Welcome To Crazy Town

I would normally start my blog with some little pleasantry like “Good evening from the lovely Eastern Shore of Maryland”, or some other bit of fluff. All I can say this time is Welcome To Crazy Town. If you follow my blogs and watch the camera, which I am sure most of you do, you are probably as perplexed as I am. Attempting to summarize the events of the past few days is puzzling, to say the least. I will do my best, but will say once again, Welcome To Crazy Town.

I started my last blog with a tribute to our departed Audrey 2 and finished it with thoughts about the eggs to come. I had been thinking about a title for the next blog, hopefully with an egg theme. As I have been working many hours of late, I haven’t been around the neighborhood to personally witness many of the happenings in and around the nest. But I have been able to take a peek at the camera view every now and then during the day. Last Wednesday, 4/28/2021, I was at work. I took a quick look-see at the camera, and there was Audrey 3, all nestled down in the nest. I had not seen her like that before, and told my work partner that I thought she was getting ready to lay an egg. Not fifteen minutes later, she got up, and THERE IT WAS! AN EGG! I was ecstatic! I hadn’t wanted to worry any of you, so I didn’t mention the fact that it is not unusual for new females not to lay eggs their first season. If they do lay eggs, it is not unusual for the eggs to be nonviable. So the first hurdle had been crossed, a gorgeous osprey egg in all its glory. I couldn’t wait to get home from work and take a look in person.

Before I arrived home, I took another look at the camera on my phone, and much to my dismay, there wasn’t any birdie on the nest, and no egg to be seen. Telling myself not to worry, I hurried home. As soon as I walked in, I received a text from our beloved Poppy, telling me that something was bothering Audrey 3, and she kept leaving the nest. I looked around outside, with no ospreys to be seen. One of our neighbors has been learning to kite board, and had been flying the kite (which is very large) in the yard and in the water not too far from our pole. I thought that might be what was scaring Audrey 3 off the nest. But there was no one in the yard or out in the water. All of a sudden, I noticed an intense aerial battle going on in and around the nest between two ospreys, then they flew off. A couple of minutes later, an osprey landed on the camera pole perch, which had become Audrey 3’s favorite spot. Almost immediately, that osprey was attacked by another one, and another frantic aerial battle ensued. I witnessed a few other ferocious battles in and around the nest, and was just scratching my head on what was going on. It was impossible to identify the ospreys during their encounters. The battles were too fast and furious to capture on film. Poppy and I exchanged a couple of emails, and I kept a close eye outside to see what might happen next. There was still no sight of the egg, and the nest remained empty.

Early in the evening, I noticed an osprey back on the nest, and Tom came swooping down and had his way with her. Oh good, I thought, Audrey 3 is back and taking care of business for a second egg. I took a quick look at the camera, and did a double take. The osprey on the receiving end of Tom’s tender caresses was not Audrey 3. I sent Poppy another communication, and asked her if she could take a look. About that time, I decided to look at the comments and camera captures that our astute camera watchers had been posting in the Explore comments section. There was a beautiful close-up posted of the visiting osprey, and she looked very, very much like Audrey 2. This osprey remained in the nest, which was not Audrey 3’s habit. Audrey 3 was almost always on the camera pole perch, and spent very little time in the nest. As night fell, the new osprey starting roosting on the same nest support where Audrey 2 had always spent the night. That simple action sealed the deal for me. Between spending her time in the nest and fiercely defending it, attacks on Audrey 3, the close up of her markings and iris speckles, and her nighttime habits, I knew Audrey 2 had come home. Welcome to Crazy Town, Audrey 2!

The next day, I had a few more communications with Poppy. There was some talk of an osprey who had just been released from rehab and looked very much like Audrey 2. That scenario would certainly have explained why Audrey 2 was so late in returning. Further investigation revealed that although there was some resemblance, the rehabbed osprey was definitely not Audrey 2. So the mystery of where Audrey 2 has been all this time remains just that, a mystery.

Much to my chagrin, we have not seen Audrey 3 since that day and are unaware of her fate. Although thrilled at the return of Audrey 2, I am saddened by the departure of Audrey 3, as she was a beautiful, spunky osprey who would have been a great new mate for Tom. It’s certainly not apropos for a tribute to Audrey 3, but here are the last photos I have of her.

Audrey 3 sitting in her favorite spot, on top of the camera pole perch. Tom was always quite perplexed about how he lost his favorite spot, but was quite the gentleman and allowed her to stay

When Audrey 3 took over the camera pole perch, our neighbor’s swim ladder two houses to the south and our boat lift became Tom’s go-to perches

Tom (on the right) and Audrey 3 on a different neighbor’s dock a couple of houses to the north of us

Mrs. COM manages to chase Tom from the dock. Poor guy just can’t catch a break.
Tom arriving back at the nest, headed for his favorite perch
Ah, mine, all mine, thinks Tom
Tom’s hope of a peaceful interlude at his favorite spot is interrupted when he notices something in the sky
Damn, here she comes, thinks Tom
Audrey 3 wants to displace Tom, but he will have none of it this time
Decisions, decisions. Should I stay, or should I let Tom have a few precious moments on his beloved perch, thinks Audrey 3
Tom enjoying some peace and serenity (with apologies to Kenny Chesney)

Life seemed pretty normal when the above and below photos were taken. No one could have imagined what was going to take place in a couple of weeks.

This is an unusual location for Tom to hang out. We had a few cold, windy days, and this piling was protected from some of the elements. A dastardly crow is checking to see if there will be any sloppy seconds
Just another day in paradise. Warm sun, a full belly and a beautiful woman. All’s right with the osprey world

Over the years, I have posted some really gross, disgusting photos of the messes our ospreys have left on COM’s boat cover. To avoid this unpleasantness, our neighbor two doors to the south has placed an owl decoy to keep the ospreys and other roosting birds off of his boat.

What’s wrong with this picture?
If an osprey had thumbs, Tom would be thumbing his at this owl decoy. This photo makes me giggle. Take that, you fake owl!

Tom and Audrey 3 (well, mostly Tom for sure) have certainly built a beautiful nest, don’t you think? Every season, we have camera watchers that are quite unhappy that we remove the nest from the pole every year. And every year, our ospreys have always built a new, strong, clean, comfy nest for their new arrivals. Their efforts are enhanced by a steady supply of prefab sticks that we leave out in the backyard for their building pleasure. As you may have noticed, sometimes a stick will appear in the nest that is looking festive. We usually only put out one or two marked sticks, but I couldn’t decide on a color, so put out a couple extras.

A green, blue and yellow marked stick awaiting transport to the nest

One evening as the sun was setting, I noticed Tom on the crosspiece that stabilizes the two poles. He probably would have preferred his perch on the camera pole, but it was not available.

This is sort of like sloppy seconds for Tom, but in the roosting department

Tom and Audrey 3 enjoyed hanging out together. I thought they made a cute osprey couple. They really seemed to like each other in their osprey way. Some of the funniest moments I observed between them were when Audrey 3 was on the camera pole perch, and Tom would partake in fly-by copulations. We don’t need no stinking nest, thought Tom.

Tom (on the right) and Audrey 3 on our boat lift, sans boat (for now)
Audrey 3 never became comfortable with the crazy woman and her camera. I managed to chase her off the boat lift, and she headed right to her favorite perch
Audrey 3 on the perch, while Tom stayed on the boat lift

The following two photos were taken on April 27, 2021. Although I didn’t know it at the time, these are the last photos I took of Audrey 3.

A good view of the pole set up. Audrey 3 is on the perch, and Tom is in the nest

Last photo of Audrey 3 (on perch) and Tom

I am still in a little bit of shock thinking about what happened on April 28, which I already discussed earlier in the blog. But life goes on, as it will here at the secret location. The fate of Audrey 3’s egg is unknown, but it has not been incubated or cared for enough for it to be viable. As you may have noticed, Tom sits on the egg more than Audrey 2, and that is not saying much. For those of you who are new to our nest, you will notice that Tom loves, loves, loves to incubate his eggs. He will push Audrey off whenever he can to get a chance to snuggle down on those glorious orbs. Tom has been performing his operational duties with gusto to produce a clutch of eggs from Audrey 2. We should know in the next week or so if he will get his chance to continue to be the master incubator.

Tom sitting on the dock close to the purple martin house critter guard. This is a great view of his face markings
Another view of Tom on the same post from a different angle and another great look at his head markings. I do believe that he is snoozing!

Tom and Audrey together in the nest, with Audrey in her usual squawking mode. Tom is looking at her like a little old henpecked (or ospreypecked) man wondering where he left his earplugs. This photo makes me grin

Audrey didn’t lose any time getting right back to her usual habits. She sleeps at the nest at night, usually on her favorite nest support. The new NEMA box works just as well as the old one for Audrey’s favorite eating location. She is working hard to break it in with a plethora of fish guts and blood.

The shiny new NEMA box won’t be shiny very long. Audrey is enjoying a snack, and doesn’t seem to mind the new box.
Audrey is chowing down. I do believe I see the beginnings of a gross mess on the new NEMA box.
Audrey back at home in her nest, which she defended fiercely

One more observation before I wrap up for the night. There has been another osprey, who is neither Tom or Audrey 2, sitting at the top of Joe’s tree quite regularly. I will try to get a good look at it, and see if it might be Audrey 3. There is another osprey nest which is occupied very close to that tree, so it may be an osprey from that nest.

We are still trying to fix the sound issue, with no luck so far. The folks at Explore are looking at various options to get the sound back permanently, so hopefully they will be successful. COM has done everything he can at our end, so we will keep our fingers crossed for a solution in the near future.

I will leave you not with sunrise photos, but with two photos from the Full Pink Super Moon last week. The first one is just after the moon rose in the east, but the sun had not set at the time. The second is a photo taken a few hours later after it became quite dark, with the reflection of the moon in the water. It was a spectacular sight which was not done justice by the photo.

No words, just a glorious untouched photo
The moon was so bright it was casting shadows in the backyard. It was crystal clear to the eye, but fuzzy in the photo

That’s it for now. Welcome to Crazy Town!

Until next time, we remain,

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

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