Good evening from the delightful Eastern Shore of Maryland! Thanks for not giving up on me, life keeps getting in the way of my osprey time. I had a problem yesterday getting the blog published, as Word Press tells me I have used up my free media usage, and wants some moolah to continue uploading my photographs. I was able to dump a bunch of old photos, so the new photos are uploaded and ready for viewing. I have asked Chesapeake Conservancy to upgrade our Word Press account so I am able to add all of the photographs I want. Hopefully I won’t be stymied by lack of space again! We returned a little while ago from our visit to the University of Delaware to take Osprey Girl out to lunch. She seemed quite happy to see good old Mom and Dad, and appears to be happy and settling in to her new chapter in life.
It is getting more quiet around the nest, which has not gone unnoticed by all of you. There was very little action today, but there are still ospreys in our midst. I observed two of them today in the big tree just to the north of us as well as a very brief stint on the nest. As one of them made a quick fish drop, I am quite certain one of our remaining September birds is Tom. I haven’t been able to get a good view of the other one, but camera watcher/blogger chat seems to favor the remaining juvenile as E.T. I will keep a close eye out, and let you know if I am able to definitively identify the other osprey.
Today I am writing a blog of short stories, complete with photographs. Remember to click on each photo to enlarge it for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!
Chapter One: Craig Koppie
What would we do without our dear raptor biologist, Craig Koppie? Before his experience with us, he had not worked with ospreys as much as some other raptors, such as eagles and peregrine falcons, but now he is hooked! Craig and his co-author, Teena Ruark Gorrow, recently published a book called “Inside A Bald Eagles Nest”. The photographs are stunning. Shortly after our foster chick placement and banding, Craig began to sit in our backyard for hours taking photographs of our ospreys. So the birds would not be bothered by his presence, he asked if he could set up a photo blind in our yard to facilitate his photo taking without spooking our osprey family. Much to our neighbors’ chagrin, we agreed. Here is his little hooch in our backyard:
Here is Craig’s home away from home.
Our neighbors were a little worried about us:
Not sure this structure is within our community guidelines!
Craig spent many, many, many hot hours in his home away from home. He has assured me that he has some fantastic photos, which I can’t wait to see.
During the time Craig has spent observing and photographing our nest and birds, he saw many different types of fish being brought to the nest by our adults. He was never able to observe any of the juveniles catch a fish. Craig has been amazed with the fishing ability of Tom, whom he calls a “fishing fool”. He told me that one afternoon, he saw Tom bring six fish to the nest in a 90 minute period. The vast majority of the fish caught were menhaden, which is not surprising. He also observed striped bass (also known as rockfish here on the Chesapeake Bay), bluefish, Atlantic needlefish (the long, skinny, hard-to-eat ones), and an occasional blueback herring. He would rarely see a catfish, and was starting to see some mackerel, which are just now coming into our area of the bay. In years past, we have also observed a flounder every now and then. The very red-fleshed fish we had been seeing this season were the bluefish, which have very dark flesh.
The really big news from Craig is that he feels very sure that based on their size, both Maine and Montana are female and that E.T. is definitely a male. Maybe that is why poor E.T. ended up being so henpecked, or should we say, ospreypecked?
Maine on Osprey Girl’s boat lift and E.T. on COM’s boat lift.
E.T. on COM’s boat lift (close up of one-legged showing off)
Chapter Two: Summer Vacation
As you know, the Crazy Osprey Family was able to enjoy a wonderful vacation in New England. We spent part of our time in Maine, and part of our time in Massachusetts. One of my big surprises for you is that we were able to visit the Hog’s Island nest in Bremen, Maine. The Hog’s Island nest was the site of the unfortunate taking of two chicks by an eagle, and was the reason one of our foster chicks was eventually named Maine. Before we left on vacation, COM contacted Rob Bierregaard, who put us in touch with the manager of the Hog’s Island facility, Eric Snyder. Hog Island is the site of an Audubon Society camp, and a truly beautiful location. Eric picked us up on the mainland in the camp transport boat, and took us over to the island:
Eric in the camp boat coming to pick us up on the mainland
This is the view from the area of the Hog Island nest, which is currently empty:
The view from Hog Island-simply gorgeous
The osprey nest on Hog Island is on the top of an old transformer pole on land, and is much larger than our nest:
The Hog Island nest looking from the ground up.
Hog Island nest-it is really big!
Hog Island nest-pretty fancy camera
Hog Island nest-it’s way up there!
We had a fabulous visit on Hog Island. Eric was a truly wonderful host, and was extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of life on Hog Island. Eric, if you ever read this blog, thank you again for all of your help. COM and Eric were able to compare notes on all the technical issues surrounding their respective cameras. You will be thrilled to know that COM now wants to put an infrared light source on our nest for next year so all you camera watching voyeurs can spy on our ospreys when you can’t sleep at night! Stay tuned for that one!
The second part of our trip was to Massachusetts, where we visited my brother and then went on to Cape Cod. Early on in our osprey season, I had mentioned in a blog that we had friends on Cape Cod, and vacationed there every summer. One of our faithful camera watchers and blog readers, Maureen, told us that she lived on Cape Cod. Before we went on vacation, she told me about an interesting osprey nest that had been built on a boat moored in Osterville, resulting in the owner not being able to use his boat this season (bummer). We were able to meet Maureen, her husband Gene and their dog Cocoa at their home, then traveled to Osterville to visit some osprey nests in the area. Here is a photo of the osprey nest built on a boat in the harbor. The boat was moored pretty far out even for my big camera lens, but you should be able to make out the nest on the bow of the boat:
There will be no boating for these unlucky boat owners this summer!
I’m not sure how this osprey family safely gets to their nest:
Gene, Maureen, Mrs. COMomma and Osprey Girl:
The happy osprey gang in Osterville. COM is taking the photo
Thanks so much Maureen, Gene and Cocoa for your hospitality and the luscious tomatoes!
Chapter Three: The Nest
Our poor nest, which was so beautiful earlier in the season, is certainly becoming bedraggled. The crows and gulls have really made a mess of things, haven’t they? This silly gull thinks he is an osprey:
Stand back, I’m an Osprey!
One of our marauding crows and gulls simulate an osprey landing on an occupied nest:
You be Montana and I’ll be Maine before he could fly
When the osprey’s away, the clean-up crew will play:
Clean-up crew going through the “trash”
The gull and crow cleaning crews have unearthed some of COM’s marked sticks from earlier in the season. For the new camera watchers and blog readers in our midst, COM (Crazy Osprey Man) puts out sticks in the backyard for our ospreys to pick up and use in their nest building. He will tie colored construction tape to some of the sticks, which makes them easily identifiable in the nest. COM hasn’t put any sticks out recently, so the marked sticks that are visible in the nest have been dug up by the marauders and are not new.
Here is a fun series of photos that I took showing E.T. returning to the nest, closely followed by Montana. This was not one of Montana’s more graceful moments:
E.T. is returning to the nest after a nice afternoon flight.
Easy does it on the landing!
Ah, alone, all alone
Montana must think E.T. has a fish or is about to have a fish, because she comes screaming into the nest. E.T. is on high alert
Montana misjudges her landing, and does a face plant. E.T. gets out of dodge.
Another fun series of photos of the nest. These photos start off with Tom in the nest with his three youngsters:
Tom and the gang
Montana decides to take off. The others watch her go.
Where did she go?
Who is coming now?
That was quick!
Montana doesn’t stay long and is off again
We all know that Maine doesn’t like to share. Here is a photo of her mantling. I like this shot because you can really see her spread tail feathers:
Quit your mantling, Maine, no one wants your fish!
Maine-Get back, you silly woman with a camera!
Maine and Montana hanging out:
Siblings hanging out in the nest-Maine and Montana
Maine with a half fish:
Half a fish is better than no fish
Maine decides to leave with her fish:
The lady with the camera is back and I am outta here!
Chapter Four: The Blog-Questions Answered
Now it’s time for a photo break and a chance to answer some of your questions as well as tell you a quick little story. Last week, I was outside and heard a lot of commotion coming from what sounded like a bunch of ospreys. I looked up, and saw a juvenile bald eagle flying by with a fish in his talons being chased by six, that’s right, six ospreys. Ospreys and eagles do not get along, and these six were not having any part of the eagle in their territory. The determined gang of osprey and the target of their anger were in the air between our dock and the big tree two houses to the north of us. The six ospreys were in hot pursuit of the eagle, who dropped his fish and decided to concede to the angry mob. When the fish hit the water, one of the ospreys swooped down and grabbed his new found treasure without so much as a thank you to the dejected young eagle. It was quite a sight to see!
Many of you wonder if I read all of the blog comments. Rest assured that I do. All of the blog comments are also delivered to my personal email, and this will be coming to an end quite soon. As you are aware, there are a voluminous number of blog comments made, thousands of them, and each and every one comes to my email. I will be setting up another email account which will be used strictly for blog comments, so my personal email will stop filling up so my work emails can’t get through! So keep those cards and letters coming, kids!
Some of you have commented about Montana’s leg band looking funky. Maine and Montana’s leg bands are made of a silver colored metal, which are covered in tape. Maine’s tape is yellow and Montana’s tape is red. So what you are probably seeing is that the tape must have gotten mucked up (scientific term). Craig told me that the tape usually lasts a very long time, so I am not sure what Montana got in to that caused the damage to the tape.
As with Craig, I have not personally seen any of our current juveniles catch a fish. Over the last two years, I did witness all of our other juveniles, Chester, Essie, Ozzie, Breezy and Spitz (Kathy Berrier’s fav), catch their own fish. I am sure they have caught fish, but neither Craig or I have been in the right place at the right time to observe their new found skill.
When I post photographs in the blog, I will not identify a bird if I am not sure which one it is. I spend a lot of time looking at closeups of my photos to ensure that I accurately identify the ospreys in the photos.
I have seen Featherdog’s poster (via email), and it is quite the labor of love. More details will follow about how to get your copy of this quite extraordinary undertaking, which is a reflection of all your devotion to Tom, Audrey, Maine, Montana and E.T. Thanks so much for everyone’s contributions, and a very special shout out to Featherdog for her incredible creation.
Montana in flight-Check out the red band
Montana in flight with an observer
Chapter Five: The Neighborhood
Some of the more frequent questions I receive concern where the ospreys are when they are not in the nest. None of them have been spending much time in the nest lately, especially since a couple of our friends are gone for the season. The favorite place the past couple of weeks has definitely been the big tree two houses to the north of us, but I have also seen our friends in the scraggly stick tree in our next door neighbor’s yard just north of us, our neighbor’s dock two houses to the south of us and on various places on our dock.
Here are some of the places in the neighborhood I have seen our friends:
Maine on the lift to our old floating dock
Tom on our neighbor’s swim ladder two houses to the south of us
Maine and Montana in one of the big trees two houses to the north of us
Maine and E.T. in the neighbor’s tree two houses to the north of us
Montana getting ready to land in the big tree two houses to the north of us
This is where our ospreys have been spending most of their time when not in the nest:
Wide view of Maine, Montana and E.T. in the big tree two houses to the north of us
E.T. with a fish and a few of his mooching crow friends
Maine is mantling for the crows. She and E.T. each have a fish. If you are really observant, you can see a third osprey head. Look closely!
E.T. with a fish surrounded by a few of his hopeful friends
E.T. with a fish and a friend-another view
Well, the hour is getting late and I must be off to bed. There are at least two more blogs planned before I bid you all adieu for the 2015 season, so don’t go away. An end of season gathering is in the works for the local ospreycam watchers and anyone else who would like to join us. I will leave you with our next “Where In The World Are Tom and Audrey” winner:
Eric watching the ospreycam from Hog Island, Maine
That’s all for tonight. Until next time, we remain-
Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man (Mrs. COMomma) and Osprey Girl
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