CJ All The Way-Part One

Good morning from the hot and humid Eastern Shore of Maryland. The summer has been flying by so quickly. Between work and life, I have managed to let way too much time slip by without regaling you with tales from the secret location. When I sat down to finally start going through some photos and preparing for my next blog, I realized I was going to have to compose a two-parter due to the number of photos I wanted to post. The subject of this blog and the next one will be our darling CJ. My plan is to get this blog published today, followed closely by Part Two over the coming weekend. So let’s get down to business!

Since my last blog, the Chesapeake Conservancy’s naming contest held our interest for a couple of weeks. Although there were some interesting and fun names nominated, the crowd favorite came out on top. A fitting name was certainly chosen, and we all welcomed CJ to the fold. CJ is certainly her mother’s daughter, and inherited Audrey’s dominant squawking gene and then some. I know the camera sound has been a problem this season, but rest assured sound has not been a problem when one lives a couple hundred feet from the nest.

Here are mother and daughter hanging out in the nest. Note the lovely tree branch in a scrumptious shade of burnt sienna, along with a long-buried marked stick.

Audrey and CJ gazing wistfully at the horizon. See the burnt sienna tree branch and the long-buried marked stick?

Those of you who have been following my blogs know that I am delighted with our new purple martin house. We have only had it a couple of years after not having any success with our old house. Check out our lovely purple martins. We had a full house this season, and are thinking about installing a second one.

A plethora of purple martins. After ospreys, these are my favorite birds.

Roger seems to have successfully performed his duties this season as Protector and Defender of the nest. Although the bird predators were kept at bay due to better spring weather and our spiffy friend, the gulls were not impressed with Roger’s skills.

Tom had just landed with his catch when a hungry gull arrived and sat on Roger’s head.

Oh, the indignity of it all. Tom stands up for Roger, and tells the gull exactly what he thinks

Hey, where are you going with that, thinks the gull with some dismay

Tom decides not to reward the gull’s bad behavior, and takes off with his catch, one foot on the fish and one tucked up under him

One of the big events since the last blog was the banding of CJ by our dear friend and raptor biologist extraordinaire, Craig Koppie. We first met Craig in 2015, the summer of our great foster experience with Maine, Montana and E.T., which is memorialized in my blogs from that summer. You can also read about out foster summer in Craig’s book “Inside An Osprey’s Nest”, which is available for purchase from the Chesapeake Conservancy and is a fabulous osprey treatise. Craig continues to be one of our favorite people, and we truly enjoy his friendship and expertise.

Craig was able to come to the secret location to band CJ on August 5, which was before she fledged. Craig likes to band ospreys at around age 6-7 weeks, which was right on target for our CJ. I have made it a tradition to treat all of the experts who help with our ospreys to homemade muffins. Craig was most fortunate to be with us when blueberries were in season.

Banding Day blueberry muffins. Yummy in the tummy!

Meanwhile, back on the dock, Craig and COM were getting ready to begin the day’s agenda. The lighting was not ideal for photos from some of the angles, but I did the best I could.

Getting ready for pre-banding photos

Audrey is used to me taking photos from the dock, so wasn’t too perturbed just yet. That would soon change.

Heading into the drink with one glove. Craig doesn’t need any stinkin’ waders, a manly man

Out goes the manly ladder to go with the manly men with no waders

Now Audrey realizes this is no ordinary photo-taking session, and sounds the alarm. CJ assumes the pancake position, and can hardly be seen

Sorry CJ, I love ya but you are on your own. Audrey prepares to get out of dodge. You can barely see CJ pancaked down in the left of the nest just over the burnt sienna decoration

Audrey gives CJ one last look, and flies off to safety. CJ remains out of sight (she hopes)

Audrey is agitated, but doesn’t go far from her nest and chick

Audrey is keeping an eye on the situation while Craig and COM set up the super duper step ladder

Come out, come out wherever you are!

CJ is hoping to scare Craig off with her big, bad wings. Nice try, CJ, but this isn’t Craig’s first rodeo.

Look out, Craig, incoming!

The grab. Oh darn, this isn’t going to be good, thinks CJ

Securing precious cargo

It may look like Craig has a smile on his face, but it is a grimace as he is getting bitten by a none too happy CJ

Don’t look now, COM and Craig, but you are being followed

I think Craig has handled a bird or two in his career, what do you think? Take note of the glove, no longer on Craig’s hand

CJ is giving COM the stink eye

You really did it this time, Koppie. I am going to rip your f*!#&%g face off, thinks CJ

Craig gives CJ the glove to bite instead of his flesh. Check out CJ’s nictitating membrane in her eye.

Let me at’m, says CJ

Craig sure knows how to handle a frightened young osprey. He is so good with them

Gorgeous CJ

I have so many incredible close-ups that I just couldn’t choose. If any of the following photos aren’t captioned, I didn’t think they needed one.

Yikes! Look at those talons!

The next two photos are very similar, but in one you can see CJ’s nictitating membrane, and in the other you can see her eye color. See if you can tell which is which.

Poor fish don’t have a chance. Wow!

Craig’s bloody hand. It got worse later, but I had a camera malfunction

Check out the coloring on the back of CJ’s head. I think burnt sienna is the color of the day (thank you, Crayola)

The next photo is one of my absolute favorite photos out of all the osprey photos I have taken in the last nine years. I chuckle each and every time I look at it.

CJ and Craig sticking their tongues out at each other. Silly kids!

It looks like Craig is trying to hypnotize CJ in the following photo.

You are getting sleepy. Your eyelids are getting heavy.

Getting the band ready. I didn’t notice it was upside down until I looked at the photos. Oh well

Band going on. Craig gave CJ a glove to bite instead of him

Okay, before I continue with the rest of the banding photos, I have a sad story to tell. When I downloaded my photos from banding day, it looked like I was missing some. I went back and looked at the photo numbers, and I was missing photo numbers 9293 through 9358. Those photos are just plain gone. I have no idea where they went, or what happened, but was so dismayed. The missing photos included Craig’s really bloody hand after CJ took a couple more bites out of him, COM assisting Craig in attaching the yellow tape to CJ’s new bling and some really cute photos of COM with Craig holding CJ and Roger in the middle. I am so sad those were the photos that vanished into thin air. I do have one photo of Craig showing COM how big to cut the piece of tape.

All right, people, get your minds out of the gutter. This is how big Craig wants COM to cut the piece of tape, nothing more.

To add insult to injury, as I continued to take photos of Craig and COM returning CJ and her new bling back to the nest, I ran out of space on my camera to take any more photos. So here are some of the remaining few I managed to take before the card filled up.

Headed back to the nest

Audrey is back in the nest, but on high alert

As Craig and COM approach, Audrey decides the coast is not clear after all

Back in the nest

CJ is asking Craig what the heck just happened

Smile! You smile, thinks CJ

COM at the ready. He is a very good helper, but can’t help but hope the jellyfish don’t get up his pants. Where are those waders when you need them? Had to be manly, didn’t you?

Don’t look now, but Audrey is ready to kick some ass

Craig and COM are keeping a watchful eye on the agitated mama. Good plan

Time to go, boys

Taking the ladder down under Audrey’s watchful eyes

Trudging back to the dock as Mrs. COM’s camera runs out of space. That’s all, folks!

While Craig was up in the nest, he removed the unhatched egg with great care. He said if the egg blew up, it would be quite malodorous so he wanted to get it out of the nest. The egg is now in his freezer, but he didn’t say if it was his home freezer or his work freezer and I didn’t ask. His wife is a very nice woman, so I hope it is in the work freezer.

Craig is holding the unhatched Egg #1 very gingerly

Here is one of the photos that Craig took of CJ from the ladder.

I just love this photo of CJ and her new bling. Thanks for letting me use it in my blog, Craig!

Of course, one of the big questions was the gender of CJ. Based on her leg size and the way the band fit, Craig felt that CJ was female.

Here are a few more answers to a few more questions we asked Craig. He is not sure when Audrey might leave since she was a month late in arriving, but was leaning toward her leaving at her normal time, which would be around now. I asked him about the types of bands that are used (metal vs. color) and here was his answer: “The Bird Banding Lab authorizes the use of auxiliary bands (anodized color bands) only for specific research projects. Currently, I band osprey incidental to other raptor conservation efforts such as your birds. The Poplar Island restoration project would like to begin using auxiliary color bands for osprey. We are entertaining this for next year. I consider your pair to be associated with the greater (local) group, so I could use color bands in the future. I will let you know. The colored tape is a benefit to you when observing post fledging behavior of your bird. There will be other fledglings in the area soon including those from Poplar Island, potentially. The tape is temporary. Reading of the band numbers can only be done when in the hand so it doesn’t matter if the digits are obscured.”

Here is the last photo of this blog, which was taken at our July Full Moon Dock Party.

It never gets old

So that’s it for now. I have another fun blog planned for you in the very near future, CJ All The Way Part Two, so stay tuned!

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!