Hello Ospreys, Good Bye Swans!

Good evening from the lovely Eastern Shore of Maryland!  Well, I have good news and bad news for all of my faithful blog readers.  The bad news is that all of our beautiful swans have departed for points north where they nest and have their babies.  The Crazy Osprey Family hopes you enjoyed the little swan diversion this winter.  Many thanks to Crazy Osprey Man, who masquerades as Crazy Swan Man from November through March every year.  He has been faithfully feeding the swans for as long as I can remember. It was his idea to move the camera from the osprey pole to the dock this winter to allow you to enjoy watching our beautiful flock of tundra swans and a few mooching geese.  The swans usually arrive a a little before Thanksgiving and depart around the time the ospreys arrive, which brings us to the good news (I think you may have guessed what I am about to say!).  The Chesapeake Bay ospreys have started to make their presence known, and we have our first beautiful osprey friend in residence!  The bird arrived much earlier than usual this year. Interestingly, our swans also arrived much earlier than usual last November.


Tundra swans near the end of the season. The grey-necked swan is a juvenile. We had a flock of about 60 swans visiting our dock for hand-outs all winter.


Our winter here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland was relatively mild with the exception of the Blizzard of 2016.  This was the first winter since 2012-2013 that we did not have to replace our pole and platform, and were able to utilize the same ones from last year.  The last two winters before this one, our pole succumbed to ice and wind and we had to acquire the help of the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage to replace the pole and the platform.  COM was grateful for a little reprieve from the very cold water and air temperatures he had to endure before the last two osprey seasons.  Mrs. COM baked far fewer homemade muffins this winter, which had been needed the past two years to feed the hard-working, shivering, osprey-loving pole installers, cameramen and all our assorted helpers.  Check out some of the early blogs from 2014 and 2015 to read about and see photos of the pole replacements the last two seasons.

There has been some discussion as to the identity of our first arrival. I have carefully reviewed still photos and video taken off the camera feed since we went live last week, and am quite certain that we have had the same osprey at the nest platform and hanging out in the area since our first osprey sighting on March 8.  There have not been any other ospreys observed around us, not even at the other nest a few houses to the north of us. Please remember that we have a direct high definition feed to a dedicated osprey monitor in our house which does not go through the Internet, so our viewing image is much sharper than what goes out to our thousands of camera watchers. This gives us a decided advantage as to which osprey is on the nest at any given time.  Even with our viewing advantage, sometimes it is hard to tell who is who.  Our very first Tom and Audrey pair, who graced our nest from 1995-2009, looked completely different from each other, and there was no doubt as to which osprey was which.  Tom One had a very dark head, and our first Audrey had just a little splash of black on her forehead, decidedly different from that Tom. Our feathered friend this spring appears to be Audrey, but we are not a hundred percent sure.  It is typical for the male osprey of a pair to return to the nest site first, followed a few days later by the female.  When we had our first Tom and Audrey pair from 1995-2009, Tom always showed up first.  Even with our second pair, Tom always showed up first until the 2014 season.  Here are some dates from the last few years to give you an idea of when our pair showed up:

2009:  This was the last year of our first Tom and Audrey pair.  Tom showed up on March 22, 2009, and Audrey arrived on March 30 that year.

2010:  We were away on a Spring Break vacation from March 12-21, 2010.  The morning after we arrived back, March 22, we observed a new Tom and Audrey already in residence at the nest.

2011:  This was the year for a St. Patrick’s day return for Tom, with Audrey only three days behind on March 20, 2011.

2012:  Tom arrived on March 21, but COM’s notes do not reflect the exact day of Audrey’s arrival, which was sometime after Tom’s.

2013:  This was the first year of our partnership with the Chesapeake Conservancy and the start of our blog.  Tom arrived on March 21, 2013 with Audrey not far behind on March 24.

2014:  Our first anomaly year, with Audrey showing up before Tom on March 22.  Tom took his good old time, and made his grand entrance on March 27, 2014.

2015:  I know you probably remember what a crazy start we had last year.  Audrey showed up first on March 16, 2015, with a brief one week visit from the dark stranger which started on March 23, complete with adult-rated osprey shenanigans.  Our Calico Tom arrived on March 30, and laid claim to his new mate.  The dark stranger moved on to more fertile grounds, and was not seen again.

So that brings us to this year, with our first arrival (possibly Audrey) on 3/8/2016.  Until a second osprey arrives and we can observe the start of baby making, we will withhold absolute verification of our early bird.  We were quite surprised to see the return of the osprey so early, so much to our chagrin, the camera was not back on the pole the day of the return.  Fortunately, COM had scheduled the camera to go back up on the next day, March 9.  With the help of Peter Turcik from the Chesapeake Conservancy, we were able to go live with the ospreycam without further delay.  Thanks very much for your help, Peter, and I hope you enjoyed your muffins.  Here is a pictorial of the camera installation, which occurred at low tide:


Peter and COM getting the equipment ready for the camera installation.



The barren pole awaits a camera and osprey family



COM and Peter carrying the fourteen foot stepladder to the end of the dock. Peter is wearing his Chesapeake Conservancy osprey shirt, how appropriate!



The stepladder is going into the water off the dock. COM and Peter are still wearing their shoes, but changed into waders before going into the drink



Tools at the ready



You can see the big roll of cable used for the camera at the end of the dock by the picnic table. The tub under the picnic table with a brick on top is where the swan corn is kept. Can you spot Peter and COM’s shoes?



COM and Peter taking the ladder through the water out to the pole



The 14 foot stepladder is going up. COM and Peter are looking stylish in their waders



COM and Peter have waded back to the dock and brought out the camera attached to the mount and the junction box.  Don’t you just love the expensive camera cover-a modified K Mart trash can!



Resting the camera on the ladder until the junction box is installed on the pole



The inside of the electrical box on the dock. This is where Tom likes to sit, with the front closed, of course!



Attaching the junction box to the pole



The junction box is attached to the pole, now on to the camera



Maneuvering the camera to go up the pole



You add the caption to this one, as long as it has something to do with COM’s tools!



COM goes slowly up the pole with the camera, which is off-balance and heavy.



Getting closer-Don’t drop it now!



COM is attaching the camera mount to the platform



Almost attached!



COM is taping the cables from the camera to the camera mount



Working his way down the pole taping the cables



COM has the cables down to the junction box. Note how gracefully he stands on one leg, sort of like our osprey



Peter gets in on the cable action helping COM with the tape



COM and Peter carefully bringing the cables back to the dock to avoid tangling



COM and Peter taping the cables together



This job is definitely easier with two people



Attaching the cables to the dock



Taking the ladder down-back to the dock it goes




The pole is looking less bare!



Mission accomplished!


Shortly after the camera was in place, our new arrival checked out the platform additions:


Where is my nest?



You looking at me?



Take a photo of my good side!


Our big surprise this season is the addition of night vision capability at the nest.  COM has researched how to best provide viewing after the sun goes down for a very long time, and made his light purchase over the winter.  He spent many days testing the camera with infrared (IR) lighting, using a variety of different filters to get a good image. With my help on the inside watching images on the computer monitor, he moved the camera around on the end of the dock at night to decide on the proper placement of the IR light source.  For the near future, the IR light will stay on until 11:00 p.m.  The plan right now is to leave the IR light source on all night after the nest is bigger, which will hopefully cut down on the glare you see on the platform.  This is a work in progress, so please bear with us as we try to fine tune all the variables for your viewing pleasure.

Our osprey has been hanging out in all the usual places: the nest platform, the swim ladder two houses to the south of us, the scraggly stick tree next door to the north, but mostly in the big tree two houses to the north of us.  Here are some photos taken since our osprey’s arrival:


March 9, 2016-the big tree two houses to the north of us. Look way up in the top!



A closer view of the previous photo



A closer shot showing the markings on the back of the head-this is the same bird that arrived on March 8 and is still with us



Here comes the woman with the camera, I remember her! Outta here!


Here are a couple of photos taken on March 11, 2016:


I think I will just sit here on my bare platform and eat my fish.



Did you ever feel like you were being watched?



Darn, here she comes again with that annoying camera!



I am taking my fish and leaving!


Here is a photo taken on Monday, March 14:


A gloomy day on the electrical box.


Well, I think that is enough for now!  If there are any sightings of a second osprey in the area, and I let you know right away!

Until next time, we remain-

Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man (COMomma) and Osprey Girl

Reminder:  The Chesapeake Conservancy will be hosting their annual Welcome Back Osprey Party on April 19.  Details as to place and time will be announced shortly.

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!







568 thoughts on “Hello Ospreys, Good Bye Swans!

  1. Attached is the link for Dr. Rob Bierregaard’s osprey map showing the return of the cell/satellite tagged ospreys. As of today, Quin was a little south of Savannah, GA and Nick was over half-way through SC. It won’t be long before they’re home on Tangier Island on the Chesapeake.
    After the map loads hover your cursor over the word “Satellite” in the top left corner. Click on “Labels”. Hover the cursor over a dot to see which bird is which. Click on it for date and location details. You can zoom in and out and move the map around. To move the map, left click and hold down at the same time as you move the map around. Click on the “Calendar” (very tiny square) at the top center of the map to see where they were on any date. 2 of the New England ospreys are home and Belle is in Phila. (from Martha’s Vineyard). She’s Dr. Rob’s favorite as he fitted her with a satellite as a fledgling in 2010. He wrote a book about her called “Belle’s Journey” which is in the process of being published which could take quite a while.

  2. Thank you for the information Jane, I have heard about bread too, I never give them bread, but I read somewhere that they love peanut butter, so I ate an apple, then washed it off and smeared it with a tin layer of peanut butter, then dipped it in their seed mixture, and placed it on the spike. OMgoodness, they loved it, and they ate the entire apple core. That’s a one time a week treat, not everyday.
    Ive-Audrey was really yapping earlier too, hope you didn’t get in trouble.
    Donna, thank you for the info, I’ll check that out later.
    Bella and Kathy- yes, we are back in yapperitaville!!! Loving it too

  3. Jane, thank you for the information, I think I will feed them but maybe every other day, not everyday.

    I don’t know how Audrey is managing to hold on, I heard we are having 50mph wind gusts, I just took the trash can out for pick-up tomorrow and the wind blew if over, so I know it’s strong here.

    Donna, thank you the the tracking info, I was looking at it, I saw Belle and Edwin, very interesting.

    Kathy and Bella, yes, we are all back in yapperitaville, and loving it!!!

  4. Hi Guys! A very happy, though belated, Easter to all who celebrated! I could not get onto the blog for the last five days…I have no idea why, but am thrilled to be back. FTLOTBs

  5. think everyone missed the new pictures and new blog entry-so beautiful and i thank u-only 7 comments so need to switch to new spot————-for the love of cape cod ospreys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Good morning and a GOOD MORNING it is! I have sound, THANK YOU!! Audrey was just yapping away I think she was saying don’t you know I’m hungry so get to it! The other bird flew away then she wa quiet. It made me smile to hear her yapping.So pretty with the morning sun shining on her. Have fun we I am flapping my wings wit a Bella 😄

    • Good morning friend Fran! There is a new blog, go to the new blog. Beautiful pictures also. Have a wonderful day! 🙂

      • Hi Bella…I have sound today! So grateful…where do I find the new blog?

        Sent from my iPhone


      • Hi Deborah, the name of it is…”A Real Head Scratcher” and you should have received it in you’re email. If not let me know and I will try and post the link directly. 🙂

  7. I wanted to thank, (especially), FD and Bella for such warm (and very welcome), comments after I…. “came clean” by admitting I was wrong and apologizing. It’s really amazing how easily and quickly I had forgotten how good it feels to say, “I’m sorry”. 🙂 And now that all that is behind me and I can hear the awesome sound of Audrey chirping out her thoughts and feelings and then with what surely seems to be some real good “getting along” in the nest, (whoo hoooo), 😉 I am no less than a very “happy camper”. 🙂

    And before I shush tonight I want to repeat something I heard an elderly friend say a few years ago… (early tonight I happen to have been reading some older posts and people were talking about birthdays, getting older etc). I thought that more of us than just me would appreciate this. This older friend was sort of looking to me for advice (which made me feel a bit uncomfortable since he is several years older than me and with MANY more years of “life” experience than me for SURE and he said… “Here’s my problem Ron: I’ve found myself in a position where I’m too old to keep going but I’m still too young to quit.” 😀 My how often I feel that way now days. That’s one of many reasons I am so glad to have found this (Osprey), cam and you all, It sure adds another reason for me to smile every day and I really thank you all for being “there”, for being who you are and… for allowing me to be a part of this wonderful “circle” of friends.

    • Hi RC, that was a lovely post, however there is a new blog, it is called…”A Real Head Scratcher”, It should be in your email somewhere from two days ago. If you can’t find it, I also posted the link to it on this blog earlier yesterday. Look for it from me at 10:10 AM on 3/29.
      Have a good day 🙂

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