Table For Two, Please

Good afternoon from the sultry, summery, stormy Eastern Shore of Maryland!  As I sit here, there is thunder rumbling in the distance.  Hopefully, we won’t experience as violent a storm as we did a couple of weeks ago when the camera was damaged by the severe weather.  It’s been a busy few weeks since my last blog, so let’s get to it!

On July 17, our Little Bit (LB) took to the skies!  Over the years, most of our newly fledged osprey chicks have left the nest and spent a good part of the day hanging out wherever they landed after that first exhilarating flight.  LB’s first landing was not very far from the nest, just a short distance away on top of Audrey’s favorite eating location, the electric box.  The morning light isn’t the best for photo taking in our neck of the woods, but here is LB checking out a new view in his world:

 

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Little Bit’s first foray into the great big world landed him on top of the electric box next to his protector, Roger

 

LB didn’t stay the entire day, and decided to check out other options in the neighborhood:

 

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Is this seat taken?

 

I wonder what Tom was thinking when he realized one of his favorite haunts was being taken over by a youngster?

This was one of his first thoughts shortly after LB was occupying Tom’s camera pole:

 

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Take that, you whippersnapper!!

 

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Tom is looking longingly to his favorite perch, and pondering what had happened to his tranquil existence. Little did he know what was just down the road!

 

LB decided the electric box was a great alternative to being up on the scary camera pole:

 

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Back to the electric box where there appears to be better footing for a newly fledged osprey

 

But a parent was never far away:

 

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A watchful parent nearby on the boat lift

 

I got carried away taking photos of LB enjoying his first taste of freedom.  Out of the dozens of photos I took that morning and afternoon, I was able to narrow down my selections, but not enough.  So you get to pick your favorite, sorry for the repetition.  Let me know which of the next series is your favorite…..

 

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Mrs. COM gets the first of many stink eyes from LB. I love the red eyes on the young ones

 

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A more peaceful look

 

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Mrs. COM has not gone unnoticed, but LB did not get up the courage to leave his safe place

 

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Looking streamlined

 

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I do believe there is a fair amount of fish blood and guts on top of and streaming down the side of the electric box

 

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The coy, over the shoulder pose

 

LB finally got up the nerve to leave his safe spot on the electric box and head back to the nest:

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LB in flight early in his flying career

 

Home base is in sight, and LB heads back to the top of the camera pole:

 

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Do those feet look right to you? Hold on, Betty!!

 

LB spent the next couple of days exploring his surroundings.  His new best friend Roger was just over on the dock, within sight of LB’s new vantage point.  But this is no way to endear yourself to a new friend:

 

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“What the heck is going on?” thinks Roger

 

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This is not how to win friends and influence people. Who is going to tell LB that Roger is probably a bit perturbed with this indignity?

 

So much to explore:

 

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LB heading to the boat lift, where he sees his dad hanging out once in a while

 

 

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Look at me, Dad, I’m a big boy now!

 

 

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Dad made this look so easy, but it is slippery up here!

 

 

LB decides he is not comfortable on the boat lift, and heads back home:

 

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LB heading back to safe haven.  Roger is ready to duck

 

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And home! I made it!

 

 

A little break from ospreys:

 

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A beautiful kingbird on a tomato cage in Mrs. COM’s vegetable garden. Check out the cool spider web!

 

 

The nest was getting fuller.  With LB’s new found freedom, it was more difficult to take a family portrait:

 

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A peaceful family portrait before chaos hit a few days down the road

 

Tom figures he’d better get while the getting was good, and takes his rightful place on top of the camera pole before the impertinent LB flies up there:

 

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I have to reclaim my spot

 

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Mine, all mine

 

Audrey is left alone with her one and only little osprey:

 

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Audrey is looking a little frazzled. Gotta love that wild look!

 

It has not gone unnoticed by our camera watchers that LB has a healthy set of lungs.  The next series of photos was taken over a couple of minutes.  See if LB’s mouth is shut in any of them:

 

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LB squawking to the north

 

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Just missed a great poop shot. LB continues squawking to the north

 

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LB stretching his wings while squawking to the south

 

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And back to the north

 

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Just in case they couldn’t hear me to the south

 

 

Life continued to pass as LB’s flying skills grew stronger:

 

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LB is getting better on the landings, but Audrey still stays out of his way

 

 

Tom has just about given up on surveying his kingdom from the top of the camera pole.  Audrey still keeps an eye on things from the nest:

 

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LB does not look as sure of himself as Tom does way up there

 

All of our osprey have always enjoyed hanging out in the scraggly stick tree, with LB being no exception.  In the next photo, he is enjoying some time in the tree with Audrey.  It looks like something is hanging from one of his talons in the tree, and when he takes off.  I have looked at the debris many times, and still can’t decide if it is fishing line or not:

 

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What’s your best guess as to the type of debris hanging from LB’s left talon?

 

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LB heads back to the nest with the debris still hanging on

 

 

Audrey has been seen way more than Tom the last few weeks.  Tom is still around, but not spending much time in his usual haunts.  Audrey continues to be a great osprey mom, and may take over Tom’s fishing fool moniker.

 

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Audrey eating a big, fat fish. LB is pretending he doesn’t notice

 

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Audrey hanging out with LB in the scraggly stick tree one house to the north of us

 

 

Here is a very typical sight at the secret location.  Audrey is in the nest keeping an eye on Mrs. COM and her infernal camera, and LB is on top of the camera pole, also keeping an eye on the bothersome Mrs. COM:

 

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I think they are getting tired of me!

 

 

LB likes to hang out in a tree along the water in my neighbor’s yard two houses to the south of us:

 

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Darn, she can still see me!

 

 

When they are around, the top of the camera pole for LB and the nest for Audrey are still some of the most visited locations:

 

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This multi-tasking stuff is not easy-flapping my wings, holding on and yapping

 

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Okay, better now.  Wings tucked in, holding on and quiet.

 

 

As the summer has gone on and our ospreys are in the nest less and less, the boat lift has become a frequent stop.  Unfortunately, this is creating a messy problem for COM’s boat:

 

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One of the culprits

 

 

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Ugh

 

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Yuk

 

 

As you know, there is no shortage of fish being caught, delivered and consumed on this nest.  This may explain why every bit of fish is not eaten some times:

 

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I guess no one wanted the tail

 

 

 

As patient as Audrey is with her youngsters, she is sure giving LB the stink eye in this photo:

 

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Shut your yap already, LB, even your mother is getting tired of hearing your whining!

 

 

Tom’s appearances have been few and far between, but he is still around the neighborhood.  Here he is living up to his Fishing Fool moniker:

 

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Tom with a really big striped bass, aka rockfish here in the Chesapeake Bay

 

 

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A little blurry, but at least Tom isn’t sitting on the boat lift

 

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Enough of Mrs. COM, and away Tom goes to eat uninterrupted

 

 

Things were going along so nicely, a lovely uneventful osprey season.  But au contraire, things were about to get much more interesting:

 

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Am I seeing double?

 

Shades of 2015 and E.T.!!  Our nest was visited by a new fledgling who was very skinny and very, very hungry.  After some fussing and pushing, the new arrival grabbed and rapidly ate the next two fish brought back to the nest, and Mrs. COM finally got her Archie.

 

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LB is not happy with the intruder.  Audrey and Archie are keeping an eye on things

 

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Now I know I am seeing double. On top of Tom’s camera pole and yapping away, but a look alike still in the nest!!

 

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LB does not look like a happy camper!

 

 

Audrey is still giving Tom a run for his title:

 

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Audrey is having a little snack before she gives up her fish

 

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Look at the girth on that fish! We don’t need no stinkin’ men…..

 

Audrey has been spending time with her two charges while Tom has made himself scarce:

 

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Three in a tree-Audrey with a fish, LB and Archie in the scraggly stick tree.  The clouds were fantastic!

 

Audrey decided it was time to escape Mrs. COM:

 

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I’m outta here….

 

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Audrey in flight back to the nest

 

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Arriving

 

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Lining up the landing

 

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Lots of room to land with no one else home

 

 

A serene summer evening:

 

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Tom and Audrey drying in the scraggly stick tree with a rainbow on the horizon, how bucolic. Both kids are in the nest

 

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LB and Archie in the nest at the other end of the same full rainbow. Spectacular!

 

 

Sometimes Archie may wonder why he picked this particular nest:

 

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The food is good, but my ears hurt, thinks Archie

 

As you probably know, a particularly violent thunderstorm rolled through a couple of weeks ago that rendered our camera inoperable.  After several unsuccessful attempts to troubleshoot and fix the camera, COM had numerous consultations with the folks from Explore.  A new part was sent for the camera, which finally solved the problem once COM was able to get it installed.  Thanks again to COM for his tireless efforts to keep all the osprey balls in the air (not sure that sounds quite right.  But please overlook the double entendre which was not intentional, but is actually kind of funny).

 

An aftermath to the storm:

 

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Poor Roger after the storm. He looks like he is developing a little osteoporosis

 

 

This is a sure sign that Audrey is spending some time fishing for everyone’s dinner:

 

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Audrey is very wet. Archie is ignoring her plight, and seems glad it is not him

 

I will leave you with one last photo:

 

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Gorgeous late afternoon lighting resulted in a lovely photo of LB with an evening fish. I love taking photos this time of day!

 

Are you tired of looking at photos?  I don’t want to bore you, so this is a good time to wish everyone well.  Audrey should be with us for another few days.  Then we will bid her farewell and safe travels to her winter digs in the far south.  Tom, LB and Archie should be gracing us with their presence for a while longer, so stay tuned!  Thanks, as always, for being faithful camera watchers and blog readers.

 

Until next time, we remain-

COM, Mrs. COM and Osprey Girl

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table For One, Please

Good morning from the sunny, hot and humid Eastern Shore of Maryland! It has been an exciting whirlwind here at the secret location between Osprey Girl’s college graduation, our remarkable celebratory adventure in Europe and of course, the arrival of our one and only osprey chick!  A really big shout out is also in order for COM, who once again was instrumental in working with the explore technicians and one of our local camera guys to get the osprey camera up and running after several days of highlights.  Thanks, COM, for all of your hard work and efforts to keep everything on track at the secret location.  There wouldn’t be an ospreycam here without his dedication to our birds!

On May 24, our first chick hatched to much fanfare and happiness !  We waited with great anticipation and bated breath for the next two hatches, but it was not to be this year.  There is no way of knowing why the other two eggs failed, but we are all so thrilled to have a table for one!  The up side of an only “child” is that all the attention and food have been channeled into the care of the one and only.  Our baby has grown up big and strong, and ready to take the next step (well, not really a step, but you know what I mean).  Fledging could happen at any time, and with all the flapping and hopping going on, it will be soon. I must mention that here at the Crazy Osprey Family home, we have been referring to the chick as Archie since he hatched.  I know the masses have selected a different name for the young one, but Archie will always be Archie to us!

Tom has been living up to his moniker, The Fishing Fool.  I was able to capture a wonderful series of photos following one of his catches.  One afternoon, I noticed Tom and Roger enjoying a messy meal on the electrical box at the end of the dock:

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Tom on the electrical box making quite a mess with his striped bass (rockfish here in the Chesapeake Bay)

 

Tom was enjoying his meal, when he noticed the crazy lady with the camera:

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Ugh, not you AGAIN!!

 

Tom decides he is not going to put up with Mrs. COM’s meddling:

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My fish and I are leaving now. Too bad for you, Mrs. COM

 

Tom figures if he can’t eat his fish in peace, he might as well go feed his family:

 

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Banking to the south in the direction of the nest pole

 

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A headless bass being carried aerodynamically back to the nest

 

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Arriving back at the nest. Audrey does not seem to be paying much attention to Tom, but she is eyeing that fish! Archie/Lil Bit is hunkered down waiting for feeding time

 

The dastardly crows did not waste much time going after the sloppy seconds:

 

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Are you going to eat that?

 

As you all know by now, Tom does the vast majority of the fishing while Audrey attends to the home front.  It is thrilling to watch him on the hunt, flying over his surroundings, hovering over the water and then diving to capture dinner.  Sometimes he will struggle in the water for a few seconds before taking flight with his next meal.  I can’t help but catch my breath every time, waiting for him to leave the water.  The next photo is heavily cropped, as Tom was way out fishing, but I was able to capture him trying to take flight from the water:

 

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Have you ever seen an osprey swim?

 

Of course, once you have been swimming, you need to dry off:

 

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Tom drying his wings while Audrey tends to her motherly duties

 

Since my last blog, we have celebrated some national holidays.  Here at the secret location, we fly the special holiday flag (read-really big flag) on these occasions:

 

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The really, really big holiday flag. Sometimes it is hard to get it to fly!

 

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The scraggly stick tree next door and the really big tree two houses to the north of us framing Old Glory

 

It has been interesting to note this season that our ospreys are not spending any time in the really big tree shown in the above photo.  There is another osprey pole in the water very close to the big trees (there are two of them).  This season, that osprey pair has two chicks so I think our ospreys are not welcome in their territory.  We will see what happens when Archie/Lil Bit fledges.

Audrey, as always, continues to be a very good osprey mom.  Here is a photo of her incubating and enjoying her favorite past time, making lots of noise:

 

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Audrey patiently incubating her eggs. It appears her mouth is open and she is squawking, what a surprise!

 

Maybe some of her consternation can be explained by this:

 

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Tom surveying his kingdom. I guess Audrey thinks he should be doing a little less surveying and a little more fishing!

 

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Tom seems nonplussed by Audrey’s fussing. He can probably tune her out like most human men…..

 

Here is a sight that our neighbor is not happy to see.  He has now put out a big fake owl, hoping to preserve the cleanliness of his boat:

 

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What a lovely spot to contemplate, eat and poop, thinks Tom (much to my neighbor’s chagrin, I am quite sure)

 

The downstairs neighbors have been quite vocal this season, don’t you think?  That is precisely why we keep the sound turned way down, or even off, in the house.  This isn’t a great photo, but a great shot of the noisy tenants:

 

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Our downstairs neighbors under the nest to the left, mom and dad. Can you see Archie/Lil Bit?

 

Our chick has grown up so fast!  Here is what he/she looks like from our vantage point:

 

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Audrey and a hunkered down, red-eyed baby a couple of weeks ago.  I do believe Audrey’s mouth is open!

 

Here is our entire family:

 

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Family Photo

 

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Sometimes you just need to stretch your wings!

 

Where’s Waldo?  Can you spot the downstairs neighbor?  No hints this time…

 

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Someone is getting big!

 

Did you find Waldo?

Now, here is a sight you don’t see too often.  A couple of days ago, I noticed Tom acting strangely and dive bombing the rip rap (the stone revetment protecting our waterfront), but I couldn’t see anything amiss from the house.  A little while later, I looked out:

 

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Just a heron drying out in our back yard! Tom was not happy, let me tell you!

 

For some perspective, here is a longer view of the heron’s location in the backyard.  Cool!!

 

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Now here is something you don’t see every day, even at the secret location!

 

Unfortunately, I have some bad news to share.  Our dear friend and raptor biologist, Craig Koppie, is having some health issues and will not be able to band our chick this year.  We wish Craig the best, and hope for a speedy recovery.  Thanks, Craig, for all of the help you have provided to us over the years.  We know you will be back for next year’s banding(s), better than ever!

As our little one should be fledging any day, keep your eyes peeled to the camera for lift-off.  I will try to take lots of photos of our chick’s first foray into the big world.  Today is the 50th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11, wouldn’t this make a perfect launch day for Archie aka Lil Bit?  It is also the Full Buck Moon and our monthly Full Moon Dock Party, where we will be howling extra loudly to commemorate Apollo 11’s historic mission.

I am going to leave you with another one of our incredible sunrises:

 

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Another lovely morning at the secret location

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Wait

Good morning from the summer-like Eastern Shore of Maryland!  Although it is only May, the last two days have felt like the sultry days of July.  We certainly hope the weather improves before our hatch window begins later in the week.  I guess the hot sun is better than the cold rain, but some seventy two degrees and sunny (at the same time) would sure be nice.  A brief little storm blew through earlier this evening, leading to this spectacular rainbow.

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A fantastic rainbow at the secret location. It was a full rainbow, but too large to photograph the entire vista.

 

By the time I grabbed the camera and ran out to the backyard, the rainbow was starting to fade.  It was quickly fading when I managed to take this photo.

 

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The fading rainbow as Audrey incubates. I wonder if she noticed the rainbow? I know she probably noticed the rain…

 

While the Great Wait for the first pip is ongoing, I will entertain you with what has been going on in the neighborhood, with a little side trip to the eagle side of town.  Life goes on for Tom and Audrey.  Incubating, fishing, eating, sleeping, fussing at intruders and trying to avoid the crazy lady with the black box around her neck are all the order of the day.

Tom and Audrey continue to spend their respective time out of the nest at the usual haunts:  the scraggly stick tree, various locations on the dock, our neighbor’s swim ladder, the pole cross piece (although I have only seen Audrey there once, Tom is there frequently) and a variety of docks.  The scraggly stick tree has always been a popular spot for both of them, and continues to see a lot of osprey action.

 

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Audrey in the scraggly stick tree. She doesn’t look particularly happy to see me, but I don’t take it personally.

 

I take so many photos that I sometimes have a hard time choosing which ones to use.  There was no way to choose between the above photo and the below photo short of flipping a coin, so I decided to use them both.

 

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Audrey has that far away look in her eye. Probably looking far away for Tom and a fish!

 

What you can’t see in the above two photos is that Audrey wasn’t alone.

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A dastardly crow hoping that Tom brings Audrey a fish so the crow can nibble some sloppy seconds.

 

Given the fact that the dastardly crows are alive and well in the area, it was time for Roger to come out of his hibernation and take up his protective position at the end of the dock.

 

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Roger is back on duty, and dancing a little jig to celebrate getting out of that musty garage. It’s great to have him back!

 

Although Tom really, really likes to sit on those eggs, Audrey does most of the incubating.  Sometimes it is hard to see her all snuggled down low in the nest.

 

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Audrey on egg duty.

 

I looked outside a couple of weeks ago on a morning replete with chilly air and a cold wind.  Here is what I saw:

 

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Audrey hanging out on the rip-rap trying to stay out of the wind

 

Of course, I tried to get closer:

 

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Audrey hadn’t left yet, but it didn’t take long after this photo for her to decide the rip-rap may not be the safest place to enjoy the view as Mrs. COM approached with her camera.

 

As I was selecting photos for this blog, I couldn’t help but notice I have a dearth of Tom photos this time.  Here is Tom returning to the nest.

 

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It’s my turn to sit on those eggs, move over Betty!!

 

I do a substantial amount of walking in the neighborhood when the almighty dollar isn’t calling my name to head out to work.  Here is something you don’t see everyday on the side of the road.

 

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There was an unhappy osprey somewhere in the neighborhood, but probably not as unhappy as the menhaden! No scale in the photo, but this was a good size fish.

 

Here is a recent sunrise at the secret location.  It’s not as spectacular as some of them, but it sure was pretty that morning.

 

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A delicate sunrise over the water

 

As we have mentioned previously, the ospreys and eagles do not get along.  By this time of year, the eagles have already hatched their young, so we don’t see them as often as we do in the winter.  But I still hear them calling, and see one every few days.  But last fall and winter, the eagles were plentiful.

The next group of photos were all taken on October 2, 2018, before the nest and poles were taken down for the winter.

A majestic eagle enjoying a beautiful day at the secret location:

 

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Look at the size of that bird! They are so magnificent

 

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Don’t look, Tom and Audrey.  Someone has been sleeping in your bed! (with apologies to Goldilocks)

 

Where there is fish, there are freeloaders.  The dastardly crows have no shame, and will mooch off of anyone.  One of them decides he needs to get closer to the action in case there is food involved.

 

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Tom, there is someone sitting on top of your camera pole!

 

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Don’t hold me to it, but I think the eagle is starting to get annoyed with the crow! Look at that face!

 

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The crow doesn’t seem too terribly concerned.  The eagle is looking angrier.

 

The next day, the eagle was back again, looking a little damp on an otherwise sunny day.

 

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Check out the “pants” on this incredible bird

 

As I watched, I realized the eagle had a meal with him.

 

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Something is stuck in my talon. Maybe I can shake it off, thinks the eagle

 

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Darn, I can’t shake this sucker off.

 

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Finally!  What’s for dinner?

 

We frequently see two eagles together.

 

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Lovebirds

 

Over the winter, there were a couple of juvenile eagles hanging around.  I was able to capture some photos one morning in October of two adults and a juvenile.  Not sure if this young one was related to the above two, to which the following series of photos will attest.

 

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Two adult eagles were hanging out in the big tree two houses to the north of us when a juvenile made his (or her) presence known. The adult eagles were not happy to see him. There are three eagles in this photo, look hard!

 

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Still three eagles. The juvenile is the darker colored one who has not developed its’ distinctive white head and tail. One of them is raising a fuss, look carefully!

 

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An aerial battle ensued. My money is on the adult

 

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The eagle on the left is checking out the sky. The other one is looking for a landing location.

 

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Victory! The eagles are still wary (nothing to do with me, I’m sure-sarcasm), but they have settled down just a wee bit.

 

I will close with two photos taken of the same sunrise a couple of weeks ago.  I love these photos, with the brilliant sunrise and Tom silhouetted in the sunlight.  The second one is my favorite except for the fact that Tom looks like a headless owl, and you know we don’t like owls around these parts!  But the first one is pretty darn special, too.

 

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Wow, just wow!!! Sunrise at the secret location with Tom silhouetted in the scraggly stick tree and the sun reflecting off the water.

 

 

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I love, love, love this photo. Too bad Tom was busy preening and didn’t look at the camera!

 

So that’s it for now.  By the time I visit you again, the Great Wait will be over and there will be a new college graduate in our midst!  We are all keeping our fingers crossed for three uneventful hatches and a successful Roger!

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!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eggcitement!!!

Good morning from the fabulous Eastern Shore of Maryland, complete with three beautiful new eggs!  Given all of the eggcitement of the last few weeks, I will start with current events, and fill in with what we have missed as we go along this season.  As I am sure you all know by now, our dear Audrey returned to her summer digs on March 18, and was joined by Calico Tom the Fishing Fool shortly thereafter on March 25.  Nest construction commenced at warp speed, and what a nest it is indeed!  Those of you who are concerned about our nest removal at the end of each season should feel much better now.  And not to worry, COM has a plethora of pre-fab osprey nest sticks ready for the taking.

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Sticks, sticks and more sticks!

 

A few of these sticks are scattered out in our yard at all times, should building materials be needed.  COM actually saw Tom swoop down and grab a stick right off of the tree pile.  And of course, COM’s marked sticks are gracing the superb nest in hues of pink and green.  There are yellow marked sticks out in the yard as I write, and it probably won’t be long before one of them brightens up the place.  Keep your eyes on that nest!

The beginning and end of each season is always busy with logistic maneuverings, and this season was no different.  The camera pole and nest pole were taken down last fall to avoid ice damage over the winter.  The camera pole was placed on the dock so our viewing audience could enjoy the peaceful winter scenes, complete with our lovely tundra swans that grace the waters of the Chesapeake Bay while the ospreys are down South.

 

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Sunrise at the secret location. The camera pole was mounted on one of the pilings. You can see it toward the left of the photo attached to one of the lower pilings. The camera is visible just over the land on the horizon.

 

But what comes down must go up, and our wonderful friends from the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage and Chesapeake Conservancy, along with Crazy Osprey Man (COM) were here to save the day just before Tom and Audrey were due to return.  The weather, wind and tides did not cooperate with the planned installation, and we were holding our breath hoping our ospreys did not return before their abode was in place.

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The nest pole is ready to be raised and jetted back into place.

 

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Here comes the camera pole! It is really heavy, and took three strong men to get it back out.

 

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All ready to be wired up and occupied!

 

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Mission accomplished! From the left, Phil, Dean, COM and David

 

Of course, nothing is ever easy.  The cable that COM ordered to run out to the cameras was too short.  Another COM project on the way…….

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Ready to hit that frigid water. Brrrrrr!

 

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Where is that stupid cable? It’s cold out here and the water is getting deep!

 

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The water was almost too deep to continue. Check out the water line near the top of COM’s waders! He almost needed to change his undies…

 

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COM on his trusty mega stepladder, crimping cable.

 

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COM and his watery twin. Check out the cool (and I mean cool in more than one sense of the word) reflection.

 

And while COM was doing his thing, Mrs. COM was on the dock taking photos and having heart palpitations when Peter decided to explore Osprey Girl’s boat lift.

 

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Peter giving Mrs. COM heart palpitations. At one point, he was way out at the end of the lift.

 

After Peter safely returned to terra firma, a crab net was retrieved from the garage to keep on the dock.  I really don’t want to go swimming after a clumsy cat, but I will scoop him up!  Of course, you know I would jump in after him, but I don’t feel like testing my resolve, and the crab net now has a permanent place close at hand for when Peter goes in the drink.

Thanks to everyone who braved the cold to get our poles back in operation!  And extra special thanks to COM who tirelessly works all winter to get things ready for Tom and Audrey’s return, then jumps into the cold water as many times as it takes to make it right.

So with all of the equipment in place, it was time to wait and watch for Audrey’s return.  And just like clockwork, she arrived on the exact same date as last year.

 

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Audrey sitting way down low in the scraggly stick tree on a cold, windy morning.

 

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She’s baaaaack!

 

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And here comes that crazy woman with the camera. I’m outta here, says Audrey

 

In less than a week, our gallant Calico Tom made his way back to his summer home.

 

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Tom has arrived, and the beginnings of a nest are taking shape.

 

It didn’t take long for the nest to start looking comfy cozy, complete with COM’s marked sticks.

 

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Reunited and it feels so good (singing). COM’s green marked stick is visible on the bottom left of the nest.

 

The nest went up with gusto, precision (sort of) and speed.  Here is another photo just a few days after Tom arrived.

 

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The barter system is alive and well. Tom brings in the building materials, and Audrey (I’m blushing), well Audrey lets Tom have his way with her. After all, fair is fair….

 

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What is that dulcimer tone I hear? Oh, how we have all missed Audrey’s yakking! She is giving Tom an earful, for sure.

 

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Tom has heard quite enough, and leaves Audrey to talk to herself.

 

Tom can be quite the show-off, this time standing on one “foot”.

 

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Bet you can’t do this, Audrey, thinks Tom.

 

There are always questions about how to tell Tom and Audrey apart.  It is not easy, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it at first.  Remember, some of us have been observing them for a long time.  Here are a couple of hints and examples of what to look for (sorry to have ended this sentence with a preposition, just couldn’t figure out how to do it using proper grammar).

If the wind and sun are cooperating, and Tom is situated favorably, you may see a buff colored patch on the back of his head/neck.

 

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Tom’s buff spot (I guess it is better than a bald spot)

 

Another way to tell them apart is by the coloring under their eyes.  Audrey has a break of white in the black under her eyes, while the coloring under Tom’s eyes has no break in the black.  This is a photo from last season, but it is a great comparison of them both together.  Tom is on the right, Audrey is on the left.

 

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You should now be able to identify which osprey is Tom and which is Audrey

 

Here is one more tutorial for you.  A couple of weeks ago, Tom and Audrey were each eating on the dock.  It’s very unusual to see both of them eating their own fish at the same time, but they were. Here is a wide shot with both of them visible.

 

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Tom and Audrey each enjoying their own fish on the dock

 

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Osprey #1 on the big boat lift

 

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Osprey #2 on the little boat lift

 

Okay, this may not be a good angle on Osprey #2, but it is a very cool photo.  I will give you a hint.  Here is Osprey #2 a couple of weeks ago in the scraggly stick tree one house to the north of us.

 

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Osprey #2 on a different day, drying out in the scraggly stick tree.

 

If you can’t figure out who is who, the answer will appear below. Patience is a virtue, so read on….

Where do Tom and Audrey sleep at night?  If you watch the camera with any regularity at night, Audrey will almost always be seen sleeping in the nest, especially now when she is incubating her eggs.  You may hear some scratching sounds, which is usually Tom on the cross piece which stabilizes the poles.  Here are Tom and Audrey during the day, with Tom hanging out on the crosspiece.  These photos were taken just before the first egg was laid.

 

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A wide view of the nest and camera poles. Audrey is in the nest, Tom is on the crosspiece drying out.

 

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Closer view of our pair spending a lovely late afternoon together at their complex.

 

The really special news (other than they’re baaaack) is, as of this writing, we have three eggs!  Right on time, three days apart (give or take a few hours) starting in the wee small hours on April 14, what a joy to behold!  We have had four eggs in the past, but that is the exception rather than the rule.  Three is fine with us, we don’t need any more.  And now the waiting begins.  At our nest, the typical time from egg laying to hatching is 39-41 days.  This would put our first hatch sometime from May 23-25, with subsequent hatches occurring 3 and 6 days after the first one.

I will leave you with a few more photos from recent days.  It is not easy to see from the camera, but Audrey sits way down low in the nest when she is incubating, especially in some of the rotten weather we have been experiencing.

 

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Audrey is incubating her eggs. Tom is planning how to get her to move so he may have a turn. He loves to sit on those eggs!

 

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Our mother-to-be giving Mrs. COM the stink eye.

 

Well, the hour is getting late and work is just around the corner.  I will leave you with an incredible December sunrise, complete with oyster boats out before dawn.

 

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December sunrise, untouched. WOW!

 

And the answer is:  Tom is Osprey #1, Audrey is Osprey #2.  Were you right?

I can’t close without a big shout out and thank you to Poppy, our Explore moderator extraordinaire. You’re the best, Poppy and we appreciate everything you do to keep us informed and entertained with all things osprey!

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Princess Diaries-Part One

Good morning from the hot, humid Eastern Shore of Maryland!  The sultry days of summer are upon us as we continue our march toward the end of another fabulous osprey season here at the secret location.  My story of our favorite osprey family has gotten way behind, but there is no time like the present to start catching up.

My selection of available photographs has gotten ridiculously large, so I have decided to regale you with some shorter literary blogs with a plethora of photos.  As the title of this blog promises, Part One means there will be a Part Two, which in theory should follow closely behind said Part One.

I will start you off with one of the obligatory poop shots.  Tom enjoyed one of his daily constitutionals in the presence of some dastardly crows, who so far have turned out to be not so dastardly this year.

 

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Tom multi-tasking: pooping, eating and fending off hungry crows. What a guy!

 

Alas, we haven’t seen our beautiful Harriet in quite some time.  I like to think she has pulled an E.T. on us.  For those of you who weren’t with us in the 2015 season, we were visited by a recently fledged youngster who decided he liked the secret location better than his own nest.  E.T. stayed with us the rest of the season, and was quite the character.  So I am sure Harriet is somewhere not too far away, enjoying some different scenery and being pampered by a foster mom and dad like our E.T. of three years ago.

 

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Meghan and Harriet when they were known as Meghan and Harry. I must admit I am not sure who is who in this photo

 

Audrey is a really good mom, and remains ever vigilant:

 

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Audrey keeping her eye on Mrs. COM and the box around her neck

 

On Friday, July 13, we had the great honor of a banding visit from our favorite raptor biologist, Craig Koppie.  Craig has been and remains one of the best parts of being the caretakers at the secret location.  One would be hard pressed to find a more pleasant, competent and resourceful addition to our osprey team.  As Meghan and Harry (soon to be Harriet) were consumed with their flapping and hopping, the time wasn’t far away when they would fledge.  Craig made it over in the nick of time.  He had two helpers from the Chesapeake Conservancy, Intern Stephanie and Intern Michael, along with our neighbor Drew and Mrs. COM (me!).  It was a beautiful day, if not beastly hot, and banding commenced shortly after Craig’s arrival.

 

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Craig and Intern Michael wade out to the pole with our faithful, really big stepladder

 

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Decisions, decisions. Where to put this gigantic ladder? Meghan and Harry have some ideas where they could put that ladder!

 

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Audrey is not at all happy with the emerging situation, and keeps a close eye on the events at the pole complex. As you might imagine, she was not quiet in her consternation

 

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In order to able to be able to reach the birds (and not poke his eye out), Craig removes some of the wayward sticks. Harry, in his last few minutes as a boy, is willing to help with the eye poking!

 

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Smile! Someone is taking your picture!

 

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It would appear that Craig has grabbed a few chicks in his day, with apologies to Mrs. Craig

 

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Someone is not happy! Check out that tail, must be some turkey DNA in there some where

 

 

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Harry seems resigned to his fate

 

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Craig is carefully preparing Harry for his trip back to the dock.  Harry looks like he really wants a piece of Craig

 

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If looks could kill, Craig would be in a world of hurt. Intern Michael is looking glad that Harriet is not looking at him

 

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Check out those beautiful wings!

 

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I think Craig may have held a bird or two in his career

 

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The bird formerly known as Harry is getting her bling

 

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Oh, my, check out Harriet’s mouth. She is looking to take a chunk out of Craig, who offers her a glove instead of his flesh

 

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Harriet gets blue tape on her band. Roger is waiting quietly in the wings in case he is needed

 

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Someone is looking a little cranky! (Hint: It is not Craig or Roger)

 

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The trusty glove is needed once again.

 

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Those are some big wings for a young bird!

 

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Audrey has returned to the nest to lend moral support to Meghan, who is hoping beyond hope that she isn’t next

 

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Audrey is quite happy that she knows how to fly, and off she goes (middle right of the photo just in front of the land)

 

In case one of the chicks decides to go for a swim, we have a rescue boat at the ready:

 

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Drew, Intern Stephanie and Archie at the ready (Hint: Archie is the only one not wearing a hat)

 

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Harriet is safely back in the nest. Next up-Meghan

 

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Craig has to remove some more sticks to get to Meghan. She is not cooperating and dancing all around the nest to avoid Craig invading her personal space

 

Craig and Intern Michael have had to move the ladder around several times to be in a position for Craig to grab Meghan.  She decides this would be a perfect time to fledge, but her wings aren’t quite strong enough yet and she ends up in the drink:

 

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This sure doesn’t seem like flying, thinks Meghan

 

Ospreys can float for a very long time, so Craig isn’t worried about Meghan.  In fact, he was kind of happy that he would be able to retrieve her for banding without too much more trouble.

 

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Splish, splash, Craig and Meghan are takin’ a bath!  You can see some of the sticks that Craig removed from the nest floating behind him

 

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Gotcha! More of that turkey DNA is kicking in, check out that tail (and the cool reflection)!

 

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There is no escaping Craig, this is not his first rodeo

 

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Out of the drink with precious cargo.

 

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That wasn’t nice, mister, now I am going to make you pay for my indignities!

 

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I do believe that is blood on Craig’s hand…….

 

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Someone is looking a little wet, how did that happen?

 

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The diversionary glove has made another appearance

 

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A great shot of Meghan’s eye. The orange will become more yellow as she matures

 

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As the banding commences, Meghan is still trying to get another piece of Craig

 

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Meghan’s turn to get a little bling. She looks resigned to her fate

 

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Yellow is a nice color!

 

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Let me at’m, says Meghan.  More blood, this time on Craig’s thumb

 

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Down the ladder they go, headed back to the nest

 

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The rescue boat is still on station. It was a very hot day, so Craig decides to give Meghan a little cool down before he puts her back in the nest

 

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Ah, that feels good, thinks Meghan. Maybe this guy isn’t so bad after all

 

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As Meghan gets closer to being back in the nest, Audrey is still very concerned and circling around. Intern Michael is holding some sort of device. What could it be?

 

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Meghan goes back in the nest. I don’t think Harriet looks too happy to see her. Do you think it is Craig she is not happy to see? Probably a safe bet!

 

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No mission would be complete without a COM device. This is COM’s homemade Osprey Camera Cleaning Device.  It looks remarkably similar to a boat hook with a squeegee attached to the end. You have to check out the body language on Meghan!

 

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Craig told us the banding was free, but the camera washing was extra. Well worth it, don’t you think?  Everybody’s a comedian!

 

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Like the good naturalist he is, Craig is recycling the sticks he removed from the nest. They went right back on our stick pile to be used again.

 

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Time to put away the big ladder and COM’s contraption. Please be careful with the Osprey Camera Cleaning Device, Intern Michael, it might be worth a lot of money some day!

 

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Audrey decides the coast is clear, and comes back to her girls

 

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Incoming!

 

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Back together again. Audrey, Meghan and Harriet, formerly known as Harry

 

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Intern Mike, Craig, Intern Stephanie and Roger hiding in the back. Mission Accomplished!

 

A couple of quick items before I close for now.  In years past, Craig has banded the young birds in a big plastic tub.  This year, the chicks were too big for Craig’s boxes, so he brought them up on the dock for banding.

Second item:  You may have wondered how the colors are chosen for the banded birds.  Not much to it, Craig shows me the choice of colors, and I pick.  I figured Harriet used to be Harry, so I would make him blue for (former) boys, giving us a good way to remember who is who.  Sexist logic, one might argue, but it is what it is.

I think that is enough for tonight, as the hour is late (actually quite early) and my bed is calling.  The Princess Diaries, Part Two should be out in about a week, so stay tuned!

Until nest 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Royalty In Our Midst

 

In loving memory of the reporters killed on 6/28/2018 in a senseless attack on the newsroom of the Capital Gazette newspaper, Annapolis, Maryland. May freedom of the press never be taken for granted in our country.

Gerald Fischman

Rob Hiaasen

John McNamara

Rebecca Smith

Wendi Winters

May their shining lights never be extinguished. 

 

Good evening from the steamy, hot Eastern Shore of Maryland!  I have had a serious case of writer’s cramp for several weeks, but you will be glad to know I am feeling much better now.  One minute we were waiting for our eggs to hatch, and now we are watching some serious wing flapping and hopping.  Here is a synopsis of the happenings at Tom and Audrey’s nest over the last several weeks, and some lovely photos for your viewing pleasure.

As you are well aware, on May 21 and May 24, our two remaining eggs hatched right on schedule.  Due to the timing of the hatches, our chicks were from the first and second eggs laid.  I know we were all hoping not to have a large age gap between our two chicks, and fortunately, that was exactly what happened.  After not having any chicks hatch last year due to a crow attack on the eggs, and only one surviving chick in 2016 due to a Great Horned Owl attack, there was a huge sigh of relief and lots of big smiles at the secret location, the Chesapeake Conservancy and from our faithful viewers around the world.

Let’s begin your viewing pleasure with a photo we took while out on one of COM’s many watercraft.  There has been a fair amount of discussion over the years as to why we take down the nest every year.  One of the reasons is that our little two inch pole would not be able to support a nest that kept growing and growing every year.  Tom and Audrey don’t seem to mind the nest removal, and build a beautiful new one every year.  Here is what a nest can look like if left to grow year after year.  It is located up a creek not too far from our house, and the photo was taken a couple of days ago.  This nest sure wouldn’t work on our pole!

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Now that’s a lot of sticks! I wonder if some of them have come from the prefab osprey nest materials supplied by the Crazy Osprey Family?

 

After the eggs first hatched, the chicks were visible from the osprey camera, but not from land.  Here is one of the first photos taken when both chicks were visible for my camera:

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One of the first days that two little heads were visible from land

 

You may have noticed a pulley under the nest platform.  This is a new addition to accommodate the logistics of raising and lowering the pole.  It is another one of Crazy Osprey Man’s (COM) cool contraptions.  He is quite the idea man, with the added advantage of being able to personally bring them to fruition.

I do read the blog and explore.org comments with some regularity, particularly to see what types of questions are being posed by our camera watchers.  There is always concern when the chicks are left alone in the nest, particularly when they were younger.  Not to worry, there is always a parent close by.  Tom likes to sit on the top of the camera pole and the cross piece that stabilizes the camera and nest poles.  He is really, really close to the nest action.  Audrey is never far away, usually just taking a little fly around the neighborhood to stretch her wings.  Just earlier this evening with no supervising adults at home, a crow started checking out the nest.  In a split second, both Tom and Audrey were on that crow with a vengeance. The crow, being of sound mind and body, decided it was time to move on and move on it did.

On June 11, there was great excitement at the secret location when Joel Dunn, President and CEO of the Chesapeake Conservancy, was interviewed on a live television show for Maryland Public Television (MPT).  He appeared on Direct Connection With Jeff Salkin.  The day started out with miserable weather, rainy and windy.  Much to everyone’s relief, by the time of the broadcast the rain had stopped, and the sun was trying come out. If you go to the MPT website https://video.mpt.tv/video/monday-june-11-2018-yey9i9/, you can watch the segment.  The live camera shot was being broadcast, along with Joel answering questions from the moderator and live audience.  The chicks were just laying around, and Audrey was perched on the edge of the nest.  It was not especially interesting to watch until about eleven minutes into the segment, when Tom showed up with a whole fish, right on cue! Take a look, I think you will enjoy it.

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Live from the secret location! Joel Dunn, President and CEO of the Chesapeake Conservancy, gets ready for his interview on Maryland Public Television.

 

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The cameraman getting focused on the nest.

 

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COM gets in on the action, checking out the equipment

 

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While the humans get ready for the interview, Tom watches the flurry of activity from the scraggly stick tree next door to the north

 

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It takes a large cast of characters to put together a live broadcast. Sure glad our lawn was looking good!

 

As the chicks have grown larger, it has become easier to see them through my camera lens.  Audrey has spent much of her time trying to shield the chicks from the relentless sun.  Tom has been living up to his nickname “Calico Tom, The Fishing Fool”. Here are some photos of what has been going on in our little osprey neighborhood:

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Audrey is multi-tasking, providing shade for her chicks while giving Tom an earful to hurry up with some chow

 

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A quiet moment on a brutally hot day at the secret location. Audrey is a really good mom shading her babies

 

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Tom is once again making a heck of a mess on the electric box at the end of the dock. Roger can’t even look at the bloody mess

 

 

 

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Calico Tom The Fishing Fool is looking really wet and bedraggled, complete with a wonky feather hanging off to the left. He looks kind of embarrassed to be caught in such a state

 

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Tom is on top of the camera pole preening and trying to get dry.  The wonky feather is still visible. Audrey continues her motherly duties, feeding her chicks and ignoring the bedraggled fishing fool

 

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Tom is still drying, Audrey is still feeding the chicks. One is chick is being fed while the other one is checking things out to the left of Audrey.

 

Here is a series of photos precipitated by Mrs. COM’s relentless stalking of poor Tom who is just trying to get a good meal for himself and feed his growing family:

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Mrs. COM spots Tom with his catch

 

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Tom has taken his fish and lands on the dock next door to the south

 

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Mrs. COM is really making me work for it today, thinks Tom as he moves on

 

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Now Tom has landed on our boat lift. You can see the tail of the big fish hanging down under the boat lift beam and in Tom’s talons. He is contemplating his next move and looking rather disgusted with Mrs. COM’s persistence

 

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The Fishing Fool is on the move again. Take a look at that monster fish, and part of it has already been consumed. Mrs. COM takes pity on Tom, and the pursuit ends (for now)

 

I have been amazed at the size of some the fish Tom has caught this season.  He is a fishing machine!

 

The chicks are becoming easier to see from the backyard and dock:

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A typical day at the nest. Tom is surveying his kingdom from the top of the camera pole, Audrey is feeding one of her chicks, and one chick is already in a food coma

 

Another day, another humongous fish caught by Tom:

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Tom is on the electrical box at the end of the dock. The fish has seen better days. Roger remains nonplussed

 

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Go, Tom, go! You can escape from Mrs. COM, just keep flying out over the water with your big, bloody striper!

 

 

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A good example of why this fish’s nickname is a striper (striped bass or rockfish in the Chesapeake). Tom in the scraggly stick tree with his catch

 

And yet another impressive fish snagged by our fishing fool:

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Tom has landed on our boat lift with a whole fish, which was still twitching. I don’t think this is going to turn out well for the fish

 

A short break from osprey and fish for a serene sunrise over the Chesapeake Bay behind our house:

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A bucolic sunrise at the secret location. The watermen get out before sunrise. This is a typical Chesapeake Bay workboat

 

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Close up of the sun’s reflection on the water at sunrise. Spectacular!

 

We have been experiencing some extreme weather conditions with dangerous heat and humidity.  I look out at the nest, and wonder how our birds can endure the relentless conditions:

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Bad hair day for Audrey. One chick is telling the other not to look, Mom is looking pretty scary.

 

Audrey is very attentive to her chicks and their surroundings.  When I approach too closely, she gives the warning call.  When the chicks hear Audrey’s danger voice, they pancake down into the nest with great haste, and are either barely or not at all visible:

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Chick hide-and-seek. Ready or not, here I come! See if you can spot the chicks after Audrey gives the warning call

 

Tom takes his role of provider very seriously:

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Wow, Dad, I want to be like you when I grow up. Meal arriving!

 

Another typical view of the nest from the end of our dock.  The chicks are growing fast:

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Audrey and her rapidly growing family

 

I have posted many photos in this blog of Tom The Fishing Fool and the reasons for his moniker.  Here is my favorite one for this blog:

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A new board on the poop dock next door to us to the south. Tom just can’t believe it’s me again.

 

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Is it my imagination, or is Tom starting to get his calico back? I have managed to chase him off yet again. Look at those beautiful feathers!

 

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Hmmm, I wonder for whom Tom is looking? Could it be that crazy woman with that big black box hanging around her neck?

 

Over the years, there have been many discussions between our neighbors as to the preferred water orientation for our homes in the community.  Some prefer the western view to capture the sunset.  We love our eastern view of the sun and moon rises.  Here is another reason why the eastern orientation gets our vote.  This photo was taken during one of our Full Moon Dock Parties, the hottest invitation in town!

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Moon rise reflection over the water at the secret location. As the moon gets higher in the night sky, the reflection will spread out until the entire surface of the water is glistening in the moonlight. The moon gets so bright, it casts shadows in our backyard. Cast your vote for the eastern orientation!

 

Tom has started spending more time in the big tree two houses to the north of us.  See if you can spot him in this photo:

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Believe me, he is up there! Look way, way up at the tippy top

 

Here is proof that he is really there:

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A closer view of Tom in the big tree. Can you say trespassing?

 

We haven’t heard much about our downstairs neighbors this year.  Our little sparrow family suffered the same fate last year as Tom and Audrey.  Their babies also met their demise by the actions of the dastardly crows.  Here is our entire family and one of the downstairs neighbors enjoying a happier outcome this year:

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Audrey is feeding one of her babies. Tom is surveying his kingdom. See if you can spot the downstairs neighbor

 

Audrey has sounded the alarm that Mrs. COM is approaching:

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The chicks have assumed their pancake poses. The downstairs neighbor has moved to safer grounds just under the nest.

 

Tom has maintained his vantage point on the high ground:

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Tom is on top of the camera pole keeping an eye on things. This is a great view of the camera

 

One brave chick decides if mom and dad can keep an eye on things, so can he (or she):

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One brave chick pops back up with no visible sign of the other one

 

A test of your attention to detail.  What can you see in this photo besides a nest and birds?

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Look closely and carefully now. A hint-check the right side of the nest

 

The second chick is still heeding the danger warning:

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I don’t think she can see me, thinks the pancaked chick. Wrong!

 

This chick is much more timid that its’ sibling:

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Great mother/offspring portrait. The head of the pancaked chick is just visible to the left of the other birds

 

Audrey is having a hard time swallowing something.  Chick #2 is being brave and has popped back up, but is still checking out the person at the end of the dock with the camera.  Chick #1 is checking out something away from the nest:

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What’s wrong, Mom?

 

COM thinks I am disgusting, but I don’t think I was able to capture nature at its’ finest in the last blog:

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A missed opportunity. This image was captured either a split second too early, or a split second too late. I know, TMI

 

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Like mother, like offspring. Maybe this is why Chick #2 had to get up and wasn’t being brave after all!

 

 

Another quick break from birds:

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My butterfly bush, which was a volunteer that sprouted up many years ago from a visiting bird’s calling card. Use your imagine.

 

Audrey is providing some shade, which doesn’t go as far due to the rapidly increasing size of the chicks:

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Someone is looking lovingly at mom, the other one is panting. They are both thinking, “What happened to our mombrella?”. We have had some some horribly hot days of late

 

One last photo of Audrey and her babies for now:

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A very nice photo of mom and her babies. This is one of my favorites in this blog

 

Tom is not physically in the nest very often, but is usually close by.  I was able to get a photo of Tom hanging out in the nest and then deciding it was time to go:

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A candid family portrait, with the kids not cooperating. You can see the very prominent dark areas on the back of their heads.

 

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“I think I see Moby Dick”, thinks Tom. Time to go fishing!

 

The much awaited naming of the chicks was finally announced last week.  A big welcome to Harry and Meghan!  These were my favorite names, so I was happy to hear the results.  Hopefully, we will be able to get the chicks banded in the next few days.  If we need to make an adjustment to accommodate the gender of the chicks, we can always welcome Harriet or Henry!

Harry and Meghan

Do you think we should tell them?

 

I leave you with one more sunrise.  Thanks for being patient with me!

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Sunrise at the secret location. Check out the starboard running light of the little boat in the lower left hand corner of the photo

 

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Maybe not as beautiful as some of the other sunrises I have posted, but it was very dramatic

 

The hour is late with an early wake-up for work looming.  Keep watching Meghan and Harry doing those flap-hops, as I call them, because fledging is not far behind!

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rain, Rain, Go AWAY

***ALERT-EGG IS PIPPING NOW-HATCH IS IMMINENT***

MONDAY 5/21/2018 12:15 A.M.

Good evening from the damp, rainy, cloudy, dreary Eastern Shore of Maryland.  This last week has tried the patience of man and bird alike, until the sun peaked out for a while today.  We hadn’t had a stretch of such miserable weather for quite some time.  All I could keep thinking about were the last two seasons.  Last year, during a spell of cold, rainy weather a week before the eggs were due to start hatching, Tom was not able to catch enough fish to keep Audrey satisfied.  Wrought with hunger, she left the nest, ostensibly looking for food.  While the nest was unattended, dastardly crows invaded the nest and destroyed the eggs.  In 2016, we made history at our nest.  Audrey disappeared for over twenty four hours.  Tom stayed on the eggs as long as he could, but eventually had to leave to catch a meal.  The three eggs remained unattended for seven hours in the steady rain when the temperature was 47 degrees.  None of the experts thought the eggs would be viable, but we made history when two of the three hatched.  What happened to the third egg in 2016?  You will have to keep reading to find out!

Before I continue, I want to get out a very important message from our dear partners, the Chesapeake Conservancy.  Tomorrow, May 21st, something huge is happening for them. They will be launching a 24-hour crowdfunding campaign with a goal of raising $100,000 to protect the nest that sustains us all: the Chesapeake Bay. This is a great opportunity to support the organization that brings you right up close to Audrey, Tom, and their chicks every year through the webcam. And thanks to a couple of matching donors, your gift will be quadrupled. Every $1 you give becomes $4! But the campaign is all or nothing; if Chesapeake Conservancy doesn’t reach their $100,000 goal within 24 hours, all donations will be returned. Visit charidy.com/ProtectTheNest between 3 pm May 21st and 3 pm May 22nd to participate in this much-needed initiative.

In the last blog, I summarized the egg laying dates since we have been partners with the Chesapeake Conservancy, starting in 2013.  Here is the rest of the story:

In 2013, our nest was occupied by our current Audrey (Audrey #2 at our nest), but a different Tom than we have today (Tom #2 at our nest).  Four eggs were laid on 4/17, 4/19, 4/23 and 4/25.  Three of the eggs hatched on 5/26, 5/29 and 6/2.  This would make the number of days from laying to hatching 39, 40 and 40.  The fourth egg did not hatch.

The 2014 season brought us three eggs on 4/15, 4/18 and 4/21.  The same Tom and Audrey were here as in 2013. Only two of the three eggs hatched on 5/24 and 5/27.  Days from laying to hatch in 2014 were 39, 39.

Now to 2015, our most unusual season at the secret location.  Although we had the same Audrey, our Tom #2 did not return.  We had a couple of suitors show up that spring trying to win the heart (and other parts) of our lovely Audrey.  The first male that showed up was dubbed “The Dark Stranger”, due to his coloring and the fact that he had not been previously seen at our nest.  I guess the It’s Just Lunch date didn’t work out, because a week later, a new male showed up.  He was a handsome devil, with extremely mottled feathers.  Our dear friend and osprey expert, Dr. Paul Spitzer, coined the moniker “Calico Tom”, who became our Tom #3.  This is the Tom that is at our nest today, but he has lost his calico appearance.  If you go back to the blogs from 2015, you will surely be able to discern from the photos how Tom got his nickname that year.

But the fun wasn’t over for 2015.  As Audrey patiently incubated her eggs well past their anticipated hatching dates, it became painfully obvious that none of the eggs were viable.  This was attributed to our young male not yet being fertile.  We were so saddened not to have any chicks, but Audrey continued to sit.  Now you must do some homework.  Your assignment is to read two of the blogs from the summer of 2015.  The first is titled “Who Said You Can’t Fool Mother Nature”, published on 7/9/2015.  The second assignment is to read “E.T. Phone Home”, published 7/23/2015.  If you are sitting there reading this blog, I absolutely guarantee you will be extremely happy to read those two blogs.  Bottom line:  None of the eggs from 2015 hatched.  But the teaser is that Tom and Audrey raised three lovely osprey babies that season.  Now how could that have happened if their eggs didn’t hatch, you may be asking?  Do your homework, and you will be rewarded with the answer!

So here comes 2016 and the start of our two year run of bad luck, with a little history making thrown in.  Audrey laid three eggs that season on 4/17, 4/20 and 4/23.  On 5/5, Audrey disappeared for over twenty four hours into 5/6, with Tom holding down the fort as best he could until he had to leave to find a meal.  The details of this incident can be found in “History In The Making”, published 5/31/2016.  Two of the three eggs did hatch, one on 5/27 and one on 5/29.  The number of days from laying to hatch were 40 and 39. Before the third egg had a chance to hatch, the nest was attacked the night of 5/31 by a Great Horned Owl, leading to the demise of one newly-hatched chick and the eventual destruction of the third unhatched egg.  For extra credit, read “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood”, published 6/30/2016.

Last year, our beautiful osprey pair laid three gorgeous eggs on 4/12, 4/15 and 4/18.  On 5/13, a mere four days before the hatching window would be upon us, crows descended on the unattended nest.  Two of the three eggs were destroyed, but the third appeared to still be intact.  Ultimately, the third egg turned out to be damaged beyond viability.  Sadly, for the first time since we have had a nest at the secret location beginning in 1995, Tom and Audrey did not have any chicks to raise.

After the loss of our chick and egg to the Great Horned Owl, it was suggested to us by Craig Koppie, a raptor biologist for U.S. Fish and Wildlife, that we install a “scareowl”, sort of like a scarecrow, but for owls.  COM was on it, and Roger has been gracing the end of our dock since 2016 as Protector and Defender of young ospreys.  Roger has come out of his winter digs, and is back on patrol at the end of the dock.  By the way, Craig also co-authored “Inside An Osprey’s Nest”, which chronicles our 2015 osprey season and includes other fascinating osprey information.  The book may be purchased through the Chesapeake Conservancy’s website.

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Roger is looking a little raggedy this season. A new chapeau is in his future

 

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Here is Roger with the osprey complex in the background

 

Given the less than ideal weather conditions we have been experiencing at the secret location, Tom and Audrey have been exemplary parents-to-be.  Tom is earning his Fishing Fool moniker this season, and so far it seems that Audrey has not had to fish for her self.  Dr. Spitzer wrote a summary of what he calls “The Home Life of the Osprey”.  I asked permission to share it with everyone.   It is a fascinating summary of, well, the home life of the osprey.  Enjoy!

Good brief summary I just sent off to a friend.  This wasn’t learned in one season; or a decade.  But some of us are slow learners.       

Female and male have separate roles post-hatch.  She is heavier, stays dry and warms the nestlings in cold and inclement weather.  He is lighter and a bit smaller; so has a lighter wing-loading–efficient for hunting and toting prey in.  Of course he’s getting wet too.  He does incubate while she takes his prey delivery to a perch.  But throughout the whole 5 month breeding cycle, he’s the provider and commuter.  This begins with feeding her when they return from their separate tropical vacations.  And she does most of the egg incubation; always at night.  With their diving life-style, they don’t carry a heavy down layer.  We think this reduces the efficiency of energy transfer to their eggs; because their incubation period is exceptionally long, at least a couple days more than the Bald Eagle.

A lone male will initiate a nest.  A female will return to her traditional site, but not build cooperatively until she has a mate.  We think this is about logistics–he needs to know the spatial and temporal distribution of food resources.  He really buffers her from all that.  And after the young are flying–she often heads South pretty soon, an early migrant.  He by contrast will stay on for a few weeks, and keep feeding the young.  This also continues to bolster his learning curve about extracting fish from the local habitats.  These days, there is strong competition for quality nest sites, so the male may defend into early September, even if the nest failed.

“Your” nest may be close enough that you are familiar with the female’s food-begging call; which becomes especially insistent once the young hatch.  The male usually has a feeding perch within easy view of the nest.  There he waits for the fish to die, and consumes the head.  Thus the female and young are cued to feed, and their physiology is primed to immediately consume the partial fish the male brings in.  This is desirable for nest hygiene, so that flies and beetles have relatively little time to lay eggs on prey remnants and infest the nest.  We think this predictable, stereotyped behavior has been strongly selected over evolutionary time.

Late last May, I had one high-tide boat-borne afternoon of CT hatch check with friends.  I wasn’t doing the study in 2017, so the exotic novelty of these nest visits returned with a rush.  It was a chilly overcast afternoon, we moved fast and mirrored most nest contents from the marsh below, respecting the birds.  But at one nest I climbed a ladder and thrust my hand into the warm dry nest cup, where three hatchlings were clustered tight to stay warm.  Suddenly, it felt like entering someone’s cozy cabin or living room.  I had a real moment, and was reminded of the title of a ~1900 photo book about nesting ospreys:  “The Home Life of the Osprey”.

Thank you, Dr. Spitzer, for always letting us share your wealth of osprey knowledge with our camera watchers and blog readers.  We are so grateful to have you as an osprey expert in our midst!

This blog is getting long enough, so I will finish up with some photos that I have taken since the last blog was published.  The weather certainly hasn’t helped my endeavors, but here are a few for your viewing pleasure.

Tom has taken to using the cross piece that stabilizes the two poles:

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Tom has found a new perch

 

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A closer view. There is no escaping the camera of Mrs. COM

 

Tom and Audrey aren’t the only visitors to our pilings.

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Hmm, I kind of like it here, thinks Mrs. Mallard. She hasn’t been introduced to the traveling camera just yet.  Mr. Mallard has already relocated to the water.  He is visible under the dock to the right of the photo

 

COM is feeling badly that he didn’t install some type of perch at the very top of the new camera, as Tom used to frequent the top of the K-Mart trash can camera cover quite frequently in years past.  COM has already thought up a contraption to use next year.  In the meantime, Tom has figured out how to sit at the tippy top of the camera pole quite nicely.

 

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As dusk approaches, Tom decides to survey his kingdom

 

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I’m King of the World! (with apologies to Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson). No icebergs around these parts!

 

Audrey’s favorite off nest perches continue to be the electric box on our dock, the scraggly stick tree and the dock one house to the south of us.  Here are two of them.

 

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Audrey loves to eat on the electric box post. She is trying to ignore me

 

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Audrey in the scraggly stick tree one house to the north of us, which doesn’t have many leaves this year. At this rate, I am not sure how long the tree will be with us.

 

Audrey has been very patiently incubating her eggs.  Tom loves, loves, loves to take his turn on the eggs.  Sometimes Audrey has a really tough time getting him to leave.

 

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Tom heads back to the nest. Audrey is looking at him and thinking “And where is the fish? Do you really think I am going to leave here without a fish?  Guess again, buddy.”

 

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Audrey is asking (more like telling) Tom not to come back again without a fish snack. Tom is staring off into the distance while perching on one of the nest supports, and seems oblivious to her nagging

 

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“I just can’t do a thing with my hair (read head feathers)”, thinks Audrey

 

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Something has caught both of their attention. There have been many other ospreys in the area.

 

When not on the nest, Tom likes to frequent our boat lift and the scraggly stick tree.  He spends hours each day in the tree.  Here he is on the boat lift.

 

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Tom hanging out on our boat lift

 

I spotted this osprey feather in the yard today.  I should have put a scale in the photo so you could better determine the size.  If it is still out there in the morning, I will take another one with a scale.  Rest assured it was a really big feather (although I am not sure how one quantifies “really big” when it comes to feathers)

 

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Someone has lost a beautiful osprey feather.

 

Between leaving for work before the sun comes up and the lack of sunshine of late, I do not have a new sunrise photo to post.  But after a peak of sun today, once again the rain came.  Fortunately, it didn’t last very long, but came down with great intensity.  Here is the pre-rain sky.

 

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Building thunderhead before the brief but intense storm this afternoon.  One of the big trees that our ospreys use is on the right

 

It shouldn’t be very long now before our first hatch, depending on which two of the original three eggs remain in the nest.  We are well in to the hatch window for Egg #1, and at the beginning of the window for Egg #2.  So keep watching for that first pip!  By the time I write the next blog, we should have two new chicks in the nest.  Fingers crossed, everyone!

Please, please remember to make your contribution to the Chesapeake Conservancy during their crowdfunding campaign tomorrow, starting at 3:00 p.m. and running for 24 hours.  Any donation will be greatly appreciated.

Go to charidy.com/ProtectTheNest between 3:00 p.m. on Monday 5/21 and 3:00 p.m. Tuesday 5/22 to help them attain their goal and protect our magnificent Chesapeake Bay.  Thanks so very much!

Don’t forget to do your homework, there will be a quiz on the next blog!

 

Until next time, we remain,

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

 

 

 

 

Deja Vu All Over Again

Good evening from the fantastic Eastern Shore of Maryland!  It is finally starting to feel a little like Spring here at the secret location, with the promise of even warmer weather later in the week.  There is no doubt the humans and birds in the area are going to be very delighted to encounter some much deserved warmth and sunshine.  There certainly has been some eggcitement since my last blog, so here we go!

As the title of this blog suggests, Audrey presented us with three lovely eggs on the exact same dates as last year.  So in the words of Yogi Berra, it’s deja vu all over again! Our first arrival was on April 12, the second on April 15 and the last egg arrival was on April 18.  These dates correspond to the very dates in 2017 when the three eggs were laid.  In 2016, Audrey’s three eggs entered the nest on 4/17, 4/20 and 4/23.  April 2015 brought us eggs on 4/12, 4/15 and a surprise after six days on 4/21.  Going back to 2014, our eggs were laid on 4/15, 4/18 and 4/21.  Our first year partnering with the Chesapeake Conservancy was in 2013, when Audrey laid a total of four eggs on 4/17, 4/19, 4/23 and 4/25.  This was the only year since we had a camera on the nest that we had four eggs.  I will discuss the hatching results in the next blog, have to keep you guessing!  Just a little hint, though-typical time from laying to hatching is 35-42 days, with the usual times on this nest being 39-41 days.  If you are inclined to do the math, we can probably expect our first egg to hatch between May 17-May 30.  Complicating the guessing game this season is the loss of one of our precious eggs. Since we don’t know which egg is now missing, our first hatch may be delayed.  We will just have to wait and see, but it is possible we are less than three weeks away from our first nestling!

After the third egg was laid on April 18, the rate of Tom’s sexual escapades (copulation is such a technical term) slowed down considerably, but did not completely stop.  Here is one of his last attempts to have his way with Audrey.

 

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INCOMING!

 

In addition to eggs showing up in the nest, there was a plethora of other objects that made their appearance in April.  One of the more concerning ones was a plastic water bottle, probably brought back by Tom.  Fortunately, it didn’t remain very long and was carried off by the wind, hopefully to a place where someone found it and had it recycled.

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We hate to see these types of items show up in any kind of nest, especially here at the secret location

 

A wad of some type of black matter was the subject of much discussion a couple of weeks ago.  COM and I took several good looks on our dedicated osprey computer monitor, which has incredible resolution. We determined it was a piece of filter cloth from our rip-rap, the structure that protects our shoreline from erosion.  When rip-rap is being installed, a layer of  filter cloth is laid over the bare earth that has been exposed, before any rocks are put in place. This will keep the dirt in place, but allows water to flow through.

 

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This is the top of our rip-rap at the interface of the stone revetment and our backyard lawn. The filter cloth has become visible over the years as the lawn has been exposed to the elements and eroded.

 

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This is most certainly what was brought back to the nest, and not monofilament fishing line (at least not this time)

 

I had a discussion with our dear friend and osprey expert, Dr. Paul Spitzer, and he told me that ospreys bring every sort of “stuff” into their nests.  He suggested putting out a little dolly, so we may have to sacrifice one of Osprey Girl’s old Barbie Dolls to the osprey gods.  It might be kind of creepy, though, so I will have to rethink that one.  Sorry, Dr. Spitzer, you have had some incredibly good osprey ideas over the years, but this might not be one of them.

There have been a few comments on the Explore site asking about how high the nest and platform are above the water, as sometimes it appears from the camera view that the nest is very close to the surface of the water.  Have no fear, the nest is well-protected from the waves.

 

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Plenty of room between the nest and the water. Tom and Audrey should be safe from any Chesapeake tsunamis!

 

Have you noticed how much Tom likes to incubate those eggs?  Sometimes after he takes over incubating duty, after bringing Audrey a fish or just giving her a break, she has a very difficult time getting him to leave when she returns.  When either Tom or Audrey is in the nest incubating, you can see it very clearly in the camera view.  However, from land, sometimes it is hard to tell if anyone is home, as evidenced by the above and below photos.  The incubating osprey sits very low snuggled into the nest.

 

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Is anyone home?

 

If you watch the camera with any regularity, you can’t help but notice that Audrey is, shall we say, quite vocal (that is an understatement, to be sure!).  There is a thirty second delay in what is happening in real time, and what is going out over the internet for your viewing pleasure.  We haven’t had an abundance of warm, window-opening weather yet this season, but when the windows and doors are open, we hear Audrey’s enthusiastic vocals in real time, then again thirty seconds later.  She also likes to start her sweet calling (yeah, right) before the sun comes up, shattering our early morning peace and quiet.  But this is a small price to pay to have our beloved osprey family right behind the house.

It has been brought to our attention that the sound from the camera is somewhat erratic.   This is a brand new camera and set-up this season, and we are trying to work all of the bugs out of it.  Unfortunately, with the eggs now being incubated, we are not able to approach the nest to try and troubleshoot the sound problem. Unlike our last camera, the new one has two-way sound.  This means that we can hear what is going on at the nest, and whoever is on the nest is able to hear us if we choose that option.  We are hoping that the two-way sound feature will be useful in keeping the crows away if the nest becomes unattended like last season.  I will discuss what happened last season in my next blog.  I am trying to keep this one happy and upbeat, and what happened last season was anything but happy or upbeat.

One of the real advantages to living here at the secret location is to be able to see Tom and Audrey when they are off the nest.  Our camera operators, including Crazy Osprey Man (COM to you newcomers), have done a wonderful job trying to locate our favorite osprey couple when they are not on the nest.  When COM and I are home, which is sporadic, we keep a lookout and try to move the camera to the location of the action.  This is another feature of our new camera, PTZ, or pan tilt zoom, which has proven to enhance everyone’s viewing pleasure.  Thanks for helping us out, camera operators!

So where are Tom and Audrey when they are not in the nest?  Guess what, you are in luck, because I will now answer that question in photographs!

One of Tom and Audrey’s favorite hangouts is what I have nicknamed “the scraggly stick tree”.  This is the tree right along the rip-rip of our next door neighbor’s house directly to the north of us.  In years past, Tom and Audrey would swoop down and snap a stick off this tree in flight, giving the tree a rather scraggly look, hence the name. COM’s stick locker has lessened the destruction brought upon the poor scraggly stick tree, since there are always a few sticks readily available in our back yard, sometimes even marked with colorful construction tape. But between Tom and Audrey, there is usually an osprey sitting in the scraggly stick tree a few hours of the day.

 

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Here is the scraggly stick tree, complete with Tom, half a fish and a dastardly crow sitting down low, willing Tom to drop his fish. Please try not to get seasick looking at this photo, I must have been distracted by something really amazing (probably not, just messed up)

 

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Tom is giving Mrs. COM the hairy eyeball, or should I say the feathery eyeball, or should I say the fishy eyeball?

 

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Tom is wondering just how close I will get before he has to take action. We can tell how close he got to the fish, which would be really close.

 

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Okay, that was close enough and action has been taken by Tom. I normally wouldn’t include a blurry photo, but it was too cool to leave out. I call this a quantity over quality photo!

 

One evening, just at dusk, I noticed Tom in the scraggly stick tree.  What really caught my eye was a rather large half a fish clutched in his talons.  The next two photos aren’t that great, because the light was fading fast, but I think you will get the idea. Now that’s a fish!

 

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You don’t need great light to see the blood trickling down this really big fish

 

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Tom wasn’t in a sharing mood, so he takes his bloody fish and departs with one foot holding the fish, and one foot remaining aerodynamic

 

 

Audrey also enjoys hanging out in the scraggly stick tree.

 

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Another purposeful stare from an osprey, only this time it is Audrey.

 

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Audrey looks like she means business. I am beginning to think I’m not wanted.

 

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Trying to avoid confrontation, Audrey decides it is time to move on.

 

The dock right next door to us to the south is a regular stop, but not as frequent as a couple of the other perches.  In the past, I have referred to this location as the “poop dock”, as opposed to the “poop deck”.  The house is for sale, so I think an eager realtor has recently had it pressure washed. As there is plenty of room on this dock, it is not unusual for Tom or Audrey to have company when enjoying a fishy snack.

 

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Maybe if I ignore them, they will go away, thinks the osprey. The gulls, however, remain hopeful.

 

The next series of photos began at the poop dock.

 

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If it’s not the crows or the seagulls, it’s Mrs. COM and her stupid camera, thinks Audrey.

 

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Audrey is looking quite grumpy. I am warning you, Mrs. COM, if you don’t stop right there, I am going to leave…..

 

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Audrey leaves, and relocates to the scraggly stick tree, a short flight to the north, still clutching her fish.

 

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Are you going to make me move again? This is getting on my nerves.

 

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Audrey has relocated yet again, way up to the top of the big tree two houses to the north of us. I feel sorry for her and go back home. She still has her fish.

 

One last scraggly stick tree photo for this blog.  I have a feeling I caught Tom either pre or post poop…….

 

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Tom either feels better or is about to feel better.

 

 

It’s a good bet that on a daily basis, either Tom or Audrey will usually make it to our neighbor’s dock swim ladder, two houses to the south of us.

 

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A very high tide surrounds our neighbor’s dock. This is a very frequent roosting location for Tom and Audrey, sometimes even together at the same time as seen in the last blog.

 

This is another photo taken around dusk.  I looked out, and there was Tom on the swim ladder with a good size fish.  Although the lighting is bad, I heavily cropped the photo and tried to lighten it so you could get a look at the blood on Tom’s legs.

 

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Good night for Tom, bad night for the fish, ignore the tilt.

 

 

No trip around Tom and Audrey’s neighborhood would be complete without their frequent visits to our dock.  There are lots of good places to relax, and since COM’s boat and Osprey Girl’s boat will be back in their lifts this week, there are soon to be more.

Here is our dock without any power boats or ospreys.  Roger will be in residence sometime this week.  For those of you who are new to the secret location, Roger is our resident scarecrow who functions as the protector and defender of our nest.  More about him next blog!

 

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Very high tide at the secret location.  The grass is starting to get green, yippee!

 

Here is Tom on COM’s boat lift, sans boat.

 

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Look, Ma, one leg!

 

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I thought I was being stealthy, but apparently Tom has discovered my presence

 

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Oh, my, look what the wind and water have done to my feathers!

 

The buff on the back of Tom’s head is more easily seen when his feathers are ruffled.

 

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It’s very subtle, but you can definitely see the buff coloring on the back of Tom’s head.

 

Audrey likes the grip on Osprey Girl’s boat lift.

 

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Audrey is giving Mrs. COM the stink eye while holding on to the paltry piece of fish that Tom brought to her. I think she needs to be mad at him, not me.

 

 

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A good view of the feathering under Audrey’s eyes, a good way to tell her apart from Tom.

 

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A little bit closer look at the white space under Audrey’s eye. Tom has more black under his eyes, but still only a subtle difference.

 

 

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Tom on the boat lift. Just another day in osprey paradise!

 

Tom’s day in paradise was disrupted by Mrs. COM and her camera coming closer.

 

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Come on, Mrs. COM, can’t you just give it a rest? Tom in flight, escaping you know who.

 

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Tom in downstroke, headed to a more private haunt.  Check out the reflection, you know I love my reflections!

 

I will leave you with a couple of sunrise photographs, both taken the morning of April 24, 2018.  The light changes very rapidly as the sun rises, producing some incredible vistas.  I couldn’t decide between these two, so you are stuck with both of them.

 

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Sunrise to the southeast at the secret location-April 24, 2018

 

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Sunrise due east at the secret location-April 24, 2018

 

Stay tuned for the next blog when I will talk about eggs hatching, our friend Roger and if you are lucky and I am in the mood, how it all started twenty three years ago at the secret location.

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And This Is How You Build A Nest-Tom and Audrey Come To Town

Good morning from the confused Eastern Shore of Maryland, where Mother Nature cannot decide if it is winter or spring!  There certainly has been a lot of excitement here at the secret location since our last blog.  Our beloved Tom and Audrey have returned to their northern summer home, and how delighted we are to have them back.  As you already know by now, Audrey returned on the evening of March 18, with Tom close behind the next morning.  We are all waiting with bated breath for our first egg.  Last season, Audrey laid three eggs.  The first one arrived on April 12, the second one three days later on April 15 and the huevo final on April 18.  So keep your eyes glued on your computer screen, we could be welcoming our first orb of delight at any moment.

The weather certainly hasn’t been cooperating since our feathered friends have returned.  We have experienced cold, rainy, snowy, windy weather so far this alleged spring, with little in the way of the sunny warmth for which we all yearn.  The weather folks are predicting some warm, sunny weather by the end of the week, hopefully just in time for some good egg laying and fish catching!  Patience is a virtue, so it is said, and now we just watch and wait.

While we are on pins and needles, I thought I would continue where I left off in my first blog of the season.  After a long winter of watching our pole precariously bent over from the relentless ice this past winter, it was time to prepare for the new season, new camera and new pole (actually poles).  The preparations began with new wiring for the upgraded camera.

 

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COM is feeding the new cable out to Jesse, our electrician extraordinaire

 

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Jesse is a manly man, and braves the very cold waters of the Chesapeake Bay to run the new cable and wiring

 

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Wires and cable were everywhere, but Jesse was concentrating on the job at hand

 

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When there is a job to be done concerning all things osprey, COM is never far behind

 

During the winter, when there is activity at the end of the dock, it usually involves feeding our swans.  They were quite confused by all the commotion, and were hanging around hoping for a free meal.

 

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The swans are perplexed, but don’t want to wander off in case the top comes off of the corn container

 

Meanwhile, back on the dock, Jesse and COM continue the task at hand.

 

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Jesse is happy to be out of the water and out of the waders. COM is standing by (actually kneeling by) to lend a hand

 

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Jesse has a helper

 

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Tools of the pre-osprey trade

 

 

Meet Peter, our adopted stray. Osprey Girl gave him his name due to the white tip at the end his tail, as in Peter Cottontail. We think he is actually a dog in cat’s clothing.

 

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Peter is trying to help. If only he could learn how to use a shovel

 

The swans are still hanging around waiting for a handout.

 

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The swans are waiting in their usual feeding zone. Patience is a virtue, even for swans

 

The next big project was to remove the old, bent pole and replace it with two new poles.  We needed two poles this season, one for the nest platform and one for the new spiffy camera.  The new camera weighs over twice as much as the old one, and COM’s old system of supporting the camera wasn’t sufficient to support the weight of the new one.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature was still playing with us.  Shortly after the extremely low tides we experienced and chronicled in the first blog, the moon, tides and wind blew all of the water back in to the bay and then some.  Here are some photos that compare the water depth over a couple of days.

 

Our dock during the extreme low tides

Our dock during the extreme low tides

 

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Our dock a couple of days later

 

Some more low tide/high tide comparisons:

 

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A view to the south along the rip-rap. You can see the typical water line on the rocks

 

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View to the south during the high tides

 

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View to the north during the low tides

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View to the north during the high tides

 

In order for the old pole to come out and the new poles to go in, the water could not be above 18-24 inches.  Our ospreys were due back very soon, and the high water just wouldn’t go away.  Nerves were getting frayed at the secret location.  Phil and Dean from the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage were on call for when the water returned to normal.

After a few days, the call was made to Phil and Dean.

 

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The old bent pole had to be jetted out of the mud

 

You can see the old pole was bent at the bottom from the ice over the winter and had to be replaced

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The water was barely low enough to get the job done

 

One of the new poles was waiting on our deck, and the other arrived with Phil and Dean.

 

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One of the new poles and a sleeve to hold it up.

 

Now the new pole needs to be jetted into the bottom

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Dean is pushing the sleeve into place

 

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The equipment for jetting in the pole is in the kayak.

 

The job of installing the new poles took two days due to the uncooperative water depth. We love Phil and Dean of the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage, who come through for us year after year.  Thank you once again, gentlemen!

 

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Phil and Dean, our pole and platform heroes!

 

Once both poles were in, the new camera and equipment had to go up.  Our new camera, which was provided by the Explore.org folks, has pan/tilt/zoom capabilities which allow us to view our birds when they are not on the nest.  Here is the final product, quite a bit different than last year.

 

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Not a thing of beauty, but the results have been fantastic. The piece of metal between the two poles provides support and allows the poles to move together

 

Alas, the coming of the ospreys meant the departure of our graceful, beautiful, noisy swans.  A large flock took flight, but there was still a small flock hanging around, as well as some migrating swans who were just passing through the Crazy Osprey Family bed and breakfast.

 

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A large flock of our swans took to the skies on their way north to their breeding grounds. Good bye, safe travels and we will see you in November!

 

COM still had work to do to get everything ready for the arrival of Tom and Audrey.

 

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COM readies the equipment for the arrival of Tom and Audrey

 

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Tools, cable, more tools, electrical stuff (technical term) and COM’s ever-present waders

 

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Tidy operable equipment makes COM happy. It was really cold out there!

 

The poles and equipment were put in place just in the nick of time.  On Sunday, March 18 at around 7:00 p.m., we looked out and saw an osprey on the new nest platform.  Could it be Tom or Audrey?  The lighting was very poor, but I quietly moved outside toward the pole with my trusty Nikon.

 

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An osprey arrives at dusk. Who could it be?

 

The next morning began with a spectacular sunrise.

 

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Sunrise at the secret location on Monday, March 19, 2018

 

Much to our delight, a few hours later, another osprey arrived on the nest platform.

 

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They’re baaack!!!

 

The welcoming committee was next to arrive.

 

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Here comes the Welcome Wagon!

 

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A peaceful scene as Tom rejoins his Audrey

 

After careful observation, it was determined that we indeed had welcomed back Tom and Audrey to the secret location.  Joy!!  But two days later, our newly arrived couple had to be wondering why they had left their warm winter digs when on March 21, we received almost a foot of snow at the secret location.

 

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Tom is hunkered down on the platform. Audrey was hiding out from the storm. I can’t imagine what was going on in his head

 

Fortunately, the snow only lasted a couple of days.  Audrey returned to the platform, and nest building commenced.

 

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The start of a nest

 

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I need to move this stick

 

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That’s better

 

Everyone needs a little break.  Tom and Audrey decide to relax on our neighbor’s dock two houses to the south of us.

 

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Taking a break from household chores

 

Nest building continued, and the first of COM’s marked sticks made their way to the nest.

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Two marked sticks are visible, with one barely hanging on. It stayed like that for days

 

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Still a few swans hanging around and still a marked stick hanging around.  A view of the nest complex from a different angle

 

Along with nest building comes baby making.  Tom and Audrey wasted no time in getting down to business.

 

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More nest building

 

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Bring a stick…

 

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…Get a quick(y)

 

 

Here are some photos of what has been happening around the neighborhood.

 

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It’s not easy to get your balance on top of this little perch. Why don’t you try it if you think it’s so easy!

 

Audrey is eating sloppy seconds, and has gotten a chunk on top of COM’s electrical box.  Yuck!

 

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Audrey on the electrical box, a favorite place for her to eat sloppy seconds

 

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What’s going on up there?

 

It’s a full house at COM’s stick locker.

 

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COM’s stick locker with a teeny bit of snow that is still hanging in there

 

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My first poop photo of 2018! How special! How disgusting!  How juvenile!

 

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Beautiful, stately Audrey in the scraggly stick tree. Good view of the white patch under her eye, one of her identifying features

 

COM tries to think of everything when it comes to our ospreys.  He had a great idea for a “T” on the top of the new camera pole, but unfortunately didn’t think of it until after the pole was up.  You can rest assured that next year, there will be a modification to the top of the nest pole.  In the meantime, someone has figured out how to sit on top without the modification.

 

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It will be easier next year, we promise!

 

Another break from osprey nooky and nest building on the swim ladder.

 

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Sure wish I had a Bloody Mary, or is that a Bloody Fishy?

 

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A cropped close-up of our favorite osprey couple

 

If one is good, two is better.  Poop Shot #2 for the 2018 season.  Stop it, Mrs. COM!

 

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Audrey must be feeling better now

 

 

The dangling marked stick hung in there for quite a while, much to everyone’s surprise.  The nest is looking really good after only a couple of days.  And can you believe how rapidly they have completed their cozy nest?  Amazing!

 

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AP (Advanced Placement) nest building. This is how you do it!

 

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Fly-through stick collecting. COM took this photo, not easy to do

 

The next series of photos are of Tom on the electrical box, and leaving the electrical box due to a crazy woman with that camera stuck around her neck.  Take a good look at the coloring under Tom’s eyes while you are observing these photos.  The reason will become apparent in a moment.

 

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Tom minding his own business on the electrical box when Mrs. COM sneaks down the lawn. How many legs do you see?

 

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Tom decides it’s time to leave

 

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Think I’ll head to the scraggly stick tree, good hiding over there

 

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Ah, she can’t get me over here. Finally some peace and quiet

 

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But wait, I am not alone. Oh, darn. We just won’t look at the camera

 

There has been much discussion on how to tell Tom and Audrey apart.  This is not an easy feat.  Our very first Tom and Audrey pair looked completely different from each other, with Tom having a very black face and head, and Audrey having just a little sliver of black on her head.  They could be instantly identified and differentiated from each other.  This Tom and Audrey pair has become more and more difficult to tell apart as our Calico Tom has lost his calico.  Here are a couple of hints you can try to use to figure out who is who.

 

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Audrey

 

The above photo is Audrey last year.  Notice the white patch under her eye which breaks up the black mask.

 

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Tom

 

The above photo is Tom last year.  The black continues all the way under his eye.

 

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Above are Tom and Audrey together.  Tom is on the right, Audrey is on the left.  Use the markings under their eyes to tell them apart.  Very subtle, but there is a difference.  This photo is from last year.

 

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The above is a new photo from a couple of weeks ago, Tom is on the right, Audrey is on the left.  Tom has a very faint buff patch on the back of his head that is best seen when his feathers are ruffled.  The white patch under Audrey’s eye is quite noticeable in this photo.

 

Okay, your turn.  Identify the ospreys in the below photo:

 

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You should now be able to identify which osprey is Tom and which is Audrey. Remember where they are sitting

 

Here are some more photos from the above series:

 

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Someone has decided that Mrs. COM has gotten too close and leaves. Who is it?

 

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Back to the nest she (hint) goes

 

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She (hint) arrives back at the nest, thinking Mrs. COM can’t get her now. Wrong!

 

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Her partner decides he (hint) doesn’t feel like being the apple of Mrs. COM’s eye (camera eye), and also decides it is time to move on

 

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Leaving!!!

 

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Arriving!!!!

 

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I need to line this up just right

 

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Who’s on top? GIANT HINT

 

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Can’t a guy and girl get a little privacy around here? Can you tell us apart now? GIANT ENORMOUS BIOLOGICAL HINT!!!!!

 

COM witnessed quite a spectacle a few days ago while I was at work and he was lucky enough to be home at the secret location.  He heard a bunch of commotion, and looked out to see Tom and Audrey chasing an eagle.  Grabbing the camera, he began taking photos from inside.  The quality of this photo is not great, but you can clearly see the eagle on the bottom and two ospreys on top trying to chase the eagle away.  Go away, eagle, leave our ospreys alone!

 

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Ospreys on top chasing away eagle on bottom

 

The hour is late, and duty (read work) calls in the morning.  When next I write, there should be some very good news to explore.  But before I close, two last things.  First, I want to give a big shout out and thank you to two of our faithful watchers who both happen to be from Germany!  Thank you, Uta, for your help and guidance.  Thank you, Poppy, for all of the incredible work you do keeping us informed on the explore Chesapeake osprey page.  You are both such huge assets to all of us who love our ospreys!

Lastly, a phenomenal sunrise photo from last week:

 

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Thank you, Mother Nature!

 

Until next time, we remain,

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

 

If you are enjoying the osprey camera an 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Osprey Teaser

Good morning from the delightful Eastern Shore of Maryland!  This will be short and sweet, with another real blog to be posted later this week (hopefully).  I am running out the door to work, but was just too excited to let this one slip by this morning.  Last night at 6:58 p.m. DST, an osprey returned to the nest platform.  After careful consideration, I was ready to say that our dear Audrey had weathered all the storms, and was back with us here at the secret location.  I went upstairs to get in the shower and took a quick glance out the window.  Much to my amazement, there were two ospreys on the platform!  One of them is Audrey, and if you watch/listen to the camera, you will be sure that Squawking Audrey, in full voice, has returned!  I need to get a good look at the new arrival, but he took to his nest support post quickly, so I am getting a good feeling our little osprey family may be back together again!

Sorry I don’t have more time this morning, but wanted/needed/excited to get this photo posted for your viewing pleasure.

Welcome Home

Welcome Home!!!

But now I need to leave you and answer the call of the Almighty Dollar!  I will be back in touch later this week.  Doing the happy dance!!!

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!