Deja Vu All Over Again

Good evening from the fantastic Eastern Shore of Maryland!  It is finally starting to feel a little like Spring here at the secret location, with the promise of even warmer weather later in the week.  There is no doubt the humans and birds in the area are going to be very delighted to encounter some much deserved warmth and sunshine.  There certainly has been some eggcitement since my last blog, so here we go!

As the title of this blog suggests, Audrey presented us with three lovely eggs on the exact same dates as last year.  So in the words of Yogi Berra, it’s deja vu all over again! Our first arrival was on April 12, the second on April 15 and the last egg arrival was on April 18.  These dates correspond to the very dates in 2017 when the three eggs were laid.  In 2016, Audrey’s three eggs entered the nest on 4/17, 4/20 and 4/23.  April 2015 brought us eggs on 4/12, 4/15 and a surprise after six days on 4/21.  Going back to 2014, our eggs were laid on 4/15, 4/18 and 4/21.  Our first year partnering with the Chesapeake Conservancy was in 2013, when Audrey laid a total of four eggs on 4/17, 4/19, 4/23 and 4/25.  This was the only year since we had a camera on the nest that we had four eggs.  I will discuss the hatching results in the next blog, have to keep you guessing!  Just a little hint, though-typical time from laying to hatching is 35-42 days, with the usual times on this nest being 39-41 days.  If you are inclined to do the math, we can probably expect our first egg to hatch between May 17-May 30.  Complicating the guessing game this season is the loss of one of our precious eggs. Since we don’t know which egg is now missing, our first hatch may be delayed.  We will just have to wait and see, but it is possible we are less than three weeks away from our first nestling!

After the third egg was laid on April 18, the rate of Tom’s sexual escapades (copulation is such a technical term) slowed down considerably, but did not completely stop.  Here is one of his last attempts to have his way with Audrey.


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In addition to eggs showing up in the nest, there was a plethora of other objects that made their appearance in April.  One of the more concerning ones was a plastic water bottle, probably brought back by Tom.  Fortunately, it didn’t remain very long and was carried off by the wind, hopefully to a place where someone found it and had it recycled.

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We hate to see these types of items show up in any kind of nest, especially here at the secret location


A wad of some type of black matter was the subject of much discussion a couple of weeks ago.  COM and I took several good looks on our dedicated osprey computer monitor, which has incredible resolution. We determined it was a piece of filter cloth from our rip-rap, the structure that protects our shoreline from erosion.  When rip-rap is being installed, a layer of  filter cloth is laid over the bare earth that has been exposed, before any rocks are put in place. This will keep the dirt in place, but allows water to flow through.



This is the top of our rip-rap at the interface of the stone revetment and our backyard lawn. The filter cloth has become visible over the years as the lawn has been exposed to the elements and eroded.



This is most certainly what was brought back to the nest, and not monofilament fishing line (at least not this time)


I had a discussion with our dear friend and osprey expert, Dr. Paul Spitzer, and he told me that ospreys bring every sort of “stuff” into their nests.  He suggested putting out a little dolly, so we may have to sacrifice one of Osprey Girl’s old Barbie Dolls to the osprey gods.  It might be kind of creepy, though, so I will have to rethink that one.  Sorry, Dr. Spitzer, you have had some incredibly good osprey ideas over the years, but this might not be one of them.

There have been a few comments on the Explore site asking about how high the nest and platform are above the water, as sometimes it appears from the camera view that the nest is very close to the surface of the water.  Have no fear, the nest is well-protected from the waves.



Plenty of room between the nest and the water. Tom and Audrey should be safe from any Chesapeake tsunamis!


Have you noticed how much Tom likes to incubate those eggs?  Sometimes after he takes over incubating duty, after bringing Audrey a fish or just giving her a break, she has a very difficult time getting him to leave when she returns.  When either Tom or Audrey is in the nest incubating, you can see it very clearly in the camera view.  However, from land, sometimes it is hard to tell if anyone is home, as evidenced by the above and below photos.  The incubating osprey sits very low snuggled into the nest.



Is anyone home?


If you watch the camera with any regularity, you can’t help but notice that Audrey is, shall we say, quite vocal (that is an understatement, to be sure!).  There is a thirty second delay in what is happening in real time, and what is going out over the internet for your viewing pleasure.  We haven’t had an abundance of warm, window-opening weather yet this season, but when the windows and doors are open, we hear Audrey’s enthusiastic vocals in real time, then again thirty seconds later.  She also likes to start her sweet calling (yeah, right) before the sun comes up, shattering our early morning peace and quiet.  But this is a small price to pay to have our beloved osprey family right behind the house.

It has been brought to our attention that the sound from the camera is somewhat erratic.   This is a brand new camera and set-up this season, and we are trying to work all of the bugs out of it.  Unfortunately, with the eggs now being incubated, we are not able to approach the nest to try and troubleshoot the sound problem. Unlike our last camera, the new one has two-way sound.  This means that we can hear what is going on at the nest, and whoever is on the nest is able to hear us if we choose that option.  We are hoping that the two-way sound feature will be useful in keeping the crows away if the nest becomes unattended like last season.  I will discuss what happened last season in my next blog.  I am trying to keep this one happy and upbeat, and what happened last season was anything but happy or upbeat.

One of the real advantages to living here at the secret location is to be able to see Tom and Audrey when they are off the nest.  Our camera operators, including Crazy Osprey Man (COM to you newcomers), have done a wonderful job trying to locate our favorite osprey couple when they are not on the nest.  When COM and I are home, which is sporadic, we keep a lookout and try to move the camera to the location of the action.  This is another feature of our new camera, PTZ, or pan tilt zoom, which has proven to enhance everyone’s viewing pleasure.  Thanks for helping us out, camera operators!

So where are Tom and Audrey when they are not in the nest?  Guess what, you are in luck, because I will now answer that question in photographs!

One of Tom and Audrey’s favorite hangouts is what I have nicknamed “the scraggly stick tree”.  This is the tree right along the rip-rip of our next door neighbor’s house directly to the north of us.  In years past, Tom and Audrey would swoop down and snap a stick off this tree in flight, giving the tree a rather scraggly look, hence the name. COM’s stick locker has lessened the destruction brought upon the poor scraggly stick tree, since there are always a few sticks readily available in our back yard, sometimes even marked with colorful construction tape. But between Tom and Audrey, there is usually an osprey sitting in the scraggly stick tree a few hours of the day.



Here is the scraggly stick tree, complete with Tom, half a fish and a dastardly crow sitting down low, willing Tom to drop his fish. Please try not to get seasick looking at this photo, I must have been distracted by something really amazing (probably not, just messed up)


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Tom is giving Mrs. COM the hairy eyeball, or should I say the feathery eyeball, or should I say the fishy eyeball?


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Tom is wondering just how close I will get before he has to take action. We can tell how close he got to the fish, which would be really close.


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Okay, that was close enough and action has been taken by Tom. I normally wouldn’t include a blurry photo, but it was too cool to leave out. I call this a quantity over quality photo!


One evening, just at dusk, I noticed Tom in the scraggly stick tree.  What really caught my eye was a rather large half a fish clutched in his talons.  The next two photos aren’t that great, because the light was fading fast, but I think you will get the idea. Now that’s a fish!


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You don’t need great light to see the blood trickling down this really big fish


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Tom wasn’t in a sharing mood, so he takes his bloody fish and departs with one foot holding the fish, and one foot remaining aerodynamic



Audrey also enjoys hanging out in the scraggly stick tree.


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Another purposeful stare from an osprey, only this time it is Audrey.


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Audrey looks like she means business. I am beginning to think I’m not wanted.


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Trying to avoid confrontation, Audrey decides it is time to move on.


The dock right next door to us to the south is a regular stop, but not as frequent as a couple of the other perches.  In the past, I have referred to this location as the “poop dock”, as opposed to the “poop deck”.  The house is for sale, so I think an eager realtor has recently had it pressure washed. As there is plenty of room on this dock, it is not unusual for Tom or Audrey to have company when enjoying a fishy snack.


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Maybe if I ignore them, they will go away, thinks the osprey. The gulls, however, remain hopeful.


The next series of photos began at the poop dock.


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If it’s not the crows or the seagulls, it’s Mrs. COM and her stupid camera, thinks Audrey.


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Audrey is looking quite grumpy. I am warning you, Mrs. COM, if you don’t stop right there, I am going to leave…..


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Audrey leaves, and relocates to the scraggly stick tree, a short flight to the north, still clutching her fish.


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Are you going to make me move again? This is getting on my nerves.



Audrey has relocated yet again, way up to the top of the big tree two houses to the north of us. I feel sorry for her and go back home. She still has her fish.


One last scraggly stick tree photo for this blog.  I have a feeling I caught Tom either pre or post poop…….


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Tom either feels better or is about to feel better.



It’s a good bet that on a daily basis, either Tom or Audrey will usually make it to our neighbor’s dock swim ladder, two houses to the south of us.


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A very high tide surrounds our neighbor’s dock. This is a very frequent roosting location for Tom and Audrey, sometimes even together at the same time as seen in the last blog.


This is another photo taken around dusk.  I looked out, and there was Tom on the swim ladder with a good size fish.  Although the lighting is bad, I heavily cropped the photo and tried to lighten it so you could get a look at the blood on Tom’s legs.


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Good night for Tom, bad night for the fish, ignore the tilt.



No trip around Tom and Audrey’s neighborhood would be complete without their frequent visits to our dock.  There are lots of good places to relax, and since COM’s boat and Osprey Girl’s boat will be back in their lifts this week, there are soon to be more.

Here is our dock without any power boats or ospreys.  Roger will be in residence sometime this week.  For those of you who are new to the secret location, Roger is our resident scarecrow who functions as the protector and defender of our nest.  More about him next blog!



Very high tide at the secret location.  The grass is starting to get green, yippee!


Here is Tom on COM’s boat lift, sans boat.


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Look, Ma, one leg!


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I thought I was being stealthy, but apparently Tom has discovered my presence


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Oh, my, look what the wind and water have done to my feathers!


The buff on the back of Tom’s head is more easily seen when his feathers are ruffled.


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It’s very subtle, but you can definitely see the buff coloring on the back of Tom’s head.


Audrey likes the grip on Osprey Girl’s boat lift.


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Audrey is giving Mrs. COM the stink eye while holding on to the paltry piece of fish that Tom brought to her. I think she needs to be mad at him, not me.



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A good view of the feathering under Audrey’s eyes, a good way to tell her apart from Tom.


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A little bit closer look at the white space under Audrey’s eye. Tom has more black under his eyes, but still only a subtle difference.



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Tom on the boat lift. Just another day in osprey paradise!


Tom’s day in paradise was disrupted by Mrs. COM and her camera coming closer.


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Come on, Mrs. COM, can’t you just give it a rest? Tom in flight, escaping you know who.


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Tom in downstroke, headed to a more private haunt.  Check out the reflection, you know I love my reflections!


I will leave you with a couple of sunrise photographs, both taken the morning of April 24, 2018.  The light changes very rapidly as the sun rises, producing some incredible vistas.  I couldn’t decide between these two, so you are stuck with both of them.



Sunrise to the southeast at the secret location-April 24, 2018



Sunrise due east at the secret location-April 24, 2018


Stay tuned for the next blog when I will talk about eggs hatching, our friend Roger and if you are lucky and I am in the mood, how it all started twenty three years ago at the secret location.


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 today.  Thanks very much!





















And This Is How You Build A Nest-Tom and Audrey Come To Town

Good morning from the confused Eastern Shore of Maryland, where Mother Nature cannot decide if it is winter or spring!  There certainly has been a lot of excitement here at the secret location since our last blog.  Our beloved Tom and Audrey have returned to their northern summer home, and how delighted we are to have them back.  As you already know by now, Audrey returned on the evening of March 18, with Tom close behind the next morning.  We are all waiting with bated breath for our first egg.  Last season, Audrey laid three eggs.  The first one arrived on April 12, the second one three days later on April 15 and the huevo final on April 18.  So keep your eyes glued on your computer screen, we could be welcoming our first orb of delight at any moment.

The weather certainly hasn’t been cooperating since our feathered friends have returned.  We have experienced cold, rainy, snowy, windy weather so far this alleged spring, with little in the way of the sunny warmth for which we all yearn.  The weather folks are predicting some warm, sunny weather by the end of the week, hopefully just in time for some good egg laying and fish catching!  Patience is a virtue, so it is said, and now we just watch and wait.

While we are on pins and needles, I thought I would continue where I left off in my first blog of the season.  After a long winter of watching our pole precariously bent over from the relentless ice this past winter, it was time to prepare for the new season, new camera and new pole (actually poles).  The preparations began with new wiring for the upgraded camera.


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COM is feeding the new cable out to Jesse, our electrician extraordinaire


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Jesse is a manly man, and braves the very cold waters of the Chesapeake Bay to run the new cable and wiring



Wires and cable were everywhere, but Jesse was concentrating on the job at hand


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When there is a job to be done concerning all things osprey, COM is never far behind


During the winter, when there is activity at the end of the dock, it usually involves feeding our swans.  They were quite confused by all the commotion, and were hanging around hoping for a free meal.


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The swans are perplexed, but don’t want to wander off in case the top comes off of the corn container


Meanwhile, back on the dock, Jesse and COM continue the task at hand.


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Jesse is happy to be out of the water and out of the waders. COM is standing by (actually kneeling by) to lend a hand


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Jesse has a helper


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Tools of the pre-osprey trade



Meet Peter, our adopted stray. Osprey Girl gave him his name due to the white tip at the end his tail, as in Peter Cottontail. We think he is actually a dog in cat’s clothing.


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Peter is trying to help. If only he could learn how to use a shovel


The swans are still hanging around waiting for a handout.



The swans are waiting in their usual feeding zone. Patience is a virtue, even for swans


The next big project was to remove the old, bent pole and replace it with two new poles.  We needed two poles this season, one for the nest platform and one for the new spiffy camera.  The new camera weighs over twice as much as the old one, and COM’s old system of supporting the camera wasn’t sufficient to support the weight of the new one.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature was still playing with us.  Shortly after the extremely low tides we experienced and chronicled in the first blog, the moon, tides and wind blew all of the water back in to the bay and then some.  Here are some photos that compare the water depth over a couple of days.


Our dock during the extreme low tides

Our dock during the extreme low tides



Our dock a couple of days later


Some more low tide/high tide comparisons:


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A view to the south along the rip-rap. You can see the typical water line on the rocks


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View to the south during the high tides


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View to the north during the low tides


View to the north during the high tides


In order for the old pole to come out and the new poles to go in, the water could not be above 18-24 inches.  Our ospreys were due back very soon, and the high water just wouldn’t go away.  Nerves were getting frayed at the secret location.  Phil and Dean from the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage were on call for when the water returned to normal.

After a few days, the call was made to Phil and Dean.


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The old bent pole had to be jetted out of the mud


You can see the old pole was bent at the bottom from the ice over the winter and had to be replaced

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The water was barely low enough to get the job done


One of the new poles was waiting on our deck, and the other arrived with Phil and Dean.


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One of the new poles and a sleeve to hold it up.


Now the new pole needs to be jetted into the bottom

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Dean is pushing the sleeve into place



The equipment for jetting in the pole is in the kayak.


The job of installing the new poles took two days due to the uncooperative water depth. We love Phil and Dean of the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage, who come through for us year after year.  Thank you once again, gentlemen!


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Phil and Dean, our pole and platform heroes!


Once both poles were in, the new camera and equipment had to go up.  Our new camera, which was provided by the folks, has pan/tilt/zoom capabilities which allow us to view our birds when they are not on the nest.  Here is the final product, quite a bit different than last year.



Not a thing of beauty, but the results have been fantastic. The piece of metal between the two poles provides support and allows the poles to move together


Alas, the coming of the ospreys meant the departure of our graceful, beautiful, noisy swans.  A large flock took flight, but there was still a small flock hanging around, as well as some migrating swans who were just passing through the Crazy Osprey Family bed and breakfast.


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A large flock of our swans took to the skies on their way north to their breeding grounds. Good bye, safe travels and we will see you in November!


COM still had work to do to get everything ready for the arrival of Tom and Audrey.



COM readies the equipment for the arrival of Tom and Audrey



Tools, cable, more tools, electrical stuff (technical term) and COM’s ever-present waders



Tidy operable equipment makes COM happy. It was really cold out there!


The poles and equipment were put in place just in the nick of time.  On Sunday, March 18 at around 7:00 p.m., we looked out and saw an osprey on the new nest platform.  Could it be Tom or Audrey?  The lighting was very poor, but I quietly moved outside toward the pole with my trusty Nikon.


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An osprey arrives at dusk. Who could it be?


The next morning began with a spectacular sunrise.



Sunrise at the secret location on Monday, March 19, 2018


Much to our delight, a few hours later, another osprey arrived on the nest platform.


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They’re baaack!!!


The welcoming committee was next to arrive.


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Here comes the Welcome Wagon!


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A peaceful scene as Tom rejoins his Audrey


After careful observation, it was determined that we indeed had welcomed back Tom and Audrey to the secret location.  Joy!!  But two days later, our newly arrived couple had to be wondering why they had left their warm winter digs when on March 21, we received almost a foot of snow at the secret location.


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Tom is hunkered down on the platform. Audrey was hiding out from the storm. I can’t imagine what was going on in his head


Fortunately, the snow only lasted a couple of days.  Audrey returned to the platform, and nest building commenced.


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The start of a nest


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I need to move this stick


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That’s better


Everyone needs a little break.  Tom and Audrey decide to relax on our neighbor’s dock two houses to the south of us.


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Taking a break from household chores


Nest building continued, and the first of COM’s marked sticks made their way to the nest.

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Two marked sticks are visible, with one barely hanging on. It stayed like that for days


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Still a few swans hanging around and still a marked stick hanging around.  A view of the nest complex from a different angle


Along with nest building comes baby making.  Tom and Audrey wasted no time in getting down to business.



More nest building



Bring a stick…


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…Get a quick(y)



Here are some photos of what has been happening around the neighborhood.


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It’s not easy to get your balance on top of this little perch. Why don’t you try it if you think it’s so easy!


Audrey is eating sloppy seconds, and has gotten a chunk on top of COM’s electrical box.  Yuck!


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Audrey on the electrical box, a favorite place for her to eat sloppy seconds


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What’s going on up there?


It’s a full house at COM’s stick locker.


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COM’s stick locker with a teeny bit of snow that is still hanging in there


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My first poop photo of 2018! How special! How disgusting!  How juvenile!


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Beautiful, stately Audrey in the scraggly stick tree. Good view of the white patch under her eye, one of her identifying features


COM tries to think of everything when it comes to our ospreys.  He had a great idea for a “T” on the top of the new camera pole, but unfortunately didn’t think of it until after the pole was up.  You can rest assured that next year, there will be a modification to the top of the nest pole.  In the meantime, someone has figured out how to sit on top without the modification.


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It will be easier next year, we promise!


Another break from osprey nooky and nest building on the swim ladder.



Sure wish I had a Bloody Mary, or is that a Bloody Fishy?


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A cropped close-up of our favorite osprey couple


If one is good, two is better.  Poop Shot #2 for the 2018 season.  Stop it, Mrs. COM!


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Audrey must be feeling better now



The dangling marked stick hung in there for quite a while, much to everyone’s surprise.  The nest is looking really good after only a couple of days.  And can you believe how rapidly they have completed their cozy nest?  Amazing!



AP (Advanced Placement) nest building. This is how you do it!


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Fly-through stick collecting. COM took this photo, not easy to do


The next series of photos are of Tom on the electrical box, and leaving the electrical box due to a crazy woman with that camera stuck around her neck.  Take a good look at the coloring under Tom’s eyes while you are observing these photos.  The reason will become apparent in a moment.


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Tom minding his own business on the electrical box when Mrs. COM sneaks down the lawn. How many legs do you see?


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Tom decides it’s time to leave


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Think I’ll head to the scraggly stick tree, good hiding over there


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Ah, she can’t get me over here. Finally some peace and quiet


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But wait, I am not alone. Oh, darn. We just won’t look at the camera


There has been much discussion on how to tell Tom and Audrey apart.  This is not an easy feat.  Our very first Tom and Audrey pair looked completely different from each other, with Tom having a very black face and head, and Audrey having just a little sliver of black on her head.  They could be instantly identified and differentiated from each other.  This Tom and Audrey pair has become more and more difficult to tell apart as our Calico Tom has lost his calico.  Here are a couple of hints you can try to use to figure out who is who.





The above photo is Audrey last year.  Notice the white patch under her eye which breaks up the black mask.





The above photo is Tom last year.  The black continues all the way under his eye.




Above are Tom and Audrey together.  Tom is on the right, Audrey is on the left.  Use the markings under their eyes to tell them apart.  Very subtle, but there is a difference.  This photo is from last year.


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The above is a new photo from a couple of weeks ago, Tom is on the right, Audrey is on the left.  Tom has a very faint buff patch on the back of his head that is best seen when his feathers are ruffled.  The white patch under Audrey’s eye is quite noticeable in this photo.


Okay, your turn.  Identify the ospreys in the below photo:


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You should now be able to identify which osprey is Tom and which is Audrey. Remember where they are sitting


Here are some more photos from the above series:



Someone has decided that Mrs. COM has gotten too close and leaves. Who is it?


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Back to the nest she (hint) goes


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She (hint) arrives back at the nest, thinking Mrs. COM can’t get her now. Wrong!



Her partner decides he (hint) doesn’t feel like being the apple of Mrs. COM’s eye (camera eye), and also decides it is time to move on


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I need to line this up just right


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Who’s on top? GIANT HINT


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Can’t a guy and girl get a little privacy around here? Can you tell us apart now? GIANT ENORMOUS BIOLOGICAL HINT!!!!!


COM witnessed quite a spectacle a few days ago while I was at work and he was lucky enough to be home at the secret location.  He heard a bunch of commotion, and looked out to see Tom and Audrey chasing an eagle.  Grabbing the camera, he began taking photos from inside.  The quality of this photo is not great, but you can clearly see the eagle on the bottom and two ospreys on top trying to chase the eagle away.  Go away, eagle, leave our ospreys alone!


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Ospreys on top chasing away eagle on bottom


The hour is late, and duty (read work) calls in the morning.  When next I write, there should be some very good news to explore.  But before I close, two last things.  First, I want to give a big shout out and thank you to two of our faithful watchers who both happen to be from Germany!  Thank you, Uta, for your help and guidance.  Thank you, Poppy, for all of the incredible work you do keeping us informed on the explore Chesapeake osprey page.  You are both such huge assets to all of us who love our ospreys!

Lastly, a phenomenal sunrise photo from last week:


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Thank you, Mother Nature!


Until next time, we remain,

Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man and Osprey Girl


If you are enjoying the osprey camera an 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!