Hold My Beer-A Request From Mother Nature

Good morning from the ever-lovely Eastern Shore of Maryland. Well, well, well, once again our nest is full of wonder and surprise. At the end of my last blog, one of our three eggs had been accidentally broken by a clumsy visiting young osprey, and the dastardly crows had destroyed the last two remaining eggs. Our usually faithful but quirky Audrey had flown the coop (so to speak), and was no where to be found. Our season seemed to be over before it had hardly started. But had it? There had been a young female osprey making regular visits to the nest. Although Tom seemed interested in this younger woman, she did not seem to be interested in his advances. All eyes and the camera were waiting and watching to see how this new drama would unfold. Little did we know about the events that would soon occur at the secret location.

After being gone for several days, Audrey returned like nothing had ever happened. She unceremoniously dispatched the young interloper, and got right back to business. The nest, which had not been one of Tom and Audrey’s more substantial undertakings, began to take shape with noticeably more attention from our favorite osprey couple. They hung out together in all of the usual places. Our two lovebirds began behaving like it was still March and they hadn’t seen each other for many months. Chatter amongst our camera-watching fans revolved around Tom and Audrey’s seemingly normal actions (had the season just been starting). Hope began to grow that perhaps, for the first time in the history of our nest, a second clutch of eggs might be in the works.

Tom and Audrey hanging out together in the nest, with Tom either in mid-blink or trying to catch a few winks. The nest is looking rather paltry at the moment.
Don’t you dare close your eyes when I’m trying to talk to you, screeches Audrey.
Damn, woman, can’t a guy get a little shut-eye around here? Tom is now awake.
Togetherness-Tom and Audrey on the ladder which is being stored on the dock.
Sort of togetherness-Tom on the boat lift, Audrey on the NEMA box post.
Togetherness-Audrey and Tom on the boat lift, with the winter camera in view.
Togetherness while Tom is thinking “Would someone please shut her up?”

As May progressed, it was hard to believe there had ever been a first clutch of eggs. On the face of things, it looked like a normal spring return. Tom and Audrey were working diligently on the nest and were enjoying each other’s company (wink, wink).

Audrey on one of her favorite hang-outs, the NEMA box. Take note of how clean the new box looked in early May. Hardly an entrail in sight.
One-legged Tom on one of his favorite haunts, COM’s boat lift.

The May Full Moon, or Strawberry Moon, was glorious. Here are a few photos from a most special evening with friends, howling on the end of the dock.

The moon rose before the sun had fully set. I am still having trouble getting the moon to look as beautiful in my photos as it does through the camera lens.
A few minutes later and a little darker
The moon looked completely in focus and had magnificent detail looking through the camera lens, but not in the photo. Maybe I need a tripod and shoot with a slower speed? Anyone?
After it was completely dark, Tom and Audrey’s silhouettes could be seen against the glow of the moon on the water. Spectacular!

Life at the nest had taken on a regular, nothing to see here kind of vibe. Tom and Audrey were acting like, well, Tom and Audrey.

Tom appears a little wet up on his favorite look-out. And Audrey, well it is Audrey, letting him know she could use a little snack.
Audrey hanging out at the nest on a dreary day. We never could figure out what the grassy-looking addition was, but it wasn’t visible for too long.

Here at the secret location, we dared not hope beyond hope that a second clutch of eggs was imminent. The first clutch had barely been laid when the three eggs met their untimely demise. Tom and Audrey were acting just like they normally did prior to laying a clutch of eggs. All of the reading and research we had been doing indicated that a second clutch was indeed possible if the first clutch was lost early. And then on May 31, Mother Nature showed up and said “Hold my beer”! So we did, and…..

Lo and behold, Egg #1 of Clutch #2 arrived! Happy day and great joy all around!! First time for a second clutch at the secret location, thank you Mother Nature!

Here is Audrey tending to Egg #1 of Clutch #2. Isn’t the nest looking marvelous?
Tom on the NEMA box waiting his turn while Audrey does her motherly duties

A couple of days later, I spied Tom drying off on COM’s boat lift.

Yes, I’m really wet. Want to throw me a towel, or are you just going to stand there and take photos, Mrs. COM?

While Tom is drying off, someone is reminding him she is still tending to their eggs, and is really hungry. Take a look at the nest, looking much better than it did during the first clutch and for the few days after Audrey disappeared.

And while Tom is drying off, someone is reminding him that she is still there and still hungry.

Tom has had enough of Mrs. COM and her ever-present camera. He takes off to the north.

Tom trying to escape from the crazy woman with the camera.

Tom lands on a neighbor’s dock a few houses to the north of us.

I am not sure if this is one of our ospreys. I don’t think so, because it flew off to the east which is not like Tom or Audrey. But I thought is was cool, so took a photo while I was out there.

Some birdy will be happy to have this piece of decor arrive at their nest.

On June 3, 2022, Mother Nature asked us to hold her beer once again, and Egg #2 of Clutch #2 made its way into the nest. As in years past, Tom took his Fishing Fool duties seriously, and kept Audrey well-fed. Tom is no dummy, and knows when he brings Audrey a snack she leaves, so he gets to incubate the eggs. He loves, loves, loves to incubate those eggs.

Audrey is trying to have a nice, quiet meal on the dock next door to the south when you-know-who comes sneaking around. Audrey is not happy.

Maybe if I make myself look big, the camera lady will get scared and leave. It’s worth a try, thinks Audrey.

Nope, didn’t work, so I guess I’ll leave. I’ll show her.
Mrs. COM manages to intercept Audrey for one more photo before she escapes the camera.

Tom enjoying his incubation time. The further away Audrey flies, the more time he gets to stay on the eggs. Chase her some more, Mrs. COM!

We were all waiting to see if there would be an Egg #3 in Clutch #2. Audrey was taking a break one morning before the sun was fully up when I saw her on Osprey Girl’s boat lift.

Audrey enjoying a lovely breakfast on the dock.

An enchanting sunrise the next morning.

Here comes the sun!

Another day, another wet osprey. I’m not sure if Tom was successful, but it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying.

I’m still waiting for that towel, Mrs. COM.

It became obvious a few days after Egg #2 of Clutch #2 was laid that Audrey had laid her last egg for the season. I think five eggs in one season for one older osprey is plenty, don’t you?

Now the wondering was over and the waiting began in earnest. I continued to keep an eye out for photo ops, and have way too many photos once again. I guess I should have written another blog a month ago, but I didn’t. So now you will have to slog through all of these photos that I am going to display for your viewing pleasure.

Here is Audrey in what remains of the scraggly stick tree, which is not much.

Audrey’s punk look on a dreary day in the scraggly stick tree.

Another angle of Audrey in the sst (scraggly stick tree for the uninitiated)

As you may have noticed, Tom and Audrey are wonderful co-parents. I think Tom would incubate the eggs all the time if Audrey would let him (which she won’t). Here is a changing of the guard.

Audrey returns to the nest, but Tom is in no hurry to leave.

A break from osprey photos is in order. What do you see in these clouds?

I see two alligators fighting. The one on the right is taking a bite out of the one on the left. Any one else?

Tom on our ladder/crab net storage device on a sunny afternoon.

Here is a series of photos starting with Audrey taking a late afternoon break with Tom in the nest. This is a typical scenario of late.

It starts with Audrey on the dock next door, trying to encourage Tom to go fishing and let her take over in the nest.
Between Mrs. COM, the camera and being hungry, Audrey decides to take matters into her own “hands” and fly back to the nest.

Back to the nest she goes, yakking all the way.

Audrey arriving back at the nest while getting the hairy eyeball from Tom. No help needed here, his body language is saying.

Okay Tom, time to go.

Tom is ignoring Audrey, and she seems perplexed.

Okay, Tom, this is not funny. Hmmm, now what, Audrey thinks.

Tom finally acquiesced, but not willingly.

Another break from osprey photos. This is an early morning work boat headed out to earn a living.

Headed out before sunrise. A Chesapeake Bay workboat and a duck blind (the duck blind is not heading out, just the boat).

A few moments later, the sun makes its first appearance of the day, and the vista is quite lovely.

Lighting up the sky and water, so lovely.

I have a gorgeous butterfly bush in the rip-rap behind the house that grew from being a volunteer. It is magnificent, and the butterflies love it. COM cuts it back every fall to about one third of its size, but it comes back bigger and better than ever every year.

My butterfly bush with the pole complex out in the water. Look closely for an osprey head in the nest.

Tom is taking his turn incubating while Audrey is on the NEMA box, one of her favorite places to eat.

Tom in the nest incubating our two precious eggs from Clutch #2.

Audrey on the NEMA box while Tom is in the nest. Notice that the NEMA box isn’t quite as clean as it was earlier in the season? It’s actually quite disgusting close up.

You may have noticed that there is a really, really big stick in the nest. I wouldn’t even classify it as a stick, I would call it a small log. I did not see it arrive, but there is very little chance it will blow out! Here is a different view of it than you are able to see from the camera.

How did they get that huge stick/small log up there? I wish I could have seen that delivery. Tom is incubating.

Both Tom and Audrey like to hang out on various docks in the immediate vicinity of our dock. Here is Audrey on the dock one house to the south of us, practicing her one-legged stance.

Damn, she found me, thinks Audrey
I will just ignore Mrs. COM and her camera, and maybe she will go away.

Another photo of Audrey in the scraggly stick tree (sst, remember for next time).

Another dreary day for Audrey in the sst.

Audrey arrives back at the nest while Tom is thinking, “are you back already? I don’t want to leave”.

You’re back already? Phooey!

Has anyone wondered about Roger this season? As you may remember, COM placed him at his duty station earlier in the season, then put him away after losing the first clutch of eggs. Well, Roger is back! In anticipation of a potential hatch in a few days, Roger is back at work with a new shirt (new for Roger) for this year.

Now you see him
Now you don’t. Look carefully at both photos!

Welcome back, Roger! Take that, you Great Horned Owls!

I will post a few more random photos before closing for this blog.

Tom headed back to the nest.
Arriving!
Hey, Audrey, whatcha doin’? I think someone is calling you, better go check it out.

I almost always post sunrise/moonrise photos, but here is a little snippet of sunset across the street from the front of the house. The sunsets have been spectacular of late, the sunrises have been rather bland.

Sunset over the trees, not our view over the water.

Tom on Osprey Girl’s boat lift in the late afternoon sun.
Leaving Mrs. COM’s prying eyes on the way back to the nest.
Tom arriving back at the nest just in time to get an earful from Audrey. He is stuck between a rock and a hard place for sure, the camera or the yapper?

The hour is late, and I have posted way too many photos for one blog. Nonetheless, I hope you have enjoyed them. When next we speak, finger crossed for two new additions to our favorite osprey family!

Before I finish up, I would be remiss without an absolutely humongous shout-out to our dear friend Poppy. Thank you, thank you, Poppy, for all of your hard work and dedication to our osprey family and others over the past years. We all miss you terribly, but understand that it was time to step back. I hope you are watching and reading from afar, and know how much we all appreciate what you have done to further the love of ospreys all over the world.

I will leave you with some of my deck flowers.

Looking good before the heat of summer really sets in.

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!!