Bella & Beau: Season Finale

(Osprey nest location:  Cambridge, Maryland, USA)

September 23, 2018

Although I will still complete and post a photo rewind of Bella & Beau’s 2018 season, I thought it befitting to finish their posts’ series with my last sightings.

After my last post and sightings of September 10, I still saw and photographed Beau on the towers on September 11, 12, and 13th.  Here’s my clearest shots.

Beau eating a fish – September 11, 2018 @ 10:23 am

 

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Beau – September 11, 2018 @ 12:06 pm

 

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Beau – September 11, 2018 @ 5:18 pm

 

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Beau – September 12, 2018 @ 7:46 pm

 

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Beau – September 13, 2018 @ 9:53 am

 

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Beau – September 13, 2018 @ 7:31 pm

 

And then *poof* gone!  I have not seen Beau nor an OspreyTeen since.

Wow, it has been such a wonderful, entertaining season, full of excitement, challenges, and drama.  All thanks to Bella and Beau’s commitment for success!  And now here we are, 23 weeks later, to bid a final Bon Voyage to Bella, Beau & family from all of us!

Nature and wildlife certainly are amazing…..  🙂

~~~~~~~~

For those interested in a little background on my Bella & Beau series, here are a few facts:

This was a journal of an Osprey family’s season and behavior, so there were photos posted on purpose with bad lighting, focus, or weather conditions.  Yes, I cringed at times posting some of them!

Unless noted, all photos were taken from my third-floor level balcony at a distance of approximately 120 feet to the Osprey nest platform.

The majority of photos were taken hand-held (my preference to be ready for action/flight shots), although I did at times use my tripod and Wimberley WH-200 head.

Unless I showed a wide-angle shot (the harbor or a sunset), all photos were taken with a Nikon D200 and a Nikon AF-S VR-Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 lens & Nikon AF-S TC-17E III Teleconverter (1.7x magnification) combo.  This set-up resulted in the below full zoom shot.

 

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Remember?  There was sort of a nest in the beginning!  🙂

 

I processed each shot in Adobe Photoshop CS6, then cropped in order to show close-ups.  The same photo above is cropped below as an example.

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Bella, Beau and family

 

All wide-angles photos were shot with a Nikon D600 and Nikon AF-S VR-Nikkor 24-85mm f3.5-4.5G ED lens.

From April 13th until September 13th, I took over 15,000 photos, which includes bursts to capture action.  Every photo was taken in both RAW and JPEG format.  Most photos posted were processed with the RAW image.

Of the 15,000 photos, I have deleted about 5,000 for poor/unfocused quality but have retained the rest in a filing system that provides literally a journal in photos, making it easier to go back and look up any week and/or behavior.  You can imagine how hard it was to pick photos every week to share!  I could probably start over and post a whole new set of photos each week for this season.  😉

I want to sincerely thank all of you for your views, ‘likes’, and wonderful comments throughout the season.  Each one made my day each and every time!  I hope you learned a little something about the amazing, resilient Osprey too.

I also want to thank my husband for putting up with my Osprey passion and the dedicated hours put forth and for his assistance in helping to track and alert me of happenings.  I couldn’t have done this series without his support!

As I mentioned, stay tuned for a photo rewind post, the best of the best from all the posts, hopefully within the next couple weeks.

 

(For all past posts on Bella & Beau’s 2018 season, you can click HERE.)

 

 

Liquid Gold Reflections

Back in May, a pair of Mallard ducks had landed in the creek at sunset.  They and the sailboat masts silhouetted nicely against the water’s golden glow.

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Pair Mallard Ducks

 

 

A third Mallard decided to try and join the golden swim.

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“Mind if I join you?”

 

They let him join them for a spell.

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Mallard Ducks

 

The pair decided it was time to move on.  Not sure what was said, but the third Mallard did not follow.

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Mallard Ducks

 

His hanging back provided more silhouette reflections in the liquid gold for lucky me.

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Mallard Duck

 

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Mallard Duck

 

The sky broke like an egg into full sunset and the water caught fire.
~ Pamela Hansford Johnson

 

 

 

Cormorants In The Creek

The matte-black, prehistoric-looking Double-crested Cormorant sports yellow/orange facial skin at the base of their beak and is one of those birds that people don’t give much time to.

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Double-crested Cormorant

 

Many don’t realize the Double-crested Cormorant possesses a gorgeous teal eye when the sunlight hits it just right.

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Double-crested Cormorant

 

Double-crested Cormorants visit Cambridge Creek daily.  Even with the past displeasure of Osprey Bella & Beau.

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Double-crested Cormorant

 

The Cormorant’s landing is always a fun challenge to try to capture.

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They skid in for a long time!

 

The fishing must be good here in the creek, they come here and dive time after time.

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Another look at that beautiful teal eye….

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Double-crested Cormorant

 

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“Oops, sorry, ya’ll!”

 

From morning until sunset, they hunt the waters.

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Double-crested Cormorant at sunset

 

And when the sun goes down, the Double-crested Cormorant may stay and find a perch to drip and dry off, in his “I’m Batman” stance.

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Double-crested Cormorant’s “I’m Batman” drying stance

 

I enjoy and have a lot of fun with Double-crested Cormorants.  🙂

 

 

Bella & Beau: Dad Beau Is Still Assisting

(Osprey nest location:  Cambridge, Maryland, USA)

September 10, 2018

For the past week, I’ve continued to sight Dad Beau perched on one of the two towers overlooking the creek and nest platform.   But it has become increasingly difficult to keep track of the OspreyTeens.  My last sightings and photos of the two OspreyTeens together on the nest platform were on September 3rd.

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OspreyTeens – September 3, 2018

 

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OspreyTeens – September 3, 2018

 

For the next two days, both early in the morning and late afternoon, only one OspreyTeen was visiting the nest platform, begging towards Beau’s direction who remained perched on the towers most of the day, ignoring the cries.

An OspreyTeen letting Dad Beau on the tower know he is hungry.  (9/4/18)

 

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Dad Beau remains perched & ignores the begging OspreyTeen that evening. (9/4/18)

 

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Either Dad Beau brought the early morning fish or the OspreyTeen did so itself. (9/5/18)

 

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OspreyTeen devouring that fish! (9/5/18)

 

Beau’s morning and evening perches. (9/5/18)

 

Since September 6, I’ve not seen anyone visit the nest platform. It appears to have finished serving its purpose and is now no longer needed as a home port for this season.  Maybe, too, Dad Beau has refused to deliver any fish to it to further enforce the OspreyTeens to feed themselves.

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Bella & Beau nest platform – 9/10/18
It looks the same as it did the day they arrived in March, no nesting materials!
That’s one for the records!

 

It’s now increasingly difficult to determine if both OspreyTeens are still here since I’m sighting only one at a time.  It seems an OspreyTeen is going to Beau now if it’s desperate to be fed.  Which does appear to be infrequent, which is good!

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OspreyTeen below, begging to Beau on top of tower, September 8th late afternoon.

 

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September 9th during the morning’s pouring rain, an OspreyTeen is waiting for Beau to appear, hopefully with a fish.

 

Today Beau spent from early morning until almost noon perched on the tower.  There were no sightings of the OspreyTeens.  Beau did reappear on the tower during the afternoon.

My last photo of Beau on the tower, September 10th at 5:10 pm

 

Can I positively ID these Osprey on the towers as Beau and one of the OspreyTeens?  No.  But I am basing my guesses from Bella & Beau’s past behavior on flying to & from and using these towers every day as their perch for the last few weeks.

What a Dad!  Although Beau really wasn’t into nest building this year, I am proud of his commitment to Bella in staying behind, to finish teaching and to ensure their offspring have a chance at survival during their tough first migration.

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Beau in flight.

 

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Beau in flight with a headless fish.

 

A series of Beau I didn’t previously share were these images of him skimming in the creek after delivering a fish to the nest platform.

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Beau preparing to skim the water.

 

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Beau makes contact with the water, dragging his feet, cleaning those talons.

 

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Look at that determination and drive!

 

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Beau shaking the water from his head while preparing to lift out of the water.

 

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Lift-out!  And feeling good!

 

Another series not previously shared of Beau defending his perch from an intruding Osprey on top of the crane several months’ back.

Beau defending his perch against an intruding Osprey.

 

As I mentioned in the recent “Osprey Migration” post, one of the major challenges Ospreys face during migration is weather, specifically hurricanes. This is true for so many wildlife species presently doing their migrations.   We now have a dangerous Category 4 hurricane barreling towards the East Coast, to make landfall possibly Thursday.  Please pray for both human life and wildlife.  There is going to be devastation for all.

In the Bella & Beau series, I’ll post again to let you know if I’ve seen Beau and any OspreyTeens since today.  Hopefully, he and all other remaining area Osprey have an instinct feeling to stay put for a while longer while the hurricane makes landfall, blows through, and diminishes.  I think it’d be safer here than several hundred miles further south. 

I also plan on doing a final Bella & Beau photo rewind post of their successful six-month season, showcasing some of the memorable and best captures of them and their beautiful offspring that I think you will enjoy.

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Bella, Beau and their offspring.

 

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The offspring that developed into healthy, beautiful OspreyTeens.

 

Stay tuned for the final posts in the Bella & Beau series!

 

(For all past posts on Bella & Beau’s 2018 season, you can click HERE.)

 

 

 

 

Other ‘Backyard’ Wildlife Residents

Besides Osprey Bella & Beau and family, as well as other birds I’ve shared, I thought I’d show some of my other ‘backyard’ wildlife residents around the creek that happened to catch my eye from my balcony.

Diamondback Terrapin turtles are everywhere and fun to capture.  I’ve taken WAY too many turtle photos, lol.

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Diamondback Terrapin Turtle

 

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Diamondback Terrapin Turtle

 

When not swimming around, they will find a perch to sun themselves.

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Diamondback Terrapin Turtles

 

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Diamondback Terrapin Turtle

 

 

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Diamondback Terrapin Turtle

 

I love photographing turtles, they can be quite comical at times.

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“I….can….almost….make….it….”

 

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“Ha!  Did you doubt I would?”

 

We even get Snapping Turtles.

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Snapping Turtle

 

It has been exciting to see Cownose Rays gliding just under the surface many times.

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Cownose Ray

 

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Cownose Rays

 

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Cownose Rays

 

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Cownose Ray

 

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Cownose Ray

 

 

How about a muskrat?  He quickly disappeared as soon as I saw him.

 

Muskrat

 

Weeks later, I saw him again or one of his relatives.

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Muskrat

 

And then there was this snake…..I was glad I was on my balcony.

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Unidentified Snake

 

Trying to exit to the balcony through my slider one day, this Praying Mantis was watching me through the glass.

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Praying Mantis

 

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“Hello, may I come in?”

 

I’ll share a couple more faves I took of the Diamondback Terrapin turtles….

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Diamondback Terrapin Turtles

 

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“Hello there!”

 

I don’t think I could ever get bored being on my balcony.   🙂

 

 

The Fish That Got Away

About a month ago while watching the Osprey, a Green Heron landed on the dock below their nest platform with a fish he had just caught.

He immediately decided to swallow it.

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Green Heron preparing to swallow his catch.

 

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Green Heron working the wiggly fish.

 

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Down the hatch!

 

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The wiggly fish pops back out of the Green Heron’s throat.

 

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The fish that got away!

 

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Splash!

 

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“How’d that happen?”

 

The Green Heron just stood there bewildered.

After all that hard work catching that fish, I would be too.

 

 

Bald Eagles on the Choptank River

Wildlife and nature abounds up the quiet 71-mile Choptank River and its tributaries that feed off the Chesapeake Bay.

The wildlife includes Bald Eagles.  While boating up the river, we’ve seen several pairs perched along different stretches almost every time.  I’m pretty positive there are nests hiding in those trees, for me to locate later when the leaves fall.

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Bald Eagle

 

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Bald Eagle

 

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Bald Eagle

 

Bald Eagles are year-round residents of the Chesapeake Bay.

 

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Young adult Bald Eagle, still attaining its white head and tail

 

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Juvenile Bald Eagle

 

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Juvenile Bald Eagle

 

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Juvenile Bald Eagle

 

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Juvenile Bald Eagle

 

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Bald Eagle cruising by!

 

These were just a few of the many I’ve photographed.  I’ll share more another time!