So It Ends For 2014

Good evening from the beautiful Eastern Shore of Maryland.  The time has come to say our final good byes for our second season with you, our faithful blog readers and camera watchers.  From the very beginning this past winter with a new pole and platform due to the very cold, icy winter,  snow on camera installation day, the return of Tom and Audrey, egg laying, egg hatching/not hatching, growth, bullying, flight, fishing, migration and everything in between, we have come full circle.  The pole and platform are bare, their solitude only broken by the occasional visiting bird.  Our tundra swans are back in full force, and COM continues his early morning trek out to the cold dock to feed them their daily ration of corn.  Osprey Girl has all of her college applications submitted, and we check the mailbox daily with breathless anticipation of the first acceptance letter (if the Director of Admissions at the University of Maryland or University of Delaware happens to be out there reading this blog, please give her application some careful consideration-she would be a fabulous addition to your school!).  I have decided to end the season with a recap of highlights from this year.  Remember, you can click on each photograph to enlarge it for your viewing pleasure.  I hope you enjoy it!

February 2014:  Oh, my, what a cold winter.  The frigid temperatures and ice did a number on our pole, and a new one had to be installed.  While we were at it, the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage recommended a new platform.  With temperatures in the teens, COM and our friends from the Heritage built a new platform to the same specifications as the old one, and installed a new pole to hold the new platform:

 

Our winter tundra swans on the offending ice.  The pole is bending away from the camera, so you can't see the tilt.  COM feeds the tundra swans from November until they leave in March.

Our winter tundra swans on the offending ice. The pole is bending away from the camera, so you can’t see the tilt. COM feeds the tundra swans from November until they leave in March.

 

COM and friends from the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage building  the new platform to the same specifications as the old platform-the temperature was in the teens

COM and friends from the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage building the new platform to the same specifications as the old platform-the temperature was in the teens

 

The new platform being installed by COM (on his ladder) and Phil from the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage.  It was really cold outside and in the water

The new platform being installed by COM (on his ladder) and Phil from the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage. It was really cold outside and in the water

 

March 2014:  With the anticipated return of Tom and Audrey drawing near, it was time to install the camera on our new pole.  We had lots of helpers on a snowy day in March.  Mrs. COM baked delicious (if I don’t say so myself) muffins from scratch many times during the winter work to feed our wonderful volunteers.  And the moment we were all waiting for-a very tired osprey returning from winter digs:

COM on his way to the dock with the camera and new high tech protective camera gear.  What's that white stuff on our lawn and dock?

COM on his way to the dock with the camera and new high tech protective camera gear. What’s that white stuff on our lawn and dock?

 

Last minute preparation underway

Last minute preparation underway

 

It's up!

It’s up!

 

Home Sweet Home (with a lot of nest building to be done)

Home Sweet Home (with a lot of nest building to be done)

 

The new pole caused a lot of consternation due to the fact it was not firmly entrenched into the bay bottom.  Windage on the camera would cause the pole to spin around, and the camera view would be altered.  COM spent many hours wading/trudging out to the pole to readjust it and try to rectify the problem:

COM wading out to the pole on a very cold winter day to realign the wayward pole

COM wading out in the water on a very cold winter day to realign the wayward pole

 

April 2014:  This was a prime month for nest and strength building after Tom and Audrey’s long trip back from their winter homes (they spend the winters apart).  After nest building, of course, is egg-laying.  Audrey laid three eggs this season on April 15, 18 and 21.  The Chesapeake Conservancy hosted a “Welcome Back Osprey” social with guest speaker Dr. Paul Spitzer.  A good time was had by all!  Tom continued to be a good provider for Audrey before and after their clutch was safely in the nest:

Tom continues to be a good fisher"man". The fish isn't too happy.

Tom continues to be a good fisher”man”. The fish isn’t too happy.

 

Audrey is patiently waiting for sloppy seconds.

Audrey is patiently waiting for sloppy seconds.

 

The new pole was still not holding, and COM went out on a very low tide to rotate it back into place and try to secure it.  Audrey was not happy with the intrusion, left the nest and was about to dive-bomb COM:

Duck, COM!  Here comes Audrey to take off your head for messing with her pole!

Duck, COM! Here comes Audrey to take off your head for messing with her pole!

 

April also brought a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us.  Dr. Rob Bierregard was tagging Eastern Shore ospreys with solar-powered transmitters for his study of osprey migration.  The Crazy Osprey Family was invited to the tagging operation, which involved trapping male ospreys (one unlucky female was at the wrong place at the wrong time and managed to end up in the study) and fitting them with the transmitters.  It was an all-day event, and we had pizza at one of the sites for lunch.  Here is a photo of Dr. B having his lunch.  Nothing really special about sitting down having pizza for lunch, but in his lap is a birdie straight jacket containing a very unhappy female osprey:

Dr. Bierregaard enjoying his pizza while holding a female osprey in a straight jacket in his lap.  You will probably never see this again!  We were waiting for her male partner to return to the nest for a special surprise.  You'll have to go to the Conservancy's Facebook page for the rest of the story...

Dr. Bierregaard enjoying his pizza while holding a female osprey in a straight jacket in his lap. You will probably never see this again! We were waiting for her male partner to return to the nest for a special surprise (a trap!)

 

And I got to hold an osprey!

Mrs. COM handing an osprey back to Dr. Bierregaard after getting to hold him for several minutes.  What a thrill!

Mrs. COM handing an osprey back to Dr. Bierregaard after getting to hold him for several minutes. What a thrill!

 

May 2014:  May is generally a quiet month in the lives of our ospreys, at least until the arrival of the chicks.  Fish, eat, incubate and repeat.  One day COM was home, looked out the window and was able to capture a battle between a goose family and Tom, who thought the goose family had gotten a little too close to his incubating mate.  This was the excitement for May, until, of course, we welcomed Breezy and Spitz into the world on May 24 and May 27:

The Goose Family happily swimming by.  They did not realize that danger was lurking near by

The Goose Family happily swimming by. They did not realize that danger was lurking near by

 

Battle scenes

Battle scenes

 

The fierce fight

The fierce fight

 

A few more bucolic scenes from peaceful May:

Tom waiting for happy hour on the end of the dock.  I guess over the years he has observed lots of fun at this table, and thought he might get in on the action:

Tom waiting for happy hour

Tom waiting for happy hour

 

Audrey incubating her clutch:

Audrey quietly incubating her clutch

Audrey keeping things warm

 

As we have discussed in other blogs, Tom is the primary provider of sustenance for his family.  After he catches a fish, he will eat first, then bring the remainder back to Audrey.  Here are two photographs of Tom-one of him returning to the nest after eating his fill, and another of him taking off from the electrical box with a partially eaten fish in tow:

Tom arriving at the nest with Audrey's dinner

Tom arriving at the nest with Audrey’s dinner

 

Tom taking off from the electrical box at the end of our dock with a remnant of a fish

Tom taking off from the electrical box at the end of our dock with a remnant of a fish

 

June 2014-With the arrival of our two new additions, who were eventually named Breezy and Spitz at the conclusion of the Chesapeake Conservancy’s naming contest, more nest sitting was in Audrey’s future:

Audrey incubating the clutch while Tom surveys his kingdom

Audrey keeping her chicks warm while Tom surveys his kingdom

 

Enjoying some time out of the nest on a beautiful late spring evening:

Enjoying a beautiful late spring evening out of the nest

Enjoying a beautiful late spring evening out of the nest

 

After only being able to see the chicks in the nest through the camera, two little heads were finally visible from shore through the hand-held camera lens.  The youngsters are about a month old in this photo:

Little People

Little People

 

July 2014:  The next order of business was learning how to fly.  As I am sure you all remember, one of our chicks was a little ahead of his sibling in that department:

Feeding time at the nest-everyone is home:

Feeding time at the nest with everyone at home

Feeding time at the nest with everyone at home

 

It feels really good to get out of that nest and away from Spitz!

Dad and Breezy getting in some bonding time

Dad and Breezy getting in some bonding time

 

How do I look on this boatlift?  Mom and Dad taught me how to do this:

The view from here is great!

The view from here is great!

 

Osprey version of the Blue Angels:

Siblings in flight

Formation Flying

 

We probably didn’t need three perches!

Let's rest here for awhile before we go home.

Let’s rest here for awhile before we go home.

 

July also produced three of my favorite photographs of the 2014 season.  The first is a moonlight landing under the July Super Moon, taken by COM:

 Moonlight Landing

Moonlight Landing

 

The second and third are photos that COM took with some spectacular clouds in the background:

Arriving back to the nest under a spectacular summer sky

Arriving back to the nest under a spectacular summer sky

 

Summer over the Chesapeake in the land of Tom and Audrey

Summer over the Chesapeake in the land of Tom and Audrey

 

August 2014:  Ah, the lazy, hazy days of August.  On the agenda was honing up flying skills and juveniles learning to catch their own fish in preparation for the September migration.

But maybe we did need two perches!

 

Breezy and Spitz hanging out on the perches

Breezy and Spitz hanging out on the perches

 

Still practicing those landings

Still practicing those landings

 

The fishing lessons and practice started paying off:

I did it!  I did it!

I did it! I did it!

 

September 2014:  With September comes migration, and fond farewells to our feathered friends.  Audrey and Breezy were the first to leave, but Tom and Spitz extended their Chesapeake vacation for a little while longer.  Spitz remained in the area the longest, and we were starting to get anxious about wanting her to get moving before the weather got bad.  Although we had no official confirmation from Dr. Spitzer (Spitz’s namesake), based on my somewhat limited experience, I decided Spitz was a girl and Breezy was a boy.  She hung around way longer than I would have liked, but leave she finally did.  Believe it or not, I saw an osprey flying behind the house one day last week in late November!  Hopefully he or she can make it to some warmer climes in the very near future.  We also had two more entries for the “Where In The World Are Tom and Audrey?” contest:

Laura watching the ospreycam from Rock Hall, Maryland

Laura watching the ospreycam from Rock Hall, Maryland

 

Becky watching the ospreycam from the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park

Becky watching the ospreycam from the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

 

Our grand prize winner for this year’s contest was Rachael, who was watching the camera from the airport in Helsinki, Finland!

Rachael watching from the airport in Helsinki, Finland

Rachael watching from the airport in Helsinki, Finland

 

The 2014 osprey season had another contest to guess the identity of a mystery couple.  Here is the final photo of the human Tom and Audrey, after whom our ospreys were named:

The human Tom and Audrey

The human Tom and Audrey

 

October 2014:  Even with Tom, Audrey, Breezy and Spitz off to their winter digs, the nest still saw some action in October.  Here are some of our visitors:

A beautiful bald eagle using the nest

A beautiful Bald Eagle using the nest-check out one of COM’s marked sticks still visible after all this time!

 

A Great Blue Heron admiring the view

A Great Blue Heron admiring the view

 

Juvenile bald eagle

Juvenile Bald Eagle

 

A spectacular October sunrise:

 

October sunrise over the nest and camera

October sunrise over the nest and camera

 

November 2014:  Our final month of the 2014 season!  We had some visitors in the big tree three houses to the north of us, from where we have posted many photos over the past two years:

Two of our magnificent national birds keeping the branch warm until Tom and Audrey return

Two of our magnificent national birds keeping the branch warm until Tom and Audrey return

 

Those of you who have followed our blogs know that in addition to his osprey addiction, COM takes on a new persona after the ospreys leave.  He is CSM for the winter (Crazy Swan Man).  Here is a beautiful image he captured after feeding “his” tundra swans a couple of weeks ago.  The perches were taken down later that day:

 

Sunrise and Swans

Sunrise and Swans

 

The last official act of the 2014 season was removing the nest and camera.  The nest is removed every year to lessen the possibility of parasites wintering over and to reduce the winter windage on the platform and pole.  But long before the nest came down, COM made sure there would be plenty of prefab sticks for next year:

COM's supply of sticks for the 2015 season

COM’s supply of sticks for the 2015 season

 

Last week, COM and one of his sons removed the nest and took down the camera for the winter.  The folks at the Chesapeake Conservancy posted a video of the nest removal, which may be seen on their Facebook page.  This is all that is left of the 2014 nest:

SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!!!!!

SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!!!!!

 

So it ends for 2014.  The Crazy Osprey Family would like to thank the Chesapeake Conservancy, Skyline Technology Solutions, Earth Security and the Shared Earth Foundation for allowing us to be part of this remarkable experience.  But most of all, we want to extend a heartfelt thanks to all of the camera watchers and blog readers out there.  Osprey Girl asked me to thank you for helping with her fish study. Your positive feedback and love of our ospreys make all of our hard work worthwhile. We look forward to sharing the 2015 season with all of you.  May you all have a wonderful, joyous, safe, happy and healthy winter, and we will see you again in the spring.

Until next time, we remain-

Crazy Osprey Man (COM), Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man and Osprey Girl

 

If you have enjoyed the osprey camera and blogs, 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.  Thank you very much!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22 thoughts on “So It Ends For 2014

  1. Thank you for this glimpse into the Ospreys’ world. All your hard work and efforts are appreciated, and thanks for this ending summary of the season!

    • Yes, many many thanks. You all are so great…I think about this venture
      so often and reminisce about the pleasure it has given me. Hope osprey girl gets her first choice…our daughter went to U of DE as did her husband who is now a professor there…a very good and comfortable school.

      • Good evening, Bette! So glad the opreycam and blog have brought you some pleasure. It is certainly a labor of love for the entire Crazy Osprey Family, but we are so fortunate to be able to share “our” ospreys with the world. The more people who learn to appreciate nature, the better for all species, including humans! Have a wonderful winter, and we look forward to having you join us in the spring. PS Does your son-in-law know anyone in admissions to get Osprey Girl an extra look? A mother needs to ask, you know!! No responses from anyone yet, but we expect to hear from one of her top schools this week. Keep your fingers crossed for her. She is quite anxious, and will feel better once the first acceptance comes in! Thanks for your kind comment. Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man

  2. Thank you from the south shore of Long Island, New York. Loved the last two years of anticipation, delight, sadness and joy.

    • Hi, MarieLouise! Thanks so much for taking the time to post a comment. We are so glad you have enjoyed watching the camera and reading our blogs. Next year you need to enter the “Where In The World Are Tom and Audrey” contest! Have a wonderful winter, see you in the spring! Mrs. COM

  3. Enjoyable and entertaining as usual! Fingers crossed for COG’s college adventures… her research and blog entries should definitely boost those applications. (Sure wish I had connections!). Thanks again, enjoy your holidays and Best Wishes for a Happy, Healthy New Year!

    • Thanks, Bonnie! Glad you enjoyed the last hurrah for this osprey season. I wish you had connections, too! As you know, Osprey Girl is a great kid and an all-around solid person. She will be an asset wherever she ends up. Best wishes to you and your family for a wonderful, healthy and happy holiday season. Hope our paths cross again sometime soon. At least we should meet up at the 2nd annual Welcome Back Osprey function, but that won’t be until April, a long time to wait. Take care, Mrs. COM

  4. Happy the season ended well. We moved to our new home Aug.1 and with everything going on I missed the last flights. 😕 Wish Happy Blessed Holidays and a Healthy New Year filled with miracles to the COFamily and everyone else out there! 🎄. Warm wishes from Kris Duschl. P.S-I love the t-shirt.

    • Hi, Kris and Happy New Year. I hope you are settled in from your move and have had a chance to enjoy the holidays. Although our ospreys are gone, there is still a lot of activity around the pole with the swans, geese, ducks and eagles. Have a safe, happy and healthy New Year, and we look forward to reconnecting in the Spring. Mrs. COM and family

  5. Yay. So happy to see Tom n Audrey are back! I see a piece of a fish left on the platform!!! Thank you for fixing it once again for them. 💖

    • Hi, Kris! Mr. COM has been working very hard to get everything ready for the return of Tom and Audrey. Just made it! Stay tuned for the first blog of the 2015 season. Glad you are still with us. Mrs. COM

  6. And once again we welcome Tom & Audrey back! I am so excited to be watching them again this year. Thank you for making this possible!

    • You are welcome, Joley! COM has been working very hard to make sure everything is in place for the 2015 osprey season here at the secret location. The new pole is up and the camera is working, so get ready for another season of wonder and adventure! Thanks so much for your kind comment. Mrs. COM

  7. I wish that there had been this Osprey camera when I was still teaching science at Hawthorne High School in Hawthorne, NJ. I discovered it the other week and daily check in to see the life and activities of these wonderful birds.
    I wish the new season well and thank you folks for contributing to the knowledge of god and his wonders.

    • Hi, RJ. Welcome to the ospreycam and our blogs. We are glad to have you in the “flock” (ha, ha bird joke). It should be an interesting year. If you still have contacts at your school, please let them know about the camera. Thanks for watching the ospreycam and reading our blogs. Mrs. COM

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