Good morning from the hot, sultry Eastern Shore of Maryland! As I sit in my office, I can look outside and see Audrey in the nest while Tom hangs out at his favorite location, COM’s perch on top of the camera pole. Our little chick is not visible from my seat in front of the computer, but I know he/she is safe and sound in the nest, awaiting the next fish delivery from Calico Tom the Fishing Fool. Such a bucolic scene for our ospreys, after living through crazy town earlier this season and the unhappy events of the 2020 season. We are really enjoying the status quo, which helps keep my blood pressure in the normal range. I will take boring any day over what life has dealt us the past sixteen months!
When last I wrote in June, there were still two eggs being incubated and we were all anxiously waiting for the big day. I posted a little tutorial on how to tell Tom and Audrey apart, and did not give credit to the creator of one of the photos which adeptly pointed out some of their differences. So a big thank you to our Explore friend LynTuck for the use of her osprey differentiation aid.
As a review, after arriving back at the secret location a month late, Audrey 2 reclaimed her nest from Audrey 3. Osprey life proceeded like crazy town had never occurred, and three beautiful eggs were laid on May 14, 17 and 20. On May 30, the third egg was cracked and was no longer viable. Using my astute higher math skills, the estimated date range for our first egg to hatch was June 22-24 (39-41 days after laying, typical for our nest). The hatch window for the second egg was June 25-27. When June 24 came and went with no visible pip, my heart sank.
However, there was great joy and relief during the wee small hours of June 25, when egg #2 hatched right on time and presented us with our first chick in two years! I know we would all loved to have two little ones, but we are thrilled with our one spoiled rotten only child, hence the name of this blog, Me, Myself and I. The non-viable first egg is still around, but will not hatch. It will eventually break, and that event has the potential of being rather odiferous. I hope the wind isn’t blowing from the south when that happens, because I sure don’t want to be downwind of that little blast.
As soon as our two resident ospreys became three, COM went to the garage and dusted off our faithful Roger. For those of you who haven’t met Roger, he is our Defender and Protector of the nest from dastardly predators. Roger made his appearance at the end of our dock five years ago at the suggestion of our dear friend and raptor biologist, Craig Koppie, after a nighttime attack by a Great Horned Owl. The owl snatched one of our newly hatched chicks and damaged the remaining unhatched egg, leaving us with another only child. Roger has been residing inside the garage for two years, and was certainly ready to see the light of day. Our fearless defender is starting to look a little worse for wear, but he is still functional, albeit in need of a new suit of clothes. COM will have an additional project to revitalize Roger, although fashion is not his forte (or mine for that matter). For Roger’s whole story, go back and read my blog “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood”, published June 30, 2016. It’s a good one if I don’t say so myself!
So now that we have a family of three, where do our adult ospreys hang out? Audrey spends the majority of her time in the nest. She will leave to take a spin around the neighborhood to stretch her wings, but does not spend much of her time outside of the nest. I have seen her once in what is left of the scraggly stick tree. The days of Tom taking over incubation duties, which he greatly relished, are done for now. Tom spends quite of bit of time on top of the camera pole on the little perch that COM installed to make it easier for ospreys to hold on. You may recall that Audrey 3 loved that little perch, much to Tom’s chagrin. He has reclaimed his roost, and loves to survey his kingdom from that altitude. He also likes to sit on the boat lift, with or without a fish. Once in a while, we will see him in the scraggly stick tree. In the past, we would frequently see Tom in Joe’s big tree along the riprap, two houses to the north of us. For some reason, he does not spend much time there this season. There are many other ospreys in the area, and when we see an osprey in that tree, it is not usually Tom. He has kept his daytime hangouts a secret from us, although I keep looking for him when he is not in the immediate area. When Audrey 3 would take over the top of the camera pole, Tom would frequently spend time on the swim ladder on our neighbor’s dock two houses to the south, but I have not seen him there in quite a long time.
I don’t play favorites when it comes to chasing off our osprey. Tom decided I was close enough, and got out of dodge.
Let’s take a quick break from all things osprey. Here is some of the flora and fauna we are seeing around the secret location.
We tried for years to attract purple martins to our yard. No luck in our endeavors until our friend Phil from the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage told us about installing a purple martin house over the water, which did the trick. I absolutely love hearing them sing and watching them flit around the yard. They also eat vast quantities of mosquitos, which is a good thing so close to the water.
Along with the occasional groundhog and muskrat, we will often see a fox running along the top of the riprap or across the lawn. Here are some photos in the yard of a skinny young fox with a really big tail. In the third photo, my camera focused on the grass and not the fox. This was unfortunate, because it would have been a really cool photo of the fox. He/she had just caught and was flipping around a black snake, trying to eat it. I wouldn’t normally post such a blurry photo, but you can still get the idea.
Many years ago, a passing critter, genus unknown, must have deposited a butterfly bush seed along our riprap. Here is the result of that fortunate deposit.
We don’t have too many resident Canada geese, but now we have a few more.
What kind of water animal is this?
On Sunday, I was in the kitchen baking my famous Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake for a neighborhood party when COM called my attention to Tom, who was struggling to haul a fish out of the water. In the past, we have noticed that when Tom was having trouble with his catch, he had snagged a fish that was too large to handle gracefully. Planning ahead, I turned off my new Kitchen Aid mixer (a Mother’s Day gift from Osprey Girl, what a good kid), grabbed my trusty Nikon and headed outside just in case of an impending photo op. Sure enough, Tom finally managed to take flight with his prize, and it was a beast! My pre-planning resulted in a plethora of photos of Tom and his tasty meal-to-be.
Once again, I had a whole boatload of trouble trying to cull out photos of Tom and his incredible catch, so you will reap the benefit of my indecision with a few extra photos of a truly remarkable meal for our osprey family.
I decided to try another angle, and went back to our dock to take some photos from there.
And the feasting continued
While Tom was feasting on the poor unfortunate fish, Audrey was in the nest with the chick, waiting for her sloppy seconds. Although the little guy/gal is hard to see, look carefully and you will be able to pick out the youngster. As fast as the little one is growing, it won’t be long until he/she is readily visible from multiple angles.
After all of those graphic photos of nature at work, let’s close with a more pleasant topic. I will be reaching out to Craig about banding our chick, and should know something soon. We haven’t had our chicks banded since 2018, so hopefully we will have better luck this year, which we all deserve.
The Crazy Osprey Family hopes all of our American friends had a wonderful, safe, happy and healthy 4th of July. COM and I spent some time on the water with dear friends. Here are a couple of photos while waiting for the sun to go down and the fireworks to start.
I will leave you with one last photo, taken in June during our first Full Moon Dock Party since 2019 due to the pandemic. As usual, I haven’t mastered how to get the moon and water in focus at the same time, so it’s not a very good photo, but it’s the best I have for now.
Well, WordPress is giving me fits tonight, so I apologize for the wacky formatting. There are photos the wrong size, captions in the wrong place and spacing askew. I know you will all forgive me, I really need to figure out the new and improved (yeah, right) system.
Don’t forget to vote in Chesapeake Conservancy’s naming contest for Me, Myself and I, Tom and Audrey’s solo chick for this season. Details may be found at the Explore site as well as the Chesapeake Conservancy’s Facebook page and website.
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!