In loving memory of the reporters killed on 6/28/2018 in a senseless attack on the newsroom of the Capital Gazette newspaper, Annapolis, Maryland. May freedom of the press never be taken for granted in our country.
May their shining lights never be extinguished.
Good evening from the steamy, hot Eastern Shore of Maryland! I have had a serious case of writer’s cramp for several weeks, but you will be glad to know I am feeling much better now. One minute we were waiting for our eggs to hatch, and now we are watching some serious wing flapping and hopping. Here is a synopsis of the happenings at Tom and Audrey’s nest over the last several weeks, and some lovely photos for your viewing pleasure.
As you are well aware, on May 21 and May 24, our two remaining eggs hatched right on schedule. Due to the timing of the hatches, our chicks were from the first and second eggs laid. I know we were all hoping not to have a large age gap between our two chicks, and fortunately, that was exactly what happened. After not having any chicks hatch last year due to a crow attack on the eggs, and only one surviving chick in 2016 due to a Great Horned Owl attack, there was a huge sigh of relief and lots of big smiles at the secret location, the Chesapeake Conservancy and from our faithful viewers around the world.
Let’s begin your viewing pleasure with a photo we took while out on one of COM’s many watercraft. There has been a fair amount of discussion over the years as to why we take down the nest every year. One of the reasons is that our little two inch pole would not be able to support a nest that kept growing and growing every year. Tom and Audrey don’t seem to mind the nest removal, and build a beautiful new one every year. Here is what a nest can look like if left to grow year after year. It is located up a creek not too far from our house, and the photo was taken a couple of days ago. This nest sure wouldn’t work on our pole!
After the eggs first hatched, the chicks were visible from the osprey camera, but not from land. Here is one of the first photos taken when both chicks were visible for my camera:
You may have noticed a pulley under the nest platform. This is a new addition to accommodate the logistics of raising and lowering the pole. It is another one of Crazy Osprey Man’s (COM) cool contraptions. He is quite the idea man, with the added advantage of being able to personally bring them to fruition.
I do read the blog and explore.org comments with some regularity, particularly to see what types of questions are being posed by our camera watchers. There is always concern when the chicks are left alone in the nest, particularly when they were younger. Not to worry, there is always a parent close by. Tom likes to sit on the top of the camera pole and the cross piece that stabilizes the camera and nest poles. He is really, really close to the nest action. Audrey is never far away, usually just taking a little fly around the neighborhood to stretch her wings. Just earlier this evening with no supervising adults at home, a crow started checking out the nest. In a split second, both Tom and Audrey were on that crow with a vengeance. The crow, being of sound mind and body, decided it was time to move on and move on it did.
On June 11, there was great excitement at the secret location when Joel Dunn, President and CEO of the Chesapeake Conservancy, was interviewed on a live television show for Maryland Public Television (MPT). He appeared on Direct Connection With Jeff Salkin. The day started out with miserable weather, rainy and windy. Much to everyone’s relief, by the time of the broadcast the rain had stopped, and the sun was trying come out. If you go to the MPT website https://video.mpt.tv/video/monday-june-11-2018-yey9i9/, you can watch the segment. The live camera shot was being broadcast, along with Joel answering questions from the moderator and live audience. The chicks were just laying around, and Audrey was perched on the edge of the nest. It was not especially interesting to watch until about eleven minutes into the segment, when Tom showed up with a whole fish, right on cue! Take a look, I think you will enjoy it.
As the chicks have grown larger, it has become easier to see them through my camera lens. Audrey has spent much of her time trying to shield the chicks from the relentless sun. Tom has been living up to his nickname “Calico Tom, The Fishing Fool”. Here are some photos of what has been going on in our little osprey neighborhood:
Here is a series of photos precipitated by Mrs. COM’s relentless stalking of poor Tom who is just trying to get a good meal for himself and feed his growing family:
I have been amazed at the size of some the fish Tom has caught this season. He is a fishing machine!
The chicks are becoming easier to see from the backyard and dock:
Another day, another humongous fish caught by Tom:
And yet another impressive fish snagged by our fishing fool:
A short break from osprey and fish for a serene sunrise over the Chesapeake Bay behind our house:
We have been experiencing some extreme weather conditions with dangerous heat and humidity. I look out at the nest, and wonder how our birds can endure the relentless conditions:
Audrey is very attentive to her chicks and their surroundings. When I approach too closely, she gives the warning call. When the chicks hear Audrey’s danger voice, they pancake down into the nest with great haste, and are either barely or not at all visible:
Tom takes his role of provider very seriously:
Another typical view of the nest from the end of our dock. The chicks are growing fast:
I have posted many photos in this blog of Tom The Fishing Fool and the reasons for his moniker. Here is my favorite one for this blog:
Over the years, there have been many discussions between our neighbors as to the preferred water orientation for our homes in the community. Some prefer the western view to capture the sunset. We love our eastern view of the sun and moon rises. Here is another reason why the eastern orientation gets our vote. This photo was taken during one of our Full Moon Dock Parties, the hottest invitation in town!
Tom has started spending more time in the big tree two houses to the north of us. See if you can spot him in this photo:
Here is proof that he is really there:
We haven’t heard much about our downstairs neighbors this year. Our little sparrow family suffered the same fate last year as Tom and Audrey. Their babies also met their demise by the actions of the dastardly crows. Here is our entire family and one of the downstairs neighbors enjoying a happier outcome this year:
Audrey has sounded the alarm that Mrs. COM is approaching:
Tom has maintained his vantage point on the high ground:
One brave chick decides if mom and dad can keep an eye on things, so can he (or she):
A test of your attention to detail. What can you see in this photo besides a nest and birds?
The second chick is still heeding the danger warning:
This chick is much more timid that its’ sibling:
Audrey is having a hard time swallowing something. Chick #2 is being brave and has popped back up, but is still checking out the person at the end of the dock with the camera. Chick #1 is checking out something away from the nest:
COM thinks I am disgusting, but I don’t think I was able to capture nature at its’ finest in the last blog:
Another quick break from birds:
Audrey is providing some shade, which doesn’t go as far due to the rapidly increasing size of the chicks:
One last photo of Audrey and her babies for now:
Tom is not physically in the nest very often, but is usually close by. I was able to get a photo of Tom hanging out in the nest and then deciding it was time to go:
The much awaited naming of the chicks was finally announced last week. A big welcome to Harry and Meghan! These were my favorite names, so I was happy to hear the results. Hopefully, we will be able to get the chicks banded in the next few days. If we need to make an adjustment to accommodate the gender of the chicks, we can always welcome Harriet or Henry!
I leave you with one more sunrise. Thanks for being patient with me!
The hour is late with an early wake-up for work looming. Keep watching Meghan and Harry doing those flap-hops, as I call them, because fledging is not far behind!
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!