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While we appreciate the overwhelming support, enthusiasm and interest in Tom and Audrey, as well as this blog, it has reached the point that we do not have the time or resources required to maintain the comment section. We hope that you understand and continue to enjoy the webcam and the opportunity to see these iconic birds up close and personal.
Good afternoon from the cold, windy, rainy, sleety, snowy Eastern Shore of Maryland. I feel like we are in a time warp back to February. It has not gone unnoticed by most of you that we have had less than stellar weather for the beginning of our 2016 osprey season. The winds over the past ten days have been relentless. It is truly amazing that our faithful ospreys have been able to build such a beautiful nest given the adverse conditions they have had to face. The weather prediction for tonight is for more subfreezing windchills and ferocious winds. Hang in there, Tom and Audrey! It is April after all, we are bound to get some true Spring weather shortly, aren’t we, Mother Nature? Pretty please, Mother Nature, with sugar on top?
Since I last wrote, some of the head scratching has stopped, but not all. Our wonderful Calico Tom has made his way back to the secret location. He defended his nest admirably during an aerial battle on March 31, and chased off the mysterious stranger. Audrey seemed happy to have her man back, and the couple got down to some serious nest building and egg fertilizing. The nest has really come a long way since Tom has returned. Little by little, it has grown and been lined with grasses and other soft stuff, ready for some egg action. COM has put out dozens of sticks, some of which have been scooped up and some of which remain laying in the wet grass, waiting for their moment in Osprey Architectural Digest. A newly-taped red stick was plucked from the backyard for the nest on April 8 and is in full view for the time being.
Speaking of the nest, there has been some discussion of late in the blog comments about our annual nest removal at the end of each season. This action was recommended to us by osprey experts, and we have heeded their advice ever since we have had a nest at our location starting in 1995. There has never been a problem with a new nest being built. There are two reasons for the old nest removal. The first reason is that the pole and platform could not withstand a nest that continually grew bigger and bigger. The bigger the nest, the more windage and chance for damage. You may have seen photographs of very large nests that have gotten bigger and bigger for years, or even seen some in person. There is a very large nest on the southwest side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge just as you start over from the toll plaza. Our little pole and platform could not remain upright with a nest that size. The second reason for removing the nest annually is to help control the parasite population that would have access to our osprey family. Our pole and platform have provided a suitable nesting site for over twenty years, so we will continue to remove the nest at the end of each season.
There has also been some discussion in the blog comments regarding our pole and platform. Since the original pole went up in 1995, we have replaced the pole and platform three times. Two of the three replacements were in back-to-back years, 2014 and 2015. We had to replace the poles and platforms due to ice and wind over the winter that damaged the pole in 2014 and took the pole down entirely in 2015. If you go back to the early blogs from those two seasons, there are many photos of the pole and platform being replaced at the beginning of those two seasons.
As with the last blog, I have been writing this one during the day, which is unusual for me. I have had the opportunity to look out the window as I write, and have run outside a few times to snap a few photos for you. Tom and Audrey have been spending a lot of time together today. They have been a very cute couple to watch:
Tom and Audrey hanging out on our neighbor’s dock two houses to the south of us
A close-up of Audrey on the swim ladder shown from afar in the last photo
A close-up of Tom from the same far-off photo
A little while later, Tom and Audrey left that location, and moved over to our dock. Audrey had a piece of fish that Tom had brought her:
Tom (on the boat lift) and Audrey (on the electric box) on our dock. He is not letting her out of his sight today
As I was walking through the kitchen later in the afternoon, my eye caught something outside that I had never seen. Sometimes I feel like some of my photos are repetitious, but this was a new one on me:
Long view of Tom and Audrey together on the swim ladder two houses to the south of us
Audrey is asking Tom why they left warm South America to come to Maryland. He looks a little sheepish, knowing he had three more weeks in the warm sun than Audrey, who came back early to start working
Tom doesn’t have an answer for her, and decides to keep his mouth shut. They both look cold and wet
Many of you have been wondering where Tom and Audrey have been spending their time during this bout of very unusual nasty spring weather. The below photos show an unusual place for them to hang out. I noticed them out there right after the start of this windy period:
This is the first thing I noticed when I started looking around for Tom and Audrey on a very cold, blustery spring day
I tried to get a little closer with the camera:
I quietly approached, and was able to get closer to them
After a while, Tom decided he wanted to be closer to Audrey:
Tom gets closer to Audrey on the riprap. I was surprised they let me get close, although I was using a very long lens
Audrey is trying to tell me something. I’ll bet it wasn’t nice
Audrey loves to sit in the scraggly stick tree one house to the north of us, usually up near the top. During this cold windy spell, she has been sitting way down in the bottom of the tree, something I had never seen before:
Audrey sitting way down low in the scraggly stick tree
A closer view of Audrey low in the scraggly stick tree
This is where Audrey usually sits when in the scraggly stick tree:
Audrey in the scraggly stick tree up near the top having a stare-down with Mrs. COM
Audrey always looks so regal at the top of the scraggly tree:
Audrey is such a regal osprey!
Tom has been bringing Audrey some delicious cold fish meals. Here she is on our boat lift with her morsel:
Audrey on the boat lift with a snack
It is not unusual when we have strong winds from the north or west and a low tide to have the water blown out of the bay and leave us with an exposed sandy bottom. With the very cold weather, sometimes the bottom will freeze. This is the water behind our house a few days ago, not a typical spring phenomenon at the secret location:
The water has blown out and left us with an exposed bottom and caused some freezing.
The nest is really starting to look good. Tom and Audrey have been working very hard on it. Here are some photos of the nest from the backyard:
Tom and Audrey in the nest. Some of the first marked sticks are visible at the bottom of the nest
Tom decides to move to the nest support in case he needs to make a quick getaway
Tom is on the support keeping a close eye on Mrs. COM. Audrey is nonplussed
You would think Tom and Audrey would be used to me stalking them by now. They seem to be getting better, but I am still an unwelcome intruder:
Tom and Audrey minding their own business. This is a great shot of Tom’s buff feathers on the back of his head
Let’s see how close Mrs. COM can get before someone relocates
That was close enough for Tom. He makes a hasty departure, leaving Audrey alone on the nest. You can see why Dr. Spitzer nicknamed him Calico Tom!
Audrey is all alone on the nest. Did you have to chase him off, Mrs. COM, he just got here!
Well, I think that is enough for today. I hope you have enjoyed the new photographs which were all taken since the last blog was published. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the high wind and freeze warnings expire quickly, and we all (human and avian) can enjoy some warm Spring days really soon!
Until next time, we remain-
COM, Mrs. COM and Osprey Girl
It’s not too late for members of the Osprey Club to register for the Welcome Back Osprey gathering on April 19, 2016 from 4:00-6:30 p.m. at Pusser’s Caribbean Grille, 80 Compromise Street, Annapolis, Maryland. Speakers will be Craig Koppie and Teena Gorrow, who will be talking about their soon-to-be published new book featuring Tom and Audrey. Please go to http://www.chesapeakeconservancy.org for details.
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. Thank you!