Oyster Cove Osprey Update

(So sorry for the long absence, it’s been a struggle to get my groove back since my Mom’s passing…..I promise I am trying.)

So what has been going on with the return of our area’s Osprey and our community’s nest platform this season?  A lot!

Not having residents for three seasons past, our Oyster Cove community had a new platform and pole installed, ready and waiting to see if that would entice a new pair of Osprey.

Oyster Cove's New Osprey Nest Platform - ready & waiting!

Oyster Cove’s New Osprey Nest Platform – ready & waiting!

Osprey quickly returned to our area after my last post. It was a pleasure to see the long-time residing pair on the Kent Narrows southend entrance channel marker arrive back safely, as well as others on their markers and locations I can see daily.

Including our platform! Mid-March immediately a male Osprey began visiting our platform, always with the look of watching and waiting.  Days later a female joined alongside him.  They didn’t seem to know what to do but look at each other and the surrounding waters.

Osprey Pair

Osprey Pair

Thinking

Thinking

Most times though, they each visited alone, either to perch or eat a fish.

Dinnertime

Dinnertime

Breakfast

Breakfast

Dinnertime

Dinnertime

OOPS!

OOPS!

Another Dinnertime

Another Dinnertime

A measly stick would appear on the platform and then disappear.

A measly stick...

A measly stick…

There seemed to be no motivation.  Since they paired up so quickly upon return, that gave a good indication they were paired last year.  If that be the case, why are they not at their previous home and instead at ours?

As the days & weeks passed, still no progress. I really felt something was amiss. By mid-April, I noticed I was now only seeing the male at the platform.  The female had disappeared. My brain went into overdrive in thinking.

Then finally, the pieces of the puzzle began to fill in.  Watching our male Osprey enjoy a fish, I witnessed him then leave with it headless and fly over to CBEC’s platform across the water where his gal was on their nest and eggs.

CBEC Osprey Pair

CBEC Osprey Pair, female is incubating eggs

Guess what? What we thought were a new pair of Osprey on our platform is actually the pair that resided last year across the water on CBEC’s platform. And the Eagles and their nest that I discovered and posted over this past winter is in the same vicinity as that platform, which the Eagles used all winter as ‘their’ perch when away from their nest.

Eagle Nest (circled) and Osprey nest platform

Eagle Nest (circled) and Osprey nest platform (bottom left).  The Eagles loved to perch on the Osprey platform in the trees above it daily during the winter.

I immediately recalled seeing in the past month a lot of Opsrey vs. Eagle aerial interactions happening over this area as well.  Hmmmmm……

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Osprey Vs. American Bald Eagle

_DSC0134-1 42115Bingo!  All that Osprey vs. Eagle interaction was territorial fighting over that platform and air space between “our” Osprey pair and the resident Eagles. Our platform was being used as a close base while they tried to regain their CBEC home.

The Osprey pair would not give up and succeeded in securing their CBEC platform back from the Eagle pair.  (How about that?!)  They were able to build a nest in time and the female lay eggs.  Today, I watched the male Osprey take a fish to the nest and then leave; the female got up and appeared to be feeding! (Osprey chicks are hatching throughout our area now.)  The male continues to perch on our platform to eat his fish and/or keep a watch on his family and their nest across the water.

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Male Osprey keeping a watch over his nest and family across Marshy Creek to CBEC

Another day, another watch

Another day, another watch

As for the Eagles, they are of course still around but have now chosen to perch in the same tree line to the far right of their nest on the last tree that overlooks the water.  And now everyone is happy.  Unless one flies into the others airspace, lol.  Which makes for great wildlife interaction watching for us locals!

The CBEC Osprey male also has his work cut out to maintain control of his second ‘home’, our platform.  Other Osprey have tried to take the platform from him, to no avail.

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Ready to attack an incoming and unwelcomed Osprey

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Scare tactic!

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And a swift kick!

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Move on!

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Stay away or else!

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I’m going after you!

Sometimes you’d think I have too much time on my hands if I’m witnessing and taking shots like the next series.
_DSC0062-1 51715_DSC0063-1 51715_DSC0064-1 51715I might agree with you, lol.  :-)
A few more photos….

Male Osprey

Male Osprey

Male Osprey

Male Osprey

Peek-a-boo, I see you!

Peek-a-boo, I see you!

An early April photo of the female doing a fly-by on me after leaving our platform.

An early April photo of the female doing a fly-by on me after leaving our platform.

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What a beauty she is!

So this season we do have a pair of Ospreys using our platform as a ‘second home/perch’ for now.  Maybe their chicks will use it as a landing strip during their practice flights in a couple months, that would be cool!

UPDATE:  After posting this, unfortunately I discovered it appears there is a problem with the Osprey CBEC’s nest/eggs.  This morning I found the female Osprey alongside her mate on our OC’s platform. If there were alive chick(s), she would not have done this.  They left our platform and went back to their home but both just sat on the edge.  I could see them looking down and around, as if confused.  I’m guessing they lost their eggs/chicks.  :-(  I’ll keep an eye on them to see if this is truly the case.

She Came Back to Him

Who? What?  :-)

Updating my previous post on our returning Osprey, yesterday, both in the morning & late afternoon, our Mr. Osprey was still perched on his highway sign along Rt 50/301 in Grasonville.  As each year, he sits and patiently waits for his girl to return.

This morning, she was alongside him.  Home at last!

(sorry on photo quality, I only had my little point & shoot!)

Mr & Mrs Osprey are home!

Mr & Mrs Osprey are home!

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They will now take a little time to regain their strength from that 4,000 mile trek back here from South America.  And then onto renovating their nest in preparation for a family of little ones.  They will also rebuild their bond and commitment, as they haven’t seen each other since last September (they migrate to separate locations).  This Osprey pair and nest have been along this dual highway corridor for many years.  They are always the first to return, and in my last six years of observation, it has never appeared that a new pair has taken over or one was replaced by another not returning.  This pair has shown year after year they know exactly what they are doing and what they are dealing with (traffic whizzing by below!).

Spring has sprung!  :-)

Tundra Swans Down on the Farm

This post was intended to follow the Snow Geese post as my second unexpected photo op on Saturday.  Sorry, had to slide in a “WOOHOO post” for the return of our Osprey!  :-)

So heading home Saturday afternoon, I was hoping to see Snow Geese again somewhere along the way across the Eastern Shore Maryland farmlands.  Just west of Barclay on the corner of Rt 302 and Big Wood Road , I did catch a glimpse of white on white.  Snow Geese?  No….but it was a small flock of Tundra Swan!  They were resting and feeding in the middle of a farm field, which is not something we see often, as the Tundra Swan are usually seen on the water.

Here’s a few captures from my seven-minute photo op….

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A group of Tundra Swan having a little ruckus

A few more would just drop on in, it was great even at a distance.  It’s time for the Tundra Swan to be making their migration back north so I was happy to see this before their season here ends.

Osprey Sighting at Grasonville/Kent Narrows!

WOOHOO!  Let the trumpets sound!  It is official!!  :-)

For the last week, I have had my eye to the sky and at least a dozen Osprey nesting locations in my local area, searching for a first sighting on the return of our Osprey.  This overcast, rainy afternoon it became official.  I captured an Osprey on his highway sign on Rt. 50/301 through the Grasonville/Kent Narrows, Maryland.  This is one of three active nests along this corridor area.

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Male Osprey returning 3/10/15

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This next photo shows a full view of the highway with his nest, quite a bit still intact from the harsh winter.

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Finally home and now waiting for his mate to return to begin renovating their home for breeding.

Normally, we see our area Osprey returning March 12-15th.  This specific male Osprey has repeatedly returned a bit early year after year to secure and protect his nest until his mate returns.  I missed documenting last year’s arrival, but he returned in 2013 on March 5th.

Welcome back, Mr. Osprey!  :-)

Geese – Snow and Blue

This past busy Saturday, I still opted to carry my cameras and was treated to two quick photo ops.  In the morning, on the farm at the corner of Rolling Bridge Road and Rt. 301 in the Centreville area, my intent was I hoped to find a flock of Snow Geese that have been there numerous times the past couple months, always when I didn’t have my cameras.  Saturday was a bright, sunny morning and the Snow Geese were there.  :-)  This is a returning location every winter for them, the problem is you just don’t know when they will be there.  Although our snow is now all but gone with our two days of a ‘heat wave’ (40’s-50’s), we still hadn’t thawed as yet so to me the snow was a plus.

That's a lot of snow geese!

That’s a lot of snow geese!

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I never left my truck for any of my photos.  I turned onto Rolling Bridge Road from Rt. 301 and drove on by them, then turned around and came up with them on my side.  For those that know the area, the truck in the next photo is on Rt. 301.  You can see how close they were to the dual highway.

Trucker cruising down Rt. 301

Trucker cruising down Rt. 301

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My post title also mentioned Blue Geese.  Although rarer on the East Coast, you will usually find a few Blue Geese in the mix.   I had to look up again the difference and here’s word for word, courtesy of http://www.beautyofbirds.com.

The Snow Goose has two color plumage morphs, white (snow) or gray/blue (blue), thus the common description as “snows” and “blues.”  These white- and blue-morph birds interbreed and the offspring may be of either morph. These two colors of geese were once thought to be separate species; since they interbreed and are found together throughout their ranges, they are now considered two color phases of the same species. The color phases are genetically controlled. The dark phase results from a single dominant gene and the white phase is homozygous recessive. When choosing a mate, young birds will most often select a mate that resembles their parents’ coloring. If the birds were hatched into a mixed pair, they will mate with either color phase.

Here’s an adult Blue Goose alongside a juvenile White Goose.

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Adult Blue Goose & Juvenile White Goose surrounded by adult white geese

 More in flight….

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And dropping in!

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Well worth the five minutes I stopped there!

When I came back by at the end of the day, they were gone.  See?  You never know when they’re there…but I still looked just in case.

Tomorrow I’ll post my second unexpected photo op treat of the day!  :-)

Hooded Mergansers

Yesterday morning, I spotted a pair of Hooded Mergansers at the base of our Osprey nest platform.  I’ve photographed the Common Merganser and Red-breasted Merganser, but never got the opportunity with this merganser….until now.  And that gives me another new lifer!  :-)

Hooded Mergansers

Hooded Mergansers

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I captured this last flight photo as they flew off into the morning’s sunrise.

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A day can’t be too bad when you get another bird lifer!  :-)

 

This Morning’s Sunrise & Moonset

We awoke to 5.5 inches of fresh snow.  Had I known, I’d have gotten up earlier this morning.  When I opened my verticals, I saw the full moon setting over Kent Island.  It was already losing it’s brightness with the sun rising quickly.  Those are Canvasbacks, Ruddy Ducks, Mallards, Redheads, Scaup, and Buffleheads sleeping in the channel.

Full Moon Setting over Kent Narrows & Kent Island - March 5, 2015

Full Moon Setting over Kent Narrows & Kent Island – March 5, 2015

Here’s the sunrise occurring at the same time over Marshy Creek.

Sunrise over Marshy Creek

Sunrise over Marshy Creek

Now a couple hours later, the ducks have increased in number and are closer to the ice and me.

Canvasbacks, Redheads, Scaup, Ruddys, Buffleheads, Mallards

Canvasbacks, Redheads, Scaup, Ruddys, Buffleheads, Mallards

I decided to stay right here and work from home.  Got plenty of paperwork to do.  Just how am I going to get any of it done when I can see all those ducks and the Dark-eyed Juncos, House Finches & Song Sparrows visiting my balcony six feet from me, all from where I am sitting?  I am sure the Eagles will be checking out the ducks too…..

You can bet my camera is right beside me.   :-)

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