Good morning from the lovely Eastern Shore of Maryland! Well, we all knew that one day our sweet Audrey 2 would not be returning from her winter digs in South America, but hoped she would be with us for a few more years. I had a funny feeling this winter that we wouldn’t see her again, but tried to put those negative thoughts away and and stay positive. Unfortunately, my worst fears have come to pass, and our years with sweet Audrey 2 have come to an end. She was with us from 2010 through 2020, and was a noble and fearless companion to our last two Toms. Who can forget the night she was knocked off the nest in the dark by a Great Horned owl, and lost one of her newly hatched chicks and an egg? She was a noisy osprey, and I can still hear her in my mind squawking away. Her most special memory has to be the great adoption story of 2015. It was the first season with our current Tom (3), who was initially known as Calico Tom due to his mottled coloring. The Fishing Fool part of his name came later. Audrey laid three beautiful eggs that year, but none of them turned out to be viable. She sat on those eggs way past the date they should have hatched. Those of you who were with us that year will certainly remember how heartbreaking it was to watch her day in and day out, faithfully incubating those three eggs, even after the experts told us there would be no hatch. But all was not lost, and Tom and Audrey raised three beautiful young ospreys. How did that happen, you might ask? If you want to know the rest of the story, and I think you do, check out two of my blogs from that summer- “Who Said You Can’t Fool Mother Nature”, dated 7/9/2015 and “E.T. Phone Home”, dated 7/23/2015. Take a look, I know you will enjoy both blogs. It was a fascinating story with a delightful ending. All of the old blogs are archived at the end of each of the other blogs.
Here is my little tribute to Sweet Audrey Two, living it up somewhere warm, sunny and full of fish with Audrey 1, Tom 1 and Tom 2.
Fond adieu, sweet Audrey 2. We won’t forget you.
The order of events in my 2021 blogs has gotten a little cattywampus. Since I already wrote about the arrival of Calico Tom the Fishing Fool, I am going to go back to late February/early March before he arrived and fill you in on the happenings at the secret location before his joyous appearance. Then I will jump forward to the happenings after Tom’s arrival, and we should be all caught up for now. Sorry for the confusion, I am just keeping you on your toes. It should be smooth sailing after this blog. Here goes!
Time marches on, and here we were at the beginning of a new season full of hope. As the 2020 season ended with the take-down of the poles and camera, the 2021 season started with the equipment being installed with a brand new, spiffy camera. The new camera is a 4 megapixel delight, up from the old 2.8 megapixel camera. You should be able to tell the difference in the quality of the images. Due to the change in the field of vision and different size lens, the poles had to be moved further apart from each other. But before the poles could go up, the new camera had to be readied for the task at hand. The new camera is hard wired from the pole to the NEMA box at the end of the dock, then goes wireless from the NEMA box to our house. The old camera was hard-wired all the way from the pole, through the water, under the dock, through a trench in the back yard and up to the house. In addition to a new camera, we also have a new NEMA box. NEMA is an acronym for National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association. The NEMA box contains switching gear, electronic connections and an external wireless antennae, which transmits to an antennae located outside of COM’s office in the house. The new NEMA box looks just like the old one, except it is clean, has an external antennae and is not covered in old, petrified fish guts.
The technician, Mark, is getting all of the technical equipment ready to go. COM is the equivalent of a sous chef to the executive chef on this one.
With all of the technical equipment readied, it was time to install the poles. We hold our breaths every year, hoping that an osprey will not return before the poles are up. Of course, we are also keeping our fingers crossed for a low tide, gentle breezes, a reasonable temperature and no inclement weather, not too much to ask of the weather gods. I had to work away from the house the day of the installation, so missed some of the action. Fortunately, I was able to sneak home for a little while to grab some photos and distribute the home made lemon poppy muffins.
By the time I got home, the nest pole was already up.
After the poles were in place, it was time to sit back, watch and wait. One day during the lull, COM asked me to take a look at a really big bird that he just could not place. So I went out with my trusty Nikon, and was thrilled to observe this magnificent creature.
Things began to get interesting as the days clicked closer to the end of March. Our first visitor was a beautiful osprey with a very dark necklace. As neither Tom or Audrey had a dark necklace, this lovely bird was new to us. She stopped by a couple of times, piqued everyone’s interest and caused much speculation about the whos, wheres, whens and hows. But she was not destined to be the one.
And then Tom arrived, but you already know that from the last blog.
Everyone was anxiously waiting for the return of Audrey. When I was home, I spent a fair amount of time glancing out the window at the platform. As Audrey had returned before Tom for many years, I was getting a sinking feeling. At the very end of March, a new visitor arrived. It took some looking to verify that it was not Audrey 2. A new chapter at the secret location had begun. Welcome home, Audrey 3, now known as Audrey.
Since we installed our very first osprey pole in 1995, our osprey pair has always been Tom and Audrey. These names were selected in honor of our two dear friends (you guessed it), Tom and Audrey. They were living in Alaska at the time, having moved there from the Washington, D.C. area. In true quid pro quo fashion, they named the moose that visited their yard after me and COM. Hmmm, we were not quite sure if we should have felt honored or insulted! So the names Tom and Audrey have a long history in our household, and all of our ospreys have maintained those names. This season, we are hosting Tom 3 and Audrey 3, and are delighted to have both of them.
One issue we didn’t expect with a brand new camera was no sound. It was frustrating for everyone involved. COM was in close contact with the Explore folks trying to troubleshoot and fix the problem. One chilly day a couple of weeks ago, COM trudged out to the junction box while on the phone with the Explore gurus, and attempted to regain the sound.
I know you must be sick of reading about people and poles and cameras and the like. So I will finish up with the subject which brought you all here, ospreys!
It didn’t take Audrey long to get comfortable with her new digs. Much to Tom’s chagrin, one of her new favorite places to hang out is on the perch on the top of the camera pole, which has always been Tom’s domain. She also likes to sit in a tree by the water at our neighbor’s house two to the south of us. Tom spends a substantial amount of time on the boat lift and the swim ladder on the dock at the same neighbor’s house where Audrey likes the tree. I have only seen an osprey in the scraggly stick tree a couple of times this year, which makes me kind of sad. But maybe that’s a good thing, because the tree has certainly seen better days.
It is time to close for now. As I write, Tom is on the boat lift and Audrey is on the perch on top of the camera pole. With my current work schedule, I haven’t been home very much when the lighting is good for photographs, but I will keep on trying. I leave you with a couple more sunrise photos. The winner of the photos from the last blog was #2, which happened to be my favorite, so thank you very much!
Our eggs last year were laid on 4/17, 4/20 and 4/23. In previous years, the eggs were laid only two days apart. Either way, it’s time to go on egg watch, how exciting! I’m hoping to have some great news to write about in a couple of weeks!
Until next time, we remain,
Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man and Osprey Girl
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