History In The Making

Good evening from the incredibly beautiful Eastern Shore of Maryland!  Our seemingly never-ending streak of rainy, dreary days appears to have come to an end. It is a delightful evening here, with temperatures in the high seventies, low humidity, spectacular cloud formations and ospreys everywhere.  I was finally able to plant my vegetable garden, the purple wave petunias are nestled around the mailbox post and my deck planters are an array of color for the eye.  But the best part of all, according to Dr. Spitzer, is that we are all a part of history in the making!  On Friday, May 27, despite being left unattended for seven hours at forty-seven degrees in a steady rain, Tom and Audrey’s first egg hatched forty days after it was laid.  The first hatch was quickly followed two days later by the second hatch on Sunday, May 29, thirty-nine days after the egg was laid.  We are anxiously waiting  to learn the fate of Egg #3, and should know something definitive within the next few days.  So far, for the first two eggs, we are in the typical hatch window for our nest of 39-41 days, with June 1 being day thirty-nine for Egg #3.  Even the experts have been stumped by what has happened at our nest this season. And everyone is walking around with big smiles on their faces and songs in their hearts at the arrival of our miraculous chicks!  COM and I are also happy because Osprey Girl is home for the summer, and all is right with the world.

Here is a photo taken by Osprey Girl of the incredible sky early this evening, complete with osprey pole and nest:

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Gorgeous sky the last day of May 2016. Audrey is in the nest with Chick #1 and Chick #2. Tom is chilling somewhere in the neighborhood

 

I wanted to say a few words about the camera and images that you see.  We have had the same good quality, mega pixel camera for the last three seasons.  Nothing has changed with the camera with the exception of the addition of an infra red light source which COM installed just before the ospreys returned this season.  He spent an inordinate amount of time at the end of the dock fooling with the infra red light source and camera before it was installed on the pole.  I helped him test the IR light source at night, trying many different combinations of filters, running back and forth to the house to observe the results on our monitors, making homemade filters out of plastic containers, and trying it all again and again.  We thought we had it right and the image looked good before Tom and Audrey returned.  But alas, once the IR source was mounted on the pole, and our friends returned from their winter vacation, the light was just a little too intense.  The camera is out of reach now, so nothing can be done to tone it down, but we will adjust it for next season.

The other issue is the quality of the images you see from the ospreycam.  Rest assured that we are producing the highest level of quality that is possible given the constraints of the system.  The camera is fine, but we are limited by the internet connection between the camera and the distribution point, which is not at our location.  The connection is limited by the upload speed of the internet service available coming down the road to the secret location, and is beyond anyone’s control at the Chesapeake Conservancy or from the Crazy Osprey Family.  In layman’s terms, the quality of the image you see is not a camera issue, but a bandwidth issue. (at least, that is how it has been explained to me, and as you know by now, I am somewhat technically challenged).

Okay, enough technical talk, back to the ospreys!  I witnessed something very comical the day that Chick #1 hatched.  Audrey was alone on the nest, and took off, leaving the newly-hatched chick by itself.  Oh phooey, I thought, here we go again.  Audrey took a loop around our yard, took one of her daily constitutionals, and immediately returned to the nest, not missing a beat!  What a good mom, she didn’t want to take a chance of soiling the nest with her new baby.  I had never noticed her do that before, and it was quite amazing to watch. I promise, no more poop stories or photos for the rest of this blog (well, maybe one).

After some initial tentative fish supplying, Calico Tom the Fishing Fool has once again proven himself to be an expert provider for the nest.  I especially love to watch the chicks pass out after their bellies (actually crops) are full.  Tom is sometimes hard to spot when he is not right at the nest or at one of his usual haunts.  But Audrey knows when he is on his way back home, and always welcomes her man with vociferous greetings!  If COM and I are on the end of the dock enjoying a little happy hour, we always know when Tom is approaching without ever looking for him.  Squawking Audrey leaves no doubt as to his approach, and is even louder (if that is possible) when he is returning with a meal.

You may have noticed that Tom and Audrey have been spending a fair amount of time defending the nest and trying to shoo off unwelcome passers-by.  There are a significant number of ospreys and nests in the neighborhood around the secret location.  The closest nest is five houses to the north of us, just north of the big tree.  There are two ospreys occupying that nest.  I am reasonably sure that one of them is the osprey that was hanging out at our nest early in the season before Tom returned, possibly an offspring that was raised in our nest.  When I go walking, there are ospreys everywhere.  I will ask Osprey Girl to take a loop around the neighborhood by water and count the active nests around our area.  I will report back on her findings.

It’s that time again!  The “Where In The World Are Tom and Audrey?” contest is officially open!  Please send a photo of yourself or anyone else watching the ospreycam on any of your devices.  Send the photo, along with your name and from where you are watching.  I will post your photos on each blog.  At the end of the season, the contest winner will receive something cool from the Chesapeake Conservancy.  Not sure what your prize will be, but it will be cool!  Send your entries to Tom_audrey_osprey@yahoo.com and keep an eye out for your submission to be posted on the blog.

Speaking of the blog, the views continue to go up and up.  The total number of views since the blog inception at the beginning of the 2013 is season is rapidly reaching HALF A MILLION!  Wow!  We are over 485,000 views as of earlier today.  In that light, please send your guess as to which date the blog views will hit HALF A MILLION to the above email!  It will be this season, so get your guesses in.  If you are the winner, a cool prize will also be coming your way!  Make sure to include contact information in your email.

Here are some of the photographs that have been taken since the last blog was published.  I hope you enjoy them!

 

After Tom catches a fish, he will eat first.  The male has to be fed before anyone else to ensure the survival of any osprey family. Without Tom to bring home the bacon (fish bacon, that is), no one would eat very well.  As you have noticed, he will usually eat the top half of the fish, and bring the bottom half back to the nest.  Here is Audrey on the dock two houses to the south of us, on her favorite swim ladder with her fish snack:

 

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Audrey on the swim ladder with her sloppy seconds. I do believe she is squawking!

 

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Audrey: “Are you kidding me? Can’t a girl get a peaceful meal alone?”

 

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Audrey at the end of our dock. The crab pots will be in the water shortly

 

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Once again, Mrs. COM has gotten too close. Audrey does not stay to hear what I have to say

 

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Tom is on his observation post while Audrey incubates

 

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Tom is taking his turn incubating. Audrey is doing what she does best, squawking

 

Audrey is enjoying the tail end of her fish.  You can see the deep-notched yellowish tail, so this is a menhaden.  I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about poop, but this dock gives new meaning to the term “poop deck”:

 

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Audrey is sitting on a piling at the end of the dock just south of us. I’m not sure I would want to have happy hour out there!  Nasty!

 

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Audrey has that far off look in her eye

 

And off she goes!!!

 

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Escaping from Mrs. COM’s incredibly annoying camera. Cool reflection!

 

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Flying low

 

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Skimming the water

 

Guess who?

 

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Need I say more?

 

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Audrey in the scraggly stick tree.  Guess how many fingers (talons, actually) I have up?

 

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Ah, that feels better!

 

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Who is trying to sneak up on me? I see you!

 

Audrey loves this swim ladder.  She frequently sits here while eating and to take a little break from the nest:

 

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How does she do that?

 

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If you look carefully, you can see Audrey’s left leg tucked up into her belly

 

Another favorite hang out of Tom and Audrey is the scraggly stick tree one house to the north of us:

 

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Audrey is trying to decide whether to leave or stay

 

This is a good view of the infra red light source attached to the camera pole.  It’s the silver device mounted on the pole just under the covered camera.  Don’t you love COM’s fancy K-Mart trash can camera cover?

 

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Audrey is patiently incubating her eggs. At this point, we weren’t sure if they were viable. You can see one of COM’s marked sticks down in the nest

 

We have loved living on the water at the secret location for twenty seven years.  One of my absolutely favorite phenomenon is when the sun hits the water at a certain angle and the breeze is blowing at a certain speed.  If the two come together in just the right way, the entire surface of the water sparkles and twinkles until it is blinding.  I have dubbed this phenomenon “the sparklies”.  You can see just a few of the sparklies in this photo:

 

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Tom, his fish and two mooching crow friends on COM’s boat lift. Love those sparklies!!

 

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Mrs. COM has chased off the crows, but Tom could care less and just wants to enjoy his fish

 

This photo was taken the day that Chick #1 hatched, and shows the second feeding:

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Tom proudly sits on his observation post while Audrey feeds her newly hatched chick

 

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Tom is looking at Mrs. COM while Audrey continues to feed newly hatched Chick #1. This photo was taken from the end of our dock

 

 

Here is a series of photos of Tom and Audrey while Chick #1 is being fed:

 

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Arriving!

 

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Out of my way, woman!

 

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What’s going on down there?

 

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Dad is in the house!

 

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Are you going to eat that?

 

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Well, if you aren’t going to eat it, I’ll finish it

 

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Tom takes the left-over fish and flies away to enjoy it in peace

 

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Notice the deep-notched fish tail, probably another menhaden. Tom is heading to the dock south of us

 

 

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I wonder what Tom and Audrey are discussing?

 

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Tom, Audrey and an eavesdropping downstairs neighbor

 

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You watch for intruders from the North, and I’ll watch for intruders from the South

 

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These are the faces we will use to scare them off!

 

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Tom is finally enjoying the sun on COM’s boat lift

 

I hope you have enjoyed my latest batch of photographs.  The hour is getting late, and I have another early wake-up tomorrow.  So until next time, we remain-

Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man and Osprey Girl

 

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!