CJ All The Way-Part Two

Good morning from the gorgeous Eastern Shore of Maryland! Well, it’s taken a little longer to get this blog published than I had planned, but get ready to enjoy Part Two of the adventures of our favorite fledging. When last we met, the primary topics were stories and photos from C.J.’s banding. Shortly after her big adventure with Craig and COM, C.J. fledged on August 20, 2021, which was a gloomy, wet day. I guess when nature calls, it’s time to fly. So without further adieu, please enjoy the rest of the story..

Here are some family photos before C.J.’s first flight.

A typical peaceful day at the nest. Tom is on his favorite perch drying his wings, Audrey is on her little post and C.J. is happy to be at home with mom and dad

Now Audrey is looking my way and C.J. is on high alert. Tom figures the girls can take care of themselves, and pays no mind to them or Mrs. COM

A little nature break for you to observe some wild clouds

Can you see the little lamb and plump chicken? Or how about the pig head? What else do you see?

As I mentioned, C.J. took to the skies on a less than ideal day for taking photos. This was her first stop after leaving the safety and security of the only home she had ever known.

C.J.’s first stop after leaving her nest, the good old, large target boat lift.

Such a gloomy day to leave a nice cozy nest

C.J. stayed on the boat lift for a good long while, but not as long as some of our previous new fledglings. Her next stop was one of the pilings.

Hmm, now what?, thinks C.J.

Does anyone know I’m here? Can anyone hear me? I’m hungry!

It didn’t take C.J. too long to master the one-legged stance. Her bling is tucked away for now while she is looking at something behind her

C.J. is ready for take-off with beautiful flying wings and her bling showing

Here is your first peek at C.J. in flight. She looks like a pro in just a few hours

C.J. is in focus, but Audrey, near the NEMA box, is not. The fish is not in focus either, but it doesn’t really care

This is what C.J. was looking at and squawking about while on the boat lift. Audrey is near the NEMA box with a substantial fish

Yes, I did, can you see it? Poop shot! COM thinks I am disgusting. I was delighted with my action photo. Such range, Audrey!

C.J.’s first day of flight was glorious. She didn’t stay as long in one place as some of our other fledgings have. After taking their first flights, some of our other youngsters have stayed at their first landing sites for hours. But not our C.J.!

While Audrey was eating and pooping, C.J. was delightful to watch as she flew around the neighborhood. Visible bling in this photo!

And back to Old Faithful, the trusty boat lift

Does this look like half an osprey to you? Kind of creepy, don’t you think?

Oh, no, what have I done? C.J. looks terrified

C.J. on the left, Roger on the right and Audrey in the middle, still munching on her fish as her baby roams the neighborhood. Wonder if she has given C.J. a curfew?

Another view of the same tranquil scene. Still looking kind of grey on the horizon

Time for a nature break from ospreys. My butterfly bush was magnificent this year. I couldn’t resist a few close-ups of visitors to my volunteer gone wild (the volunteer butterfly bush, that is).

Upside down butterfly

Same butterfly, this time right side up

A different visitor

Okay, last butterfly photo

Thanks for letting me take an osprey break, now back to what you all really want to see. Poor Tom hasn’t gotten very much press so far this blog, so here is a shout out to our fishing fool. Tom hasn’t spent as much time in the top of Joe’s big tree this season, but I did catch him surveying his kingdom from way up high in Joe’s big tree a couple of days before the big fledge.

I saw this osprey way up high, and decided to take a closer look

Lo and behold, it was Calico Tom the Fishing Fool. Hi, Tom!

Okay, back to fledge day and the escapades of C.J. in her new found flight.

After hanging on the boat lift for awhile with no fish delivery, C.J. decides to go back to the piling and make her hungry presence known to Audrey, who was still munching on her fish from near the NEMA box. Can’t you just hear C.J.?

C.J. is certainly her mother’s daughter in the squawking department

After being ignored, by her mother no less, C.J. takes her ball and goes home
Arriving back to the nest as the skies begin to clear.

As the days went on, it was truly heartwarming to watch C.J. getting used to her new flying skills. Over the years, I have always found great pleasure in watching our fledglings soar and dive and revel in their ability to finally experience the joys of flight.

Do you remember when Audrey Three was in our midst? Much to Tom’s chagrin, she took over his favorite perch on top of the camera pole. Well, shades of Audrey Three have returned. The young whippersnapper decided she wanted to hog the camera perch. Can a male osprey be henpecked? Inquiring minds want to know.

Audrey spreading her wings in the nest while the whippersnapper takes over the camera perch. Tom was off sulking somewhere

Be careful up there, says Audrey to C.J., who is looking a little precarious and off balance

After getting yelled at by mom, C.J. holds on for dear life before she gets grounded

C.J. does not let any interesting perch go empty, even with intruders going by.

Excuse me, sir and madam. Did you not notice the giant purple martin on top of the purple martin house?

C.J. does not seem bothered by the water travelers

A lovely duet with mother and daughter. Mother is on the nest perch yapping, and daughter is claiming squatter’s rights on her dad’s favorite digs while joining in the cacophony.

You may have noticed a dearth of photos that include the scraggly stick tree. Since the tree’s partial demise, our ospreys haven’t spent nearly as much time in it as in the past. But there are still times when I will notice one of the three hanging out in the remains of the scraggly stick tree.

Someone has been in the water

A wet Audrey drying off in the scraggly stick tree

Where’s Waldo, a.k.a. C.J.?

Do you see Waldo yet?

How about now?

A giant hint! And if you were here, you would probably hear her before you could see her, which is exactly how I found her in the tree!

Audrey is also looking for Waldo

Audrey is still looking. Maybe she hears C.J. yakking for some food?

Exorcist osprey

I slowly approached Audrey to take a close-up

After I took the above photo, this is the next thing I saw:

Mrs. COM manages to chase off Audrey yet again. She is really good at that

I wasn’t sure how much longer Audrey would grace us with her presence. I know we all had questions as to how long she would stay. In a normal year, which this hasn’t been due to Audrey’s late arrival and subsequent delayed egg laying and hatching, Audrey would leave sometime in mid August. As the end of August arrived, Audrey was still here.

Audrey and a gull, who was pretending it wasn’t interested in what was going on at the next piling

A really good view of Audrey’s eye markings. The fish has no eyes left to have markings, so we will just have to imagine how his eye markings appeared during better days

The gull tips its hand, and shows its interest in Audrey and the fish

Audrey and the unfortunate fish

Not one step closer, Mrs. COM, and I really mean it

Meanwhile, back at the nest, C.J. is patiently waiting for some of that fish.

C.J. is being a good girl and waiting patiently for lunch

Patience hell, I am going to get me some fish

Can you tell why C.J. is landing here?

Does this help? Looks like dad is also a meal possibility. Check out Tom on the picnic table while C.J. waits on the right side chair

Meanwhile, Audrey is still munching on eyeless Moby Dick and the gull is still hoping Audrey will somehow drop the fish or get full and leave it for her new best friend.

Would someone please call security?

No doubt why they are called ring-billed gulls. Audrey is starting to get annoyed

Are you still here?

Well, the hour is getting late and it’s time to wrap up for now. In my next blog, I will start with September 3, 2021, which was the last day I was able to photograph Audrey before she left for her winter digs down south of the border. I am sure she is down there by now enjoying her well-deserved winter break. Tom is still around, and I have lots of fun photos of him to share with you to take the sting out of Audrey’s departure. C.J. is a real character, and we enjoy watching her antics (albeit with ear plugs). She has definitely inherited her mother’s strong, loud set of lungs. C.J. has a very distinct call, which is different from her parents. Many of the other ospreys in the area have left for the season, although there are a few still with us. The bald eagles are more noticeable now, both by their presence and their distinct calls and crys. Between the ospreys leaving and the eagles becoming more prevalent, we know our osprey season is coming to a close, but not finished yet!

I will leave you with a couple of magnificent sunrise photos from the secret location.

Looking to the east on a late summer morning at sunrise

A quiet scene at sunrise at the secret location

Until next time, we remain-

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

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!

Me, Myself and I

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!

COM and Roger, newly released from his digs in the garage. What a dynamic duo!

Roger doing a little line dance with the crab pots as his partners. Since this photo was taken, he has now lost his crab pot partners to the drink, where they are hopefully catching crabs.

Roger looks like he has to use the men’s room with those legs tightly crossed. Only kidding, just the wind. This is a good view of Roger and the nest complex.

A little blurry due to the wind and low light for my camera, but here is ferocious Roger lit up at night. Take that, you Great Horned Owls!!

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.

Audrey, complete with wonky feather, in the scraggly stick tree.

And off she goes! Audrey, you hurt Mrs. COM’s feelings

Tom on the perch either yakking or choking on something while Audrey feeds her chick

Audrey takes a break from feeding her chick when she spots Mrs. COM. Check out the marked sticks and the collapsing nest.

I don’t play favorites when it comes to chasing off our osprey. Tom decided I was close enough, and got out of dodge.

Mrs. COM does it again. Bye, Tom!

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.

Horseshoe crabs mating and laying eggs during the June full moon high tides. This is on a neighbor’s beach, which we don’t have at our house.

Mating horseshoe crabs all over the beach. It is wild to see them all.

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.

I love my purple martins!

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.

The young fox notices Mrs. COM, who manages to scare away birds and mammals.

I saw those ospreys flying away from that woman with the camera, and my mama didn’t raise no fool. See ya!

The darn camera focused on the grass instead of the stars of the photo, and it happened too fast to get it right. But you get the idea. This is the fox with a black snake in its mouth.

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.

Check out my incredible volunteer butterfly bush, complete with osprey nest in the background

We don’t have too many resident Canada geese, but now we have a few more.

A goose family swimming by the nest

What kind of water animal is this?

A pile driver leaving for the day after working on a new dock

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.

A very wet Tom lands on my neighbor’s picnic table with a still flopping fish.
Look at the size of that fish!
Tom was having trouble controlling the hapless fish, who was flapping violently
Not a step closer, Mrs. COM, unless you want some of me too, like the fish
Waiting patiently for the struggle to subside

I decided to try another angle, and went back to our dock to take some photos from there.

Before digging in, Tom is trying to wait the fish out. The fish was still flapping
The fish, although still firmly in Tom’s grasp, is making a valiant effort to escape

Counterbalancing the flapping fish with flapping wings and a strong beak
Getting ready to take a big bite, which was rather upsetting as the fish was still very much alive

And the feasting continued

Can you say The Exorcist? Look closely at the angle of Tom’s head and neck.

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.


I promise you, Audrey is not alone. Look right in the middle of the nest just above the pole

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.

Waiting for the sun to set in Swan Creek, just outside of Rock Hall, Maryland
An idyllic sunset with good friends. Doesn’t get much better than that (unless Osprey Girl had been with us, but she had to work)

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.


Full Strawberry Moon rising over the water at the secret location. The howling was over by the time this photo was taken!

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!

Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz. Oh, What A Relief It Is!

Good morning from the lovely Eastern Shore of Maryland! The situation here at the secret location is certainly different than it was when I posted my last blog. When last we met, the battle of the Audreys had just concluded, Tom and Audrey (2) were getting reacquainted after their winter hiatus and we were waiting anxiously for the arrival of lovely osprey eggs. Although a month late, osprey life picked up right where it should be.

With Crazy Town on the back burner for now, it was time for life around the neighborhood to get back to normal. Tom and Audrey continued to add to their comfy cozy nest, and they got down to business making baby ospreys. Tom regained his favorite perch on top of the camera pole, and didn’t have to resort to his second and third choices.

Tom was hanging out on the boat lift on a bucolic afternoon. After being so rudely interrupted by a crazy lady hugging a camera, he headed back to his favorite perch on top of the camera pole. A downstairs tenant is perched on a protruding stick. Do you see it?

Tom arrives at his happy place, with Audrey keeping careful watch on you-know-who

Tom is surveying his kingdom while Audrey relaxes on a lovely spring morning

Tom isn’t the only one who enjoys hanging out on the crosspiece.

The basement tenant is heading home

There is always chatter in the Explore comments between those who have figured out the Tom vs. Audrey code and the camera watchers who still haven’t broken it. Here is a quick tutorial to help you make your decision.

This is Tom, looking at the left side of his head. Notice there are no breaks in the black under his eye.

The view of the right side of Tom’s head. Again, there are no breaks in the black under his eye.

Now on to Audrey.

This is Audrey’s head from the right side. In the above photo, it is very obvious that Audrey has a break of white under her eye. Her iris is also heavily speckled.

The above photo shows Audrey’s head from the left view. The white break is visible, unlike the area under Tom’s eyes that are black and have no break of white.

Tom on the bottom of the photo and Audrey on the top

I took the above photo from the Explore comments. If the rightful author of the photo comes forward, I will definitely give you credit in the next blog! The differences between Tom and Audrey are pointed out

The features I use to tell Tom and Audrey apart are the differences in the amount of black/white under their eyes, and the buff patch on the back of Tom’s head. I will point out visible differences in any photos I post where the differences are apparent. This particular Tom and Audrey pair can be difficult to differentiate at times. Our first Tom and Audrey pair looked so different that just a cursory glance was all that was needed to make the ID. Our first Tom had such a dark face he stood out immediately. Audrey 1 had almost no black on her face, and the difference between them was marked. No such luck with these two, but we are all up to the Tom v. Audrey challenge.

May 14, 2021 was a happy day indeed at the secret location. Audrey presented us with her first egg, with her second egg following right on schedule three days later on May 17. And the biggest event of all was the appearance of the third egg, again three days later, on May 20. When I say appearance, I mean appearance. For those of you who witnessed the event as it happened, or were able to catch a glimpse on the reruns, I think you will agree with the title I have selected for the blog. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is (with apologizes to the old time 1976 Alka-Seltzer commercial)!! A huge sigh of relief for everyone, with the welcome sight of three beautiful eggs, and especially the plop, plop of the third one. Please enjoy this short clip from the CBS Sunday Morning show (with a short ad at the beginning, just ignore it), featuring the origin of our blog title for today. https://youtu.be/icwW6H-PJ-0

Sadly, one of the eggs became cracked and is no longer with us. It is believed to be the third egg that had been laid, which leaves us with eggs #1 and #2. The very first egg laid in the nest, which was by Audrey 3 on the very day that Audrey 2 returned, became buried shortly after it was laid, and would no longer be viable. There have been no confirmed sightings of Audrey 3 since the day she was politely asked to leave by Audrey 2 (sarcasm). We can only hope she has found a new mate, and is enjoying her life on the Chesapeake Bay.

In our nest, the typical time from an egg being laid to hatch is 39-41 days. If you do the math, we can expect the first egg to hatch sometime in the middle of next week, in the June 22-24 range. The eggs will hatch in the order they were laid, and with the same interval. So pip watch begins very soon. I would expect our viewer numbers will rise significantly in the near future. Hopefully the weather will hold out, and we won’t experience the marauding, nefarious, dastardly crows of last spring. Can you tell I don’t like the crows? The belated return of Audrey 2 may end up being a blessing in disguise, as the extra thirty days has certainly helped the conditions at the nest.

Our ospreys have been hanging out in their usual locations, with the exception of one. I have not seen Tom in Joe’s Big Tree two houses to the north of us. There is another osprey who hangs out there, but I do not think it is Tom. I have seen both Tom and Audrey on the boat lift and in the scraggly stick tree. Audrey continues to enjoy chowing down on fish from the top of the NEMA box, which is no longer the pristine piece of equipment it was when newly installed this past March. Both Tom and Audrey take turns in the nest incubating the eggs. Tom enjoys the perch on top of the camera pole, and the crosspiece that stabilizes the two poles.

Here is the current condition of the scraggly stick tree. Although quite diminished in size and leaning precariously over the water, it has leafed out quite nicely.

Audrey on the NEMA box with her gift from Tom
A piece of something is stuck in Audrey’s throat. I hate when that happens, she thinks
The NEMA box has officially been christened. What a mess! Are you planning to clean that up, Audrey?

Audrey in the scraggly stick tree with her half of a fish

Audrey in the scraggly stick tree from a different angle
Audrey tearing off a bite of fish. It sure tastes better when someone else catches it!

Tom is a happy camper incubating the eggs while Audrey snacks. You can see two marked sticks buried in the nest.

Tom is loving his incubation time. You can see how low down in the nest he is.

I managed to unintentionally chase Audrey off of the NEMA box.

Audrey has relocated to the dock next door to the south with her prize
Now that’s what I’m talking about! Yummy
Almost got that poop shot, a split second too late. Better luck next time, Mrs. COM

I chased Audrey off yet again. Sorry about that!

Audrey trying to escape the camera of Mrs. COM, which cannot be readily accomplished without flying out of range
Audrey in downstroke, still clutching her unfinished morsel. Damn you, Mrs. COM

Tom has reclaimed his rightful place on the camera pole perch.

Tom savoring his favorite place while Audrey performs her incubating duties

Although the lighting is not optimal, twilight has fallen with Tom on the crosspiece and Audrey in the nest.

A bucolic scene as the sun is setting and dusk falls upon our favorite osprey pair

Can you make out Audrey’s punk “hair”do?

Memorial Day weekend brought some nasty, cold, wet weather. We watched the nest carefully to ascertain if Audrey was receiving enough to eat so she wouldn’t leave the nest unattended, as visions of last spring’s melancholy events were still fresh in our heads. The crummy holiday weather only lasted two days, and we were able to fly the ginormous holiday flag before the weekend ended.

My artsy photo of the gigantic holiday flag with the pole complex in the background
Now that’s a flag! The poor flag pole didn’t know what hit it.

With spring come storms, and with storms we sometimes get a lovely rainbow.

Audrey on her perch looking for that pot of gold

I will leave you not with a sunrise, but another moonlit night.

Tom on the right side of the crosspiece, Audrey in the nest and all is right with the osprey world (for now anyway)

When next I write, we should be thinking about names for our two newly hatched chicks. Fingers crossed, everyone!

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!

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

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!

Fond Adieu, Sweet Audrey Two

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.

Audrey 2 on the former poop dock (now a nice, new clean dock) next door to us to the south

Audrey 2 in the scraggly stick tree

Audrey 2 taking off from the scraggly stick tree

Audrey 2 and Roger (sans hat, not sure where it went). I needed to get in that last poop shot starring A2. I am not sure why this photo looks so blurry, but if you click on it, it should show up in focus as it does in my draft

This photo captures her the best, our Squawking Audrey. It is one of my favorite photos of her. She was a noisy thing!

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.

Here is the old NEMA box, which was at the end of the dock. You can certainly see remnants of lots of fish-consumption, as this was a favorite dining area for Tom and Audrey

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.

Mark and COM doing technical stuff, well beyond my capabilities. I have been told by a reliable source that Mark is handing COM the wireless antennae for his office. I will have to take the source’s word on that.

The new camera has a built-in infrared capability.

The back of the camera with a good view of the new perch COM built for our feathered friends

The junction box on the camera pole that holds the cabling, microphone and supporting electronics

Mark paying out the underwater cable

Checking out all the connections inside the new NEMA box. The wireless antennae is the little white column attached to the upper right of the box

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.

Dean, COM and Phil installing the nest pole

Emily from the Chesapeake Conservancy was there to help

The super duper 12 foot step ladder is at the ready, joined by a measly little regular ladder who is feeling inadequate next to the big guns

The camera pole catching a few rays on the adirondack chair while awaiting its turn for glory

Phil is auditioning for the L.L.Bean catalog while getting ready to transport the camera pole with Dean. He looks spiffy, and is definitely color coordinated

Phil and Dean carry the camera pole down the dock. It is way heavier than it looks, especially with the camera attached

The massive step ladder is at the ready in the water. The little ladder is still back at the dock, and relieved not to be compared to the big guy at the moment.

COM is fiddling in his waders. He like to keep his tools down there (double entendre is on purpose to see if you are reading the captions)

Our neighbor Cole offered to help, and is joining the group in the water while Emily tends the cables to avoid tangling

Phil is getting the trash pump ready to jet in the camera pole. It’s important not to let the camera hit the water.

As with the take-down in the fall, physics plays a part in raising the camera pole. Check out the pullies and lines doing their thing

Everyone gets in on the action. COM is tending the line, Cole and Dean are holding on and Phil is jetting in the pole to bury it in the bottom

The pole is up!

Emily is in the water at the ready

Is the pole straight? Fortunately, Emily and Cole agreed on which way the pole was leaning!

One of the last steps is to install the crosspiece which stabilizes the two poles. Emily has the very important job of not letting the kayak float away with the trash pump

The poles are further away from each other this year, so Tom won’t have his little piece sticking out where he liked to perch

Clean up time! Does it look like COM has his hands on the ladder? I guess he is supervising

The old camera pole and camera need to be removed from their winter quarters, where, due to a technical difficulty, they didn’t do anything but look cool. Check out the differences in the two cameras between old and new

The crew minus Cole. I knew I was going to have to leave for work before the task was completed, so I took the obligatory group photo before they started and before Cole arrived. Sorry you missed the photo, Cole, but thanks for your help! Hey, Dean, where is your mask? The beard doesn’t count

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.

A juvenile bald eagle. The yellow feet and size of the bird are dead giveaways

Manicure, anyone?

The eagle decides he has had enough of Mrs. COM and her camera, and departs the area

I just couldn’t resist a little editing. Gotta love the feet!

In a few years, the juvenile bald eagle will look like one of these two glorious birds I photographed in January 2021, hanging out in the scraggly stick tree

Look who is hanging out by the riprap. Must have been some tasty morsel down there. Stand back, I’m an eagle! This is a turkey buzzard, by the way

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.

Yet a third ladder owned by the Crazy Osprey Family. One can never have enough ladders, you know.

COM taking the cover off the junction box with one of his trusty cordless drills. I think he has a cordless drill to go with each ladder.

I received a friendly wave, along with a few phone calls from the ladder. I provide friendly, courteous ground support (ha!)

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.

Tom in the scraggly stick tree, which is looking a little precarious

Tom in the scraggly stick tree with a good look at his coloring and head markings

The back of Tom’s head with the noticeable buff coloring

Another good view of Tom’s head markings and coloring

Audrey settling in to her new home

Tom getting ready to snag a marked stick from the yard. Sorry for the poor lighting

‘Who invited you?’, says Tom to the hopeful crow

Tom hopes if he ignores the crow and continues to eat, the crow will leave. Wishful thinking on his part. Another great look at the buff coloring on the back of Tom’s head. The fish has no opinion

Three’s a crowd, but three on this nest seems to be de rigueur these days.

Horrible lighting, but a cool photo nonetheless. The fish seems to be missing something

That’s a big fish! Calico Tom the Fishing Fool living up to his moniker on our dock

Tom on the support, Audrey in the nest. How can I tell, you ask? I zoomed in on them before I posted the photo!

Tom scratching an itch. This is a great view of the camera and perch

Audrey returning to the nest, looking intent

I’m ho-ome, dear! Tom is thinking that she means business

Time for some more marked sticks, perhaps with a color change? Keep your eyes out!

One last glimpse of the back of Tom’s buff colored head. I think you get the idea by now, so I will stop

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!

Another glorious sunrise at the secret location

Swans at the same sunrise

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

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!!

Buy One, Get One Free!

Good evening from the fickle Eastern Shore of Maryland! We had beautiful weather the last two days, with a stormy day on tap for Sunday. Everyone is ready for spring in our neck of the woods. Well, I am running a special today, and my readers are the lucky recipients of this osprey special. Today and today only, you are getting two blogs for the price of one! Welcome to “See Ya, Wouldn’t Want To Be Ya, 2020 in the Rear View Mirror Part Deux” and a special rendition of “Who’s On First?” I’ll start with “Who’s On First?”

As promised, I was putting together photos for Part Two of my first blog of 2021, when the excitement started. It was a quiet Friday evening here at the secret location. After a long week, I was looking forward to our very first social gathering since the pandemic put the kabash on life as we knew it. Five neighbors, all fully vaccinated, were coming to the end of the dock for a much needed socially distanced happy hour outside in the breeze. What a delightful time we had! To be able to chat in person with friends while sharing a glass of wine and some nibblies was simply divine! By sunset, everyone had left. All of the leftover wine (what’s that?) and goodies were put away, and I sat down at my computer to get some work done. I can see outside from my desk, and there he/she was! Over the previous week, a very pretty visiting osprey had stopped on our platform a few times, but it wasn’t Tom or Audrey. This osprey looked very much like Tom, but it was so hard to tell in the dark. When morning broke, I decided the osprey looked like Tom and was acting like Tom by sitting on the boatlift and top of the camera pole. I always get nervous making a call on osprey identity, but it was time to put on my big girl pants and give it a go. Not too long after I made the call, the lovely visitor made an appearance, so we had two ospreys on the nest platform, albeit for a very short time. Before I continue with Part Two of my first blog, here are just a few photos of this morning’s excitement. Who’s on first?

Well, well, well, who do we have here?

After seeing this osprey on the perch and the post, I had a really good feeling this was our Calico Tom The Fishing Fool! If you look at the very top of the pole, there is a good view of the perch

Tom wasted no time in living up to his moniker, and brought back a nice fish, which he didn’t have to share with anyone after his long journey. There was a wee bit of buff color visible on the back of his head when the wind blew, which is one of Tom’s telltale characteristics

Already making a bloody mess on the boat lift! Welcome home, Tom!

Knowing Tom’s nest making skills would probably kick in shortly after he had a rest and some chow, I immediately went out to put some sticks in the back yard.

The first batch of unmarked sticks, followed a little while later with four marked sticks. You will have to watch to see the color selection!

And lo and behold, not fifteen minutes after I put the sticks out, I looked out the window to see Tom making a low pass parallel to the shoreline right toward my sticks! He snagged one, and took it to the nest! Mrs. COM was feeling pretty pleased with herself right about then!

We had a small incident a few weeks ago. A local tree expert service was hired to trim all of our trees, which had grown to be quite large after thirty two years with us. When I came home from work after they left, I was aghast to see that our stick locker lay bare under our Wye Oak. We grew this tree from an offspring of the famous four-hundred year old original Wye Oak, which had been located not far from us before it succumbed to a lightening strike. Apparently, the tree trimmers thought they were doing us a favor by cleaning up the substantial pile of sticks under the tree. No one was home to tell them otherwise. If you have been reading my blogs, you have seen photos of the very large stick pile we had accumulated for our ospreys to use as building material. I have been gathering sticks from the yard to start replacing our stash, but it will be a daunting task to replace the amount of sticks we had saved.

Oh, no! The tree people must have thought they were doing us a favor and cleaned up all of the sticks that were under our stick tree. So sad to see them go! Fresh sticks for our friends this season!

So now I will continue with “See Ya, Wouldn’t Want To Be Ya-2020 In The Rear View Mirror-Part Two”. We were a little late in taking down the poles last season, but on December 3, 2020, our dear friends from the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage, Phil and Dean, stopped by to remove the poles for the winter. Over the years, we have had damage, to include losing poles, when ice would form in the bay. The last few years, the pole (now poles) had been taken out of the water to avoid having to replace them in the spring. COM had been mounting the camera pole on the dock for winter swan viewing. This past winter, we were having technical issues with the camera, so unfortunately, we weren’t able to share our gorgeous tundra swans with you. Hopefully, all of the technical issues have been resolved, so come November, the camera will be able to capture some of the best that Mother Nature has to offer.

By now, you have seen lots of photographs of our poles and cameras being taken down in the fall and put back up in the spring. We wouldn’t want to break with tradition, so here we go again.

The team had a nice day for their pole removal project. It wasn’t terribly cold (easy for me to say from dry land), not too windy and the tide was low. These were ideal conditions for the task at hand. First, the ladder, kayak and other necessary equipment was ferried out to the pole system. There were a series of lines and pullies assembled to assist in the lowering and removal of the poles. You gotta love physics!

Here are Phil, Patrick from the Chesapeake Conservancy, COM and Dean lowering the camera pole.
The camera pole, with camera and other equipment, has to be carefully carried back to terra firma. The camera cannot get wet.

Three strong men are carrying the pole, which is incredibly heavy. Calling squatter’s rights, COM is carefully carrying some not-so-heavy line
The nest/platform pole stands alone
Now the camera pole had to be moved onto the dock and be attached to a piling. Physics in action again, notice the lines and pullies
The pole was up, and being secured to a piling for the winter. Phil and Patrick were in the water under the dock. At this point, we were still hoping the camera might be functional for winter swan viewing
Patrick was at the ready in the water in case a water rescue was needed.
COM securing the very long cables
Just hanging out in the water waiting for Mrs. COM’s fresh cranberry muffins





Camera pole standing proud. Mission #1 accomplished, and one step closer to those muffins
Phil and Dean are retrieving the really big stepladder, which won’t be needed for Mission#2
Ladder coming back with Phil and Dean, needed equipment going out with COM and Patrick
Phil and Dean putting the really big stepladder back on the dock
Getting ready to jet out the nest platform. Whoops, I don’t think that was supposed to happen!
Down comes the nest platform and pole. It is not critical for this pole to stay dry, so physics is on the side burner for now
The pole and kayak are being readied for transport back to land
The nest pole is heavy, but with no camera to add weight and logistics, it is not as critical to be carried in a certain orientation. Phil has the front end, and seems quite nonchalant. Patrick is wondering who volunteered him for this project
All of the equipment has made it back to the dock unscathed
Patrick is readying the kayak to be pulled up the riprap
Thank you, Patrick and the Chesapeake Conservancy for providing some manual labor. It would be tough to complete this task without you!

Oh where, oh where have my little poles gone? Oh where, oh where can they be? Our unobstructed winter view where the pole complex used to be

Moving the platform and pole to winter quarters on the riprap

Our socially distanced team, Patrick, COM, Phil and Dean. I made them wear their masks in case Dr. Fauci was in the neighborhood. I hope the muffins were worth it!

A sad occurrence over the off-season was the passing of my 6th grade heart throb, Sean Connery. When he appeared on the cover of Life Magazine during the run of his movie, Thunderball, I decided I would wallpaper my room with said covers. Although I put the word out to family and friends, I was only able to come up with four covers. Alas, my dreams of being surrounded by Agent 007 was not to be, breaking my eleven year old heart.

As my dear departed mother used to say, “He could eat crackers in my bed any day”. Although I didn’t get it then, I sure get it now. RIP, Bond, James Bond. You were the best of all the 007’s

I am very sorry you weren’t able to enjoy our winter visitors between seasons. Although their viewing wasn’t available to you, we had a banner year for swans, with an average of forty to fifty every day. Here is a series of photos as a reward for your loss.

A bevy of swans relaxing where the pole complex was removed for the winter. There is one gray swan toward the right of the photo, who is a juvenile.

When COM goes out in the morning to feed the swans, they can see him on the dock and come flying in from wherever they have been for the night. You can hear their wings flapping and the sound coming from their webbed feet when they land in the water

This is a juvenile getting ready to take off. The swans will run across the water and start flapping, sort of like a plane taxiing before take-off

These swans have landed, and are quickly swimming to the dock for their morning rations. Check out their neck reflections and the V’s they leave in their wakes

The swan to the right of middle looks like he is laughing. There is a swan feather floating near the front of this photo, see if you can spot it

A swan family. The grey one in the middle is a juvenile. The lighting is not very good, but I really like their neck reflections

One of these swans is getting ready to bite one of his buddies, not very nice
I may enter this photo in the Maryland Department of Natural Resources calendar contest. The winning photos that are selected appear on a page of their next year’s calendar. What do you think?
Bottoms up! Check out the three swan butts in a row at the bottom of this photo. This is how they eat, with their necks stretched down to the food, and their cute little swan tushies pointed to the sky.

I will leave you with a few more sunrise photos. The winner of the sunrise photo contest in my first blog was Choice #2, followed closely by Choice #4. Thank you to everyone who voted!

Once again, I cannot pick a favorite, so it’s up to you to choose yours from this group.

Choice #1
Choice #2
Choice #3
Choice #4
Choice #5

The hour is late, and I am getting bleary-eyed. I hope you have enjoyed Part Two of our off-season. When next we meet, I will start our season off with more recent tales from the secret location. Now that Tom is back, I hope to have many lovely photos of our recently-arrived ospreys. Time will tell whether our beloved Audrey II will grace us with her presence back at the nest, or a soon-to-be beloved Audrey III will take her place. Audrey II is at least 14 years old, and would be reaching near the end of the average life span for an osprey. Mother Nature will have her say, and we humans can only sit back and wait for whatever she brings our way!

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!

See Ya, Wouldn’t Want To Be Ya 2020 in the Rear View Mirror Part One

Administrative Note: Since I last posted a blog, WordPress has changed how blogs are written. I haven’t figured out or mastered the changes, so I am apologizing in advance for the wonky formatting and horribly labelled photos. I will try to do better next time. Mrs. COM

Good morning from the blustery, almost springtime, Eastern Shore of Maryland. Welcome back to Season 9 of The Crazy Osprey Family’s partnership with the Chesapeake Conservancy. Since my last blog on May 4, 2020, life has certainly had its way with us, don’t you think? We were moving along in our egg incubation period, when Mother Nature intervened (and not in a positive way), and the rest of our 2020 season, as they say, was history. And then there was this minor inconvenience, a pandemic I think it is called….

And yet, here we are on the cusp of a new adventure, waiting and hopeful once again. The nest and camera poles are up, just itching for the return of our favorite ospreys. The fine folks at Explore provided us with a brand new camera, which we hope will enhance your viewing pleasure. We did have a very brief visitor earlier yesterday morning, which did not go unnoticed by our faithful camera watchers. But no sooner did I see the welcome sight and ran to grab my trusty Nikon, than the intruder flew off and was not seen again. I perused the photo grabs posted on our Explore site, and determined that the brief visitor was not Tom or Audrey, so the watch begins anew.

Seeing that osprey on the bare nest platform gave me the kick in my tushie that was needed to sit down at my computer to download, review and select photos. There was a boatload of photos to go through to get going, yet I persisted. So without further ado (I looked it up, and this is the correct spelling, by the way), here you go. So glad to have you all back. Here’s to a fantabulous 2021 here at the secret location!

On May 7, 2020, a mere three days before disaster struck our nest, a quiet evening was enhanced by an incredible full moon lighting up the water behind our house. I have found over the years that photographing full moons after dark is better left to experts in the photography field, which is not me. I still can’t figure out how to get the moon and water in focus at the same time after dark, so if anyone can help me out, please reach out in the comments. Remember, you can click on each photo to enlarge for better viewing.

Not ospreys, I know, but this adorable pair of mallards was waddling around the backyard, and I just had to include them for a smile.

Fred and Ethel enjoying a lovely spring day. As all of our ospreys have always been Tom and Audrey, all of our mallard pairs have been annointed Fred and Ethel

May 10 was a dark day in the Crazy Osprey Family household. It was a cold, cloudy nasty spring once again, and if you have followed our camera and blog, you know these conditions don’t bode well for a successful season. Once again, due to the abysmal weather conditions, the fishing was terrible. Calico Tom, our fishing fool, was unable to provide enough fish for Audrey. She had to leave the nest for sustenance and protection from the weather. The dastardly crows, knowing the nest had been left unattended, finished the job they started on May 1, only this time we were unable to stop their attack on the remaining two eggs. Our 2020 season was over almost before it started. Tom and Audrey would be without offspring yet again.

Even though they were empty nesters (please laugh here), Tom and Audrey still had to go about their daily lives until it was time to head south. A girl’s gotta eat, so Audrey took matters into her own talons and brought home her own bacon to the former poop dock next door to the south.

Oh, no, not you again, thinks Audrey

Audrey taking a big bite, surrounded by various little piles of bloody fish yuckies

I really don’t think I want to know what Audrey is tugging on

Audrey’s repast did not go unnoticed by the neighborhood turkey vultures.

Some birdies are waiting for sloppy seconds

While I was outside taking photos of the carnage on the dock, I heard the unmistakable roar of the Blue Angels, who should have been in town for one of their heart stopping air shows for the Naval Academy Commissioning Week festivities. Although there were no festivities in 2020 due to the pandemic, our fearless six-person team was in the area to fly over the academy.

Right overhead, but the lighting was terrible and they were flying really, really fast

The Blue Angels were flying so fast, I barely managed to take another photo of the whole team. There they go!

Tom and Audrey attended to their usual daily activities. One of Tom’s favorite haunts is the perch that COM built on the top of the camera pole. From there, he can survey his kingdom.

Hanging out on top of the camera pole on yet another dreary day. Here is a good view of the perch, camera and IR light source below the camera

Tom leaves his perch to head down to the nest.

I can almost walk from here

Think I will just hang out for a while

Tom is on his perch enjoying a little snack, and Audrey is doing her Audrey thing. See if you can figure out what her thing it. Check out the debris hanging from the right side of the nest.

Squawkin’ Audrey is wanting some of that fish Tom is hoarding on his perch

Tom decides to see what all of the fuss was about and comes down to the nest

Tom is trying to shut Audrey up, and she doesn’t look too happy.

Later in the day.


I guess Audrey should have been nicer to Tom. But I think there will be enough for both of them. What do you think?

You may remember last year that we installed a new purple martin house, on the dock this time instead of on terra firma. For the first time, much to my delight, we actually had purple martins. This is the biggest purple martin I have ever seen!

Yikes! Are you going to tell him, or am I?

I don’t see any problem here, thinks Tom, who is masquerading as a purple martin

Mrs. COM was happy. She managed to capture one obligatory poop shot for the season, albeit one nanosecond too late.

One leg or two? I can’t tell, but one legged pooping is quite an art

June rolled around with very little fanfare, with all being quiet around the ‘hood. Tom and Audrey continued to be each other’s best friends, and would hang out together during the day.

Tom is drying out on the boat lift. Audrey is uncharacteristically quiet.

Audrey couldn’t stand the excitement, and decided to see what else was going on around the neighborhood.

If Audrey couldn’t scratch his itch, Tom decided to do it himself

Mrs. COM has captured Tom’s attention, which resulted in one of his famous hairy eyeballs

Snack time! The electric box continued to be, and is, a very popular spot to take a refreshment.

Mine, all mine

Now, if you have small children reading, please excuse them from the room for a few moments. This is the often requested, seldom acquired X-rated section of our first blog of 2021, set in a series of photographs which don’t need much explanation. What you are about to witness caused much speculation about the possibility of another clutch of eggs, but was merely an intense session of osprey nooky.

Audrey arriving from a spin around the block

A successful landing on the paltry nest, complete with a large chunk of filter cloth (the black substance on the left of the nest) from the riprap

Ah, peace (or should I say piece, stay tuned) and quiet

Tom, complete with hanging debris, arrives to spoil Audrey’s solitude

This photo, and the following six, need no explanation. If they do, you don’t need to know

Wham, Bam, Thank you m’am

What just happened? I was sitting here, minding my own business, when……

And away goes the masked bandit, still dragging his little mess of who-knows-what

A Crazy Osprey Man’s work is never done. Repairs in June, however, are far more pleasant that the ones in January and February.

A more civilized repair job

Togetherness continued throughout the month of June.

Enjoying togetherness on one leg

Good buddies

With the end of spring came some storms, which were worth it due to the lovely rainbows caused by said storms.

Tom is stopping by to enjoy the fabulous vista.

A lovely late spring evening

Here are some sunrise photos from late June into late July. I couldn’t pick my favorite, so you get them all. Which do you like?

Choice #1

Choice #2

Choice #3

Choice #4

Choice #5

It’s not always calm and pretty at the secret location.

And the Weather Gods were angry

Our 2020 season was filled with sadness for many reasons. The pandemic was running rampant, our ospreys were once again without little ones and our country was torn apart. To add to the madness, our faithful scraggly stick tree began its slow demise into firewood due to the wet ground, wind, violent storms and its precarious location at the edge of the riprap.

The beginning of the end. The first signs of trouble

The deteriorating condition of the scraggly stick tree was apparently lost on the eagles

Magnificent birds spending some last moments in the scraggly stick tree

Gotta love bald eagles

Mrs. COM does her thing, and manages to scare off our national bird

Meanwhile, back at the scraggly stick tree, things are going from bad to worse.

The main part of the tree succumbs to the wind and water

The second part of the tree is still up, but has seen better days

A close-up view of the big split in the scraggly stick tree

The main part of the tree being chain-sawed into firewood

This is what remains of the tree. Our neighbor is going to leave it in place for the ospreys for now

You may have noticed that the title of this blog contains the words “Part One”, which suggests there is a part two. If you have picked up on that little nuance, then you are right. I am going to leave you for now with a photo of Mother Nature at her finest. We will pick up where I left off with the rest of the off season in the near future.

Wow, just wow!

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!

Speaker Microphones and A Lady In Pink

Good morning from the soggy Eastern Shore of Maryland!  Well, well, well, this blog is not going to be what was promised.  In anticipation of being in our waiting and watching phase of the 2020 osprey season, I had good intentions of finally providing everyone a treatise describing the history of our osprey nest. But the best laid plans of mice and men, etc. etc. etc. stopped me in my tracks.  The history blog will have to wait for next time.

When last we met, the countdown for the arrival of our eggs was getting close to the end, and Audrey did not disappoint.  She laid three lovely eggs starting on April 17.  Unlike in years past when her eggs were produced every two days, this year her eggs arrived three days apart.  The last two eggs appeared in the nest on April 20 and 23, and there was great joy in the land (ospreyland, that is).  Everything seemed to be going according to plan until Mother Nature thwarted our uneventful incubation timeline.

Before everything went kaflooey, things were normal here at the secret location.  Tom and Audrey were doing their osprey thing, building the nest, fishing, eating and making osprey babies.

Here is Tom on the dock one house to the south of us.  You can see the buff coloring on the back of his head.  Do you think this fish was big enough? Plenty for everyone, no doubt!


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I think this fish was as big as Tom!


Tom and Audrey were still on speaking terms, and enjoyed hanging out together.


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Tom and Audrey practicing social distancing in the scraggly stick tree during the stay at home order in Maryland


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Tom and Audrey not practicing social distancing during the stay at home order in Maryland


Pop quiz:  Which osprey is which in the below photo?  Make Mrs. COM and Poppy proud!


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One of these heads is not like the other


In 2017, dastardly crows destroyed all three eggs in our nest.  Here was a portend of things to come in 2020.


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Tom with the remains of a fish and a dastardly crow hoping for some leftovers


Crows are very intelligent creatures, and never hang around when humans come to call.  Mrs. COM’s presence did not go unnoticed by the crow, and he fled the scene for the time being.


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Tom is yapping, either at the departing crow or the arriving Mrs. COM or the double whammy of the crow and Mrs. COM


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Tom is contemplating his next move


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Audrey is waiting patiently for Tom to bring her a meager offering


Over the years, all sorts of unusual items have made their way into the nest, natural and man made.  There was some discussion earlier in the season about some black fabric that appeared in the nest in large quantities.  This fabric is filter cloth from our rip rap, the stone revetment protecting our shoreline.  The filter cloth is placed over the bare bank before the rocks are laid to form the rip rap.  Here is the top of the rip rap with some of the filter cloth showing.



Filter cloth at the top of our rip rap, probably with some pieces missing



The filter cloth under the rip rap between the lawn and the rocks. Look familiar?


So that mystery is solved for you!

One of these days, I am going to capture a really good photo of the “sparklies”, one of my favorite phenomenon that occurs on the water when the wind, wave action and sunlight come together just right.  I give this photo a C+ in the sparklies category, and will continue to try and amaze you with the perfect sparklies shot.


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Still trying for that perfect sparklies photo. This is not it


I take a vast quantity of photos when I am in proximity of my camera and the great outdoors.  Over the years, I have determined that sometimes you are good, sometimes you are lucky, and sometimes good and lucky come together.  On April 9, Tom and Audrey were both out fishing and came back to the scraggly stick tree to dry out.  Sometimes stay-at-home orders turn out okay, especially when you get to witness something special.



More togetherness. Tom and Audrey drying out in the scraggly stick tree one house to the north of us


I absolutely love these photos, so you are going to have to bear with me.  I took a few dozen, so consider yourself lucky with only five.  Their coloring looks different with wet feathers, don’t you think?


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Wings down on the left and right. Max tail spread on the right


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Wings up on the left, but that tail isn’t spread for maximum drying


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Dual preening or The Tale of the Headless Osprey


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Something has caught the attention of Tom and Audrey. They are both looking to their right (our left)


In the below photo, the buff head is visible on the osprey to the left.  Can you identify the osprey?  Hint:  If you figured it out earlier in the blog, you’ve got it now.  Good luck!



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Whatever they are looking at has continued to their right.


Nest building has slowed down considerably, but will continue throughout the season with fortifications.  Our ospreys will NEVER run out of building materials.



One of our stick lockers. There is another one around a tree in the side yard. These weeds picked the right tree to grow under, most of them are safe from pulling hands


Here is Tom picking up a green marked stick from the back yard.  Unfortunately, the camera focused on the water and not the bird, but you get the idea.  Picking up stick photos are very hard to capture.


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Tom headed back to the nest with a green marked stick, a little late for St. Patty’s Day


The weather on the Eastern Shore of Maryland during April was just plain miserable.  It was one of the coldest and wettest Aprils on record in these parts.  The conditions adversely affected Tom’s ability to catch enough fish to satiate his own needs as well as Audrey’s.  As a result of the poor fishing conditions, Audrey left the nest and eggs unattended for extended periods of time.  In osprey hierarchy, Tom has to eat first, as he provides sustenance to his family.  If Tom can’t catch fish and doesn’t eat, he will not be able to catch enough fish to feed his family.  Those of you who have been with us before this year are aware of Tom’s nickname, given to him by Craig Koppie in 2015 due to Tom’s fishing prowess.  Calico Tom The Fishing Fool has been a sight to behold when the conditions allow.  This spring, the conditions have been abysmal, leading to the lack of fish.  This is not the fault of Tom, as he is an exceptional fisherman (is fisherbird a word?).  But the lack of fish and the harsh weather conditions have caused Audrey to leave the nest, both to catch fish and to protect herself from the elements.  The well-being of the adult ospreys has to trump the well-being of any eggs or chicks to ensure the survival of the species.  This is what we have been seeing at the nest in April, Mother Nature doing her osprey thing.

There are a couple of problems that ensue when the eggs are left unattended.  One obvious one is that the eggs are not being incubated.  In May 2016, Audrey left the nest for well over a day.  Tom did the best he could, and stayed on the eggs overnight.  He had to leave to fish and eat the next morning.  With the temperature at forty seven degrees, the eggs remained unattended for seven hours in the pouring rain.  I highly recommend that you go back in the archives of my blogs, and read “Beautiful Noise”, published May 12, 2016 as well as “History In The Making”, published May 31, 2016.  Both of these blogs are quite apropos for what is happening at the nest now, and should provide some solace to us all.  Experts in the osprey field were contacted back then, and their insight was quite helpful in answering questions that we had then and now.  If you want to know what happened to the eggs that May, you will have to read it for yourself!

The second and more immediate problem when there are no adult ospreys in the nest is predators.  After losing all three eggs to crows in 2017, we have tried to address what can be done to discourage them from attacking the eggs when the nest is unoccupied.  There will be more about the crow threat later in the blog.

You have seen many photos of some of the beautiful days at the secret location, and some photos when the weather was dreary and damp.  On April 13, the weather was downright terrible.


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Tom and Audrey together in the scraggly stick tree during a very stormy Friday the Thirteenth. Check out the high tide under the dock one house to the north of us


As the weather got worse, the wind and wave action steadily increased.  Once the rain began in earnest, I had to retreat inside and couldn’t take any more photos.


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The same dock as in the above photo a little while later


This is our dock as the weather worsened.  COM had to turn off the camera, as the circuit box is down low on the dock and was getting drenched.  The purple martin house also had to be lowered due to the high winds.


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Waves crashing over our dock


The violent storm passed, but the weather remained cold and wet most of the time.  By April 23, Audrey had presented us with three beautiful eggs laid three days apart.


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Tom in the scraggly stick tree during a rare bout of sunshine on April 21


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Closer view of Tom in the scraggly stick tree with a good view of his eye markings


On April 27 while the nest was unattended, I saw a crow land in the nest and start messing with the eggs.  I screamed to COM, and he ran into his office where our dedicated explore computer is located.  One of the features of our newest camera is a two-way speaker/microphone system, which allows us to hear what is going on at the nest.  The operative word here is two-way.  In addition to the camera viewers being able to hear what is going on at the nest, we are able to speak into a microphone by the computer and our voices can be heard at the nest.  This is a feature that we hoped could be used to scare off any predators, but had not been tested in action.  COM activated the microphone, yelled into it, and voila, the dastardly crow flew off in great haste!  We were thrilled!  If there had been a bottle of champagne handy, a locker room scene after winning a championship would have been in order.  But since it was just us and someone would have had to clean up the mess, a hearty “We did it!!!” sufficed.  The crow was not seen again at the nest and much to everyone’s relief, Audrey returned later that day.  A true team effort, and a disaster was averted for the time being.  If no one had been home or we hadn’t noticed the crow, the outcome may have been different.

On April 29, with another bad storm looming the following day, Tom had an encounter in the straggly stick tree with the dastardly crows, whose numbers seemed to be mounting in the area.


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Tom with a big, bloody fish and two lurking crows in the scraggly stick tree.  Not Tom’s best side, but the fish was impressive


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Tom is giving the closest crow an earful. The fish has nothing to say


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A better angle for Tom. The fish has seen better days


On April 30, another very bad storm hit our area.  Before the storm really got cranked up, I managed to take some video of what was going on at the secret location.  The video starts on our screened porch.  I have never posted a video on one of my blogs, so this is an experiment.  The wind was buffeting my phone, and made it difficult to steady.  Please let me know what you think about posting videos.




During the storm, neither Tom or Audrey was on the nest, so the eggs were exposed to the elements.  Although it wasn’t very cold, it was extremely windy and rainy.  We experienced steady winds in the 30’s and 40’s, with gusts in the 50’s.  The highest gust recorded on our anemometer was 59 miles per hour.  That’s a lot of wind!

The next morning, it was still raining and miserable. It was a great day to stay in one’s robe and slippers, so I took advantage of that opportunity. The nest was still unattended by Tom or Audrey.  As COM had some essential work to perform, he needed to leave the house in the morning. Due to the storm the day before, the camera was still out.  A little while later, I looked out the window, and much to my horror, saw two crows poking at the eggs.  Osprey Girl has been home due to the pandemic, and later said she heard me screaming, “Crows, crows!”  After the first crow attack, COM decided we needed a back-up deterrent in case the speaker microphone malfunctioned, and he purchased a very large air horn.  That turned out to be a really, really good decision, because when I saw the crows (two of them this time), the microphone was not working due to the storm.  I flew out of the house, grabbed the air horn off the porch, and ran into the yard screaming at the crows and blasting the air horn.  Now mind you, all this was happening in the pouring rain with me in my flapping pink bathrobe and slippers (not waterproof in any sense of the word).  I am fairly certain the crows started to fly away before I blasted the air horn.  I guess that flapping robe was scary enough on its own to send them on their way, bolstered by the industrial strength air horn.  If any photos were taken of me that morning, I will pay very good money to my neighbors to take them out of circulation.

Unfortunately, I was not able to deter the crows before they destroyed one of the eggs, which turned out to be the second of the three eggs that was laid.  But if I hadn’t seen the crows out the window, and if COM hadn’t purchased the air horn, the outcome could have been way more melancholy.  As it stands, we will just have to wait and see what the future holds for our clutch of two eggs.  We should know either way by the end of May, so stay tuned.

Back to Tom’s great fishing adventure, which occurred earlier in the morning of the second crow attack.  Tom had been out fishing in the rain.  I saw him dive and hit the water, but he just floated there and didn’t fly away with his catch.  As I watched for a minute, he kept trying to fly out of the water, but was unable to get airborne.  I realized that he must have caught a fish that was too big to lift.  As I was still in my robe, I asked COM if he would take some photos before he left.  Despite the rain, he was able to memorialize Tom’s great catch.



Tom floating out in the water about two hundred yards off shore



Try as he may, Tom couldn’t get out of the water



Tom seemed to be trying to pull a fish out of the water.



We were afraid Tom would get pulled under. He couldn’t get airborne



All the commotion caught another osprey’s attention. The identity of this osprey couldn’t be determined due to the distance and weather conditions


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Heavily cropped photo of Tom trying to fly with his catch. Check out the size of that fish


We were really concerned about Tom and his inability to get airborne with his catch.  Then the most amazing thing happened.  He began to swim to shore, dragging his catch beneath him.



Tom realizes he is not going to be able to fly with his catch, and starts stroking his wings and heading for shore



Side view of Tom swimming to shore. He is stroking with his wings in the manner of a breast stroke



Still stroking with his catch in his talons underwater



Doing the breast stroke as the rain falls. He does not want to lose this fish


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Tom finally made it to the rip rap where he eventually ate Moby Dick.


After trying to fly out of the water and realizing he couldn’t, Tom swam about two hundred yards to shore, dragging the fish the entire way.  In all the years we have been observing ospreys and their behavior, this was one of the most incredible sights we have ever seen.  Look at the size of that fish!  Tom rested on the rip rap a very long time before he recovered enough strength to start ripping apart his catch.


Later in the day, Tom spent some time on the dock next door with a piece of fish and some unwanted company.


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The crows are everywhere


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Looks like Tom is giving the crow an earful.  The crow is thinking that Tom is way better than a woman in a pink robe with an air horn


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Tom is keeping an eye on the dastardly crow


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The crow has left. Tom is wondering if he will get a chance to see the robe.  He is hoping his bloody mess won’t keep it away


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Audrey is back in the nest and is seemingly nonplussed. Welcome back, Audrey, we missed you!


Something has been flying from the end of the filter cloth flag.


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There is something skinny and green flying from the filter cloth hanging from the left of the nest. We’ll keep an eye on it


On May 2, Tom continued to live up to his fishing fool moniker.  All he needed was a little decent weather, and he was ready to fish.


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Tom on the dock one house to the south of us with a nice catch. Check out his left rear talon, great shot of how he hangs on to those fish in flight (and underwater!)


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Ready for a big bite. Remember to chew your food, Tom!


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No vote needed for this poop shot, finally captured one that counts


This is what normalcy looks like here at the secret location.  Whew!


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A towering Tom and a hunkered down Audrey. Finally a bucolic moment for our feathered friends


Something startled both of them a few seconds later.


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What was that?


Tom decided he needed to check things out.


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Tom en route to the north


So everything seems back to normal for now.  We experienced another nasty thunderstorm last night, but everything seems fine this morning.  There are lots of cute little purple martins flitting around checking out our new purple martin house on the dock.  We have been waiting to see them for weeks, and are so pleased they have finally discovered their new digs.


I will leave you not with sunrise photos, but two moon photos for your viewing pleasure.


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An April full moon lighting a path on the water


Later the same evening, Tom and Audrey are silhouetted by the light of the moon shining on the water.


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A peaceful night at the secret location. This is how we love to see Tom and Audrey


Please stay safe, everyone!   Thanks ever so much to all of those who are keeping us safe and fed during these trying times.  And another shout-out to COM for doing everything he can to keep our ospreys safe. 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!














Better Late Than Never

Good morning from the cold, wet Eastern Shore of Maryland!  Another dreary day here at the secret location.  We are due for some sunny, warm spring weather, which will be most welcome by all, man and beast (bird).  Yesterday was the start of egg-laying for Audrey, yippee!!  As I write, she is sitting on her egg in the cold wind, protecting her precious bundle. The eggs should come every two days, for a total of two to four in her clutch.  The typical number of eggs Tom and Audrey produce in a season is three, but there is always a chance for four.  Time will tell, so stay tuned!

First, I had a bit of good luck last week at the grocery store.  I was thrilled with my find at six thirty in the morning.


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A sight for sore eyes. Well, maybe not sore eyes………..


As I mentioned in my last blog, I went through a vast quantity of photos a couple of weeks ago in preparation for publishing my first blog of the season.  There were just too many to use in one blog, so as promised, here is one that contains some of those photos. The dates span August 2019-February 2020.  Better late than never!

As the 2019 season started to wind down in August, Audrey was the first to leave for her winter digs, which is typical at our nest.  Tom, Lil Bit and Archie remained, with Tom being the responsible parent. This is the camera pole last season before COM modified it with the spiffy new perch on top.

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Tom surveying his kingdom with a yapping fledging. There has to be some Audrey DNA in that one!



Archie and Lil Bit spent some time honing their flying skills, which also encompassed landing skills.



This isn’t as easy as Mom and Dad made it look





Phew, made it! Look at the wingspan on that youngster!


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More yapping, this time way up in the tippy top of Joe’s big tree.



Here is some perspective of how high up the youngster was in the tree


True confessions-I am not sure of the true identity of the youngsters in some of these photos, so yes, I am being purposefully evasive.  I do believe this was Lil Bit.



All of our ospreys love the scraggly stick tree along the water one house to the north of us. Tom and a youngster are hanging out together


Here are some dastardly crows congregating in the top of Joe’s tree.  Our new pan tilt zoom camera has two-way sound capability, so if we see the crows performing nefarious acts at our nest, we can yell at them.  Perhaps we can entice the explore cam operators to help, will have to check with them.


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These birds we could do without, especially with the eggs arriving. Sorry for the terrible lighting.


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Tom keeping guard on one of the youngsters in the scraggly stick tree


Tom will usually spend the night either on top of the camera pole or on the cross bar which stabilized the two poles.  You can hear him scratching around when he is on either one of his nighttime roosts.



Tom on the cross bar which stabilizes the two poles.


A lovely photo of Calico Tom The Fishing Fool shortly before he left for points south.


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Tom in the scraggly stick tree with a bright blue autumn sky. This is shortly before he left for his winter home


As much as we are sad to see our beloved ospreys leave to winter in South America, their departure allows for some other spectacular visitors.  We have a population of bald eagles in the area, who do not get along with the ospreys.  When the ospreys are away, the eagles will play.


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Joe’s big tree with two majestic bald eagles at the very top


I stealthily approached the tree, hoping not to scare them off before I was able to get a closer shot.


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Success! Check out the yellow feet on the closer eagle.


My stealthiness didn’t last for long, and one of the eagles took flight.


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No words needed


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Flying right overhead as I was twirling around to attempt a photo. Not a great photo, but you get the idea. Check out the yellow feet tucked in for aerodynamics


There are also juvenile bald eagles in the area.  It takes a few years for them to develop their distinctive white heads and tails.  Here is a youngster on our osprey pole.  His plumage is almost fully developed, but you can still see some dark streaks on his head.  This photo was taken just after sunrise, not the best lighting but a cool photo nonetheless.


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Big baby!


Check out the thick feathering on the legs, almost looks like the eagle is wearing pants.


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Juvenile eagle rearranging sticks for Tom and Audrey.


You can see that the eagle’s plumage is not fully developed.  This is also a good vantage point of the top of the camera pole before the new perch was installed.


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Something has caught the eagle’s attention


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Stand back, I’m an eagle!


I am sure this is the same eagle pair as above, this time with late afternoon lighting


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At the top of Joe’s tree in the late afternoon sunlight


In addition to eagles, there are many Great Blue Herons in the area.  I caught this young one on the electric box scratching an itch with the sparklies in the background.  This photo was taken in the morning, so the lighting is not so hot for photos this time of day from our yard.


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Young backlit heron scratching an itch


A beautiful late summer sunrise.


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One of my favorite sunrise photos of all time


It was time to take down the poles for the winter.  In years past, we have removed the nest but allowed the pole or poles to remain standing.  As I explained in the last blog, the poles are removed for a couple of reasons.  One reason is to protect the poles from moving ice.  More recently and since we have had a dedicated camera pole, that pole is mounted on our dock to allow viewing of the tundra swans, other waterfowl and the vistas that grace the Chesapeake in the winter.  Our good friends from the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage, Phil and Dean, were on hand for the end of season operation.


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Phil is removing the crosspiece with COM’s help and our trusty mega stepladder


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Time for the nest to go


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Where are your gloves, Phil?


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Almost gone



The nest is floating off toward our dock. Look closely, do you see anything vaguely familiar?


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COM is carrying the crosspiece back to the dock



What is Phil carrying? Could it be Audrey’s copy of The Capital newspaper? Yes, it is!!!



Getting the kayak ready to transport the trash pump, which is in the wheelbarrow, out to the poles



The pump is in the kayak. Look in the water at the end of the dock. The remains of the nest are floating by



Close up of the nest remains floating by the dock. If you look closely, you can see one of COM’s marked sticks to the right of the piling



COM readying one of the pulleys to raise the camera pole



The bare nest platform. There is a line from the camera pole leading to the pulley at the bottom of the platform, then attached to the bottom of the stepladder, that will be used to help lower the camera pole



Drew, COM and Phil bringing the trash pump out to the poles


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Ready to jet the poles out



Drew jets out the pole while Phil and COM lower it down. The camera cannot get wet



The poles are buried four feet into the bottom and are really hard to get out


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The pole is lowered slowly, being assisted by COM playing out the line attached to the pulley under the nest platform



Almost down



Now the pole is positioned for the slow trek back to the dock, with careful attention to not getting the camera wet



The pole is rotated so the camera is away from the water. COM is still handling the line keeping the pole out of the water



COM is gathering the line used to lower the camera pole. Phil is resting the very heavy pole and camera on his shoulder



Off they go. Due to the weight and having to make sure the camera stays dry, it takes all three to get the pole back to dry ground



The pole is back to the dock. Now it needs to be raised and attached to the piling for winter viewing


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Phil and Dean are in the water under the dock pushing while COM hoists the pole up


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A nice dry camera nearing its winter residence



Positioning the pole. COM and Drew are on the dock, and the young, strong, hearty Phil is still in the water (he is very cute, by the way)



The nest pole stands alone. looking rather bare and forlorn



Back to the dock. This is a good view of the top of the platform with the metal strip that strengthens the platform.  It will spend the winter on the top of the rip rap in our yard



The team is bringing the kayak and trash pump back to shore. Sorry I cut off part of Phil. They were in motion at the time



The winter home of the camera pole with the camera all wired up


So between the last blog and this one, you now have an idea of the amount of work involved to take the poles down for the winter and get them back in place for the start of the osprey season.  We all need to give a big shout out to COM, Phil, Dean and Michael for doing the hard work that makes it possible for all of us to enjoy some of the best that nature has to offer here on the Chesapeake Bay!  An extra atta boy is due to COM for all the behind the scenes work he does all year round to maintain and improve everything having to do with the camera and equipment.

Winter on the Chesapeake Bay is a different world from summertime.  In the warmer weather, the bay is bustling with boaters, crabbers, ospreys, heron, fish and all sorts of recreational activities.  In the winter, things slow down considerably and the weather changes from sultry summer days to the much more challenging winter climate .  In spite of the cold, grey skies, there are still those who have to make their living by working on the water.  This lone waterman caught my eye one cold, foggy winter day tonging for oysters. A true taste of the old days on the mighty, magnificent Chesapeake Bay.



Tonging by hand for oysters on a cold, foggy winter day


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Only the hardiest among us can eke out a living this way.


I will leave you with another lovely sunrise over the water at the secret location, complete with two of our tundra swans.


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A bucolic sunrise at the secret location


Good bye for now!  Hopefully next time we meet, there will be a full clutch of eggs for Tom and Audrey.  Remember to wash your hands, don’t touch your face and please stay safe.


Until next time, we remain-

Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy 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!