Bella & Beau 2019: Farewell Osprey, A Season Finale

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

September 16, 2019

I left us with my last post of September 10th, Momma Bella had left for migration and my last sighting of teen Bonita was September 8th so I mentioned she could have left as well.  She had.  I never sighted her again.

That left Dad Beau watching over and encouraging younger sibling, Brad.  I knew Brad’s instinct to migrate was imminent.  But I still didn’t expect it when it happened.

I last saw Brad and Dad Beau September 11th, the day after my last post.  I’ve sighted neither since, so yep, that was too quick.  In fact, I hadn’t seen any sightings of other Osprey in the area for the last couple days until today, a lone one off in the distance.


Now An Empty Nest (Literally) Until March 2020


I’m glad I watched Brad a few times when he did visit the nest for those two days before he left.  He gave a couple nice series to share with you.


During those last two days when Brad arrived at the nest, I could see he was always somewhat wet.  His feathers also showed a lot of wear and tear from the dives and soakings.  So that meant he was trying to fish, probably even succeeding at times.  He was most likely coming to the nest when he was tired.  It was easier to beg, right?  But his beggings were ignored by Dad Beau who I could usually find on the water tower, a sailboat mast, or in his tree keeping a watch over Brad.


Brad doing some begging


Brad still cracked me up, begging a bit, looking at Beau to see if he was responding, and then sit and pout and watch the fish swimming below him.


Brad watching small fish swimming about below


Catching me off-guard on the take-off, Brad chanced a dive from the nest but came up empty-talon.


Brad lifting out of the water after diving for a fish



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“I tried!”


Brad climbed and flew up to pass alongside me on my balcony…


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and gave me this next awesome photo opportunity to catch him shaking off the water.  At download, I was thrilled!  Thank you, Brad!!


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Brad’s “Shake it, baby!”


Brad flew back up to the nest platform and gave Dad Beau a glance over on the sailboat mast.


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“Dad, I tried!  Donna got a photo to prove it!”


Fishing from the nest is not practical for an Osprey, but I guess it’s tempting to a teen to give it a try.

I believed Brad could fish for himself evidenced by his full, healthy body and Beau’s refusal to deliver; but I am glad I captured a beautiful series of awesome Dad Beau giving Brad a break and delivering a fish to him one more time.

Enjoy Beau’s gorgeous wing maneuvers as he brings the fish in while an excited Brad, for once, patiently waits til Beau has landed and doesn’t go all martial-arts on him.  Probably because Brad knows Bonita’s not around to swoop in to try and take it!  😉


Dad Beau delivers a fish to Brad



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Beau flew to his favorite tree across the creek to take watch again over Brad



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Brad decided to fly over to the telephone pole to the left of Beau’s tree to eat his fish
(the gulls are hoping for a leftover morsel!)


A final three photos from those last two days…..


Handsome Brad ready for migration



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Brad practicing his martial-arts moves – “Hi-yah!


Today, Bella, Beau, Bonita, and Brad, as all other migrating Osprey, are each flying alone, heading to Central or South America for a toasty winter.  Bella could already be at her wintering grounds, fishing and rejuvenating in her tropical paradise.  Nice thought!


Oh, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane….




Bella & Beau will winter apart and return next March 2020.  Remember their two chicks from last year?  If those two did well, they will also be returning to the Chesapeake Bay region that same March after their 1½ years away.  They will not know their parents and may be a hundred miles away hunting for a mate, there are no longer any family ties.  And finally, Bonita & Brad, they will stay in Central or South America for their 1½ years’ vacay and return March 2021.

Bon voyage, Osprey, may you fly strong and stay safe to return to us for another season!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the fascinating 27-week breeding season life cycle of the Osprey and maybe learned a thing or two.  This bird is found on every continent around the world except Antarctica and was almost extinguished from existence with the human use of pesticide DDT until its ban.  Now thriving once again, the Osprey has made a tremendous comeback.  Aren’t we very lucky!!

By the way…..did I make an Osprey lover out of you?  😊


P.S.   Thank you very much for following along Bella & Beau’s season and for the wonderful, kind, awesome, and beautiful comments so many of you left.  I also thank my wonderful husband who has put up with my time at the computer to create these posts, as well as his help in alerting me to ‘something going on’ so many times.  And of course, thank you Osprey Bella, Beau, Bonita, and Brad, you made the summer extra-special for me!



Chesapeake Bay Sea Nettles – Water Ballet


There are three species of jellyfish found in the Chesapeake Bay, the most common being the Sea Nettle (or “Bay Nettle”).


Chesapeake Bay Sea Nettles in Cambridge Creek


Up until 2017, Chesapeake Bay Sea Nettles were believed to be the same species of nettles that occur offshore in the Atlantic Ocean.  A team of scientists discovered it is actually a distinct species and named it Chrysaora chesapeakei to distinguish it from its ocean cousin, Chrysaora quinquecirrha.


Chesapeake Bay Sea Nettles in Cambridge Creek


We have had a sudden surge in the number of Sea Nettles this past week in Cambridge Creek.  Before that, I’d only see one occasionally.

With the passing of Hurricane Dorian a week ago that brought high flooding to our lower Bay and then the continuance of extreme high tides with the full moon, maybe the hundreds of nettles were washed in.


Chesapeake Bay Sea Nettle – Cambridge Creek


The milky white bell of the Bay Nettle grows to an average of 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter.  They have four long, lacy oral arms hanging from their center, as well as up to 24 dangling tentacles.


“Flower Power”


Those 24 tentacles have millions of microscopic stinging cells to sting, entangle, paralyze and capture their prey of copepods, minnows, worms, comb jellies, bay anchovy eggs, and other small creatures.


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“Black & White I”


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Chesapeake Bay Sea Nettle in Cambridge Creek


The tentacles are then used to move the prey into their mouth in the center of the bell’s underside.


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“Close-up I”


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“Close-up II”


Bay Nettles do not swim and cannot control their direction.  They float with the water currents and feed continuously.  The longer they survive the summer from predators, the larger they get.  Some of the Bay Nettles in my photos are as large as 8-10″ in diameter and with tentacles 4-5 feet long.  These were some healthy nettles!


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“Caught In A Current”


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“Close Encounter”


Sea Nettles do not have eyes and do not need light to survive.  They are nearly 90 percent water.


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Chesapeake Bay Sea Nettle in Cambridge Creek


Sea Nettles are geared for high reproduction.  An average sized Chesapeake Bay Sea Nettle sheds about 40,000 eggs into the water daily from May to August.  Bay research has been ongoing to try to find a way to slow their population that continues to soar each year.


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“Black & White II”


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Floating slowly and gracefully, Sea Nettles give a stunning water ballet performance that is quite mesmerizing and soothing.

I spent time just watching them, taking shots here and there, really thinking the photos would not turn out decent.  Most were taken this morning and it was cloudy.  For me, it was more about enjoying the experience, as I have never seen anything like this before.  Of course, I love it when I surprise myself at download!  😊



Green Heron – On The Move

What fun the Green Herons have been this summer!

Here’s another action series of an early morning Green Heron who flew in and landed on a dock line below me, then continued making his way to the dock.  He played in-and-out-of-the-shade on me!


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Green Heron – “Dropping in”



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Green Heron – “Contemplating The Next Move”



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Green Heron – “Struttin’ Down the Line”



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Green Heron – “A Hop To The Dock”



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Green Heron – “Shadow Play I”



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Green Heron – “Shadow Play II”




Green Heron -“Stop. Look. Listen.”

(Not knowing I was there, he’s finally heard my camera…)



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Green Heron – “Neck Stretch” or “Did I hear something over there?”



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Green Heron – “Oh, There You Are!”

(I have been spotted!)



He tried, but with the tide not low enough for him to get under the docks, the Green Heron took off again across the creek to try and find a better fishing spot.  And no annoying cameras, I’m guessing…..



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Green Heron – “Flight Reflection”




Bella & Beau 2019: Momma Bella Is Gone, Teen ‘Tug-of-War’, and A Liquor Bottle

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

September 10, 2019


In the past after I’d publish my latest Bella & Beau post, I would then begin to fret, would I see anything new or cool or beautiful to share for the next post?


And every next post there’d be just way too much that’d I’d try desperately to ‘whittle’ down the photos to share, and still have too many to bombard you.  (Bless you all for your loyalty!)


And, yes, I did worry about this post to be published, as I know our area’s Osprey are all slowing disappearing as they take off on their migration to Central or South America.


By reading my post title, and once you’ve reached the end, I think you’ll agree, Bella & Beau’s Osprey World is going down in history as an entertaining season to the very end!


Yes, as the post title mentions, Momma Bella has left.  My last confirmed sighting of her was on August 27th.  I’ll share this next photo that is either Bella or Beau, but I just cannot confirm Bella.  It does appear there is a ‘necklace’ in a heavy crop; but it’s so far away, it could be ‘photo noise’ too.  So I’ll let you decide.  If this is Bella, then August 30th was my last sighting of her.


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August 30 – Is this Bella or Beau?  I am not sure.


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August 30th – Bella??


So where do Osprey migrate?

U.S. Northeast/Chesapeake Bay Osprey (Bella & Beau’s region) – to primarily South America, some to Central & the Caribbean

U.S. Midwestern Osprey – to Mexico, Central & South America, some to the Caribbean

U.S. Northwest Osprey – to south Texas, Mexico and Central America

Australasian Ospreys – most do not tend to migrate

Europe and northern Asia – to Africa, India and southeast Asia


In the U.S., there are scattered numbers of Osprey along the Pacific coast of Washington, Oregon, and California, as well as Arizona that do not migrate, nor do the Osprey migrate along the entire Gulf Coast, Florida, and the Atlantic coast of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.


Migrating adult Osprey will usually return to their previous wintering grounds.  They will typically fly alone.  Osprey will fly day and night, instinctively following their repeated migration routes, stopping to fish, eat, and rest as needed and if they can.


Unlike many raptors, Ospreys do not use updrafts and thermals to fly.  It is thought that Osprey use a variety of techniques for navigation, including the stars and the changes in the earth’s magnetic field.  Their average distance per day ranges from approximately 60 to 235 miles/day (95 to 380 km/day).


As with Bella & Beau and the teens, the U.S. Northeast Osprey will inevitably be making a 12+ hour-long flight at night over water to South America, which is possible because of the Osprey’s wing morphology and wing-loading characteristics.


Osprey chicks’ first migration is tricky.  They sometimes wander in wrong directions, hang out in areas too long, and can even get lost.  These mistakes can be detrimental.  The mission is to get to the Caribbean or South America and hang out there for another year and a half, then returning usually back to their birth area, ready to find a mate and begin their adult breeding lives.


So, we say, Bon Voyage, Bella!  May you fly safe, enjoy your tropical vacation, and return next March 2020 to rear another successful family to the Chesapeake Bay region!


I wonder if Beau feels a loss with Bella’s departure.  Do they communicate a goodbye before the split?  Beau will not see Bella again until March 2020.  Osprey mate for life, but they do not migrate or winter together.


The male Osprey stays on for up to another month after the female leaves to continue to assist the teens with mastering their fishing skills and feed them as needed.  Once the fishing skills are acquired, each Osprey teen will get an instinct to leave and will go.  Once the last teen has left, the adult male’s final duties are done, and he will head south as well.  Beau will be a one happy Osprey then, don’t you agree?!!


Now on to more great stories and photos to share….


I’m sure the mention of a liquor bottle in the post title got you wondering, eh?


I’ve noticed for several weeks something lying in the nest, but no photo could show anything for a share.  With my binoculars, it looked like a smashed plastic cup.


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Bonita and ‘something’ in the nest few weeks ago that keeps moving around


The morning of September 7th, I took a photo of this beautiful scene of Brad on the nest.


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A well fed-looking Brad enjoying the morning


What was that I saw hanging from the nest in the center?


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A liquor bottle!


The liquor bottle was wedged and hung that way all day and into the night.


Another shot later in the day


The next morning, the bottle was gone.  I checked the dock below but didn’t see it amongst the pile of branches that had fallen/knocked off the nest.


The bottle must be plastic, I can’t imagine the Osprey would want to carry a glass one to a nest.  But who knows with this couple.  Remember the stuffed animal toy from June?  (click the blue link to see that post)



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“Hello world from up here!”


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Bella feeding her babies in their nursery


Bella & Beau’s nest (or lack of) and accessories both this year and last have certainly been unique and different from normal Osprey nests for sure!


Well, it has continued to be a noisy past couple weeks.  Both Bonita and Brad have really been causing a ruckus with temper tantrum demands for fish.

Temper Tantrums


Dad Beau is usually nearby, mostly ignoring the pleas.

Dad Beau’s perches


I’ve noticed Bonita getting angry enough to leave the nest and fly off towards the river, maybe to give fishing another try, or “I’ll just do it myself”.  Which is what she and Brad need to do.


When not having a temper tantrum, the teens watch the water below intently.


Teens watching the water below


I see fish below me all the time, as well as larger fish suddenly, which I’m sure this is what they’re seeing also.


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There are tasty meals of fish in that water, Bonita and Brad!


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Bonita diving for a fish from the nest, but no success


But if one or both teens beg and cry for a fish for hours, Beau will come to the rescue with one.


A fish for Bonita


A fish for Brad



And if both teens are there at the fish arrival, then it’s up in the air who gets control of the meal.  With no sharing!


This next series is best viewed opened to run through what happens when a ‘tug-of-war’ occurs!  I ‘whittled’ it down to these 30+ shots but took over twice as many of the battle.


As you watch, see if you can anticipate who will win.  In the beginning, Bonita is on left, Brad is on the right, and a bewildered Beau in the back.

Bonita and Brad’s ‘Tug-of-War’


After a good meal of stinky fish, skimming to clean those talons is great hygiene.


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Bonita skimming the water, cleaning her talons


The teens have been having a little fun chasing the gulls up and down the creek.  It’s great for them in learning quick maneuver skills at split seconds.


Even the recent Canada Geese visiting the creek have had ‘attacks’.

Bonita attacking the Canada Geese


Catching Beau and the teens is getting harder as the nest sits empty for longer periods.

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A Blackbird looking for any leftovers


Here’s a few nest platform portrait shots……

Teen Portraits


Beautiful Bonita


Handsome Brad


I love when I see them in flight and am still getting some nice shots.

Here’s Beau in flight……

Beau in flight


Bonita in flight…..

Bonita in flight


And Brad in flight…..

Brad in flight


A final word, my last photos and sighting of Bonita were September 8th.  I did not see her yesterday nor today as of this publish.  So I am getting the feeling Miss Bonita’s internal instinct told her it was time to migrate.  I’ll be keeping a watch to see if I still spot her.


That leaves Dad Beau and teen Brad.  Brad is approximately one week younger than Bonita (the second-born chick of the brood of three was lost), so he’s possibly around for several more days or longer.  He was begging last evening for a fish, but Dad Beau ignored him while perched on a sailboat mast across the creek.


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Beau last night, ignoring Brad’s begging


Brad was up bright and early this morning continuing his beg to Beau.  Beau finally delivered a fish to a happy Brad.  I took some photos that I’ll download later for the next post.


I’ll end with photos of the Osprey teens ending their day with them aglow in two sunsets and one night shot.


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Another sunset with the northern clouds aglow


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One of the teens about an hour after sunset.
(I used my flash and am surprised I got this shot!)


Can an Osprey family be any more entertaining?!!!  Stay tuned for Brad and Beau’s final days and a season finale!



Series: Take A Moment and Enjoy A Sunset……and Crescent Moon

Last night’s dramatic sunset lasted for just a few minutes before the distant clouds covered the sky in grey.  What a moment!


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Sunset over Cambridge Creek


Always attempting moon shots after sunset, I took this crescent moon September 1st as it lowered in the night sky over the marina across Cambridge Creek.


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Moon over Generation Marina, Cambridge Creek


“When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the Creator.”   – Mahatma Gandhi



American Robin – Gallery

A couple days ago watching Osprey teens Bonita & Brad (who are still here!), an American Robin shot past me in his journey.

It made me realize I hadn’t seen or heard much of our local robins lately, now that their breeding season is over.

It also reminded me I hadn’t posted any more photos of this beautiful bird since the end of June.

Here are a few more of my favorites from this past summer…



American Robins are year-round residents here in the mid-Atlantic region.  Soon they will begin flocking in areas nearby through the winter in search of delectable berries to feast on before their ‘return’ to their nesting grounds where many of us are accustom to seeing them as our harbinger for Spring.



Series: Take A Moment and Enjoy A Sunset

We were rewarded with another spectacular sunset this evening…..


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Sunset over Cambridge Creek



“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands…”
.    – Psalm 19:1 (NIV)



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