Good afternoon from the once again rainy Eastern Shore of Maryland. What a miserable, wet spring it has been here at the secret location. Before I sat down to write this blog, I took a look at the last blog, which was published two days before the initial crow attack on the nest which destroyed two of our eggs and a second attack the next day which has left the third egg’s viability in question. There was so much hope and anticipation in that blog, which included the hatch windows for all three eggs, and the promise of chicks by the time this blog was written. What a difference a day makes…………..
So here we are, closing in on the end of our hatch window for Egg #3. I am sure many of our faithful camera watchers remember the 2015 season, when Tom and Audrey sat faithfully on their three eggs for weeks past their viability date. A season which went from sadness to great elation with the fostering of Maine and Montana, and the arrival of our bad boy, E.T. What a season it was! Last year while sitting on her three eggs, our Audrey disappeared for twenty four hours during a very cold, wet and windy spring day. Tom did the best he could to incubate the eggs, but he also needed to leave the nest to eat. The eggs remained unattended for 7 hours when the temperature outside was 47 degrees and a cold rain fell. For all of the details, take a look at the blog “Beautiful Noise”, published 5/12/2016 and “History In The Making”, published on 5/31/2016. Of course, after the first two miracle chicks hatched last year, our nest was attacked by a Great Horned Owl, which resulted in the death of one of the chicks and damage to the remaining egg, which never hatched. Our beautiful Chessie became the only child, thrived with all of the undivided attention, and took off to warmer climes in the fall. We just can’t seem to catch a break the past couple of years, so thanks for hanging in there with us.
Where do we go from here? Why has this happened? What caused the change in behavior from our faithful Audrey and Calico Tom The Fishing Fool? The questions are many and the definitive answers are few. I am not a trained raptor biologist, just an observer of Nature and our nest going back more than two decades. My unsubstantiated opinion is that the terrible weather conditions caused some or most of our problems earlier in May. Above all, adult ospreys have survival instincts that supersede protecting the nest and eggs. They must take care of themselves first, so if Tom wasn’t supplying enough fish to sustain Audrey, she had no choice but to go fishing for herself. Tom may not have been able to catch enough fish to feed himself and Audrey due to the wind, rain and crummy weather, so he had to take care of himself first. There were many days that I would see him with a fish, eating in the scraggly stick tree or a near-by dock. I was sure he would bring part of the fish to Audrey, but each time, he finished the meal himself, much to my chagrin. I go back to Craig Koppie’s statement from my last blog: Anything in Nature is possible. Since those days earlier in May when Tom no longer deserved his Fishing Fool moniker, and Audrey inexplicably left her eggs unattended for what seemed to be an interminable length of time, the conditions at the nest have made a remarkable turn-around. I would wager to say that Tom and Audrey are back to their former selves. Tom is catching fish for all at a tummy-filling rate, and Audrey is as attentive to her remaining egg as we are used to seeing. The nest has taken back its beautiful shape and size, and is lined with soft nesting materials just waiting to cradle new chicks. As we wait for the fate of the third egg, other options are being considered with no decisions having been made. So keep watching, keep commenting and hang in there with us for now. The wild ride this season may not be over yet!
With the editorial out of the way, on to more pleasant topics. I was in sort of an osprey funk for a while after the crow attack, but am getting back in an osprey frame of mind. To reward your patience while I was incommunicado, here are some photos I have taken since the last blog was published.
First, some photos of the villains in this ever-changing saga:
A couple of days later, Tom was observed eating a fish on the electrical box at the end of our dock.
The crows are very wary and very smart. The crows are in trouble, however, because COM has a new mission. You should know by now that when COM has a mission, there is no stopping him. Crows be warned, COM has you in his sights!!!!
While Tom and the crow were trying to ignore each other, Audrey was quietly incubating her remaining egg.
A little while later the same day, Audrey was taking a break in the scraggly stick tree next door to us to the north.
Audrey didn’t feel like messing with Mrs. COM that day, and off she went
Remember in the last blog when I couldn’t choose between two photos, and decided to post both of them for your viewing pleasure and input? Well, guess what, I had the same dilemma this time. (By the way, I spent some time researching “dilemma” vs. “dilemna”. I have used the proper spelling, but I’m afraid that hasn’t always been the case prior to today)
So, which do you like? Option #1, or Option #2?
The weather gods have not been kind to us so far this season. We have seen the following behavior in the past, but it is still rather rare to see either Tom or Audrey sitting on the rip-rap or near the ground close to the shore. They will usually only sit there to get out of the wind. Here is one of those windy days:
There has been much discussion of late about Tom’s fishing, first the lack of it and now the return of the Fishing Fool. Here is some photographic proof of the return of our beloved Calico Tom The Fishing Fool:
A different kind of bird that is very popular with the Crazy Osprey Family. Guess where COM and Mrs. COM spent their Saturday night last weekend?
Okay, back to the ospreys. Here are some photos from yesterday and today to wrap up for now.
Tom and Audrey love the scraggly stick tree next door to the north, probably the place where Tom spends the most time. He is sitting out there right now, looking quite wet. Here is Audrey yesterday, drying off after a shower:
Some of you have commented about seeing this lovely little family swim by in the camera view:
We know Tom is back to normal because he has been hanging out at one of his favorite haunts:
Here are the final few photos that were taken today, including one of my favorite photos of all time. You know I have taken thousands of photos in the five seasons we have been with you, so this is going to be good! Sure hope you like it!
In the next series of photos, Tom is headed back to the nest and arrives with a fish:
Here is a unique sunrise on the morning of the initial crow attack. Somber, but beautiful, sort of like the feelings we all had later that day:
By the way, if you haven’t seen it, our dear friend and videographer extraordinaire, Uta, captured a fascinating moment a couple of days ago. A cownose ray was swimming by the nest, and Uta was able to capture the image and post it on Explore and the Chesapeake Conservancy website. The cownose rays make their way to us in the late spring every year to mate and have their young. I will try to get some photos of them sunning themselves near the surface of the water when the weather warms up. Great job, Uta, we so appreciate everything you do for us!
So that’s it for today. I have actually finished a blog while the sun is still up, not about to come up, rather unusual for me. Feels great! As I leave you, Audrey is incubating quietly in the nest, Tom is in the scraggly stick tree, the pouring rain has finally stopped and tomorrow is another day. We are all waiting anxiously to see what the next few days and weeks will bring to our Tom and Audrey and their adoring public. Fingers crossed, everyone, for a positive outcome for all!
Until next time, we remain,
Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man and Osprey Girl.
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