beach. It is wild to see them all.

We tried for years to attract purple martins to our yard. No luck in our endeavors until our friend Phil from the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage told us about installing a purple martin house over the water, which did the trick. I absolutely love hearing them sing and watching them flit around the yard. They also eat vast quantities of mosquitos, which is a good thing so close to the water.

I love my purple martins!

Along with the occasional groundhog and muskrat, we will often see a fox running along the top of the riprap or across the lawn. Here are some photos in the yard of a skinny young fox with a really big tail. In the third photo, my camera focused on the grass and not the fox. This was unfortunate, because it would have been a really cool photo of the fox. He/she had just caught and was flipping around a black snake, trying to eat it. I wouldn’t normally post such a blurry photo, but you can still get the idea.

The young fox notices Mrs. COM, who manages to scare away birds and mammals.

I saw those ospreys flying away from that woman with the camera, and my mama didn’t raise no fool. See ya!

The darn camera focused on the grass instead of the stars of the photo, and it happened too fast to get it right. But you get the idea. This is the fox with a black snake in its mouth.

Many years ago, a passing critter, genus unknown, must have deposited a butterfly bush seed along our riprap.  Here is the result of that fortunate deposit.

Check out my incredible volunteer butterfly bush, complete with osprey nest in the background

We don’t have too many resident Canada geese, but now we have a few more.

A goose family swimming by the nest

What kind of water animal is this?

A pile driver leaving for the day after working on a new dock

On Sunday, I was in the kitchen baking my famous Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake for a neighborhood party when COM called my attention to Tom, who was struggling to haul a fish out of the water. In the past, we have noticed that when Tom was having trouble with his catch, he had snagged a fish that was too large to handle gracefully. Planning ahead, I turned off my new Kitchen Aid mixer (a Mother’s Day gift from Osprey Girl, what a good kid), grabbed my trusty Nikon and headed outside just in case of an impending photo op. Sure enough, Tom finally managed to take flight with his prize, and it was a beast! My pre-planning resulted in a plethora of photos of Tom and his tasty meal-to-be.

Once again, I had a whole boatload of trouble trying to cull out photos of Tom and his incredible catch, so you will reap the benefit of my indecision with a few extra photos of a truly remarkable meal for our osprey family.

A very wet Tom lands on my neighbor’s picnic table with a still flopping fish.
Look at the size of that fish!
Tom was having trouble controlling the hapless fish, who was flapping violently
Not a step closer, Mrs. COM, unless you want some of me too, like the fish
Waiting patiently for the struggle to subside

I decided to try another angle, and went back to our dock to take some photos from there.

Before digging in, Tom is trying to wait the fish out. The fish was still flapping
The fish, although still firmly in Tom’s grasp, is making a valiant effort to escape

Counterbalancing the flapping fish with flapping wings and a strong beak
Getting ready to take a big bite, which was rather upsetting as the fish was still very much alive

And the feasting continued

Can you say The Exorcist? Look closely at the angle of Tom’s head and neck.

While Tom was feasting on the poor unfortunate fish, Audrey was in the nest with the chick, waiting for her sloppy seconds.  Although the little guy/gal is hard to see, look carefully and you will be able to pick out the youngster.  As fast as the little one is growing, it won’t be long until he/she is readily visible from multiple angles.


I promise you, Audrey is not alone. Look right in the middle of the nest just above the pole

After all of those graphic photos of nature at work, let’s close with a more pleasant topic. I will be reaching out to Craig about banding our chick, and should know something soon. We haven’t had our chicks banded since 2018, so hopefully we will have better luck this year, which we all deserve.

The Crazy Osprey Family hopes all of our American friends had a wonderful, safe, happy and healthy 4th of July. COM and I spent some time on the water with dear friends. Here are a couple of photos while waiting for the sun to go down and the fireworks to start.

Waiting for the sun to set in Swan Creek, just outside of Rock Hall, Maryland
An idyllic sunset with good friends. Doesn’t get much better than that (unless Osprey Girl had been with us, but she had to work)

I will leave you with one last photo, taken in June during our first Full Moon Dock Party since 2019 due to the pandemic.  As usual, I haven’t mastered how to get the moon and water in focus at the same time, so it’s not a very good photo, but it’s the best I have for now.


Full Strawberry Moon rising over the water at the secret location. The howling was over by the time this photo was taken!

Well, WordPress is giving me fits tonight, so I apologize for the wacky formatting. There are photos the wrong size, captions in the wrong place and spacing askew. I know you will all forgive me, I really need to figure out the new and improved (yeah, right) system.

Don’t forget to vote in Chesapeake Conservancy’s naming contest for Me, Myself and I, Tom and Audrey’s solo chick for this season. Details may be found at the Explore site as well as the Chesapeake Conservancy’s Facebook page and website.

Until next time, we remain,

Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man 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!

Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz. Oh, What A Relief It Is!

Good morning from the lovely Eastern Shore of Maryland! The situation here at the secret location is certainly different than it was when I posted my last blog. When last we met, the battle of the Audreys had just concluded, Tom and Audrey (2) were getting reacquainted after their winter hiatus and we were waiting anxiously for the arrival of lovely osprey eggs. Although a month late, osprey life picked up right where it should be.

With Crazy Town on the back burner for now, it was time for life around the neighborhood to get back to normal. Tom and Audrey continued to add to their comfy cozy nest, and they got down to business making baby ospreys. Tom regained his favorite perch on top of the camera pole, and didn’t have to resort to his second and third choices.

Tom was hanging out on the boat lift on a bucolic afternoon. After being so rudely interrupted by a crazy lady hugging a camera, he headed back to his favorite perch on top of the camera pole. A downstairs tenant is perched on a protruding stick. Do you see it?

Tom arrives at his happy place, with Audrey keeping careful watch on you-know-who

Tom is surveying his kingdom while Audrey relaxes on a lovely spring morning

Tom isn’t the only one who enjoys hanging out on the crosspiece.

The basement tenant is heading home

There is always chatter in the Explore comments between those who have figured out the Tom vs. Audrey code and the camera watchers who still haven’t broken it. Here is a quick tutorial to help you make your decision.

This is Tom, looking at the left side of his head. Notice there are no breaks in the black under his eye.

The view of the right side of Tom’s head. Again, there are no breaks in the black under his eye.

Now on to Audrey.

This is Audrey’s head from the right side. In the above photo, it is very obvious that Audrey has a break of white under her eye. Her iris is also heavily speckled.

The above photo shows Audrey’s head from the left view. The white break is visible, unlike the area under Tom’s eyes that are black and have no break of white.

Tom on the bottom of the photo and Audrey on the top

I took the above photo from the Explore comments. If the rightful author of the photo comes forward, I will definitely give you credit in the next blog! The differences between Tom and Audrey are pointed out

The features I use to tell Tom and Audrey apart are the differences in the amount of black/white under their eyes, and the buff patch on the back of Tom’s head. I will point out visible differences in any photos I post where the differences are apparent. This particular Tom and Audrey pair can be difficult to differentiate at times. Our first Tom and Audrey pair looked so different that just a cursory glance was all that was needed to make the ID. Our first Tom had such a dark face he stood out immediately. Audrey 1 had almost no black on her face, and the difference between them was marked. No such luck with these two, but we are all up to the Tom v. Audrey challenge.

May 14, 2021 was a happy day indeed at the secret location. Audrey presented us with her first egg, with her second egg following right on schedule three days later on May 17. And the biggest event of all was the appearance of the third egg, again three days later, on May 20. When I say appearance, I mean appearance. For those of you who witnessed the event as it happened, or were able to catch a glimpse on the reruns, I think you will agree with the title I have selected for the blog. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is (with apologizes to the old time 1976 Alka-Seltzer commercial)!! A huge sigh of relief for everyone, with the welcome sight of three beautiful eggs, and especially the plop, plop of the third one. Please enjoy this short clip from the CBS Sunday Morning show (with a short ad at the beginning, just ignore it), featuring the origin of our blog title for today. https://youtu.be/icwW6H-PJ-0

Sadly, one of the eggs became cracked and is no longer with us. It is believed to be the third egg that had been laid, which leaves us with eggs #1 and #2. The very first egg laid in the nest, which was by Audrey 3 on the very day that Audrey 2 returned, became buried shortly after it was laid, and would no longer be viable. There have been no confirmed sightings of Audrey 3 since the day she was politely asked to leave by Audrey 2 (sarcasm). We can only hope she has found a new mate, and is enjoying her life on the Chesapeake Bay.

In our nest, the typical time from an egg being laid to hatch is 39-41 days. If you do the math, we can expect the first egg to hatch sometime in the middle of next week, in the June 22-24 range. The eggs will hatch in the order they were laid, and with the same interval. So pip watch begins very soon. I would expect our viewer numbers will rise significantly in the near future. Hopefully the weather will hold out, and we won’t experience the marauding, nefarious, dastardly crows of last spring. Can you tell I don’t like the crows? The belated return of Audrey 2 may end up being a blessing in disguise, as the extra thirty days has certainly helped the conditions at the nest.

Our ospreys have been hanging out in their usual locations, with the exception of one. I have not seen Tom in Joe’s Big Tree two houses to the north of us. There is another osprey who hangs out there, but I do not think it is Tom. I have seen both Tom and Audrey on the boat lift and in the scraggly stick tree. Audrey continues to enjoy chowing down on fish from the top of the NEMA box, which is no longer the pristine piece of equipment it was when newly installed this past March. Both Tom and Audrey take turns in the nest incubating the eggs. Tom enjoys the perch on top of the camera pole, and the crosspiece that stabilizes the two poles.

Here is the current condition of the scraggly stick tree. Although quite diminished in size and leaning precariously over the water, it has leafed out quite nicely.

Audrey on the NEMA box with her gift from Tom
A piece of something is stuck in Audrey’s throat. I hate when that happens, she thinks
The NEMA box has officially been christened. What a mess! Are you planning to clean that up, Audrey?

Audrey in the scraggly stick tree with her half of a fish

Audrey in the scraggly stick tree from a different angle
Audrey tearing off a bite of fish. It sure tastes better when someone else catches it!

Tom is a happy camper incubating the eggs while Audrey snacks. You can see two marked sticks buried in the nest.

Tom is loving his incubation time. You can see how low down in the nest he is.

I managed to unintentionally chase Audrey off of the NEMA box.

Audrey has relocated to the dock next door to the south with her prize
Now that’s what I’m talking about! Yummy
Almost got that poop shot, a split second too late. Better luck next time, Mrs. COM

I chased Audrey off yet again. Sorry about that!

Audrey trying to escape the camera of Mrs. COM, which cannot be readily accomplished without flying out of range
Audrey in downstroke, still clutching her unfinished morsel. Damn you, Mrs. COM

Tom has reclaimed his rightful place on the camera pole perch.

Tom savoring his favorite place while Audrey performs her incubating duties

Although the lighting is not optimal, twilight has fallen with Tom on the crosspiece and Audrey in the nest.

A bucolic scene as the sun is setting and dusk falls upon our favorite osprey pair

Can you make out Audrey’s punk “hair”do?

Memorial Day weekend brought some nasty, cold, wet weather. We watched the nest carefully to ascertain if Audrey was receiving enough to eat so she wouldn’t leave the nest unattended, as visions of last spring’s melancholy events were still fresh in our heads. The crummy holiday weather only lasted two days, and we were able to fly the ginormous holiday flag before the weekend ended.

My artsy photo of the gigantic holiday flag with the pole complex in the background
Now that’s a flag! The poor flag pole didn’t know what hit it.

With spring come storms, and with storms we sometimes get a lovely rainbow.

Audrey on her perch looking for that pot of gold

I will leave you not with a sunrise, but another moonlit night.

Tom on the right side of the crosspiece, Audrey in the nest and all is right with the osprey world (for now anyway)

When next I write, we should be thinking about names for our two newly hatched chicks. Fingers crossed, everyone!

Until next time, we remain,

Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man 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!

Welcome To Crazy Town

I would normally start my blog with some little pleasantry like “Good evening from the lovely Eastern Shore of Maryland”, or some other bit of fluff. All I can say this time is Welcome To Crazy Town. If you follow my blogs and watch the camera, which I am sure most of you do, you are probably as perplexed as I am. Attempting to summarize the events of the past few days is puzzling, to say the least. I will do my best, but will say once again, Welcome To Crazy Town.

I started my last blog with a tribute to our departed Audrey 2 and finished it with thoughts about the eggs to come. I had been thinking about a title for the next blog, hopefully with an egg theme. As I have been working many hours of late, I haven’t been around the neighborhood to personally witness many of the happenings in and around the nest. But I have been able to take a peek at the camera view every now and then during the day. Last Wednesday, 4/28/2021, I was at work. I took a quick look-see at the camera, and there was Audrey 3, all nestled down in the nest. I had not seen her like that before, and told my work partner that I thought she was getting ready to lay an egg. Not fifteen minutes later, she got up, and THERE IT WAS! AN EGG! I was ecstatic! I hadn’t wanted to worry any of you, so I didn’t mention the fact that it is not unusual for new females not to lay eggs their first season. If they do lay eggs, it is not unusual for the eggs to be nonviable. So the first hurdle had been crossed, a gorgeous osprey egg in all its glory. I couldn’t wait to get home from work and take a look in person.

Before I arrived home, I took another look at the camera on my phone, and much to my dismay, there wasn’t any birdie on the nest, and no egg to be seen. Telling myself not to worry, I hurried home. As soon as I walked in, I received a text from our beloved Poppy, telling me that something was bothering Audrey 3, and she kept leaving the nest. I looked around outside, with no ospreys to be seen. One of our neighbors has been learning to kite board, and had been flying the kite (which is very large) in the yard and in the water not too far from our pole. I thought that might be what was scaring Audrey 3 off the nest. But there was no one in the yard or out in the water. All of a sudden, I noticed an intense aerial battle going on in and around the nest between two ospreys, then they flew off. A couple of minutes later, an osprey landed on the camera pole perch, which had become Audrey 3’s favorite spot. Almost immediately, that osprey was attacked by another one, and another frantic aerial battle ensued. I witnessed a few other ferocious battles in and around the nest, and was just scratching my head on what was going on. It was impossible to identify the ospreys during their encounters. The battles were too fast and furious to capture on film. Poppy and I exchanged a couple of emails, and I kept a close eye outside to see what might happen next. There was still no sight of the egg, and the nest remained empty.

Early in the evening, I noticed an osprey back on the nest, and Tom came swooping down and had his way with her. Oh good, I thought, Audrey 3 is back and taking care of business for a second egg. I took a quick look at the camera, and did a double take. The osprey on the receiving end of Tom’s tender caresses was not Audrey 3. I sent Poppy another communication, and asked her if she could take a look. About that time, I decided to look at the comments and camera captures that our astute camera watchers had been posting in the Explore comments section. There was a beautiful close-up posted of the visiting osprey, and she looked very, very much like Audrey 2. This osprey remained in the nest, which was not Audrey 3’s habit. Audrey 3 was almost always on the camera pole perch, and spent very little time in the nest. As night fell, the new osprey starting roosting on the same nest support where Audrey 2 had always spent the night. That simple action sealed the deal for me. Between spending her time in the nest and fiercely defending it, attacks on Audrey 3, the close up of her markings and iris speckles, and her nighttime habits, I knew Audrey 2 had come home. Welcome to Crazy Town, Audrey 2!

The next day, I had a few more communications with Poppy. There was some talk of an osprey who had just been released from rehab and looked very much like Audrey 2. That scenario would certainly have explained why Audrey 2 was so late in returning. Further investigation revealed that although there was some resemblance, the rehabbed osprey was definitely not Audrey 2. So the mystery of where Audrey 2 has been all this time remains just that, a mystery.

Much to my chagrin, we have not seen Audrey 3 since that day and are unaware of her fate. Although thrilled at the return of Audrey 2, I am saddened by the departure of Audrey 3, as she was a beautiful, spunky osprey who would have been a great new mate for Tom. It’s certainly not apropos for a tribute to Audrey 3, but here are the last photos I have of her.

Audrey 3 sitting in her favorite spot, on top of the camera pole perch. Tom was always quite perplexed about how he lost his favorite spot, but was quite the gentleman and allowed her to stay

When Audrey 3 took over the camera pole perch, our neighbor’s swim ladder two houses to the south and our boat lift became Tom’s go-to perches

Tom (on the right) and Audrey 3 on a different neighbor’s dock a couple of houses to the north of us

Mrs. COM manages to chase Tom from the dock. Poor guy just can’t catch a break.
Tom arriving back at the nest, headed for his favorite perch
Ah, mine, all mine, thinks Tom
Tom’s hope of a peaceful interlude at his favorite spot is interrupted when he notices something in the sky
Damn, here she comes, thinks Tom
Audrey 3 wants to displace Tom, but he will have none of it this time
Decisions, decisions. Should I stay, or should I let Tom have a few precious moments on his beloved perch, thinks Audrey 3
Tom enjoying some peace and serenity (with apologies to Kenny Chesney)

Life seemed pretty normal when the above and below photos were taken. No one could have imagined what was going to take place in a couple of weeks.

This is an unusual location for Tom to hang out. We had a few cold, windy days, and this piling was protected from some of the elements. A dastardly crow is checking to see if there will be any sloppy seconds
Just another day in paradise. Warm sun, a full belly and a beautiful woman. All’s right with the osprey world

Over the years, I have posted some really gross, disgusting photos of the messes our ospreys have left on COM’s boat cover. To avoid this unpleasantness, our neighbor two doors to the south has placed an owl decoy to keep the ospreys and other roosting birds off of his boat.

What’s wrong with this picture?
If an osprey had thumbs, Tom would be thumbing his at this owl decoy. This photo makes me giggle. Take that, you fake owl!

Tom and Audrey 3 (well, mostly Tom for sure) have certainly built a beautiful nest, don’t you think? Every season, we have camera watchers that are quite unhappy that we remove the nest from the pole every year. And every year, our ospreys have always built a new, strong, clean, comfy nest for their new arrivals. Their efforts are enhanced by a steady supply of prefab sticks that we leave out in the backyard for their building pleasure. As you may have noticed, sometimes a stick will appear in the nest that is looking festive. We usually only put out one or two marked sticks, but I couldn’t decide on a color, so put out a couple extras.

A green, blue and yellow marked stick awaiting transport to the nest

One evening as the sun was setting, I noticed Tom on the crosspiece that stabilizes the two poles. He probably would have preferred his perch on the camera pole, but it was not available.

This is sort of like sloppy seconds for Tom, but in the roosting department

Tom and Audrey 3 enjoyed hanging out together. I thought they made a cute osprey couple. They really seemed to like each other in their osprey way. Some of the funniest moments I observed between them were when Audrey 3 was on the camera pole perch, and Tom would partake in fly-by copulations. We don’t need no stinking nest, thought Tom.

Tom (on the right) and Audrey 3 on our boat lift, sans boat (for now)
Audrey 3 never became comfortable with the crazy woman and her camera. I managed to chase her off the boat lift, and she headed right to her favorite perch
Audrey 3 on the perch, while Tom stayed on the boat lift

The following two photos were taken on April 27, 2021. Although I didn’t know it at the time, these are the last photos I took of Audrey 3.

A good view of the pole set up. Audrey 3 is on the perch, and Tom is in the nest

Last photo of Audrey 3 (on perch) and Tom

I am still in a little bit of shock thinking about what happened on April 28, which I already discussed earlier in the blog. But life goes on, as it will here at the secret location. The fate of Audrey 3’s egg is unknown, but it has not been incubated or cared for enough for it to be viable. As you may have noticed, Tom sits on the egg more than Audrey 2, and that is not saying much. For those of you who are new to our nest, you will notice that Tom loves, loves, loves to incubate his eggs. He will push Audrey off whenever he can to get a chance to snuggle down on those glorious orbs. Tom has been performing his operational duties with gusto to produce a clutch of eggs from Audrey 2. We should know in the next week or so if he will get his chance to continue to be the master incubator.

Tom sitting on the dock close to the purple martin house critter guard. This is a great view of his face markings
Another view of Tom on the same post from a different angle and another great look at his head markings. I do believe that he is snoozing!

Tom and Audrey together in the nest, with Audrey in her usual squawking mode. Tom is looking at her like a little old henpecked (or ospreypecked) man wondering where he left his earplugs. This photo makes me grin

Audrey didn’t lose any time getting right back to her usual habits. She sleeps at the nest at night, usually on her favorite nest support. The new NEMA box works just as well as the old one for Audrey’s favorite eating location. She is working hard to break it in with a plethora of fish guts and blood.

The shiny new NEMA box won’t be shiny very long. Audrey is enjoying a snack, and doesn’t seem to mind the new box.
Audrey is chowing down. I do believe I see the beginnings of a gross mess on the new NEMA box.
Audrey back at home in her nest, which she defended fiercely

One more observation before I wrap up for the night. There has been another osprey, who is neither Tom or Audrey 2, sitting at the top of Joe’s tree quite regularly. I will try to get a good look at it, and see if it might be Audrey 3. There is another osprey nest which is occupied very close to that tree, so it may be an osprey from that nest.

We are still trying to fix the sound issue, with no luck so far. The folks at Explore are looking at various options to get the sound back permanently, so hopefully they will be successful. COM has done everything he can at our end, so we will keep our fingers crossed for a solution in the near future.

I will leave you not with sunrise photos, but with two photos from the Full Pink Super Moon last week. The first one is just after the moon rose in the east, but the sun had not set at the time. The second is a photo taken a few hours later after it became quite dark, with the reflection of the moon in the water. It was a spectacular sight which was not done justice by the photo.

No words, just a glorious untouched photo
The moon was so bright it was casting shadows in the backyard. It was crystal clear to the eye, but fuzzy in the photo

That’s it for now. Welcome to Crazy Town!

Until next time, we remain,

Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man 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!

Fond Adieu, Sweet Audrey Two

Good morning from the lovely Eastern Shore of Maryland! Well, we all knew that one day our sweet Audrey 2 would not be returning from her winter digs in South America, but hoped she would be with us for a few more years. I had a funny feeling this winter that we wouldn’t see her again, but tried to put those negative thoughts away and and stay positive. Unfortunately, my worst fears have come to pass, and our years with sweet Audrey 2 have come to an end. She was with us from 2010 through 2020, and was a noble and fearless companion to our last two Toms. Who can forget the night she was knocked off the nest in the dark by a Great Horned owl, and lost one of her newly hatched chicks and an egg? She was a noisy osprey, and I can still hear her in my mind squawking away. Her most special memory has to be the great adoption story of 2015. It was the first season with our current Tom (3), who was initially known as Calico Tom due to his mottled coloring. The Fishing Fool part of his name came later. Audrey laid three beautiful eggs that year, but none of them turned out to be viable. She sat on those eggs way past the date they should have hatched. Those of you who were with us that year will certainly remember how heartbreaking it was to watch her day in and day out, faithfully incubating those three eggs, even after the experts told us there would be no hatch. But all was not lost, and Tom and Audrey raised three beautiful young ospreys. How did that happen, you might ask? If you want to know the rest of the story, and I think you do, check out two of my blogs from that summer- “Who Said You Can’t Fool Mother Nature”, dated 7/9/2015 and “E.T. Phone Home”, dated 7/23/2015. Take a look, I know you will enjoy both blogs. It was a fascinating story with a delightful ending. All of the old blogs are archived at the end of each of the other blogs.

Here is my little tribute to Sweet Audrey Two, living it up somewhere warm, sunny and full of fish with Audrey 1, Tom 1 and Tom 2.

Audrey 2 on the former poop dock (now a nice, new clean dock) next door to us to the south

Audrey 2 in the scraggly stick tree

Audrey 2 taking off from the scraggly stick tree

Audrey 2 and Roger (sans hat, not sure where it went). I needed to get in that last poop shot starring A2. I am not sure why this photo looks so blurry, but if you click on it, it should show up in focus as it does in my draft

This photo captures her the best, our Squawking Audrey. It is one of my favorite photos of her. She was a noisy thing!

Fond adieu, sweet Audrey 2. We won’t forget you.

The order of events in my 2021 blogs has gotten a little cattywampus. Since I already wrote about the arrival of Calico Tom the Fishing Fool, I am going to go back to late February/early March before he arrived and fill you in on the happenings at the secret location before his joyous appearance. Then I will jump forward to the happenings after Tom’s arrival, and we should be all caught up for now. Sorry for the confusion, I am just keeping you on your toes. It should be smooth sailing after this blog. Here goes!

Time marches on, and here we were at the beginning of a new season full of hope. As the 2020 season ended with the take-down of the poles and camera, the 2021 season started with the equipment being installed with a brand new, spiffy camera. The new camera is a 4 megapixel delight, up from the old 2.8 megapixel camera. You should be able to tell the difference in the quality of the images. Due to the change in the field of vision and different size lens, the poles had to be moved further apart from each other. But before the poles could go up, the new camera had to be readied for the task at hand. The new camera is hard wired from the pole to the NEMA box at the end of the dock, then goes wireless from the NEMA box to our house. The old camera was hard-wired all the way from the pole, through the water, under the dock, through a trench in the back yard and up to the house. In addition to a new camera, we also have a new NEMA box. NEMA is an acronym for National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association. The NEMA box contains switching gear, electronic connections and an external wireless antennae, which transmits to an antennae located outside of COM’s office in the house. The new NEMA box looks just like the old one, except it is clean, has an external antennae and is not covered in old, petrified fish guts.

Here is the old NEMA box, which was at the end of the dock. You can certainly see remnants of lots of fish-consumption, as this was a favorite dining area for Tom and Audrey

The technician, Mark, is getting all of the technical equipment ready to go. COM is the equivalent of a sous chef to the executive chef on this one.

Mark and COM doing technical stuff, well beyond my capabilities. I have been told by a reliable source that Mark is handing COM the wireless antennae for his office. I will have to take the source’s word on that.

The new camera has a built-in infrared capability.

The back of the camera with a good view of the new perch COM built for our feathered friends

The junction box on the camera pole that holds the cabling, microphone and supporting electronics

Mark paying out the underwater cable

Checking out all the connections inside the new NEMA box. The wireless antennae is the little white column attached to the upper right of the box

With all of the technical equipment readied, it was time to install the poles. We hold our breaths every year, hoping that an osprey will not return before the poles are up. Of course, we are also keeping our fingers crossed for a low tide, gentle breezes, a reasonable temperature and no inclement weather, not too much to ask of the weather gods. I had to work away from the house the day of the installation, so missed some of the action. Fortunately, I was able to sneak home for a little while to grab some photos and distribute the home made lemon poppy muffins.

By the time I got home, the nest pole was already up.

Dean, COM and Phil installing the nest pole

Emily from the Chesapeake Conservancy was there to help

The super duper 12 foot step ladder is at the ready, joined by a measly little regular ladder who is feeling inadequate next to the big guns

The camera pole catching a few rays on the adirondack chair while awaiting its turn for glory

Phil is auditioning for the L.L.Bean catalog while getting ready to transport the camera pole with Dean. He looks spiffy, and is definitely color coordinated

Phil and Dean carry the camera pole down the dock. It is way heavier than it looks, especially with the camera attached

The massive step ladder is at the ready in the water. The little ladder is still back at the dock, and relieved not to be compared to the big guy at the moment.

COM is fiddling in his waders. He like to keep his tools down there (double entendre is on purpose to see if you are reading the captions)

Our neighbor Cole offered to help, and is joining the group in the water while Emily tends the cables to avoid tangling

Phil is getting the trash pump ready to jet in the camera pole. It’s important not to let the camera hit the water.

As with the take-down in the fall, physics plays a part in raising the camera pole. Check out the pullies and lines doing their thing

Everyone gets in on the action. COM is tending the line, Cole and Dean are holding on and Phil is jetting in the pole to bury it in the bottom

The pole is up!

Emily is in the water at the ready

Is the pole straight? Fortunately, Emily and Cole agreed on which way the pole was leaning!

One of the last steps is to install the crosspiece which stabilizes the two poles. Emily has the very important job of not letting the kayak float away with the trash pump

The poles are further away from each other this year, so Tom won’t have his little piece sticking out where he liked to perch

Clean up time! Does it look like COM has his hands on the ladder? I guess he is supervising

The old camera pole and camera need to be removed from their winter quarters, where, due to a technical difficulty, they didn’t do anything but look cool. Check out the differences in the two cameras between old and new

The crew minus Cole. I knew I was going to have to leave for work before the task was completed, so I took the obligatory group photo before they started and before Cole arrived. Sorry you missed the photo, Cole, but thanks for your help! Hey, Dean, where is your mask? The beard doesn’t count

After the poles were in place, it was time to sit back, watch and wait. One day during the lull, COM asked me to take a look at a really big bird that he just could not place. So I went out with my trusty Nikon, and was thrilled to observe this magnificent creature.

A juvenile bald eagle. The yellow feet and size of the bird are dead giveaways

Manicure, anyone?

The eagle decides he has had enough of Mrs. COM and her camera, and departs the area

I just couldn’t resist a little editing. Gotta love the feet!

In a few years, the juvenile bald eagle will look like one of these two glorious birds I photographed in January 2021, hanging out in the scraggly stick tree

Look who is hanging out by the riprap. Must have been some tasty morsel down there. Stand back, I’m an eagle! This is a turkey buzzard, by the way

Things began to get interesting as the days clicked closer to the end of March. Our first visitor was a beautiful osprey with a very dark necklace. As neither Tom or Audrey had a dark necklace, this lovely bird was new to us. She stopped by a couple of times, piqued everyone’s interest and caused much speculation about the whos, wheres, whens and hows. But she was not destined to be the one.

And then Tom arrived, but you already know that from the last blog.

Everyone was anxiously waiting for the return of Audrey. When I was home, I spent a fair amount of time glancing out the window at the platform. As Audrey had returned before Tom for many years, I was getting a sinking feeling. At the very end of March, a new visitor arrived. It took some looking to verify that it was not Audrey 2. A new chapter at the secret location had begun. Welcome home, Audrey 3, now known as Audrey.

Since we installed our very first osprey pole in 1995, our osprey pair has always been Tom and Audrey. These names were selected in honor of our two dear friends (you guessed it), Tom and Audrey. They were living in Alaska at the time, having moved there from the Washington, D.C. area. In true quid pro quo fashion, they named the moose that visited their yard after me and COM. Hmmm, we were not quite sure if we should have felt honored or insulted! So the names Tom and Audrey have a long history in our household, and all of our ospreys have maintained those names. This season, we are hosting Tom 3 and Audrey 3, and are delighted to have both of them.

One issue we didn’t expect with a brand new camera was no sound. It was frustrating for everyone involved. COM was in close contact with the Explore folks trying to troubleshoot and fix the problem. One chilly day a couple of weeks ago, COM trudged out to the junction box while on the phone with the Explore gurus, and attempted to regain the sound.

Yet a third ladder owned by the Crazy Osprey Family. One can never have enough ladders, you know.

COM taking the cover off the junction box with one of his trusty cordless drills. I think he has a cordless drill to go with each ladder.

I received a friendly wave, along with a few phone calls from the ladder. I provide friendly, courteous ground support (ha!)

I know you must be sick of reading about people and poles and cameras and the like. So I will finish up with the subject which brought you all here, ospreys!

It didn’t take Audrey long to get comfortable with her new digs. Much to Tom’s chagrin, one of her new favorite places to hang out is on the perch on the top of the camera pole, which has always been Tom’s domain. She also likes to sit in a tree by the water at our neighbor’s house two to the south of us. Tom spends a substantial amount of time on the boat lift and the swim ladder on the dock at the same neighbor’s house where Audrey likes the tree. I have only seen an osprey in the scraggly stick tree a couple of times this year, which makes me kind of sad. But maybe that’s a good thing, because the tree has certainly seen better days.

Tom in the scraggly stick tree, which is looking a little precarious

Tom in the scraggly stick tree with a good look at his coloring and head markings

The back of Tom’s head with the noticeable buff coloring

Another good view of Tom’s head markings and coloring

Audrey settling in to her new home

Tom getting ready to snag a marked stick from the yard. Sorry for the poor lighting

‘Who invited you?’, says Tom to the hopeful crow

Tom hopes if he ignores the crow and continues to eat, the crow will leave. Wishful thinking on his part. Another great look at the buff coloring on the back of Tom’s head. The fish has no opinion

Three’s a crowd, but three on this nest seems to be de rigueur these days.

Horrible lighting, but a cool photo nonetheless. The fish seems to be missing something

That’s a big fish! Calico Tom the Fishing Fool living up to his moniker on our dock

Tom on the support, Audrey in the nest. How can I tell, you ask? I zoomed in on them before I posted the photo!

Tom scratching an itch. This is a great view of the camera and perch

Audrey returning to the nest, looking intent

I’m ho-ome, dear! Tom is thinking that she means business

Time for some more marked sticks, perhaps with a color change? Keep your eyes out!

One last glimpse of the back of Tom’s buff colored head. I think you get the idea by now, so I will stop

It is time to close for now. As I write, Tom is on the boat lift and Audrey is on the perch on top of the camera pole. With my current work schedule, I haven’t been home very much when the lighting is good for photographs, but I will keep on trying. I leave you with a couple more sunrise photos. The winner of the photos from the last blog was #2, which happened to be my favorite, so thank you very much!

Another glorious sunrise at the secret location

Swans at the same sunrise

Our eggs last year were laid on 4/17, 4/20 and 4/23. In previous years, the eggs were laid only two days apart. Either way, it’s time to go on egg watch, how exciting! I’m hoping to have some great news to write about in a couple of weeks!

Until next time, we remain,

Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man 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!!

Buy One, Get One Free!

Good evening from the fickle Eastern Shore of Maryland! We had beautiful weather the last two days, with a stormy day on tap for Sunday. Everyone is ready for spring in our neck of the woods. Well, I am running a special today, and my readers are the lucky recipients of this osprey special. Today and today only, you are getting two blogs for the price of one! Welcome to “See Ya, Wouldn’t Want To Be Ya, 2020 in the Rear View Mirror Part Deux” and a special rendition of “Who’s On First?” I’ll start with “Who’s On First?”

As promised, I was putting together photos for Part Two of my first blog of 2021, when the excitement started. It was a quiet Friday evening here at the secret location. After a long week, I was looking forward to our very first social gathering since the pandemic put the kabash on life as we knew it. Five neighbors, all fully vaccinated, were coming to the end of the dock for a much needed socially distanced happy hour outside in the breeze. What a delightful time we had! To be able to chat in person with friends while sharing a glass of wine and some nibblies was simply divine! By sunset, everyone had left. All of the leftover wine (what’s that?) and goodies were put away, and I sat down at my computer to get some work done. I can see outside from my desk, and there he/she was! Over the previous week, a very pretty visiting osprey had stopped on our platform a few times, but it wasn’t Tom or Audrey. This osprey looked very much like Tom, but it was so hard to tell in the dark. When morning broke, I decided the osprey looked like Tom and was acting like Tom by sitting on the boatlift and top of the camera pole. I always get nervous making a call on osprey identity, but it was time to put on my big girl pants and give it a go. Not too long after I made the call, the lovely visitor made an appearance, so we had two ospreys on the nest platform, albeit for a very short time. Before I continue with Part Two of my first blog, here are just a few photos of this morning’s excitement. Who’s on first?

Well, well, well, who do we have here?

After seeing this osprey on the perch and the post, I had a really good feeling this was our Calico Tom The Fishing Fool! If you look at the very top of the pole, there is a good view of the perch

Tom wasted no time in living up to his moniker, and brought back a nice fish, which he didn’t have to share with anyone after his long journey. There was a wee bit of buff color visible on the back of his head when the wind blew, which is one of Tom’s telltale characteristics

Already making a bloody mess on the boat lift! Welcome home, Tom!

Knowing Tom’s nest making skills would probably kick in shortly after he had a rest and some chow, I immediately went out to put some sticks in the back yard.

The first batch of unmarked sticks, followed a little while later with four marked sticks. You will have to watch to see the color selection!

And lo and behold, not fifteen minutes after I put the sticks out, I looked out the window to see Tom making a low pass parallel to the shoreline right toward my sticks! He snagged one, and took it to the nest! Mrs. COM was feeling pretty pleased with herself right about then!

We had a small incident a few weeks ago. A local tree expert service was hired to trim all of our trees, which had grown to be quite large after thirty two years with us. When I came home from work after they left, I was aghast to see that our stick locker lay bare under our Wye Oak. We grew this tree from an offspring of the famous four-hundred year old original Wye Oak, which had been located not far from us before it succumbed to a lightening strike. Apparently, the tree trimmers thought they were doing us a favor by cleaning up the substantial pile of sticks under the tree. No one was home to tell them otherwise. If you have been reading my blogs, you have seen photos of the very large stick pile we had accumulated for our ospreys to use as building material. I have been gathering sticks from the yard to start replacing our stash, but it will be a daunting task to replace the amount of sticks we had saved.

Oh, no! The tree people must have thought they were doing us a favor and cleaned up all of the sticks that were under our stick tree. So sad to see them go! Fresh sticks for our friends this season!

So now I will continue with “See Ya, Wouldn’t Want To Be Ya-2020 In The Rear View Mirror-Part Two”. We were a little late in taking down the poles last season, but on December 3, 2020, our dear friends from the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage, Phil and Dean, stopped by to remove the poles for the winter. Over the years, we have had damage, to include losing poles, when ice would form in the bay. The last few years, the pole (now poles) had been taken out of the water to avoid having to replace them in the spring. COM had been mounting the camera pole on the dock for winter swan viewing. This past winter, we were having technical issues with the camera, so unfortunately, we weren’t able to share our gorgeous tundra swans with you. Hopefully, all of the technical issues have been resolved, so come November, the camera will be able to capture some of the best that Mother Nature has to offer.

By now, you have seen lots of photographs of our poles and cameras being taken down in the fall and put back up in the spring. We wouldn’t want to break with tradition, so here we go again.

The team had a nice day for their pole removal project. It wasn’t terribly cold (easy for me to say from dry land), not too windy and the tide was low. These were ideal conditions for the task at hand. First, the ladder, kayak and other necessary equipment was ferried out to the pole system. There were a series of lines and pullies assembled to assist in the lowering and removal of the poles. You gotta love physics!

Here are Phil, Patrick from the Chesapeake Conservancy, COM and Dean lowering the camera pole.
The camera pole, with camera and other equipment, has to be carefully carried back to terra firma. The camera cannot get wet.

Three strong men are carrying the pole, which is incredibly heavy. Calling squatter’s rights, COM is carefully carrying some not-so-heavy line
The nest/platform pole stands alone
Now the camera pole had to be moved onto the dock and be attached to a piling. Physics in action again, notice the lines and pullies
The pole was up, and being secured to a piling for the winter. Phil and Patrick were in the water under the dock. At this point, we were still hoping the camera might be functional for winter swan viewing
Patrick was at the ready in the water in case a water rescue was needed.
COM securing the very long cables
Just hanging out in the water waiting for Mrs. COM’s fresh cranberry muffins





Camera pole standing proud. Mission #1 accomplished, and one step closer to those muffins
Phil and Dean are retrieving the really big stepladder, which won’t be needed for Mission#2
Ladder coming back with Phil and Dean, needed equipment going out with COM and Patrick
Phil and Dean putting the really big stepladder back on the dock
Getting ready to jet out the nest platform. Whoops, I don’t think that was supposed to happen!
Down comes the nest platform and pole. It is not critical for this pole to stay dry, so physics is on the side burner for now
The pole and kayak are being readied for transport back to land
The nest pole is heavy, but with no camera to add weight and logistics, it is not as critical to be carried in a certain orientation. Phil has the front end, and seems quite nonchalant. Patrick is wondering who volunteered him for this project
All of the equipment has made it back to the dock unscathed
Patrick is readying the kayak to be pulled up the riprap
Thank you, Patrick and the Chesapeake Conservancy for providing some manual labor. It would be tough to complete this task without you!

Oh where, oh where have my little poles gone? Oh where, oh where can they be? Our unobstructed winter view where the pole complex used to be

Moving the platform and pole to winter quarters on the riprap

Our socially distanced team, Patrick, COM, Phil and Dean. I made them wear their masks in case Dr. Fauci was in the neighborhood. I hope the muffins were worth it!

A sad occurrence over the off-season was the passing of my 6th grade heart throb, Sean Connery. When he appeared on the cover of Life Magazine during the run of his movie, Thunderball, I decided I would wallpaper my room with said covers. Although I put the word out to family and friends, I was only able to come up with four covers. Alas, my dreams of being surrounded by Agent 007 was not to be, breaking my eleven year old heart.

As my dear departed mother used to say, “He could eat crackers in my bed any day”. Although I didn’t get it then, I sure get it now. RIP, Bond, James Bond. You were the best of all the 007’s

I am very sorry you weren’t able to enjoy our winter visitors between seasons. Although their viewing wasn’t available to you, we had a banner year for swans, with an average of forty to fifty every day. Here is a series of photos as a reward for your loss.

A bevy of swans relaxing where the pole complex was removed for the winter. There is one gray swan toward the right of the photo, who is a juvenile.

When COM goes out in the morning to feed the swans, they can see him on the dock and come flying in from wherever they have been for the night. You can hear their wings flapping and the sound coming from their webbed feet when they land in the water

This is a juvenile getting ready to take off. The swans will run across the water and start flapping, sort of like a plane taxiing before take-off

These swans have landed, and are quickly swimming to the dock for their morning rations. Check out their neck reflections and the V’s they leave in their wakes

The swan to the right of middle looks like he is laughing. There is a swan feather floating near the front of this photo, see if you can spot it

A swan family. The grey one in the middle is a juvenile. The lighting is not very good, but I really like their neck reflections

One of these swans is getting ready to bite one of his buddies, not very nice
I may enter this photo in the Maryland Department of Natural Resources calendar contest. The winning photos that are selected appear on a page of their next year’s calendar. What do you think?
Bottoms up! Check out the three swan butts in a row at the bottom of this photo. This is how they eat, with their necks stretched down to the food, and their cute little swan tushies pointed to the sky.

I will leave you with a few more sunrise photos. The winner of the sunrise photo contest in my first blog was Choice #2, followed closely by Choice #4. Thank you to everyone who voted!

Once again, I cannot pick a favorite, so it’s up to you to choose yours from this group.

Choice #1
Choice #2
Choice #3
Choice #4
Choice #5

The hour is late, and I am getting bleary-eyed. I hope you have enjoyed Part Two of our off-season. When next we meet, I will start our season off with more recent tales from the secret location. Now that Tom is back, I hope to have many lovely photos of our recently-arrived ospreys. Time will tell whether our beloved Audrey II will grace us with her presence back at the nest, or a soon-to-be beloved Audrey III will take her place. Audrey II is at least 14 years old, and would be reaching near the end of the average life span for an osprey. Mother Nature will have her say, and we humans can only sit back and wait for whatever she brings our way!

Until next time, we remain,

Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man 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!