Good evening from the very wet Eastern Shore of Maryland! We had a rockin’ and rollin’ storm here a few hours ago, which was short in duration but long in intensity. Many of you were commenting about the hail as I was here looking out the window. Although at times it looked like hail, fortunately for our ospreys, it was just incredibly intense rain. All of our osprey friends seemed to weather the storm just fine, and all have been accounted for (sorry to end a sentence in a preposition, especially to any newspaper editors or English teachers out there).
There has been an abundance of excitement around here for the past couple of weeks. Our dear foster chicks, Maine and Montana, have both fledged. They have been entertaining us with their feat of flight, and seem to enjoy flying around together, honing their new found skills. This is one of my favorite times in osprey season, watching the new fledglings swooping and swirling and marveling at their freedom in the air. We also had some moments of drama when yet another fledging landed in the nest. This fourth chick to visit the nest looked very different from Maine, Montana and E.T., having a very dark head. He hung in there for a couple of hours as Audrey pecked and pushed at him. The lost fledging sat cowering in the nest with his head hung low, and endured the punishment from Audrey while voraciously clinging to the nest with his talons. Audrey finally got her way, and the intruder was pushed off the nest and took flight while being closely chased by our fierce momma osprey. Tom, along with his freshly caught fish, briefly joined in the chase. Our newest intruder has not been seen since, much to the relief of Tom and Audrey.
I had occasion to ask Craig Koppie about our egg-fostering ospreys and the biological parents of Maine and Montana. The female who incubated her own three eggs and the two foster eggs is doing fine. As a matter of fact, another hatched chick from a failed nest was placed in her nest, and all three of her chicks were successfully raised and fledged. Maine and Montana’s biological parents did not attempt to build another nest on the barge piling. Even though their exact whereabouts are unknown, no one has any reason to think they are anywhere but on Poplar Island.
We have been taking a crazy number of photographs, and I have decided that the focus of this blog will be to share some of them with you, with lots more to come in later blogs. As you are all quite aware, the view through the camera has been showing more and more of the empty nest to come. As Osprey Girl is leaving our little nest in two weeks to begin her freshman year at the University of Delaware, I have started to identify with all of the empty nesters in our midst. It’s going to be very quiet in all the empty osprey nests and college-bound people nests very soon. When Maine and Montana are not in their nest, they are not usually very far away. They like to sit at the usual locations that we have told you about over the last three years. Montana likes COM’s boat lift and the scraggly stick tree next door. E.T. seems to favor our neighbor’s dock and swim ladder two houses to the south of us, the scraggly stick tree and COM’s perches. Maine hasn’t selected a favorite yet, and I see him in various locations. Please enjoy our photographs. Remember, you can click on each photo to enlarge it for your viewing pleasure.
I looked outside this evening before the storm, and saw one of the fledglings sitting on the picnic table at the end of our dock. I grabbed the camera, and tried to capture the moment, but scared everyone off. The lighting was not very good with the approaching storm, but here is where all three fledglings ended up:
A close-up shot of the same scene a few seconds later:
I love the next series of photographs. I looked outside a few days ago to see Tom sitting with a fish on our boat lift. His delectable prize did not go unnoticed by one of our pesky crows:
Here is E.T. in some of his favorite hang-outs:
E.T. loves COM’s perches. We only have two up this year, the third one was damaged in the ice and has not been replaced:
Another visit to the perch by E.T.:
I have to admit I am not really sure which osprey this is, but it is a cool photo:
Two more E.T. photographs:
An osprey in disguise:
While we are on the subject of gulls:
Now that Maine and Montana have fledged, we have been able to capture them in and out of the nest:
Here are a couple of photographs of Montana the day after she fledged:
Montana coming in for another landing:
Here are some beautiful shots of all three babies and Audrey.
In this photograph, you can really see the difference in the eye color between the fledglings and Audrey. E.T. is all the way to the left, and Maine is all the way to the right:
A photograph dedicated to Kathy Berrier, one of our most prolific blog commenters:
E.T. has taken off. Everyone is wondering where he went:
I don’t have many individual photos of Maine yet, but here is one of them:
In my last blog, I wrote about E.T. appearing out of no where when Tom returned to the nest with a fish. Here is a series of two photographs highlighting what we witnessed:
In the first photo, Tom has just returned to the nest with the bottom half of a nice-sized fish. E.T., in his usual fashion around that time, came screaming into the nest and caused quite a ruckus:
Tom will not be bullied by a youngster, so takes his fish and leaves. Audrey is not happy. Maine and Montana lay low, trying to stay out of the way:
As the chicks grew older, many of you were worried when they were left alone without parental supervision. Here are Maine and Montana entertaining themselves while home alone:
One of my favorite family portraits of Maine, Montana and Audrey:
E.T. and Montana at the end of our dock. Montana is on the electric box and E.T. is on the lift:
Here is the last series of photographs for this blog. Maine and Audrey are in the first of the series, and they are joined by Montana for the last three photos.
In the first one, Audrey and Maine seem to be focused on something above them outside of the nest. The second photo shows Montana whacking Audrey in the face with her wing after landing. Check out Audrey’s body language and the expression on her face. I like the third photo because you can see a flying sparrow just under the nest. The fourth and last photo in this series shows Audrey on one leg, Montana sitting up in the nest and Maine hunkered down in the nest, probably snuggled down on her favorite glove.
I will leave you all with a particularly poignant “Where in the World Are Tom and Audrey” entry. The photo was submitted by Louise Wisenbaker of Sugar Hill, Georgia. Louise is retired from Transamerica, and started watching raptor cameras with the peregrine falcon camera on the building in Baltimore, Maryland. The photo Louise submitted is one of her mother, Polly Wisenbaker, watching the ospreycam with her cat, Baxter. Polly absolutely loved our ospreys. The first thing Polly would ask Louise each morning was “Have you checked on the babies”? Sadly, Polly passed away a few days after this photograph was taken. We are heartened that Polly was able to enjoy our ospreycam. Thanks so much for submitting your entry, Louise.
That’s it for now, we are leaving on vacation in three hours, so I guess I will just stay up for the rest of night! COM and Osprey Girl can drive, and this COMomma will curl up in the back seat with her pillow (a real pillow, not a black glove) and close my eyes! Stay tuned for some fun blogs coming up!
Until next time, we remain-
Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man aka COMomma and Osprey Girl.
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