Good morning from the soggy, but now sunny, Eastern Shore of Maryland! It’s quite unusual for me to be sitting here in the light of day writing the blog, it usually happens in the wee hours of the evening. I actually stayed up all night before the last blog was published, trying to get it finished before we left on a two week trip to Florida. I was not successful in my mission, but did manage to get most of the photos uploaded so I could finish up at a remote site. So it is kind of fun to be sitting here, looking at the nest and writing about the latest happenings.
Crazy start again, isn’t it? I know all of you are just itching to know what’s going on. There have been so many questions posed to us, but guess what? We are just as much in the dark about the beginning of the season as all of you! So for those of you who have been with us before this season, what does the Crazy Osprey Family do when there are questions? Call in the experts!! Our dear long time friend and osprey expert, Dr. Paul Spitzer, is down at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Apalachee Bay, Florida conducting his annual spring loon migration study. It’s hard to catch up with him at times, but we were able to connect last night while he was eating his Easter dinner at an Indian restaurant in Tallahassee. You gotta love Dr. Spitzer! Between bites of his dinner, I explained to him in detail what has been going on here at the secret location. Here are some of his thoughts:
Dr. Spitzer said it is possible that the mysterious stranger is a returned young from a previous year, since this is the current Audrey’s seventh season with us. According to Dr. Spitzer, we know very little about that possibility because there have not been enough banding studies conducted to be sure. He speculated that because Audrey has been tolerating the visitor so well, a returned offspring could be here. Dr. Spitzer said, and I quote, “Once again we are making scientific history at your nest”. He discussed some of the behaviors that are fundamental to a successful nest pair. Two of the biggies are that the male brings food to the female and the pair engages in cooperative nest building. We really haven’t seen either of those two things happening. Audrey has been self-feeding and building her own nest. I told him how early Audrey had arrived (yes, I do think it is Audrey, but am still waiting to see what happens), and when the two Toms had appeared on the scene last year. Dr. Spitzer said this is also a head scratcher for him, but it is still early in the game and our Tom from last year may still be making his way here. He will check on his laptop to see what he can observe, but he does not have reliable WIFI coverage where he is short of parking in a public library lot. We left it that I will contact him again in a week with any new details, and he will see if he can figure out what is going on.
Now, last Saturday morning, I observed an osprey pick up one of COM’s backyard, prefab nest sticks, and take it back to the nest on a pole in the water a few houses to the north of us, close to the big tree where our ospreys like to sit. I have been watching to see where the mysterious stranger goes when it leaves our nest, but had not been able to observe it go anywhere but in one of the nearby trees or disappear from sight. As I have been sitting here writing, I have been keeping an eye out the window on the nest. I just, I mean just, got up when I saw the mysterious stranger leave the nest and fly off to the north. And what did I see? The stranger landed in the other nest!!!! I have texted Dr. Spitzer and asked him to give me a call when he can to tell him what I just saw, and see if he has any thoughts on that one! So our current situation is far from over, stand by once again! Could our mysterious stranger be Ozzie, Essie, Chester, Breezy or Spitz, one of the chicks from 2013 or 2014?
I know the situation with the camera and sound has been frustrating to you so early in this season. Believe me, no one is any more unhappy about the problems we have been having than the Crazy Osprey Family and the Chesapeake Conservancy. Rest assured that everything is being done to try to make this a wonderful viewing season, so your patience is appreciated. Let’s all try to keep this a positive experience for everyone, and keep the complaining and negative vibes away from the blog comments. Quit picking on us, we are doing the best we can!! If you have any concerns, you can reach out to the Conservancy on their Facebook page, they do not monitor the blog comments on a regular basis but are quite good at responding quickly on social media.
A few comments on some questions that have been posed:
When we have some of our cooler evenings this time of year, our osprey will take cover for the night in protected trees. So if you don’t see someone on the nest at night, they are comfy cozy out in the woods somewhere near their nest.
Over the years, our experience with early nest building has been that the returning birds will usually rest for a few days before commencing their task. It’s a long way from South America to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and those birds are tired!
You may have observed some sticks in the nest with brightly colored construction tape tied to them. We put out sticks in our backyard for the ospreys to use as prefab nest building materials. COM (Crazy Osprey Man) will sometimes tie tape to a few sticks so we can see our sticks in the nest. We started with some orange tape this year, followed by some green for St. Patrick’s Day. The green ones didn’t get picked up until after St. Paddy’s Day, so they are officially Spring sticks. The new yellow ones were to complete the Easter basket look, and I think we can all agree are quite festive. As the nest building continues, the marked sticks will get buried in the nest and not be visible until COM puts out some new marked sticks.
Here are some photos I have taken since the last blog was published. It’s been kind of dreary here, so some of them aren’t great.
Audrey on the electrical box at the end of the dock:
Sunrise at the secret location on Thursday, March 24, 2016:
A nice photo of Audrey in the scraggly stick tree:
Nest photographs from over the weekend:
Photographs taken this morning, Monday, March 28, 2016:
Right after this photograph was taken, Audrey took off back to the nest and the mysterious stranger followed her back like a little puppy dog!
A photo taken at sunset a couple of day ago:
I am waiting to hear back from Dr. Spitzer, and when I do, I will post a quick comment about his feelings on the mysterious stranger spending time at the other nest and attempts at mating. Another crazy season in the making!
Until next time, we remain-
Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man and Osprey Girl
Don’t forget to sign up for the Welcome Back Osprey gathering on Tuesday, April 19, 2016. The event will take place from 4:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m. at Pusser’s Caribbean Grill in Annapolis, Maryland. Craig Koppie and Dr. Tina Gorrow will be the featured speakers, and will be talking about their new book which focuses on Tom and Audrey’s nest. For more details and to sign up, visit the Chesapeake Conservancy’s Facebook page or website.
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!