With Not A Minute To Spare, Season Three Begins

Good morning from the beautiful Eastern Shore of Maryland and welcome to Season Three of Tom and Audrey!  The Crazy Osprey Family is happy to be back for another season of joy, sorrow, anticipation, elation, depression, worry, happiness, excitement, waiting, boredom, nail biting, wonderment, delight and fulfillment.  We have had a busy several months here at the secret ospreycam location, filled with submitting college applications and anxiously waiting for decisions.  We are happy to report that Osprey Girl was accepted to two of her top three college choices, and is now agonizing over which to choose.  Which will be the lucky school, University of Delaware or Drexel University?  Stay tuned for her decision sometime next month.

All over the country, and here in Maryland, winter just wouldn’t give up this season.  In the words of Yogi Berra, it was déjà vu all over again with our pole and platform.  Unlike last winter when the pole was merely bent to the point we needed to replace it, this year the entire pole and platform succumbed to the ice and wind.  After bending precariously, then being spun around in all different directions by the elements, our brand new pole and platform that were just installed last season were reduced to kindling and scrap metal.  Here are some photographs of the pole bending in two different directions and the aftermath of our cold, icy winter. Remember, you can click on each photograph to enlarge it for your viewing pleasure:

The bent pole has been spun around by the ice and wind to the north

The bent pole has been spun around to the north by the ice and wind. This photo was taken during a very windy snowstorm

The old pole bending to the south

The old pole bending to the south

This is a wider view of the pole and platform after falling in.  You can see the outline of the pole where it fell through the ice.  Our winter tundra swans are wondering how to get to the dock for their daily rations of corn.

This is a wider view of the pole and platform after they succumbed to the ice and wind. You can see the outline of the pole where it fell through the ice. Our winter tundra swans were wondering how to get to the dock for their daily rations of corn.

The pole and platform have fallen into the ice.  The platform is mangled and the pole has sunk to the bottom.

A close-up of the pole and platform that have fallen into the ice. The platform is mangled and the pole has sunk to the bottom.

After the ice melted, the pole popped back up.  It looked very sad all bent over with no platform.  Our tundra swans were happy to be able to get to the dock for their corn.

After the ice melted, the pole popped back up. It looked very sad all bent over with no platform. Our tundra swans were happy to be able to get to the dock for their corn.

On Monday, March 16, only a few hours after returning from a spring break trip to a warmer and sunnier island, we woke up to an osprey sitting on our neighbor’s dock to the south of us.  Audrey was back, and much earlier than last year:

First sighting of Audrey early on the morning of Monday, March 16, 2015.

First sighting of Audrey early on the morning of Monday, March 16, 2015.

Fortunately, Phil Boyd and Dean Knowles of the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage were scheduled to come to our secret location that very morning and install a new pole and platform.  Lucky for all of us, they had saved a pole for our nest, which was the last new one they had available before running out of pipe.  There is no telling how long we would have had to wait for a new pole if not for the diligence of Phil and Dean. Thanks so much to both of them for being the consummate professionals they are. They told us that they had never seen a pole bent to such an extreme angle as our damaged one:

Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage to the rescue!!

Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage to the rescue!!

Removing the old pole.  COM had already retrieved the pieces of the old platform.

Removing the old pole. COM had already retrieved the pieces of the old platform.

Phil and Dean from the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage told us they had never seen a pole bent this much.

Phil and Dean from the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage told us they had never seen a pole bent this much.

The new pole and platform ready to be assembled before installation

The new pole and platform ready to be assembled before installation

Phil and Dean from Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage putting up the new pole and platform.

Phil and Dean from Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage putting up the new pole and platform.

The new pole and platform are up

The new pole and platform are up

The camera is ready to be installed as soon as the new pole is up.

The camera was ready to be installed as soon as the new pole was up.

Crazy Osprey Man installing the camera with help from Phil and Dean

Crazy Osprey Man installing the camera with help from Phil and Dean

Not five minutes after the new pole and platform were up, and the camera installed, Audrey returned home.  She did not waste much time, and nest building commenced shortly after the joyous homecoming.  True to form, Crazy Osprey Man (COM) provided prefab osprey nest building materials (sticks) strewn about the backyard.  Audrey has certainly been pleased with the easy pickings provided by the Crazy Osprey Family.  We have been enjoying watching her fly over and selecting her sticks. One of COM’s marked sticks made it into the nest shortly after Audrey began her building project, which was duly noted by one of our faithful Facebook readers.  It is no longer visible since the nest has expanded.  The specially color-coded St. Patrick’s Day stick was not selected, and is still waiting mournfully in the back yard:

First day back.  Audrey is hanging out in the big tree two houses to the north of us.

First day back. Audrey is hanging out in the big tree two houses to the north of us.

Audrey on our boat lift-first day back 2015

Audrey on our boat lift-first day back 2015

Audrey landing on the new platform on her first day back.

Audrey landing on the new platform on her first day back.

A continuation of the same landing on the first day back

A continuation of the same landing on the first day back

Audrey on the new platform with the beginnings of her 2015 nest

Audrey on the new platform with the beginnings of her 2015 nest

The beginnings of Audrey’s nest suffered from the wind the first few days, but is now going strong.

Audrey picking up one of COM's prefab sticks from the backyard

Audrey picking up one of COM’s prefab sticks from the backyard

The neglected, forlorn COM St. Patrick's Day prefab osprey nest stick.

The neglected, forlorn COM St. Patrick’s Day prefab osprey nest stick.

Sunday morning, March 22, 2015.  Audrey is taking a much deserved rest from nest building.

Sunday morning, March 22, 2015. Audrey is taking a much deserved rest from nest building.

Tom has yet to make an appearance.  We checked his arrival date from last year, and from previous blog posts, have determined that he was not back at the nest on March 26, but was back by April 1.  So not to worry, we fully expect to see Tom make his return to home sweet home sometime in the next week or so, if not before.   Although we fervently hope to see Tom arrive soon and assume his rightful role as Audrey’s faithful mate, if he does not return, Audrey will chose a new partner. This would probably occur when the young ospreys return in a couple of weeks or an unattached older male happens by.  So with or without Tom, osprey life will continue at the secret location.  But again, at this point we are not worried about Tom at all.  In the meantime, our tundra swans have been visible and audible from the ospreycam.  Please enjoy their beauty and calls for their last few days with us until they begin their migration north for the summer breeding season.

One quick story before I leave you:  On Thursday morning as I was looking out the window, I saw Audrey swoop down in the backyard trying to pick up a COM stick.  She missed the grab, then flew off to the scraggly tree by the water in the neighbor’s yard just to the north of us.  I have posted many photos of this tree over the past two years.  Without landing or stopping, Audrey grabbed a small branch of the tree, broke it off and flew to the nest with her prize.  This stick collecting method continued.  Every time Audrey would miss the easy pickings in the back yard, she would fly directly to her stick tree and harvest her own.  She was very determined, and managed to add to the nest using her stick collecting method.  A few minutes later, I noticed a turkey buzzard sitting on our neighbor’s dock just to the south of us.  About the same time, Audrey also noticed the visitor.  Without delay and with purpose in her “step”, Audrey attacked the turkey buzzard and chased it off the dock.  The buzzard landed in our backyard, which apparently wasn’t far enough away for Audrey.  With great haste, Audrey circled back around and attacked the buzzard again.  The unwanted visitor took flight, and an aerial battle ensued.  Audrey quickly became the victor, and the defeated turkey buzzard flew off without so much as a backward glance.  With the battle over, Audrey continued to circle over the backyard trying to collect sticks, following all misses with a fly-by at the stick tree.  The nest is looking mighty fine after less than a week.  Remember, Audrey started with a bare platform, unlike other nests in the area that weren’t removed from their platforms by informed caretakers.

We are so glad to be back, and are looking forward to our third season together.  To welcome our osprey back, members of the Osprey Club are invited to join us at the third annual Welcome Back Osprey Party.  The festivities will be held on Thursday, April 16, 2015 from 4-6 p.m. at Pusser’s Caribbean Bar and Grille in Annapolis, Maryland.  The guest speaker is Dr. Rob Bierregaard, a renowned osprey biologist who has been involved in tagging and tracking ospreys for many years.  Further details may be found at the Chesapeake Conservancy’s website, http://www.chesapeakeconservancy.org or on the Conservancy’s Facebook page.   Here is a photograph of Dr.  Bierregaard last summer while tagging ospreys for his study:

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. We were waiting for her mate to return to the nest to be trapped and tagged.

So ends our first blog of the 2015 season.  Thanks for reading our blogs and watching the ospreycam!  Osprey Girl will be continuing her fish study, so stay on the look out and let her know what you observe.  Here’s to a happy and healthy breeding season for Tom and Audrey!

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!

160 thoughts on “With Not A Minute To Spare, Season Three Begins

    • Hi, Sharon! The first egg was laid on April 15 last year, and it was 33 degrees and 40 miles an hours winds that night! Let’s hope we don’t have a repeat of that weather this year. Thanks for being a faithful blog reader and camera watcher! Mrs. COM

  1. Tom has spent a great deal of time in the nest today with Audrey. He is sitting quietly, but Audrey has been has been chirping away almost constantly! His patience with her today is amazing.

  2. Hanky Panky again this afternoon! I joined the watchers last year right after the egg laying. Can’t wait to see that for the first time. Thank you for your wonderful work and blogs. I am enjoying watchingTom and Audrey and reading your blogs and comments..

    • Hi, Kathy! Welcome to our blog and camera. We are glad you found us, and hope you enjoy Season Three! Egg laying should be relatively soon. Stay tuned for our next blog, and we will review the egg-laying dates from last year. Mrs. COM

  3. 9:52… Audrey on the nest alone, calling out. A minute or so later, Tom showed up. They both sat quietly on the nest for a while. Then, just around 10, Tom flew off. I notice that there’s a quantity of what looks like moss lining the nest on one side. Or is it something else? Whatever it is, I noticed earlier that the sparrows were interested in it and seemed to take off little bits and pieces. Fascinating symbiotic relationship between these 2 very different kinds of birds!

    • It is definitely something “mossy”. Audrey was working with it yesterday and seemed to be using it to line the nest bowl.

    • Hi, Fran. The mossy-looking stuff is cut grass. Tom and Audrey will pick up clumps of it from the neighborhood yards. Nice and soft and plentiful to protect potential eggs! Thanks for your observations. Mrs. COM

    • Tom has a rusty patch on the back of head–you can see it especially when the wind blows the feathers. He also has more golden yellow eyes. Hope this helps a bit. Of course when you see him in “action” you’ll know-lol!

      • Thanks Linda. I’m glad you told me because I’ve been thinking the darker bird is the male. I can’t watch them all the time, so I haven’t seen any hanky panky going on, haha.
        They keep a nice clean nest. Those eagles up in Hanover have dead bodies and flies all over the place!!

    • Audrey has three white tail feathers one of which is quite often visible. Also,Tom’s markings on his head are a bit more defined than Audrey’s. He’s a little trimmer (of course) and often has an empirical look. She’s just your down-to -earth mom.

  4. Tom’s coloring is different. Hmmm, I wonder if he was molting before he headed north and the light area’s are the new feathers? Just a guess! Thanks

  5. So excited to be able to share this experience again this year. The nest is looking the best ever, I think. Praying for better weather through April this year too!! Last year was scary at first when the eggs were just laid-so cold and nasty. I love the perserverence of these beautiful birds. So strong and hearty.

  6. Is this Tom or a new mate. Can’t tell them apart. Haven’t checked Audrey for a week and just saw both of them together.

    • Hi, Charles. Check out the upcoming blog for an answer to your question. I’ll just have to keep you in suspense…………
      Thanks for the questions. Mrs. COM

  7. Is it just my impression… or has anyone else noticed the nest seems to be swaying? Is it the pole that might be wobbling? The camera? Or is it just some kind of when there’s too much wind? It does seem to me as though the birds do notice it, though and seem to struggle a bit with balance. Seems more pronounced this morning. And, by the way, Audrey is extra-especially noisy this morning. Hungry? (“Hey Tom, where’s that breakfast in bed you owe me for your late arrival?”)

  8. Yes, there’s definitely a bit of a wobble to the nest. Thought it might be my imagination or an illusion having to do with the movement of the water… or that maybe the camera was wobbly. But I was just watching again, and Audrey seemed to be rocking it on purpose, kind of tilting her weight from side to side. (Rock-a bye baby, on the tree top…). Did that happen last year? I don’t recall.

  9. 10:25. Yipes! Did anyone else catch that? Tom arrived with a fish tail. Audrey got all excited… probably thought he was going to share. And then he took off with the yummy prize. Geez, Tom! Is that the thanks she gets for a
    all her nest building and house keeping. And there’s any egg due any moment now!

  10. An afterthought… maybe the nest is a bit too “tippy” with two of them in it? Might that be why Tom took off so soon after landing? (If so, sorry to have misjudged you, old boy.)

  11. Speaking of feathers, late this afternoon with a bright sun on them, they appeared almost golden. It was a beautiful sight!

  12. Happy Easter Everyone! I had some time this morning to take a good look at the Osprey and I’ve come to the conclusion that this is not Tom, I hope Tom Is okay. I think this younger, smaller, lighter colored feathers and lighter eyes male is possibly one of Tom and Audrey’s earlier offspring or an all together new younger interloper. I do hope Tom is alright, is there a chance that he’s still in the area and will reclaim his mate or will he or has he found a new mate? Going to be some very interesting days ahead. (Lillie)

    • Good morning, Lillie! Take a look at the new blog published this morning. As far as Tom’s fate, I am not sure we will ever know. I agree, should be some very interesting days ahead! Enjoy your day. Mrs. COM

    • Hi, Pamela. I just checked on our monitor which has a better picture, and the black blob is a black plastic trash bag. Hopefully it will blow away or get covered up by sticks before the eggs are laid. Just love that human interference with Mother Nature! Thanks for bringing it to our attention. Mrs. COM

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