Good afternoon from the beautiful Eastern Shore of Maryland! This is your long lost friend, Mrs. COM, back in blog writing mode. It’s been a while since I checked in with you, but I am back! The loss of our eggs to the crows last year put me in an osprey funk, and I apologize for my lack of communication. There is a beehive of activity out on the dock and in the yard today, so I am energized and ready to go for 2018, our sixth season with the Chesapeake Conservancy, second season with Explore and our sixteenth year of having our camera up. So without further adieu, here we go for 2018! Welcome back!
As I sit here and write, Crazy Osprey Man and Jessie, our electrician, are out back busily running new cable to support the new and improved camera that will be going in this week. More about that in the next blog. In the meantime, I thought I would start off this season with some photos from last season and this winter.
When I last wrote, Tom and Audrey were empty nesters in the true sense. After the loss of their eggs in May, just before they were due to hatch, they spent a lot of time together for the rest of the season. Here they are on COM’s boat lift deciding what to do for the rest of the day:
Do you think COM will be mad if we both poop on his boat?
After the weather warmed up in the spring, Tom decided to live up to his fishin’ fool reputation, and continued to provide fish for Audrey the rest of the season.
Tom in the scraggly stick tree one house to the north of us. He was working on a good size fish
Another catch on a different day. You can really see the difference in the tails of these two fish
There was a little bit of excitement in June, when a yellow bag became stuck in the nest. To the best of our observation, it looked like a bag that used to contain produce, like onions or citrus:
Flying the yellow flag. Looks a little windy at the secret location!
Look, dear, the interior decorator was here while we were gone!
The lazy, hazy days of summer were upon us in July:
Happy 4th of July!
Tom continued to bring home the bacon (fish bacon):
Dinner is served
Tom wasn’t the only one fishing around the nest:
An Eastern Shore waterman crabbing at sunrise not too far from the nest
Despite not having any chicks to raise, Tom and Audrey continued to enjoy their summer digs:
A peaceful summer day at the nest
The summer slipped away into autumn. Tom and Audrey left their summer home enroute to warmer winter climes. We were quite worried about their well-being when a hurricane came sweeping through their migration path in September. No way to predict their fate while flying through the tempest, we will just have to wait a couple more weeks to see if they return safely. With autumn and the departure of our feathered friends, it was time to take the camera down from the pole so it could spend the winter on the dock spying on our tundra swans.
COM and our friend Peter from the Chesapeake Conservancy take the gigantic step ladder out to the pole
This looks like a good spot
Well, maybe not. This looks better
What do you have down your pants, COM?
COM must have found what he was looking for in his waders, and up the ladder he goes. COM goes up, nest comes down!
All that work, sorry Tom and Audrey
One of COM’s pieces of construction tape is still visible floating off
COM is still fascinated by something in his waders
Now the camera and mount have to come down
After a slow, steady trip down the ladder, COM passes the camera off to Peter
The junction box for the camera wiring needs to come inside for the winter
COM carefully unhooks all of the wires
With all of the technical equipment detached, the slow wade back to the dock begins
This is a good close-up of the camera encased in the highly technical K-Mart trash can cover. The infra red light source is to the left of the camera mounted to the support
With the camera successfully down from the nest pole, now the long wait for Spring had officially begun. COM installed the camera on the dock so our viewers could enjoy the tundra swans that visit us every winter. These lovely birds show up in November, and leave around St. Patrick’s Day. We host a flock of forty to sixty swans each winter, with more stopping by during spring migration to the north. If you take a look at the calendar, our swans will be leaving us very shortly. We will miss their grace and beauty, but maybe not their raucous noise!
January was an extremely cold month for the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The Chesapeake Bay was almost frozen over, which does not happen very often. Icebreakers were brought in to keep some of the major channels open into Baltimore and Annapolis. Here at the secret location, the swans and geese adjusted to a different surface, especially when COM was feeding them. Here are a series of photos depicting some icy winter scenes:
The ice did a number on our pole. It is bent, and not just leaning, so will need to be replaced. The swans seem nonplussed with the ice.
The swans seemed to be able to find the little bits of open water so they could still go for a swim.
I like the reflections of the swans in the icy water
Sometimes I just can’t decide which photos to put in the blog, so I decided to put in a few extra. Hope you don’t get bored with all of the icy swan photos:
This photo is really cool! The reflections of the swans make it look like they have really long legs. This is one of my favorite swan photos.
Check out the tracks in the slushy ice (and of course the reflections)
The grey necked swans are the juveniles (more cool reflections)
The tide is coming in, and the ice is breaking up. Aren’t the swans beautiful?
Last icy swan photo (for now!)
Thanks for indulging me on the icy swan photos!
A winter sunrise at the secret location:
The sun hasn’t broken the horizon yet
Here comes the sun, little darling (with apologies to the Beatles)
The swans are a little closer to getting their morning rations. Mrs. COM is out with her camera bright and early. COM won’t be too far behind with the corn
We have seen lots of bald eagles around the neighborhood this winter, to include adults and juveniles. This is the first time I have seen two juveniles together at the same time. I apologize in advance for the terrible quality of this photo, but it was a dreary day with really poor lighting.
Two juvenile bald eagles in the big tree two houses to the north of us
Time to go, says the juvie eagle
The Canada goose population here at the secret location was quite large this year. In the next couple of photos, the swans and geese share a peaceful coexistence:
Swans and geese share a little patch of open water on a cold, snowy day
Find the goose standing on one leg (this is an easy one)
The ice finally broke up, and the swans were happy to be able to fly and swim, without having to waddle:
Ah, open water as far as the eye can see, think the swans
The juvenile swans with their grey heads and necks are quite prominent in this next photo. Look closely and see if you can spot one of the swans taking a chunk out of one of his buddies:
Find the mean swan in this photo
You may have heard about the big wind storm that occurred on the East Coast last Friday, March 2, 2018, and quite a storm it was. The northwest winds were gusting to almost seventy miles per hour here at the secret location. The combination of the severe winds, coupled by a full moon with accompanying tides, caused extremely low water in the bay. Here are some photos at the secret location:
Our dock, where Roger will be residing very soon. Our boats are put away for the winter, much to COM’s chagrin. Check out the crab pots which have blown off the dock. This view is looking to the northeast from our back yard
This is the infamous scraggly stick tree one house to the north of us. The view is to the northeast
This is the really big tree two houses to the north of us, where our ospreys love to hang out
Another view to the north. Where has all the water gone, long time passing? (apologies to Peter, Paul and Mary)
The docks are high and dry.
A view to the north along the rip-rap. There will be no fishing today!
No waders needed today to work on the pole!
One of my favorite phenomena, the sparklies (my word), are quite visible in this photo
A view to the south along the rip-rap. You can see the typical water line on the rocks
COM still fed the swans when the water was blown out of the bay. We don’t purposefully feed the geese, but there is no way to keep them away. You can see the corn on the exposed bottom in this photo:
Swans and geese share a morning snack, compliments of the Crazy Osprey Family
Just a group of waddling swans
The four geese in the front of the photo look like they are running to catch a bus!
I will leave you with three spectacular sunrises at the secret location:
The sky looks like it is on fire
Winter sunrise at the secret location
A bucolic winter morning
So that’s it for the first blog of 2018. I know there weren’t many osprey photos this time, but I hope you enjoyed some of the happenings around the secret location in the winter. Stay tuned for the next blog, which will be out shortly to chronicle what goes on behind the scenes to get ready for the return of Tom and Audrey.
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!