Bella & Beau 2019: The Wait Is Almost Over

Osprey nest location:  Cambridge, Maryland, Chesapeake Bay Region, USA

May 23, 2019

It’s been a quiet past couple weeks for the most part for Bella and Beau.  Incubating and protecting their precious egg(s) is top priority 24/7.

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Expecting Parents Bella & Beau

 

The long wait is exhausting.  Naps continue to be taken when possible.

Nap Time

 

Beau still needs to be urged at times by Bella to give up his incubating/nap time.  When he won’t get up, Bella gets louder and louder until he does.

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Bella telling Beau his nap time is up.
In this instance, it took Bella 12 minutes of hollering to get Beau up.

 

So off Beau will go, to do what Bella asked, either go fishing or gather more nesting materials or even just off to perch on a nearby sailboat to watch over Bella and their nest.

I think we all know by now Bella rules the roost.

 

Beau in flight, on missions for Bella

 

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Sunset Dinner for Bella

 

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Beau arriving with a fish for Bella

 

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Bella is quick to ‘grab & go’

 

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In mid-flight, Bella maneuvers the fish from her beak to her talons for a secure hold.
(Look at those sharp talons!)

 

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Bella’s favorite place to dine across the creek

 

Most times, the male Osprey will eat the head of a caught fish before delivering it to the female, a refueling snack for him while he does his chores.

I imagine Bella wasn’t too pleased with the size of her meal Beau delivered in the next photos.  Beau must have been so hungry, he forgot to stop at the head, delivering just the end of the fish’s tail to Bella.

Bella enroute to her perch with her fish-tail meal where she devoured it in just a few bites

 

With Bella doing most of the incubating, the rainy days can make a mess of her and the nest.  Hygiene is important, so baths are necessary.  After eating and a flight, sometimes Bella will take a splish-splash creek bath!  (click on the first image to go through the series)

Bella’s splish-splash creek bath

 

Doesn’t it look like she’s enjoying it?  Here she goes again, this time a quick one.

Bella taking a bath

 

Bella’s baths sure look refreshing!

 

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Bella in flight

 

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Bella returning to the nest

 

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Bella’s beautiful wingspan

 

The Double-breasted Cormorants continue to visit daily to fish on Cambridge Creek.  Bella & Beau’s scare attacks do not deter the Cormorants from returning.  It’s almost like a game of ‘cat and mouse’.

Double-breasted Cormorant and Beau playing ‘cat & mouse’

 

It is easy to tell when there’s an intruder passing over in the sky.  Bella & Beau’s alarms are distinct and loud, giving out the threat that says you’re not welcomed here.

 

(Osprey audio courtesy of Audubon.org)

 

Yesterday, Bella was alone on the nest and got incredibly loud, so I went out to investigate.

Sure enough an Osprey intruder was circling overhead.  And Beau wasn’t anywhere to be seen.  Bella was on her own.

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Osprey Intruder

 

After another circling, the Osprey intruder started dropping down towards Bella.  Bella screams hysterically.

 

(Osprey audio courtesy of Audubon.org)

 

The Osprey intruder did not appear to be attacking in as much as just wanting to land on the nest.  Bella was not having it.

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Bella in full-alarm mode as the Osprey intruder prepares to land

 

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Bella prevents the landing.

 

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Osprey intruder aborts and keeps going.

 

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Bella keeps her stance as the Osprey intruder flies off.  Out of nowhere, Beau swooped in, with a fish in his talons, and chased the intruder off for good.

 

Except for those few exceptions, Bella and Beau seem to be very tolerant of all else, including humans and the daily boats that pass by, even those big ones.  Bella & Beau always have front row seats to the entertainment.

Just a sampling of the big boats that passed by Bella & Beau this past two weeks

 

I find it amusing that the people on the ‘touring’ boats who are pointing at and taking photos of Bella & Beau have no idea of Bella & Beau’s ‘fame’ on the internet.   😊

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Bella & Beau’s Happy Home

 

Bella & Beau are now in the final stretch of their wait.  Their precious egg(s) are due to hatch around May 25th to June 1st.

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Bella taking a break on a recent very warm Spring day (we passed her by on our boat)

 

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Beautiful Momma Bella

 

Fingers crossed with high hopes for successful hatchlings, Bella & Beau!

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Bella settled in for the evening

 

 

Bald Eagle – A Survivor

A couple weeks ago, Osprey Bella began alarming loudly to Beau perched nearby.  I looked at Bella’s eye direction and saw the Bald Eagle coming towards her and me.

The Eagle, as most do, was just passing overhead in his travels from one destination to another.

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Bald Eagle with one leg

 

No matter how many times I see an Eagle, each additional time is just as exciting.

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Bald Eagle with one leg

 

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Bald Eagle with one leg

 

If you noticed my photo captions, this Eagle has only one leg.  It wasn’t until I reviewed my photos days later that I noticed this.

I hesitated on sharing these photos because I didn’t want to portray sadness or upset anyone.

But this isn’t what I see.

I see what I saw that day I photographed it, a magnificent, gorgeous Eagle in flight across the beautiful blue skies.  And I see a celebration of life of the wild.

My hope is you see that too.

 

 

Laughing Gulls

An errand took us towards southern Delaware; afterwards we swung over to Rehoboth Beach to enjoy the boardwalk and Atlantic Ocean views.

An occasional Laughing Gull would fly overhead…..looking for a snack, of course.

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Laughing Gull

 

And, of course, it only takes one to find a snack to draw a crowd.

 

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Why are they called Laughing Gulls?  Take a LISTEN   (Courtesy of Audubon.org)

 

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I’ve not photographed Laughing Gulls a lot so this was a treat for me to get some nice close-ups.

 

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Laughing Gulls

 

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Laughing Gull

 

Once the french fry was gone, so were the Laughing Gulls, off to find another!

 

 

Bella & Beau 2019: Egg-citing Time Now Becomes A Wait

Osprey nest location:  Cambridge, Maryland, Chesapeake Bay Region, USA

May 6, 2019

It’s been two weeks since my last update, and as announced then, Bella is indeed incubating at least one egg that was laid on April 20th.

In fact, Bella should have continued to lay up to another 1-3 eggs, ending no later than the April 25-29th time period.  Osprey usually lay a clutch of 2-4 eggs, each 1-3 days apart from another.

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Bella incubating her egg(s)

 

Bella’s eggs will hatch in the same sequence as they were laid, in 36-42 days.  That puts a first-egg hatching around May 25th to June 1st.

 

 

Last year Bella laid her first egg April 17th, and we know laid at least three eggs that delivered three live hatchlings (one hatchling perished little over a week after birth).

Osprey eggs are about the size of a large chicken or duck egg.
Width:  1.6-2.0” (5.5-6.8 cm)
Length:  2.2-2.7” (4.2-5 cm)
They are cream to pinkish cinnamon, with reddish-brown markings.

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Osprey Eggs
Photo by Alicia Pimental/Chesapeake Bay Program website

 

While Bella was busy with egg-laying, Beau stopped nest building and primarily stayed perched on the nest platform or one of several nearby to watch and guard Bella, leaving only to chase any intruders or fetch and return with a fish for her while assisting any breaks Bella needed.

 

Some of Beau’s favorite perches, all easily oversee Bella and the nest

 

When Beau brings Bella a fish, she still aggressively grabs it and flies to a telephone pole across the creek that she always favors.  She can also keep watch over the nest from there while Beau rests.

 

Bella takes the fish Beau just delivered

 

 

Bella transfers the fish from her beak to her talons while in flight

 

 

Bella eating her fish on her ‘telephone pole’

 

When Bella takes her meal breaks, Beau usually watches her fly to her perch, looks at the eggs, maybe even push them around a little, then nestles over them tight.  He sometimes takes a nap .

 

“Daddy Duty”

 

After consuming her meal, sometimes Bella may fly down and skim the creek to clean her lower body and talons.

 

 

“Bath Time”

 

Bella will then circle over the nest for a minute or two to stretch her body and wings.  I can only imagine how good it must feel!

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Bella circling nest after eating a meal

 

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Bella from behind, circling the nest

 

Never away long, Bella usually returns to the nest & perches to preen and dry while Beau continues incubating and napping.

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Bella on guard/preening/drying while Beau continues napping

 

Soon enough, Bella lets Beau know she’s ready to return to egg-duty, forcing him out if necessary.  Sometimes Beau doesn’t want to get up, I’m guessing because he enjoys the nap time!

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Bella making a stern move to force a now-awakened Beau up and out of the nest

 

Beau has also restarted his task of adding to the nest.  Unfortunately, the past few weeks of storms and strong, sometimes gale-force winds have been winning at destroying the nest over Beau’s attempt trying to enlarge it.

Beau had a difficult time last year with preparing a nest that would not stay intact. We’ve all hoped he’d be a better nest builder this year.  I thought I’d share a side-by-side nest comparison of the two seasons.

 

May 4, 2018                                                                 May 6, 2019

 

Look’s like Beau has had improved building skills this season!

Spring weather has been normal for our area with rain, wind, thunderstorms, and temperatures from 50s-70s°F/day, 40s-60s°F /night.  During the pouring rain and strong winds, Bella or Beau work hard to get as low and tight to the eggs to keep the wet and chill out.

 

Incubating during extreme weather

 

The best are the beautiful, sunny days when everything dries out and all seems good!

 

 

This is called the quiet month of the Osprey breeding season.  Other area Osprey are mostly settled in, many incubating as well.  None have much time to harass each other, as they quickly adapt to the incubation process and demands that comes with it.  Just the occasional fly-overs of those hunting for nesting materials and fish, which Bella & Beau always see and give warning calls if necessary.  No need for chases, everyone’s too tired and it can be too risky, leaving Bella alone.

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Bella & Beau keeping their eyes on other Osprey flying by

 

Oddly, and a re-occurrence from last season, Bella & Beau do not like Cormorants.  Nope.  Depending who’s perching at the time, Bella or Beau will swoop down to try to strike Cormorants, who always dive just quick enough.

 

Bella & Beau spot a Cormorant that resurfaced near their nest

 

 

The Cormorant dives just in time with each Osprey attack

 

Although the Cormorants will generally swim further down the creek or give in and depart, they will return the next day.  Fishing must be good here in the creek and worth the risk of Bella & Beau.

 

Bella & Beau happily watching the Cormorant leave

 

Beau is on the go!  Whatever Bella wants, Beau aims to please.

 

 

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Beau running an errand

 

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Beau’s nod to me on his way pass

 

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Beau in flight

 

Whether errand-running or egg-duty, the incubation period proves at times to be exhausting for both parents.

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Beau falls asleep on his perch while Bella is spread low inside the nest over their egg(s)

 

It’s going to be a long several weeks ahead, awaiting for the indication of a hatchling, and then finally catching a glimpse of the wee one.

I’ll end with a couple photos of Bella & Beau and their home on Cambridge Creek, both shot from my balcony.  Great digs, B&B!

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Bella & Beau on Cambridge Creek

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Bella & Beau on Cambridge Creek at sunrise

 

A quick side note, I have been overloaded with ‘things’ and am way behind on blogging,  reading and comments.  Please forgive, I’ll stop by soon, promise!

 

 

Gull Chasing Gull

When one gull finds a snack, one or more gulls, of course, will give chase to try to snatch it.  They usually have a few loud ‘words’ to say as well.

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Gull Chasing Gull With Snack

 

It’ll require a smart aerial move to outsmart the snack possessor whose plan is to not give it up.

Maybe something like this?

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“I’ll Take That”

 

Nope, he missed.  The smarter snack possessor out-maneuvered the chaser’s attempt.

This action goes on often when they flock into the creek.  Fun stuff to watch, listen, and even try to shoot.  I got lucky here.  🙂

 

 

One Tern Deserves Another

Heading towards Maryland’s Tilghman’s Island for the scenic drive and possible bird sightings, we stopped at Lowes Wharf Marina in Sherwood where several Forster’s Terns were perched on pier pilings.

 

A few were sleeping……

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Some were chillin’ in the breeze……

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And one was making a lot of noise.

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He even performed a dance on top of the piling.

 

There’s always one in the flock that wants to be heard.  🙂

 

 

A Hint of Yellow Crossing the Creek

A few days ago while photographing Bella & Beau, I caught a yellow flash out of the corner of my eye.

First thinking ‘bird’ (of course), I quickly realized it was a butterfly by the haphazard flying in the brisk breeze that was whisking it away.

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Nikon D750 f5.6 ISO-200 340mm (70-200mm lens + 1.7x converter)

 

It was so tiny against the creek’s water, I felt lucky to get the above one decent photo.

Here’s it is cropped.

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
(above photo cropped to this version)

 

Not your typical butterfly image that so many of you capture so beautifully perched on a stunning flower or plant.

Just a unique shot of one flying over a creek, hoping to make its way back over to land.

Update:
Shortly after posting this, I received a request from a fellow blogger to use my cropped photo on her blog along with a poem she wrote:

Seafaring Butterfly
— poem by Liz Cowburn
(her blog: Exploring Colour)

There’s a life for me across the sea
I hear the sirens sing
Flowered meadows bloom forever
Streams of nectar flow
Honeyed scents are calling me
Carried on a gentle breeze
And I’m enticed to cross the sea
On golden wings with fine black trim
My course is set for that far shore
This will be my home no more

 

How lovely, Liz!  This is quite an inspiration and thrill to me that you were inspired to write a poem from my capture.  Thank you very much!