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