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 @yahoo.com.

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.

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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:

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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:

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

 

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Now Chessie seems concerned about his mom

 

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

 

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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:

 

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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:

 

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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?

 

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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:

 

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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:

 

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

 

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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:

 

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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:

 

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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:

 

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

 

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Audrey heads back to the nest and her motherly duties

 

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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:

 

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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:

 

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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:

 

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And the Weather Gods were angry!!

 

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

 

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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:

 

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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:

 

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A quiet afternoon in the nest interrupted by the noisy neighbors

 

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

 

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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

 

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Audrey and Chessie are watching Tom circle overhead

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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Audrey in flight

 

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Audrey is headed out

 

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

 

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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:

 

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

 

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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!

 

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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!

 

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

 

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Audrey is watching Chessie trying to get her balance

 

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

 

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

 

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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:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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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:

 

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Chessie has discovered the scraggly stick tree next door

 

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

 

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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:

 

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

 

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This is not as easy as Mom made it look

 

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I have to get away from this crazy woman

 

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

 

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Chessie in flight

 

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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 Tom_audrey_osprey@yahoo.com, 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 http://chesapeakeconservancy.org today.  Thanks very much!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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