Good morning from the fabulous Eastern Shore of Maryland, complete with three beautiful new eggs! Given all of the eggcitement of the last few weeks, I will start with current events, and fill in with what we have missed as we go along this season. As I am sure you all know by now, our dear Audrey returned to her summer digs on March 18, and was joined by Calico Tom the Fishing Fool shortly thereafter on March 25. Nest construction commenced at warp speed, and what a nest it is indeed! Those of you who are concerned about our nest removal at the end of each season should feel much better now. And not to worry, COM has a plethora of pre-fab osprey nest sticks ready for the taking.
A few of these sticks are scattered out in our yard at all times, should building materials be needed. COM actually saw Tom swoop down and grab a stick right off of the tree pile. And of course, COM’s marked sticks are gracing the superb nest in hues of pink and green. There are yellow marked sticks out in the yard as I write, and it probably won’t be long before one of them brightens up the place. Keep your eyes on that nest!
The beginning and end of each season is always busy with logistic maneuverings, and this season was no different. The camera pole and nest pole were taken down last fall to avoid ice damage over the winter. The camera pole was placed on the dock so our viewing audience could enjoy the peaceful winter scenes, complete with our lovely tundra swans that grace the waters of the Chesapeake Bay while the ospreys are down South.
But what comes down must go up, and our wonderful friends from the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage and Chesapeake Conservancy, along with Crazy Osprey Man (COM) were here to save the day just before Tom and Audrey were due to return. The weather, wind and tides did not cooperate with the planned installation, and we were holding our breath hoping our ospreys did not return before their abode was in place.
Of course, nothing is ever easy. The cable that COM ordered to run out to the cameras was too short. Another COM project on the way…….
And while COM was doing his thing, Mrs. COM was on the dock taking photos and having heart palpitations when Peter decided to explore Osprey Girl’s boat lift.
After Peter safely returned to terra firma, a crab net was retrieved from the garage to keep on the dock. I really don’t want to go swimming after a clumsy cat, but I will scoop him up! Of course, you know I would jump in after him, but I don’t feel like testing my resolve, and the crab net now has a permanent place close at hand for when Peter goes in the drink.
Thanks to everyone who braved the cold to get our poles back in operation! And extra special thanks to COM who tirelessly works all winter to get things ready for Tom and Audrey’s return, then jumps into the cold water as many times as it takes to make it right.
So with all of the equipment in place, it was time to wait and watch for Audrey’s return. And just like clockwork, she arrived on the exact same date as last year.
In less than a week, our gallant Calico Tom made his way back to his summer home.
It didn’t take long for the nest to start looking comfy cozy, complete with COM’s marked sticks.
The nest went up with gusto, precision (sort of) and speed. Here is another photo just a few days after Tom arrived.
Tom can be quite the show-off, this time standing on one “foot”.
There are always questions about how to tell Tom and Audrey apart. It is not easy, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it at first. Remember, some of us have been observing them for a long time. Here are a couple of hints and examples of what to look for (sorry to have ended this sentence with a preposition, just couldn’t figure out how to do it using proper grammar).
If the wind and sun are cooperating, and Tom is situated favorably, you may see a buff colored patch on the back of his head/neck.
Another way to tell them apart is by the coloring under their eyes. Audrey has a break of white in the black under her eyes, while the coloring under Tom’s eyes has no break in the black. This is a photo from last season, but it is a great comparison of them both together. Tom is on the right, Audrey is on the left.
Here is one more tutorial for you. A couple of weeks ago, Tom and Audrey were each eating on the dock. It’s very unusual to see both of them eating their own fish at the same time, but they were. Here is a wide shot with both of them visible.
Okay, this may not be a good angle on Osprey #2, but it is a very cool photo. I will give you a hint. Here is Osprey #2 a couple of weeks ago in the scraggly stick tree one house to the north of us.
If you can’t figure out who is who, the answer will appear below. Patience is a virtue, so read on….
Where do Tom and Audrey sleep at night? If you watch the camera with any regularity at night, Audrey will almost always be seen sleeping in the nest, especially now when she is incubating her eggs. You may hear some scratching sounds, which is usually Tom on the cross piece which stabilizes the poles. Here are Tom and Audrey during the day, with Tom hanging out on the crosspiece. These photos were taken just before the first egg was laid.
The really special news (other than they’re baaaack) is, as of this writing, we have three eggs! Right on time, three days apart (give or take a few hours) starting in the wee small hours on April 14, what a joy to behold! We have had four eggs in the past, but that is the exception rather than the rule. Three is fine with us, we don’t need any more. And now the waiting begins. At our nest, the typical time from egg laying to hatching is 39-41 days. This would put our first hatch sometime from May 23-25, with subsequent hatches occurring 3 and 6 days after the first one.
I will leave you with a few more photos from recent days. It is not easy to see from the camera, but Audrey sits way down low in the nest when she is incubating, especially in some of the rotten weather we have been experiencing.
Well, the hour is getting late and work is just around the corner. I will leave you with an incredible December sunrise, complete with oyster boats out before dawn.
And the answer is: Tom is Osprey #1, Audrey is Osprey #2. Were you right?
I can’t close without a big shout out and thank you to Poppy, our Explore moderator extraordinaire. You’re the best, Poppy and we appreciate everything you do to keep us informed and entertained with all things osprey!
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!