Good evening on this last day of June from our secret location on the delightful Eastern Shore of Maryland! This month seems to have gotten away from me, so I will try to make it up to you with double the photos this time. There have been many changes in our little osprey family since my last blog. As I was sitting at my computer working on the May 31st blog, unbeknownst to me, a great drama was taking place in the dark over the water behind our house. I was joyfully writing about our history in the making, describing the events leading to the hatching of our miracle chicks. To my great horror early the next morning, reports were coming in on the Chesapeake Conservancy’s Facebook page and by text to my phone of a large crash into the nest/camera around 10:00 p.m. the night before, and the demise of one of our little miracle chicks. We did not hear the commotion as our windows were closed, and we keep the camera sound on mute inside of the house. COM reviewed the tapes from the previous night, with the events being visible due to his installation of an infrared light source at the beginning of the 2016 season. He was able to capture the shadowy, blurry image of a large bird swooping down on the unsuspecting Audrey, knocking her almost off the nest and causing the disappearance of one of our beloved, newly hatched chicks. We have had some discussion as to whether the bird (probably a Great Horned Owl) snatched the chick or if the chick was knocked out of the nest when Audrey was blindsided. The attack happened so quickly that it was impossible to tell from the video footage what actually transpired. It doesn’t really matter how it happened, but our chick was gone and one egg remained unhatched. A couple of days later, Audrey broke into the remaining egg, and consumed the contents. A working theory on the third egg is that it was damaged in the attack and nature took its course. A few very sad days here at the secret location, going from “the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat” in a very short time. Will the drama at our nest never cease?
But life goes on, doesn’t it? I am sure you have noticed that our remaining chick has grown by leaps and bounds, much more quickly than other chicks of a similar age that have been raised by Tom and Audrey in our nest. It’s a spunky chick with quite a personality, and we are so thankful to have an only child this season. Calico Tom the Fishing Fool is living up to his name, and the fish just keep on coming. In a few days, our chick will have a name after the voting closes at the Chesapeake Conservancy. My vote was for Lucky, as it just seemed apropos for this year’s chick. But the majority will rule in our democracy, and we will soon know what to call our baby instead of “the chick”.
Very shortly after the incident at the nest, the Crazy Osprey Family was contacted by Craig Koppie, our favorite raptor biologist. He suggested that we put up a scarecrow to try and keep the predator away from our remaining chick. You know that Crazy Osprey Man got his moniker for a reason, and off to the garage he went. A couple of hours later and my only good hat gone (I didn’t have the heart to tell COM, he worked so hard on his project), we had a new family member. Enter Roger:
Notice the very clean boat cover in the above photo. Please remember this clean cover for comparison in future photos.
And of course, no scarecrow would be complete without night lighting, so Roger’s presence is not only felt but seen all night long! Thank you COM for being the Crazy Osprey Man that you are!
When Craig Koppie first suggested that we try Roger as a possible defender against unwanted visitors, he suggested that we place him at the beginning of the dock. As the days went on, a decision was made to move Roger from his original location out closer to the end of the dock nearer to the nest. On the day of the big move, the Crazy Osprey Family was honored to have wonderful visitors, Maureen and Gene from Cape Cod. Maureen has been a faithful camera watcher and blog follower from the start. Her witty lyrics to the tunes of some of our favorite songs and her continuing cheerful and positive attitude have made her a welcome addition to our little osprey family. COM and I were delighted that she and Gene were able to join us for a fun-filled day at the secret location:
We are so happy to have Roger as part of our osprey family. I guess we will never know, but he seems to have done his job to protect everyone at the nest.
After all of the excitement at the beginning of June, things seemed to have calmed down and osprey life is moving forward. The little one has lost its down and is now starting to sport real feathers. It is truly unbelievable to me how large the chick has grown in just a little over four weeks. Tom and Audrey continue to be exemplary parents, and take incredibly good care of their baby. Here are some photos of the daily lives of our favorite osprey family, all of which have been taken since the last blog was published:
Sometimes after Tom has been fishing, he will arrive back in the area looking very wet and bedraggled. The top of the camera assembly is another of his favorite places, and turns out to be a great place to dry off:
When I am home, I usually keep one eye on whatever I am doing and the other eye wanders to the windows to try and catch a glimpse of a photo op. Here is a series of photos of Tom after he caught a fish and took it to the neighbor’s boat lift two houses to the south of us:
When you are watching the ospreycam, it is usually Tom who likes to sit up on the observation posts (actually the nest supports). Once in a while Audrey likes to sit up high and enjoy the view from the top floor:
In seasons past, I have posted many photos of our various ospreys sitting in the big tree two houses to the north of us. For some reason, this year neither Tom nor Audrey is spending much time up that way. Maybe it is because there is another osprey pair nesting very close to the big tree. Earlier in the month, I observed Tom fly off to the big tree with a fish after I unceremoniously chased his away from our neighbor’s dock while trying to snap a few photos:
Here is a wider view of the big tree. You can barely see Tom sitting up near the top of the leaf canopy on the right side of the tree. If you look closely, you can see one of the other ospreys who nest near the big tree sitting to the left of the tree on a piling. Their nest is to the right of the big tree on a pole in the water five houses to the north of us:
Here are some photographs of Tom and Audrey in the nest. It is hard to see the chick in most of the photographs, but he/she is starting to be more visible from vantage points on land and the dock:
I have been putting a lot of sticks out in the yard, and both Tom and Audrey have been picking all of them up:
This is a quiet Father’s Day on the dock with Roger keeping guard. The Full Strawberry Moon Dock Party was the next night. Could anyone hear us howling?
Audrey takes a little break from the nest to do her thing on the boat lift. What is that white stuff on the formerly clean boat cover?
The chick is starting to be visible unless a parent sounds the alarm, then it flattens out and cannot be seen from land:
The crows always seem to know when one of our ospreys is enjoying a fish meal near by. As Tom enjoys his meal on our boat lift, a patient crow is waiting for sloppy seconds:
One of our many rainy days this spring:
Audrey and the chick sharing a quiet day at the nest. I must have been standing on one foot when I took some of these photos, they seem a little lopsided:
Audrey doesn’t leave the nest too often, but as the chick is getting bigger, she has been leaving for longer periods of time. Even when she isn’t in the nest, Audrey is not far away:
Tom has been taking some squawking lessons from Audrey:
As I am sure you know by now, one of Tom’s favorite places is the swim ladder on the dock two houses to the south of us. Our neighbors that lived there for over twenty years just moved at the beginning of June. One of my first orders of business when I met the new neighbors was to explain that they may be seeing a crazy woman with a camera traipsing through their yard to take photographs of birds on their dock. I very politely asked for permission to continue my pursuits, and they very graciously approved. I am sure Tom would have much preferred that they said no trespassing, but Mrs. COM saved the day.
Sometimes staying vigilant and looking out the window really pays off. As I was doing some dishes this morning, I glanced up and saw something very unusual for this part of Maryland:
Pretty cool, huh?
Please remember to send in your photos for the “Where In The World Are Tom and Audrey?” contest. Send a photo of yourself watching the ospreycam from wherever you are. Please include your name (first name is fine) and the location, and I will post it in my next blog. Send your photo to Tom_audrey_osprey@yahoo.com. A winning photo will be selected at the end of this season with a prize to follow!
We are up to over 491,000 views of the blog since its inception in 2013. Please send in your guess for the day we will have our 500,000th view! A great prize will be awarded to the winning person! You can send your guess to the same email listed above for the photo contest.
The hour is drawing late, and it’s time to close out another blog. Remember to get your votes in for our chick’s name (it’s a Lucky chick, isn’t it-hint, hint!) on the Chesapeake Conservancy’s Facebook page.
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!