The Chessie Chronicles-Part One

Good evening from the quiet Eastern Shore of Maryland.  After a week of many violent storms here in Maryland, it is beautiful and calm at the secret location tonight.  On the night of our last Full Moon Dock Party, there was a terrible storm replete with booming thunder, incredible lightening and hail the size of quarters and larger.  I couldn’t bear to look at our osprey friends out there on the nest.  Since the infrared light source is not working, I only could get quick peeks whenever there was a lightening flash.  Tom was no where to be seen, but Audrey and Chessie were hunkered down weathering the storm.  COM and I ran out to pull the cars under the trees so the hail wouldn’t damage them.  A hailstone hit my foot, clad only in a flipflop, and it hurt!  I kept thinking about a hailstone hitting one of our ospreys in the head, and was really worried.  A great sigh of relief could be heard at the secret location at dawn the next morning when Tom, Audrey and Chessie were alive and well back at the nest.

Now that I have brought up the infrared light, let me tell you what has been going on.  As I am sure you have noticed, we lost our infrared (night light) a couple of weeks ago.  Due to the location of the light, it has been a problem to try and fix it.  COM, true to his name, has purchased a new camera with a built-in IR source.  His plan is to use that camera only for the infrared light source, and will try to get it up and running as soon as possible.  So stay tuned, hopefully there will be a light source for your night time viewing pleasure in the near future.

Another question that has come up on the Chesapeake Conservancy’s Facebook page is regarding the gender of Chessie.  When Craig Koppie was here banding Chessie, he initially thought Chessie might be a female, but was not sure.  He was out here for a dock happy hour we hosted for the good folks at the Conservancy, then stayed for the Full Moon Dock Party (double party night on the dock).  After more careful observation, he is heavily leaning toward Chessie being a male.  So I am not sure which pronoun to use, maybe I will try to stay gender neutral!

My photography the past few weeks has been hampered by the very hot, humid weather we have endured of late.  When I go out to snap a few shots, the camera lens steams up from the transition between the air conditioned house and the lazy, hazy outside air.  I am not sure what to do about that dilemma.

My other big problem right now is that my computer died since the last blog was published.  I have a new PC with Windows 10, which I am trying to master.  Much to my chagrin, the new computer and my Nikon 7100 do not seem to like each other.  I cannot view thumbnail photos, which has been a nightmare.  If anyone knows how to solve my problem, please contact me at Tom_audrey_osprey

Roger continues to grace the end of our dock, and is now like one of the family. When Roger first made his appearance on the dock, every time I looked out the window, I would be startled by the figure who appeared to be making its way up the dock into my yard.  He is still getting the attention of Osprey Girl, who hasn’t yet gotten used to seeing the dapper Roger hanging out on the dock.


Roger swinging in the breeze while keeping peace in the kingdom

The big excitement since the last blog was the day our Chessie took flight for the first time.  In the days leading up to the fledging, Tom and Audrey were spending less and less time at the nest, leaving Chessie to his (I am just using his this blog to keep things easier) own devices.  We are seeing less and less of Tom, who stops by with a fish with regularity, but does not hang out in the nest very often.  Here are some photos leading up to the big day:


Tom, Chessie and Audrey in residence. Even though Chessie is a big boy, he still likes his mommy to feed him

As I was watching this exchange and snapping away, Audrey swallowed a very large piece of something long and slimy.  I think the delectable morsel got caught in her throat and she was having trouble swallowing it.  In the following photos, it first appears that Squawking Audrey is doing her thing when in fact, she is having trouble swallowing whatever piece of fish is stuck in her throat:


Something in stuck in Audrey’s throat. Do you think ospreys know the Heimlich maneuver?



Now Chessie seems concerned about his mom



While Audrey is choking, Chessie is giving us a great view of his buff head and Tom is examining his toenails



Audrey finally is able to swallow the offending piece of her snack


This photo has nothing to do with ospreys, but our butterfly bush (which grew as a volunteer) is a beautiful part of our yard along the riprap:



Our beautiful butterfly bush gracing the waterfront


I have to look around to find Tom these days, and he is not usually in sight.  I found him one day on our neighbor’s boat lift two houses to the south:



Tom with his catch. He is eating his fill before taking the sloppy seconds to the nest


Tom was watching me approach his location.  He continues to be very camera shy.  Maybe he thinks I want his fish?



Tom takes off with his fish as Mrs. COM approaches his location. Look at those striking feathers!


Tom flew right back to the nest with the bottom half of his fish.  Unfortunately, the camera was in the way when I took this photo of Tom landing in the nest:



Tom landing in the nest with a fish snack for his family


Tom has delivered the fish to Audrey and decides to hang around for a while.  Chessie is eyeing up the fish:



What are you waiting for, Mom? If you don’t want that, I’ll take it, thinks Chessie



Audrey digs in while Chessie and Tom are occupied elsewhere


Something has gotten Tom and Audrey’s attention.  Chessie only has eyes for Mrs. COM, who is on the dock with a camera:



Chessie tries to stare down Mrs. COM, who has been stared down by many other ospreys in her photography career


Okay, I couldn’t resist.  Another non-osprey photo of Mrs. COM’s quiet place, her garden:



Mrs. COM’s garden looking good in mid summer


I don’t think anyone can deny what a good osprey mom our Audrey is, but she does need a break once in a while.  The scraggly stick tree in the backyard one house to the north of us is a favorite hang-out:



Regal Audrey taking a break in the scraggly stick tree. She is on high alert as Mrs. COM approaches with the infernal camera



Audrey heads back to the nest and her motherly duties



Audrey arrives back at the nest where Chessie awaits


Photos of Tom, Audrey and Chessie all together in the nest are becoming harder and harder to capture, as Tom doesn’t stay in the nest very long.  Here is a series of photos when Tom returned to the nest.  Check out Chessie’s red eyes as compared to Audrey’s yellow eyes.  Added color is provided by COM’s marked sticks:



This is a great example of the difference between an adult and juvenile eye color


When Tom does return to the nest, he frequently sits on top of the camera where the sound of his talons scratching the highly technical K-Mart trash can camera cover can be heard:



Our Family


As I mentioned earlier, there have been many violent storms at the secret location this season.  Here is the sky over the nest as one of the storms was passing over and before it started raining:



And the Weather Gods were angry!!


After the storm passed, we were treated to a glorious rainbow:



Somewhere over the rainbow……………………


As our 2016 season progresses, the downstairs neighbors have been busy raising their family in the basement apartment.  Their chirping can frequently be heard when the camera sound is working. Here are two of them:



Audrey hears the downstairs neighbors. I think she wants to call the building superintendent to complain about the noise


Audrey and Chessie are both in the nest while the downstairs neighbors are having their party:



A quiet afternoon in the nest interrupted by the noisy neighbors



Chessie and Audrey both spot Tom return to the neighbor’s boat lift two houses to the south of us



Here is what Chessie and Audrey have spotted. They must think dinner is on the way, but not this time.  Tom took off right after this photo was taken



Audrey and Chessie are watching Tom circle overhead


Audrey decides to take off after Tom and leaves Chessie unattended:



Chessie is all alone, and Audrey is photobombing while enroute to give Tom an earful





Audrey in flight



Audrey is headed out



Audrey lands on top of a large tree two houses to the north of us. Look way up high!



A closer view of Audrey on top of the tree.


Audrey was not happy when I headed closer to her tree, and took off again:



Audrey heads back to the nest, not wanting to hang around for another photo op by Mrs. COM



Chessie watches his mom return to the nest


On Thursday morning, July 21, 2016, the big moment arrived.  With much grace and determination, Chessie lifted off into the great blue sky.  We all knew the day was close, and watched her exercise her wings for many days before the big event.  No one was home at the secret location to witness first flight in person, so we did not know in which direction Chessie had flown.  When I returned home, I walked up and down the waterfront searching for him.  I looked in all the regular places, as well as along the riprap and on docks where some of our fledgings have landed on their first flight in years past.  But Chessie was no where to be seen.  At around 2:00 p.m., I looked out the window, and saw an osprey way up high in the big tree.  I ran outside and put the binoculars on the bird, and much to my relief, I was able to see a blue band on the osprey’s leg.  Our Chessie was back!



My first sighting of Chessie after he fledged, on top of the big tree two houses to the north of us


Shortly after I spotted Chessie, I saw Audrey fly over to the big tree and join Chessie.  I guess she was worried too!



Audrey joins Chessie in the big tree. What a good mom!



Audrey is watching Chessie trying to get her balance



This isn’t as easy as sitting in my nest! How do you do this, Mom?



Chessie is getting the hang of sitting on a small branch in a tree. Audrey remains near by for moral support



Check out that blue band, like a beacon in the wilderness!


I was very, very happy to have found Chessie in the big tree, but I bet Audrey was happier!  Thanks for the blue band, Craig Koppie!


This is the first photo I have of Audrey in the nest by herself since her eggs hatched.  She looks kind of lonely:



Something is missing, thinks Audrey. Where is my baby?



Audrey is looking at something flying by. Could it be Chessie?


In the meantime, the pelicans are still hanging around the secret location:



The pelicans are still hanging around, not a typical sight at the secret location



The lighting was not very good, but you can see the sparklies that I like as the pelican flies by


Here are a few more photos of Chessie as he explores his new surroundings:



Chessie has discovered the scraggly stick tree next door



Chessie has learned how to hold on tightly in the scraggly stick tree



Chessie has also discovered the crazy woman with a camera who likes to stalk ospreys


The next day, Chessie was flying around discovering all kinds places to explore.  Here he is in the big tree two houses to the north of us trying to hold on:



How embarrassing! She’s taking my picture and I can’t hold on!



This is not as easy as Mom made it look



I have to get away from this crazy woman


Chessie had incentive to take off (me!).  And there he goes:



Chessie in flight



Chessie is getting further away


In the next several days, I will post “The Chessie Chronicles Part Two”.  I have many more great photos to share.  Hopefully, I will get my new computer figured out so I am not so frustrated!

Please remember to send in your entries for our “Where In The World Are Tom and Audrey?” contest.  Send a photo of someone watching the ospreycam to, and include your first name and from where you are watching.  Your photo will be published in the next blog.

Our views are rapidly approaching 500,000 with over 498,000 as this blog is written.  Get your guess in now as to which date we will go over the half million mark!  A great prize is in store for the winner.

That’s it for now, as the hour is late and wake-up is early in the morning.  So for now, 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 today.  Thanks very much!



















Big Blue

Good morning from the hot, muggy Eastern Shore of Maryland.  We have had some very uncomfortable weather here at the secret location the past couple of weeks, and I always feel so badly for our ospreys during these brutally hot days.  There have also been some very heavy rain storms, replete with gusty winds, thunder and lightening.  Our big excitement since the last blog was the announcement of Chessie’s name, then the banding of our very feisty young osprey.  As you have probably noticed on the ospreycam, Chessie has been catching a lot of air during her training sessions, and is very close to first flight.  A couple of nights ago during a big storm, she was hovering up so high that I felt sure a big gust of wind was going to carry her away from the nest.  My heat was beating wildly watching the potentially harrowing situation unfold.  I was so worried that I had COM get his lifesaving gear ready and he put on his bathing suit in case we needed to initiate a rescue at sea!  Fortunately, Chessie came down in the nest, but we were really, really worried about her well being that evening.

I have decided to dedicate this blog almost entirely to Craig Koppie and Chessie, the stars of the recent banding.  Of course, COM will get Best Supporting Actor, and I will designate myself Chief Historian of the event.  I was at work the day Maine and Montana were banded last year, so was very happy to be present this time to memorialize the day. There are photos galore, so without further adieu, here is the story of Chessie’s banding in pictures and words.

A couple of weeks ago, as Chessie was getting bigger and bigger (quite rapidly, it seemed), COM contacted our favorite raptor biologist, Craig Koppie and inquired about the possibility of banding our miracle chick.  As Craig tells the story, he took a look at Chessie’s tail, and decided he better get out to the secret location without delay before we had a fledging on our hands. On Monday, July 11, Craig came out with his bag of tricks, and the adventure started:


Craig and COM prepare for the banding



COM gets the ladder into the water while Craig changes into his water shoes


Audrey and Chessie are in residence, but Audrey is sounding the alarm and Chessie is keeping a low profile:



Audrey is keeping a watchful eye on the preparations


As COM and Craig carried the ladder through the water to the nest, Audrey decided it was time to vacate the premises.  Since Chessie can’t fly yet, she was on her own:



Audrey takes off leaving Chessie to her own devices



Craig and COM are carrying the ladder out to the nest. COM is keeping an eye on Audrey, who is circling them while protesting loudly


Audrey was not happy with the intruders, and kept circling and making a series of loud, unhappy calls:



Audrey in flight while keeping an eye on the intruders



Audrey continues to circle while squawking loudly



“Should l dive bomb them now or later”, thinks Audrey


Meanwhile, COM and Craig put up the ladder, all the while keeping an eye on the perturbed Audrey :



COM and Craig keeping an eye on Audrey while putting up the ladder



This looks like a good spot


A discussion ensued as to the proper placement of the ladder.  Audrey has continued to circle and protest:



A very wet conversation. Maybe they should have talked about this before they got in the water!


COM goes back to the dock to retrieve a box in which to carry Chessie back for banding.  Craig remembered that one of the boxes had a hole in it and asked COM to check it out:


Checking the box for holes. Another mission that could have been completed on the dock!


Satisfied that the box is intact, COM brings it out to the nest:



Bringing the box out to the nest to transport Chessie back to the dock


With all the equipment in place, Craig started up the ladder.  Audrey is still very unhappy:



Craig gets ready to go up the ladder Audrey is still circling and complaining loudly



Starting up the ladder


Craig was almost there, but decided the ladder needed to be moved to be able to get into the nest safely:



Hmm, something is not right





Craig comes back down to readjust the ladder, being watched by Audrey the entire time


Once the ladder was readjusted, Craig started up the ladder again:



Let’s try this again!


When Craig got to the top, he did some housekeeping around the nest so he wouldn’t get poked the eye.  Then it was time to find an osprey:



Chessie is barely visible peeking out of the left side of the nest, but she can’t hide from the raptor biologist who has come to band her



Going for the grab





Craig has Chessie by the legs.  Check out the wingspan on our little baby:




Chessie has been eating her Wheaties! What a wingspan!


Now Craig had to gather Chessie up for a safe trip down the ladder and into the transport box:



Craig prepares Chessie for the trip down the ladder



Let’s see you try climbing down a 14 foot stepladder in the water with a very angry osprey in one arm



Craig gets a good hold on Chessie



Almost at the bottom of the ladder with the Best Supporting Actor waiting to do his thing



COM is waiting patiently for the package



COM and Craig are admiring the beautiful Chessie



Craig gets stung by a jellyfish. Chessie is thinking it serves him right, and cheers on the jellyfish



COM is being very careful with his precious cargo. Chessie is judging how close she needs to get to COM’s thumb to have a taste


Craig, Chessie and COM arrive back at the dock.  Craig climbed out of the water onto the dock to take the transport box from COM:



Back to the dock. Chessie has taken a defensive stance



Up on the dock goes Chessie


Time to band the osprey!



Craig is getting his equipment ready out of camera view while Chessie plots her escape



Chessie is getting braver and takes a look around



Not one step closer, you crazy camera woman!


With all the equipment ready, Craig begins the banding process, which starts with getting ahold of an osprey:



The flying hand of fate getting ready to remove Chessie from the transport box


When Craig took Chessie from the box, her talons were caught so the first order of business was to release her talons from the towel:



Chessie’s talons are caught in the towel, so Craig carefully untangles her



Someone needs a manicure


Now that Chessie has been freed from the towel, the banding can proceed, but not before feisty Chessie tried to take a chunk out of Craig’s hand:



Chessie has been freed from the towel. From the look of things, I think Craig has held a bird or two in his day



Take that, you brute!  Chessie goes for blood


Craig is nonplussed, and continues his mission.  The first step is to place the metal band around Chessie’s leg:



The band goes around Chessie’s right leg


Next, the band is tightened:



Tightening the band



Making sure the band is on properly. Chessie is trying to read the number


Next, Craig enlists COM to help with the tape:



Craig hands the tape to COM.



Craig used bright blue tape for Chessie since Maine and Montana had yellow and red tape last year.



Chessie really wants a piece of COM this time



“I wonder if a piece of this one will taste better than the piece I had of the other one?”, thinks Chessie



Doesn’t COM look like he is telling Chessie he is sorry? Not sure what Chessie is thinking, but I don’t think it is good!



Check out Chessie’s pretty new Big Blue Band


Now it is time to get Chessie back into the nest, but not without a photo op first:



COM, Chessie and Craig with Roger, protector of the nest. And a fine protector he is, indeed!


Chessie has really had enough of all this nonsense, and is ready to go back home.  She was none too happy being back in the transport box:



Take me home now, please



Chessie thinks there have been quite enough photos taken already, thank you very much



Ready for the trip back to the nest


Back into the water they go, COM with the transport box, Chessie (who is just along for the ride) and brave Craig, with his camera clutched to his body to avoid the drink:



Back to the nest they go


Meanwhile, Audrey has been back at the nest since the birdnappers left with her baby:



Squawking Audrey sees the wagon train a comin’ and decides it’s time to get out of Dodge



Oh, no, not them again.  Time to go!



That baby of mine needs to learn how to fly


Craig spies another photo op, and since he has his camera, decides to stop and take advantage of the opportunity:



There’s no time like the present to take a photo or two. Water, what water?



The Three Musketeers arrive back at the nest. Audrey has taken up her circling and noise making


The careful process of placing the newly-banded Chessie back in the nest commences:



Out of the transport box and back in Craig’s loving arms



The ascent back up the ladder begins



Slowly I turn, inch by inch…………



Don’t look down!



Craig steadies himself for the final push to the summit (how dramatic)



Careful now, almost there!



In you go, Chessie!



Craig’s faithful companion is below, alert and at the ready, waiting for any signs of a problem



Craig begins his descent from the summit. with his camera hanging precariously around his neck just waiting for the strap to snap



Look who is still circling! Audrey is a faithful mother, but not a stupid one.  “They can’t get me here”, she thinks



Chessie is on high alert, while Audrey photobombs Mrs. COM’s bucolic scene. The ladder is still in place



“Please get that ladder away from me, it is making me nervous”, squawks Chessie



Mission accomplished, and the equipment goes back to shore



Audrey arrives back at the nest immediately after the ladder is removed



Audrey and Chessie are both squawking loudly, hopefully saying “Home Sweet Home” in ospreyspeak


It’s hard to believe that the entire banding operation only took about fifteen to twenty minutes from start to finish.  I was so overwhelmed at Chessie’s beauty, she is simply a magnificent bird.  To my neighbors who I stood up for lunch, I hope you can now see why you dined without me at the last minute!

I have taken many more photos since the last blog was published, but will save those for next time as the hour is late.  Please remember to send in your entries for the “Where In The World Are Tom and Audrey?” contest.  You may send them to, along with your guess as to the date our blog views will go over 500,000.  We are over 495,000 this week, so get your guesses and photos in to win a cool prize!  Here is our winning entry for this week.  After fooling with this photo for over an hour with my technical advisor (Osprey Girl), we are unable to get the photo oriented properly, so turn your head to view it (your challenge for today!):




Laurie watching the ospreycam from somewhere on Park Avenue South in New York City


As always, 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 today.  Thanks very much!