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

ADMINISTRATIVE NOTE: PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO CONTINUE READING THE BLOG. THERE IS A BIG BLANK SPACE BEFORE THE BLOG CONTINUES. WHEN I WAS TRYING TO ADD SPACE BETWEEN PHOTOS, I LOST HALF OF MY BLOG DUE TO OPERATOR ERROR. I AM NOT HAPPY RIGHT NOW AND DO NOT WANT TO MESS WITH WHAT I HAVE ALREADY REWRITTEN, AS I HAVE STAYED UP UNTIL ALMOST 6:00 A.M. TRYING TO GET THIS BLOG PUBLISHED. IF ANYONE IS FAMILIAR WITH WORDPRESS, I COULD REALLY USE SOME HELP TRYING TO FIGURE THIS OUT! THANK YOU!

NOT THERE YET

JUST A LITTLE FURTHER, KEEP GOING

KEEP SCROLLING, YOU ARE ALMOST THERE

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.

 

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

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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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.

 

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

 

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

 

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Still stroking with his catch in his talons underwater

 

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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!

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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

 

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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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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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

 

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COM readying one of the pulleys to raise the camera pole

 

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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

 

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

 

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Ready to jet the poles out

 

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

 

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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

 

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Almost down

 

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

 

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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

 

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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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)

 

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The nest pole stands alone. looking rather bare and forlorn

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Showdown at the OK Corral-Osprey Style

Good afternoon from the lovely Eastern Shore of Maryland and the eighth season of blogs from your stay-at-home (for the time being) author!  Welcome back to another season following the saga of Tom and Audrey, our favorite Chesapeake Bay osprey couple.  When last I wrote, we were way back in the lazy, hazy days of summer following the adventures of Tom, Audrey, Lil Bit and Archie. Who could have ever predicted where we are today?  Hopefully, I will be able to take your mind off of our plight for a few minutes with the first blog of the new decade.

When I sat down to go through the photos I have taken since the last blog, I quickly realized that I had way too many to publish in one sitting.  I have formulated a plan which I hope my reading public will like.  This blog will cover happenings starting in early March this year.  Next week, I will go back in time and entice you with blog #2 of 2020, and go back to August 2019 where we left off.  Sound like a plan?  It does to me!

As those of you who follow the blog know by now, at the end of every season, our nest is completely removed from the platform.  There are always questions about this destruction, much to the chagrin of many of you.  One of the reasons for the removal is due to the weight of the nest.  If the nest was permitted to remain, our ospreys would continue to build on top of their old nest year after year. This could result in a really big, heavy nest that would weigh way too much for our little 2 inch galvanized pole (check out the great pair of homophones for you homeschoolers, you’re welcome).  Reason number two is to remove any bird parasites that could winter over in the nest.  It was suggested to us many years ago by those in the know that yearly removal of the nest would be the way to go, and we have followed that advice faithfully.  Over the years, we have also lost poles to ice that forms in the bay during the winter, usually because of the movement of ice that is moving, melting or breaking up.  Poles are expensive and time consuming to replace, so we now take the poles down at the end of each osprey season.  I have posted photos over the years of the ice damage, check out some of the older blogs if you are curious to see that phenomenon.

So if the poles come down, the poles must go back up.  This happens in late winter shortly before our ospreys make their way north from their winter digs in South America to their summer Chesapeake home.  Pole removal and installation is a big job requiring a group effort. On a cold, dreary, rainy, early March morning, the tides and wind were favorable for the task at hand, and pole installation commenced.

Over the past couple of years, the camera pole has been moved from out in the water to our dock to enable viewing of the lovely tundra swans that grace our waters from November through March.  This is what the camera pole looks like during swan season, attached to one of the dock pilings.

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The winter home of the camera pole

 

The platform pole is completely removed, and spends the winter resting quietly on our rip-rap.  The crew has moved the pole from its winter quarters to the dock while awaiting its move to placement in the water.

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The platform pole ready to make the trip out to its new home. You can see the pulley at the bottom of the platform that facilitates the raising and lowering of the pole.

 

The task of installing and removing the poles necessitates a cast of hundreds.  Well, I may have exaggerated a little bit, four is actually an optimal number.  As in most years past, Phil and Dean of the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage are indispensable to the job at hand.  For the past couple of years, we have also been fortunate to have the help of Michael from the Chesapeake Conservancy.  COM is always in on the action, and does a substantial amount of prep work behind the scenes during the off season. And of course, Mrs. COM is always around to help as needed, but more importantly, to bake muffins to thank everyone for their invaluable help.  This year the flavor was lemon poppy and they were yummy!

Here is a little taste in photographs of what it takes to install the poles.  It was a dreary, rainy day, so not the best lighting for the photos.  However, sometimes you have to take what you can get.

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The platform pole is about to travel out to the water. The crew, from left to right, COM, Michael, Dean and Phil

 

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The pole is much heavier than it looks. It is a 20 foot long, 2 inch galvanized water pipe.

 

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The kayak marks the spot where the pole base is located in the water. There is a trash pump in the kayak which will be used to jet in the poles.

Administrative note-I had to look up what a trash pump is, as the name sounded kind of funky.  Here is what I found out:

Trash pumps are designed to pump large amounts of water that contain hard and soft solids such as mud, leaves, twigs, sand, and sludge. Most devices are portable, heavy-duty centrifugal pumps that feature deeper impeller vanes and larger discharge openings than other pumps.

We all (or most of us) learned something new today!

 

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Phil and COM are locating the pole base in preparation to jet in the platform pole

 

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Going up!

 

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Did I ever tell you I am glad to be taking the photos and baking the muffins instead of being in the water? Consider yourselves told!

 

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One down, one to go. Our trusty 14 foot stepladder is at the ready.

 

Now the tricky part begins.  The camera pole has to be disengaged from the piling, lowered down and transported to the pole base without the camera getting wet.  This is not an easy task.  Phil is the choreographer of this water ballet.

 

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Phil and Dean are in the water under the dock, while COM and Michael are ready to assist

 

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The pole is down and resting on the dock. As heavy as the pole is, the camera makes it even heavier and it cannot touch the water

 

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The inside of the pole needs to be cleaned out so it will fit on the pole base out in the water

 

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The camera pole arriving at its final destination. COM is carrying some of the cable to hook up the camera.  Mrs. COM helped feed the cable out to COM from the dock, so I did help!

 

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The pulley on the platform pole is needed to raise the camera pole.

 

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Dean is jetting in the pole as it is raised. There are lines running all over the place, physics is a beautiful science. All hands on deck were needed for this maneuver

 

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Teamwork!!

 

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The muffins are calling. Faster, faster!

 

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Everyone is out of the water, and it’s time to clean up

 

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Mission accomplished! From left to right: COM, Michael, Dean and Phil

 

The next day dawned sunny and bright, wouldn’t you know it.  Check out the top of the camera pole.  COM decided that he would make it easier for Tom or any other interested osprey to perch on the top of the pole, and built the cutest little perch just suited for osprey talons.  What a guy!  Our ospreys don’t realize how good they have it.

 

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The finished product the next day. Check out the new perch

 

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Close-up view of the new perch, probably one of a kind. This is also a good view of the pan, tilt, zoom (PTZ) camera and the infrared (IR) light source, which is also an analog camera but only used for the IR light to provide nighttime viewing

 

With the poles in, we were open for business, osprey business that is.  All that was left to do (at least for now) was wait.  And lo and behold, our first osprey came to call!

 

 

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The Visiting Lady-first osprey to visit us this season

 

Upon closer observation, it became quite obvious very early on that this was not our Audrey.  Although she had Audrey eye markings, her chest had a heavy necklace and she had a buff patch on the back of her neck like Tom.

 

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The Visiting Lady on the empty platform

 

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A closer look at the Visiting Lady’s necklace. Definitely not Audrey

 

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The Visiting Lady knows how to feed herself.

 

 

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Visiting Lady trying out COM’s new perch on a dreary day

 

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Visiting Lady on the electric box, one of Audrey’s favorite haunts.

 

The Visiting Lady was a beautiful osprey, and we were beginning to think that we might have Audrey 3.  All of our ospreys since 1995 when our first pole was installed have been Tom and Audrey.  Before the beginning of the 2020 season, our nest was occupied by Tom 3 and Audrey 2.  The plot thickened when a male osprey showed up, and looked very much like Tom.  To add to the intrigue, they did the osprey deed (if you have to ask, you don’t need to know).

 

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The Visiting Lady with her Tom impersonator

 

And then a few days later, on March 20, a great aerial battle ensued.  After the Showdown At The OK Corral (osprey style), our lovely Audrey reclaimed her rightful place at the platform.  The Visiting Lady has not been seen since.  There are a multitude of platforms and other man made nesting sites available in our immediate area, so VL and her Tom impersonator have probably set up housekeeping nearby.  The burning question in everyone’s mind was whether or not our real Tom would return to his summer digs and awaiting partner.

Audrey passed the time hanging out on the platform and in her usual places around the neighborhood.  She fished and ate, then got bored (most of us can identify with that feeling right about now) and brought a few paltry sticks back to the platform.

On March 29, there came a sight for sore eyes.  Calico Tom the Fishing Fool was back in town!

 

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The real Tom and Audrey back together again. Yippee!

 

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Hanging out together in the top of Joe’s tree, two houses to the north of us

 

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A close-up of Tom and Audrey at the top of Joe’s tree. I think they really like each other

 

While all of the bird permutations were going on, COM decided he needed a new boat.

 

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What do you think? Just needs a little work

 

Okay, just pretend it’s April 1.  Only kidding, a belated April Fool’s joke, we need some chuckles right about now, don’t you think?  Not really COM’s boat, I hope he laughs when he reads my blog.  I will let you know.

 

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So happy to have Tom the Fishing Fool back in town!

 

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A neat eater he is not. Tom is making quite the mess on the piling.

 

Does a poop shot count if you can’t see the poop? Not sure if we can count this as the first poop shot of the 2020 season. What is your vote? Majority rules.

 

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Poop shot sans poop. Every vote counts!!

 

And with Tom back, nest building commenced in earnest.  The viewing public couldn’t see this wonky stick in any camera view, but it drove us crazy for a few days.

 

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Wonky stick at the beginning of nest building

 

 

 

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I think it is stuck in the cross piece.

 

One of my favorite phenomena on the water is what I call “the sparklies”.  In order to see them, there has to be the right combination of wind and lighting.  This photo doesn’t do them justice, as it is focused on the osprey and not the water, but here is a little inkling of the sparklies.

 

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The sparklies

 

There have been many comments on the explore page about the nest and sticks, particularly the marked sticks.  We collect sticks from our yard and some neighbor’s yards, and keep them under a tree.  This is our stick locker.  In addition to putting out many sticks au naturale, COM ties construction tape of varying colors to a few of the sticks so we can track their progress from the backyard to the nest.  What colors have you seen so far?  If your answer is pink, yellow and blue, then you win the prize!  There will be more to follow, so be observant and your efforts will be rewarded.  Tom is a nest builder extraordinaire, and there will be many sticks placed in the days to come.

 

Sometimes I get the feeling that Tom and Audrey really enjoy each others’ company.  Here are a couple more examples to go along with the above two.

 

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Tom and Audrey in the scraggly stick tree (terrible lighting, but good subject matter)

 

 

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A closer view of Tom and Audrey in the scraggly stick tree.

 

 

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Hanging out together on the ladder

 

You can really see the difference in the eye patterns between Tom and Audrey in the next photo, which is one of my favorites so far this season (even with the terrible lighting)

 

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Reunited and it feels so good….

 

Tom catches the fish, so he gets to eat first.

 

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Audrey is waiting on the electric box for Tom to bring her some sloppy seconds

 

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It must have been a good size fish before Tom got his beak into it

 

You may have noticed a new addition on our dock.  For many years, we have tried to attract purple martins to a purple martin house in our yard, and only managed to attract house sparrows, which are not desirable birds to have.  I have always loved purple martins, as they have the sweetest song and eat bejillions of mosquitoes. Our buddy Phil from Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage suggested we put a particular type of purple martin house out over the water, which is designed to only allow purple martins to roost.  COM was happy with a new project, and with Phil and Dean’s help, we are the proud owners of a beautiful new purple martin house.  There are a few scout birds around, so we hope to start a colony here in the near future.  Stay tuned for more on our newest project!

 

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A very wet Audrey on our new purple martin house

 

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Same photo from above, but now you know about the new purple martin house.  It has all kinds of guards to keep out predators and unwanted invasive birds

 

I am going to close for now.  The photos in this blog cover all of March through April 1.  I am having trouble getting my photos to transfer from the camera to my computer, so until I figure it out, I can’t post any of the newer photos I have taken.

In the meantime, I will get out another blog next week with highlights from August 2019 through February 2020.  And there should be some eggs coming very soon, yippee!  Here’s hoping for another fabulous osprey season with Tom and Audrey.

I usually leave you with a photo of one of our spectacular sunrises here at the secret location.  For a change of pace, here are two photos of the March Super Full Worm Moon rising over the water behind our house.  Mother Nature at her finest, for sure!

 

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Super Full Worm Moon, with a reflection visible in the water

 

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The Super Full Worm Moon, breathtaking

 

Before closing, I want to give a humongous shout-out to everyone who is helping us through this destructive pandemic.  From health care providers, those who keep our hospitals clean, laboratory technicians, food service personnel, law enforcement, grocery store clerks, truck drivers, trash collectors, mail carriers, transportation workers, mechanics and anyone else I haven’t named who is trying to get us through these turbulent times, we all thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  Your efforts are truly appreciated by everyone.  Three women who mean the world to me (JH, HL, JS) are included in the above list.  You know who you are, please stay safe while helping others.

Everyone wash, wash, wash your hands and don’t touch your faces!!

 

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!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table For Two, Please

Good afternoon from the sultry, summery, stormy Eastern Shore of Maryland!  As I sit here, there is thunder rumbling in the distance.  Hopefully, we won’t experience as violent a storm as we did a couple of weeks ago when the camera was damaged by the severe weather.  It’s been a busy few weeks since my last blog, so let’s get to it!

On July 17, our Little Bit (LB) took to the skies!  Over the years, most of our newly fledged osprey chicks have left the nest and spent a good part of the day hanging out wherever they landed after that first exhilarating flight.  LB’s first landing was not very far from the nest, just a short distance away on top of Audrey’s favorite eating location, the electric box.  The morning light isn’t the best for photo taking in our neck of the woods, but here is LB checking out a new view in his world:

 

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Little Bit’s first foray into the great big world landed him on top of the electric box next to his protector, Roger

 

LB didn’t stay the entire day, and decided to check out other options in the neighborhood:

 

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Is this seat taken?

 

I wonder what Tom was thinking when he realized one of his favorite haunts was being taken over by a youngster?

This was one of his first thoughts shortly after LB was occupying Tom’s camera pole:

 

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Take that, you whippersnapper!!

 

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Tom is looking longingly to his favorite perch, and pondering what had happened to his tranquil existence. Little did he know what was just down the road!

 

LB decided the electric box was a great alternative to being up on the scary camera pole:

 

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Back to the electric box where there appears to be better footing for a newly fledged osprey

 

But a parent was never far away:

 

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A watchful parent nearby on the boat lift

 

I got carried away taking photos of LB enjoying his first taste of freedom.  Out of the dozens of photos I took that morning and afternoon, I was able to narrow down my selections, but not enough.  So you get to pick your favorite, sorry for the repetition.  Let me know which of the next series is your favorite…..

 

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Mrs. COM gets the first of many stink eyes from LB. I love the red eyes on the young ones

 

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A more peaceful look

 

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Mrs. COM has not gone unnoticed, but LB did not get up the courage to leave his safe place

 

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Looking streamlined

 

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I do believe there is a fair amount of fish blood and guts on top of and streaming down the side of the electric box

 

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The coy, over the shoulder pose

 

LB finally got up the nerve to leave his safe spot on the electric box and head back to the nest:

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LB in flight early in his flying career

 

Home base is in sight, and LB heads back to the top of the camera pole:

 

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Do those feet look right to you? Hold on, Betty!!

 

LB spent the next couple of days exploring his surroundings.  His new best friend Roger was just over on the dock, within sight of LB’s new vantage point.  But this is no way to endear yourself to a new friend:

 

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“What the heck is going on?” thinks Roger

 

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This is not how to win friends and influence people. Who is going to tell LB that Roger is probably a bit perturbed with this indignity?

 

So much to explore:

 

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LB heading to the boat lift, where he sees his dad hanging out once in a while

 

 

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Look at me, Dad, I’m a big boy now!

 

 

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Dad made this look so easy, but it is slippery up here!

 

 

LB decides he is not comfortable on the boat lift, and heads back home:

 

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LB heading back to safe haven.  Roger is ready to duck

 

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And home! I made it!

 

 

A little break from ospreys:

 

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A beautiful kingbird on a tomato cage in Mrs. COM’s vegetable garden. Check out the cool spider web!

 

 

The nest was getting fuller.  With LB’s new found freedom, it was more difficult to take a family portrait:

 

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A peaceful family portrait before chaos hit a few days down the road

 

Tom figures he’d better get while the getting was good, and takes his rightful place on top of the camera pole before the impertinent LB flies up there:

 

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I have to reclaim my spot

 

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Mine, all mine

 

Audrey is left alone with her one and only little osprey:

 

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Audrey is looking a little frazzled. Gotta love that wild look!

 

It has not gone unnoticed by our camera watchers that LB has a healthy set of lungs.  The next series of photos was taken over a couple of minutes.  See if LB’s mouth is shut in any of them:

 

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LB squawking to the north

 

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Just missed a great poop shot. LB continues squawking to the north

 

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LB stretching his wings while squawking to the south

 

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And back to the north

 

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Just in case they couldn’t hear me to the south

 

 

Life continued to pass as LB’s flying skills grew stronger:

 

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LB is getting better on the landings, but Audrey still stays out of his way

 

 

Tom has just about given up on surveying his kingdom from the top of the camera pole.  Audrey still keeps an eye on things from the nest:

 

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LB does not look as sure of himself as Tom does way up there

 

All of our osprey have always enjoyed hanging out in the scraggly stick tree, with LB being no exception.  In the next photo, he is enjoying some time in the tree with Audrey.  It looks like something is hanging from one of his talons in the tree, and when he takes off.  I have looked at the debris many times, and still can’t decide if it is fishing line or not:

 

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What’s your best guess as to the type of debris hanging from LB’s left talon?

 

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LB heads back to the nest with the debris still hanging on

 

 

Audrey has been seen way more than Tom the last few weeks.  Tom is still around, but not spending much time in his usual haunts.  Audrey continues to be a great osprey mom, and may take over Tom’s fishing fool moniker.

 

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Audrey eating a big, fat fish. LB is pretending he doesn’t notice

 

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Audrey hanging out with LB in the scraggly stick tree one house to the north of us

 

 

Here is a very typical sight at the secret location.  Audrey is in the nest keeping an eye on Mrs. COM and her infernal camera, and LB is on top of the camera pole, also keeping an eye on the bothersome Mrs. COM:

 

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I think they are getting tired of me!

 

 

LB likes to hang out in a tree along the water in my neighbor’s yard two houses to the south of us:

 

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Darn, she can still see me!

 

 

When they are around, the top of the camera pole for LB and the nest for Audrey are still some of the most visited locations:

 

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This multi-tasking stuff is not easy-flapping my wings, holding on and yapping

 

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Okay, better now.  Wings tucked in, holding on and quiet.

 

 

As the summer has gone on and our ospreys are in the nest less and less, the boat lift has become a frequent stop.  Unfortunately, this is creating a messy problem for COM’s boat:

 

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One of the culprits

 

 

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Ugh

 

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Yuk

 

 

As you know, there is no shortage of fish being caught, delivered and consumed on this nest.  This may explain why every bit of fish is not eaten some times:

 

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I guess no one wanted the tail

 

 

 

As patient as Audrey is with her youngsters, she is sure giving LB the stink eye in this photo:

 

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Shut your yap already, LB, even your mother is getting tired of hearing your whining!

 

 

Tom’s appearances have been few and far between, but he is still around the neighborhood.  Here he is living up to his Fishing Fool moniker:

 

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Tom with a really big striped bass, aka rockfish here in the Chesapeake Bay

 

 

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A little blurry, but at least Tom isn’t sitting on the boat lift

 

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Enough of Mrs. COM, and away Tom goes to eat uninterrupted

 

 

Things were going along so nicely, a lovely uneventful osprey season.  But au contraire, things were about to get much more interesting:

 

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Am I seeing double?

 

Shades of 2015 and E.T.!!  Our nest was visited by a new fledgling who was very skinny and very, very hungry.  After some fussing and pushing, the new arrival grabbed and rapidly ate the next two fish brought back to the nest, and Mrs. COM finally got her Archie.

 

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LB is not happy with the intruder.  Audrey and Archie are keeping an eye on things

 

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Now I know I am seeing double. On top of Tom’s camera pole and yapping away, but a look alike still in the nest!!

 

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LB does not look like a happy camper!

 

 

Audrey is still giving Tom a run for his title:

 

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Audrey is having a little snack before she gives up her fish

 

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Look at the girth on that fish! We don’t need no stinkin’ men…..

 

Audrey has been spending time with her two charges while Tom has made himself scarce:

 

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Three in a tree-Audrey with a fish, LB and Archie in the scraggly stick tree.  The clouds were fantastic!

 

Audrey decided it was time to escape Mrs. COM:

 

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I’m outta here….

 

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Audrey in flight back to the nest

 

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Arriving

 

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Lining up the landing

 

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Lots of room to land with no one else home

 

 

A serene summer evening:

 

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Tom and Audrey drying in the scraggly stick tree with a rainbow on the horizon, how bucolic. Both kids are in the nest

 

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LB and Archie in the nest at the other end of the same full rainbow. Spectacular!

 

 

Sometimes Archie may wonder why he picked this particular nest:

 

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The food is good, but my ears hurt, thinks Archie

 

As you probably know, a particularly violent thunderstorm rolled through a couple of weeks ago that rendered our camera inoperable.  After several unsuccessful attempts to troubleshoot and fix the camera, COM had numerous consultations with the folks from Explore.  A new part was sent for the camera, which finally solved the problem once COM was able to get it installed.  Thanks again to COM for his tireless efforts to keep all the osprey balls in the air (not sure that sounds quite right.  But please overlook the double entendre which was not intentional, but is actually kind of funny).

 

An aftermath to the storm:

 

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Poor Roger after the storm. He looks like he is developing a little osteoporosis

 

 

This is a sure sign that Audrey is spending some time fishing for everyone’s dinner:

 

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Audrey is very wet. Archie is ignoring her plight, and seems glad it is not him

 

I will leave you with one last photo:

 

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Gorgeous late afternoon lighting resulted in a lovely photo of LB with an evening fish. I love taking photos this time of day!

 

Are you tired of looking at photos?  I don’t want to bore you, so this is a good time to wish everyone well.  Audrey should be with us for another few days.  Then we will bid her farewell and safe travels to her winter digs in the far south.  Tom, LB and Archie should be gracing us with their presence for a while longer, so stay tuned!  Thanks, as always, for being faithful camera watchers and blog readers.

 

Until next time, we remain-

COM, Mrs. COM 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table For One, Please

Good morning from the sunny, hot and humid Eastern Shore of Maryland! It has been an exciting whirlwind here at the secret location between Osprey Girl’s college graduation, our remarkable celebratory adventure in Europe and of course, the arrival of our one and only osprey chick!  A really big shout out is also in order for COM, who once again was instrumental in working with the explore technicians and one of our local camera guys to get the osprey camera up and running after several days of highlights.  Thanks, COM, for all of your hard work and efforts to keep everything on track at the secret location.  There wouldn’t be an ospreycam here without his dedication to our birds!

On May 24, our first chick hatched to much fanfare and happiness !  We waited with great anticipation and bated breath for the next two hatches, but it was not to be this year.  There is no way of knowing why the other two eggs failed, but we are all so thrilled to have a table for one!  The up side of an only “child” is that all the attention and food have been channeled into the care of the one and only.  Our baby has grown up big and strong, and ready to take the next step (well, not really a step, but you know what I mean).  Fledging could happen at any time, and with all the flapping and hopping going on, it will be soon. I must mention that here at the Crazy Osprey Family home, we have been referring to the chick as Archie since he hatched.  I know the masses have selected a different name for the young one, but Archie will always be Archie to us!

Tom has been living up to his moniker, The Fishing Fool.  I was able to capture a wonderful series of photos following one of his catches.  One afternoon, I noticed Tom and Roger enjoying a messy meal on the electrical box at the end of the dock:

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Tom on the electrical box making quite a mess with his striped bass (rockfish here in the Chesapeake Bay)

 

Tom was enjoying his meal, when he noticed the crazy lady with the camera:

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Ugh, not you AGAIN!!

 

Tom decides he is not going to put up with Mrs. COM’s meddling:

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My fish and I are leaving now. Too bad for you, Mrs. COM

 

Tom figures if he can’t eat his fish in peace, he might as well go feed his family:

 

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Banking to the south in the direction of the nest pole

 

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A headless bass being carried aerodynamically back to the nest

 

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Arriving back at the nest. Audrey does not seem to be paying much attention to Tom, but she is eyeing that fish! Archie/Lil Bit is hunkered down waiting for feeding time

 

The dastardly crows did not waste much time going after the sloppy seconds:

 

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Are you going to eat that?

 

As you all know by now, Tom does the vast majority of the fishing while Audrey attends to the home front.  It is thrilling to watch him on the hunt, flying over his surroundings, hovering over the water and then diving to capture dinner.  Sometimes he will struggle in the water for a few seconds before taking flight with his next meal.  I can’t help but catch my breath every time, waiting for him to leave the water.  The next photo is heavily cropped, as Tom was way out fishing, but I was able to capture him trying to take flight from the water:

 

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Have you ever seen an osprey swim?

 

Of course, once you have been swimming, you need to dry off:

 

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Tom drying his wings while Audrey tends to her motherly duties

 

Since my last blog, we have celebrated some national holidays.  Here at the secret location, we fly the special holiday flag (read-really big flag) on these occasions:

 

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The really, really big holiday flag. Sometimes it is hard to get it to fly!

 

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The scraggly stick tree next door and the really big tree two houses to the north of us framing Old Glory

 

It has been interesting to note this season that our ospreys are not spending any time in the really big tree shown in the above photo.  There is another osprey pole in the water very close to the big trees (there are two of them).  This season, that osprey pair has two chicks so I think our ospreys are not welcome in their territory.  We will see what happens when Archie/Lil Bit fledges.

Audrey, as always, continues to be a very good osprey mom.  Here is a photo of her incubating and enjoying her favorite past time, making lots of noise:

 

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Audrey patiently incubating her eggs. It appears her mouth is open and she is squawking, what a surprise!

 

Maybe some of her consternation can be explained by this:

 

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Tom surveying his kingdom. I guess Audrey thinks he should be doing a little less surveying and a little more fishing!

 

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Tom seems nonplussed by Audrey’s fussing. He can probably tune her out like most human men…..

 

Here is a sight that our neighbor is not happy to see.  He has now put out a big fake owl, hoping to preserve the cleanliness of his boat:

 

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What a lovely spot to contemplate, eat and poop, thinks Tom (much to my neighbor’s chagrin, I am quite sure)

 

The downstairs neighbors have been quite vocal this season, don’t you think?  That is precisely why we keep the sound turned way down, or even off, in the house.  This isn’t a great photo, but a great shot of the noisy tenants:

 

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Our downstairs neighbors under the nest to the left, mom and dad. Can you see Archie/Lil Bit?

 

Our chick has grown up so fast!  Here is what he/she looks like from our vantage point:

 

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Audrey and a hunkered down, red-eyed baby a couple of weeks ago.  I do believe Audrey’s mouth is open!

 

Here is our entire family:

 

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Family Photo

 

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Sometimes you just need to stretch your wings!

 

Where’s Waldo?  Can you spot the downstairs neighbor?  No hints this time…

 

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Someone is getting big!

 

Did you find Waldo?

Now, here is a sight you don’t see too often.  A couple of days ago, I noticed Tom acting strangely and dive bombing the rip rap (the stone revetment protecting our waterfront), but I couldn’t see anything amiss from the house.  A little while later, I looked out:

 

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Just a heron drying out in our back yard! Tom was not happy, let me tell you!

 

For some perspective, here is a longer view of the heron’s location in the backyard.  Cool!!

 

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Now here is something you don’t see every day, even at the secret location!

 

Unfortunately, I have some bad news to share.  Our dear friend and raptor biologist, Craig Koppie, is having some health issues and will not be able to band our chick this year.  We wish Craig the best, and hope for a speedy recovery.  Thanks, Craig, for all of the help you have provided to us over the years.  We know you will be back for next year’s banding(s), better than ever!

As our little one should be fledging any day, keep your eyes peeled to the camera for lift-off.  I will try to take lots of photos of our chick’s first foray into the big world.  Today is the 50th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11, wouldn’t this make a perfect launch day for Archie aka Lil Bit?  It is also the Full Buck Moon and our monthly Full Moon Dock Party, where we will be howling extra loudly to commemorate Apollo 11’s historic mission.

I am going to leave you with another one of our incredible sunrises:

 

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Another lovely morning at the secret location

 

That’s it for now!

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Wait

Good morning from the summer-like Eastern Shore of Maryland!  Although it is only May, the last two days have felt like the sultry days of July.  We certainly hope the weather improves before our hatch window begins later in the week.  I guess the hot sun is better than the cold rain, but some seventy two degrees and sunny (at the same time) would sure be nice.  A brief little storm blew through earlier this evening, leading to this spectacular rainbow.

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A fantastic rainbow at the secret location. It was a full rainbow, but too large to photograph the entire vista.

 

By the time I grabbed the camera and ran out to the backyard, the rainbow was starting to fade.  It was quickly fading when I managed to take this photo.

 

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The fading rainbow as Audrey incubates. I wonder if she noticed the rainbow? I know she probably noticed the rain…

 

While the Great Wait for the first pip is ongoing, I will entertain you with what has been going on in the neighborhood, with a little side trip to the eagle side of town.  Life goes on for Tom and Audrey.  Incubating, fishing, eating, sleeping, fussing at intruders and trying to avoid the crazy lady with the black box around her neck are all the order of the day.

Tom and Audrey continue to spend their respective time out of the nest at the usual haunts:  the scraggly stick tree, various locations on the dock, our neighbor’s swim ladder, the pole cross piece (although I have only seen Audrey there once, Tom is there frequently) and a variety of docks.  The scraggly stick tree has always been a popular spot for both of them, and continues to see a lot of osprey action.

 

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Audrey in the scraggly stick tree. She doesn’t look particularly happy to see me, but I don’t take it personally.

 

I take so many photos that I sometimes have a hard time choosing which ones to use.  There was no way to choose between the above photo and the below photo short of flipping a coin, so I decided to use them both.

 

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Audrey has that far away look in her eye. Probably looking far away for Tom and a fish!

 

What you can’t see in the above two photos is that Audrey wasn’t alone.

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A dastardly crow hoping that Tom brings Audrey a fish so the crow can nibble some sloppy seconds.

 

Given the fact that the dastardly crows are alive and well in the area, it was time for Roger to come out of his hibernation and take up his protective position at the end of the dock.

 

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Roger is back on duty, and dancing a little jig to celebrate getting out of that musty garage. It’s great to have him back!

 

Although Tom really, really likes to sit on those eggs, Audrey does most of the incubating.  Sometimes it is hard to see her all snuggled down low in the nest.

 

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Audrey on egg duty.

 

I looked outside a couple of weeks ago on a morning replete with chilly air and a cold wind.  Here is what I saw:

 

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Audrey hanging out on the rip-rap trying to stay out of the wind

 

Of course, I tried to get closer:

 

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Audrey hadn’t left yet, but it didn’t take long after this photo for her to decide the rip-rap may not be the safest place to enjoy the view as Mrs. COM approached with her camera.

 

As I was selecting photos for this blog, I couldn’t help but notice I have a dearth of Tom photos this time.  Here is Tom returning to the nest.

 

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It’s my turn to sit on those eggs, move over Betty!!

 

I do a substantial amount of walking in the neighborhood when the almighty dollar isn’t calling my name to head out to work.  Here is something you don’t see everyday on the side of the road.

 

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There was an unhappy osprey somewhere in the neighborhood, but probably not as unhappy as the menhaden! No scale in the photo, but this was a good size fish.

 

Here is a recent sunrise at the secret location.  It’s not as spectacular as some of them, but it sure was pretty that morning.

 

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A delicate sunrise over the water

 

As we have mentioned previously, the ospreys and eagles do not get along.  By this time of year, the eagles have already hatched their young, so we don’t see them as often as we do in the winter.  But I still hear them calling, and see one every few days.  But last fall and winter, the eagles were plentiful.

The next group of photos were all taken on October 2, 2018, before the nest and poles were taken down for the winter.

A majestic eagle enjoying a beautiful day at the secret location:

 

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Look at the size of that bird! They are so magnificent

 

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Don’t look, Tom and Audrey.  Someone has been sleeping in your bed! (with apologies to Goldilocks)

 

Where there is fish, there are freeloaders.  The dastardly crows have no shame, and will mooch off of anyone.  One of them decides he needs to get closer to the action in case there is food involved.

 

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Tom, there is someone sitting on top of your camera pole!

 

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Don’t hold me to it, but I think the eagle is starting to get annoyed with the crow! Look at that face!

 

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The crow doesn’t seem too terribly concerned.  The eagle is looking angrier.

 

The next day, the eagle was back again, looking a little damp on an otherwise sunny day.

 

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Check out the “pants” on this incredible bird

 

As I watched, I realized the eagle had a meal with him.

 

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Something is stuck in my talon. Maybe I can shake it off, thinks the eagle

 

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Darn, I can’t shake this sucker off.

 

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Finally!  What’s for dinner?

 

We frequently see two eagles together.

 

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Lovebirds

 

Over the winter, there were a couple of juvenile eagles hanging around.  I was able to capture some photos one morning in October of two adults and a juvenile.  Not sure if this young one was related to the above two, to which the following series of photos will attest.

 

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Two adult eagles were hanging out in the big tree two houses to the north of us when a juvenile made his (or her) presence known. The adult eagles were not happy to see him. There are three eagles in this photo, look hard!

 

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Still three eagles. The juvenile is the darker colored one who has not developed its’ distinctive white head and tail. One of them is raising a fuss, look carefully!

 

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An aerial battle ensued. My money is on the adult

 

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The eagle on the left is checking out the sky. The other one is looking for a landing location.

 

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Victory! The eagles are still wary (nothing to do with me, I’m sure-sarcasm), but they have settled down just a wee bit.

 

I will close with two photos taken of the same sunrise a couple of weeks ago.  I love these photos, with the brilliant sunrise and Tom silhouetted in the sunlight.  The second one is my favorite except for the fact that Tom looks like a headless owl, and you know we don’t like owls around these parts!  But the first one is pretty darn special, too.

 

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Wow, just wow!!! Sunrise at the secret location with Tom silhouetted in the scraggly stick tree and the sun reflecting off the water.

 

 

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I love, love, love this photo. Too bad Tom was busy preening and didn’t look at the camera!

 

So that’s it for now.  By the time I visit you again, the Great Wait will be over and there will be a new college graduate in our midst!  We are all keeping our fingers crossed for three uneventful hatches and a successful Roger!

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!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eggcitement!!!

Good morning from the fabulous Eastern Shore of Maryland, complete with three beautiful new eggs!  Given all of the eggcitement of the last few weeks, I will start with current events, and fill in with what we have missed as we go along this season.  As I am sure you all know by now, our dear Audrey returned to her summer digs on March 18, and was joined by Calico Tom the Fishing Fool shortly thereafter on March 25.  Nest construction commenced at warp speed, and what a nest it is indeed!  Those of you who are concerned about our nest removal at the end of each season should feel much better now.  And not to worry, COM has a plethora of pre-fab osprey nest sticks ready for the taking.

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Sticks, sticks and more sticks!

 

A few of these sticks are scattered out in our yard at all times, should building materials be needed.  COM actually saw Tom swoop down and grab a stick right off of the tree pile.  And of course, COM’s marked sticks are gracing the superb nest in hues of pink and green.  There are yellow marked sticks out in the yard as I write, and it probably won’t be long before one of them brightens up the place.  Keep your eyes on that nest!

The beginning and end of each season is always busy with logistic maneuverings, and this season was no different.  The camera pole and nest pole were taken down last fall to avoid ice damage over the winter.  The camera pole was placed on the dock so our viewing audience could enjoy the peaceful winter scenes, complete with our lovely tundra swans that grace the waters of the Chesapeake Bay while the ospreys are down South.

 

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Sunrise at the secret location. The camera pole was mounted on one of the pilings. You can see it toward the left of the photo attached to one of the lower pilings. The camera is visible just over the land on the horizon.

 

But what comes down must go up, and our wonderful friends from the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage and Chesapeake Conservancy, along with Crazy Osprey Man (COM) were here to save the day just before Tom and Audrey were due to return.  The weather, wind and tides did not cooperate with the planned installation, and we were holding our breath hoping our ospreys did not return before their abode was in place.

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The nest pole is ready to be raised and jetted back into place.

 

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Here comes the camera pole! It is really heavy, and took three strong men to get it back out.

 

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All ready to be wired up and occupied!

 

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Mission accomplished! From the left, Phil, Dean, COM and David

 

Of course, nothing is ever easy.  The cable that COM ordered to run out to the cameras was too short.  Another COM project on the way…….

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Ready to hit that frigid water. Brrrrrr!

 

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Where is that stupid cable? It’s cold out here and the water is getting deep!

 

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The water was almost too deep to continue. Check out the water line near the top of COM’s waders! He almost needed to change his undies…

 

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COM on his trusty mega stepladder, crimping cable.

 

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COM and his watery twin. Check out the cool (and I mean cool in more than one sense of the word) reflection.

 

And while COM was doing his thing, Mrs. COM was on the dock taking photos and having heart palpitations when Peter decided to explore Osprey Girl’s boat lift.

 

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Peter giving Mrs. COM heart palpitations. At one point, he was way out at the end of the lift.

 

After Peter safely returned to terra firma, a crab net was retrieved from the garage to keep on the dock.  I really don’t want to go swimming after a clumsy cat, but I will scoop him up!  Of course, you know I would jump in after him, but I don’t feel like testing my resolve, and the crab net now has a permanent place close at hand for when Peter goes in the drink.

Thanks to everyone who braved the cold to get our poles back in operation!  And extra special thanks to COM who tirelessly works all winter to get things ready for Tom and Audrey’s return, then jumps into the cold water as many times as it takes to make it right.

So with all of the equipment in place, it was time to wait and watch for Audrey’s return.  And just like clockwork, she arrived on the exact same date as last year.

 

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Audrey sitting way down low in the scraggly stick tree on a cold, windy morning.

 

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She’s baaaaack!

 

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And here comes that crazy woman with the camera. I’m outta here, says Audrey

 

In less than a week, our gallant Calico Tom made his way back to his summer home.

 

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Tom has arrived, and the beginnings of a nest are taking shape.

 

It didn’t take long for the nest to start looking comfy cozy, complete with COM’s marked sticks.

 

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Reunited and it feels so good (singing). COM’s green marked stick is visible on the bottom left of the nest.

 

The nest went up with gusto, precision (sort of) and speed.  Here is another photo just a few days after Tom arrived.

 

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The barter system is alive and well. Tom brings in the building materials, and Audrey (I’m blushing), well Audrey lets Tom have his way with her. After all, fair is fair….

 

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What is that dulcimer tone I hear? Oh, how we have all missed Audrey’s yakking! She is giving Tom an earful, for sure.

 

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Tom has heard quite enough, and leaves Audrey to talk to herself.

 

Tom can be quite the show-off, this time standing on one “foot”.

 

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Bet you can’t do this, Audrey, thinks Tom.

 

There are always questions about how to tell Tom and Audrey apart.  It is not easy, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it at first.  Remember, some of us have been observing them for a long time.  Here are a couple of hints and examples of what to look for (sorry to have ended this sentence with a preposition, just couldn’t figure out how to do it using proper grammar).

If the wind and sun are cooperating, and Tom is situated favorably, you may see a buff colored patch on the back of his head/neck.

 

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Tom’s buff spot (I guess it is better than a bald spot)

 

Another way to tell them apart is by the coloring under their eyes.  Audrey has a break of white in the black under her eyes, while the coloring under Tom’s eyes has no break in the black.  This is a photo from last season, but it is a great comparison of them both together.  Tom is on the right, Audrey is on the left.

 

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You should now be able to identify which osprey is Tom and which is Audrey

 

Here is one more tutorial for you.  A couple of weeks ago, Tom and Audrey were each eating on the dock.  It’s very unusual to see both of them eating their own fish at the same time, but they were. Here is a wide shot with both of them visible.

 

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Tom and Audrey each enjoying their own fish on the dock

 

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Osprey #1 on the big boat lift

 

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Osprey #2 on the little boat lift

 

Okay, this may not be a good angle on Osprey #2, but it is a very cool photo.  I will give you a hint.  Here is Osprey #2 a couple of weeks ago in the scraggly stick tree one house to the north of us.

 

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Osprey #2 on a different day, drying out in the scraggly stick tree.

 

If you can’t figure out who is who, the answer will appear below. Patience is a virtue, so read on….

Where do Tom and Audrey sleep at night?  If you watch the camera with any regularity at night, Audrey will almost always be seen sleeping in the nest, especially now when she is incubating her eggs.  You may hear some scratching sounds, which is usually Tom on the cross piece which stabilizes the poles.  Here are Tom and Audrey during the day, with Tom hanging out on the crosspiece.  These photos were taken just before the first egg was laid.

 

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A wide view of the nest and camera poles. Audrey is in the nest, Tom is on the crosspiece drying out.

 

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Closer view of our pair spending a lovely late afternoon together at their complex.

 

The really special news (other than they’re baaaack) is, as of this writing, we have three eggs!  Right on time, three days apart (give or take a few hours) starting in the wee small hours on April 14, what a joy to behold!  We have had four eggs in the past, but that is the exception rather than the rule.  Three is fine with us, we don’t need any more.  And now the waiting begins.  At our nest, the typical time from egg laying to hatching is 39-41 days.  This would put our first hatch sometime from May 23-25, with subsequent hatches occurring 3 and 6 days after the first one.

I will leave you with a few more photos from recent days.  It is not easy to see from the camera, but Audrey sits way down low in the nest when she is incubating, especially in some of the rotten weather we have been experiencing.

 

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Audrey is incubating her eggs. Tom is planning how to get her to move so he may have a turn. He loves to sit on those eggs!

 

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Our mother-to-be giving Mrs. COM the stink eye.

 

Well, the hour is getting late and work is just around the corner.  I will leave you with an incredible December sunrise, complete with oyster boats out before dawn.

 

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December sunrise, untouched. WOW!

 

And the answer is:  Tom is Osprey #1, Audrey is Osprey #2.  Were you right?

I can’t close without a big shout out and thank you to Poppy, our Explore moderator extraordinaire. You’re the best, Poppy and we appreciate everything you do to keep us informed and entertained with all things osprey!

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Princess Diaries-Part One

Good morning from the hot, humid Eastern Shore of Maryland!  The sultry days of summer are upon us as we continue our march toward the end of another fabulous osprey season here at the secret location.  My story of our favorite osprey family has gotten way behind, but there is no time like the present to start catching up.

My selection of available photographs has gotten ridiculously large, so I have decided to regale you with some shorter literary blogs with a plethora of photos.  As the title of this blog promises, Part One means there will be a Part Two, which in theory should follow closely behind said Part One.

I will start you off with one of the obligatory poop shots.  Tom enjoyed one of his daily constitutionals in the presence of some dastardly crows, who so far have turned out to be not so dastardly this year.

 

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Tom multi-tasking: pooping, eating and fending off hungry crows. What a guy!

 

Alas, we haven’t seen our beautiful Harriet in quite some time.  I like to think she has pulled an E.T. on us.  For those of you who weren’t with us in the 2015 season, we were visited by a recently fledged youngster who decided he liked the secret location better than his own nest.  E.T. stayed with us the rest of the season, and was quite the character.  So I am sure Harriet is somewhere not too far away, enjoying some different scenery and being pampered by a foster mom and dad like our E.T. of three years ago.

 

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Meghan and Harriet when they were known as Meghan and Harry. I must admit I am not sure who is who in this photo

 

Audrey is a really good mom, and remains ever vigilant:

 

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Audrey keeping her eye on Mrs. COM and the box around her neck

 

On Friday, July 13, we had the great honor of a banding visit from our favorite raptor biologist, Craig Koppie.  Craig has been and remains one of the best parts of being the caretakers at the secret location.  One would be hard pressed to find a more pleasant, competent and resourceful addition to our osprey team.  As Meghan and Harry (soon to be Harriet) were consumed with their flapping and hopping, the time wasn’t far away when they would fledge.  Craig made it over in the nick of time.  He had two helpers from the Chesapeake Conservancy, Intern Stephanie and Intern Michael, along with our neighbor Drew and Mrs. COM (me!).  It was a beautiful day, if not beastly hot, and banding commenced shortly after Craig’s arrival.

 

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Craig and Intern Michael wade out to the pole with our faithful, really big stepladder

 

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Decisions, decisions. Where to put this gigantic ladder? Meghan and Harry have some ideas where they could put that ladder!

 

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Audrey is not at all happy with the emerging situation, and keeps a close eye on the events at the pole complex. As you might imagine, she was not quiet in her consternation

 

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In order to able to be able to reach the birds (and not poke his eye out), Craig removes some of the wayward sticks. Harry, in his last few minutes as a boy, is willing to help with the eye poking!

 

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Smile! Someone is taking your picture!

 

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It would appear that Craig has grabbed a few chicks in his day, with apologies to Mrs. Craig

 

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Someone is not happy! Check out that tail, must be some turkey DNA in there some where

 

 

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Harry seems resigned to his fate

 

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Craig is carefully preparing Harry for his trip back to the dock.  Harry looks like he really wants a piece of Craig

 

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If looks could kill, Craig would be in a world of hurt. Intern Michael is looking glad that Harriet is not looking at him

 

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Check out those beautiful wings!

 

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I think Craig may have held a bird or two in his career

 

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The bird formerly known as Harry is getting her bling

 

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Oh, my, check out Harriet’s mouth. She is looking to take a chunk out of Craig, who offers her a glove instead of his flesh

 

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Harriet gets blue tape on her band. Roger is waiting quietly in the wings in case he is needed

 

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Someone is looking a little cranky! (Hint: It is not Craig or Roger)

 

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The trusty glove is needed once again.

 

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Those are some big wings for a young bird!

 

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Audrey has returned to the nest to lend moral support to Meghan, who is hoping beyond hope that she isn’t next

 

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Audrey is quite happy that she knows how to fly, and off she goes (middle right of the photo just in front of the land)

 

In case one of the chicks decides to go for a swim, we have a rescue boat at the ready:

 

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Drew, Intern Stephanie and Archie at the ready (Hint: Archie is the only one not wearing a hat)

 

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Harriet is safely back in the nest. Next up-Meghan

 

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Craig has to remove some more sticks to get to Meghan. She is not cooperating and dancing all around the nest to avoid Craig invading her personal space

 

Craig and Intern Michael have had to move the ladder around several times to be in a position for Craig to grab Meghan.  She decides this would be a perfect time to fledge, but her wings aren’t quite strong enough yet and she ends up in the drink:

 

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This sure doesn’t seem like flying, thinks Meghan

 

Ospreys can float for a very long time, so Craig isn’t worried about Meghan.  In fact, he was kind of happy that he would be able to retrieve her for banding without too much more trouble.

 

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Splish, splash, Craig and Meghan are takin’ a bath!  You can see some of the sticks that Craig removed from the nest floating behind him

 

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Gotcha! More of that turkey DNA is kicking in, check out that tail (and the cool reflection)!

 

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There is no escaping Craig, this is not his first rodeo

 

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Out of the drink with precious cargo.

 

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That wasn’t nice, mister, now I am going to make you pay for my indignities!

 

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I do believe that is blood on Craig’s hand…….

 

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Someone is looking a little wet, how did that happen?

 

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The diversionary glove has made another appearance

 

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A great shot of Meghan’s eye. The orange will become more yellow as she matures

 

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As the banding commences, Meghan is still trying to get another piece of Craig

 

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Meghan’s turn to get a little bling. She looks resigned to her fate

 

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Yellow is a nice color!

 

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Let me at’m, says Meghan.  More blood, this time on Craig’s thumb

 

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Down the ladder they go, headed back to the nest

 

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The rescue boat is still on station. It was a very hot day, so Craig decides to give Meghan a little cool down before he puts her back in the nest

 

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Ah, that feels good, thinks Meghan. Maybe this guy isn’t so bad after all

 

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As Meghan gets closer to being back in the nest, Audrey is still very concerned and circling around. Intern Michael is holding some sort of device. What could it be?

 

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Meghan goes back in the nest. I don’t think Harriet looks too happy to see her. Do you think it is Craig she is not happy to see? Probably a safe bet!

 

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No mission would be complete without a COM device. This is COM’s homemade Osprey Camera Cleaning Device.  It looks remarkably similar to a boat hook with a squeegee attached to the end. You have to check out the body language on Meghan!

 

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Craig told us the banding was free, but the camera washing was extra. Well worth it, don’t you think?  Everybody’s a comedian!

 

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Like the good naturalist he is, Craig is recycling the sticks he removed from the nest. They went right back on our stick pile to be used again.

 

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Time to put away the big ladder and COM’s contraption. Please be careful with the Osprey Camera Cleaning Device, Intern Michael, it might be worth a lot of money some day!

 

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Audrey decides the coast is clear, and comes back to her girls

 

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Incoming!

 

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Back together again. Audrey, Meghan and Harriet, formerly known as Harry

 

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Intern Mike, Craig, Intern Stephanie and Roger hiding in the back. Mission Accomplished!

 

A couple of quick items before I close for now.  In years past, Craig has banded the young birds in a big plastic tub.  This year, the chicks were too big for Craig’s boxes, so he brought them up on the dock for banding.

Second item:  You may have wondered how the colors are chosen for the banded birds.  Not much to it, Craig shows me the choice of colors, and I pick.  I figured Harriet used to be Harry, so I would make him blue for (former) boys, giving us a good way to remember who is who.  Sexist logic, one might argue, but it is what it is.

I think that is enough for tonight, as the hour is late (actually quite early) and my bed is calling.  The Princess Diaries, Part Two should be out in about a week, so stay tuned!

Until nest 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!