Bella & Beau 2019: Two Hungry Teenagers

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

July 13, 2019

Welcome back to Bella & Beau’s Osprey World!  I’ll start off with the 4th of July fireworks that occurred a day after my last post.  The noise did not seem to bother Bella and her family.

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Fireworks over Choptank River – Bella & nest lower left corner

 

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Fireworks over Choptank River – Bella & nest lower left corner

 

Both parents have had their work cut out for them with their two steadily growing, hungry ‘teenagers’.

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“Houseful”

 

The teenagers are now going on six weeks old.

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Bella and her two ‘teenagers’

 

Just over five weeks ago…..they were so tiny.

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Chicks just over a week old

 

Beau is still temperamental on when he will and will not go for fish for the nest.  The more Bella hollers, the more Beau will ignore her…..until he decides he will make a fishing run.

Beau not responding to Bella’s call for another fish

 

And then Beau finally gives in.

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Beau in flight

 

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Beau arriving with a meal

 

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Bella thinking, “It’s about time!”

 

Bella is still making an occasional fish run herself when she gives up on Beau, like in this next instance.

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Bella flew to the river and returned quickly with this fish before sunset

 

Albeit late, Beau did show up three minutes later with a fish for the nest.  When he saw Bella already feeding the chicks, Beau went to the tower to sit and wait with his catch.  It was Bella’s turn to ignore Beau.

Beau with a fish intended for Bella and the chicks

 

Beau this time responding to Bella’s sunset call for a fish

 

More of Bella feeding those hungry teenagers

 

Besides to fish, Bella is leaving the nest more often other times, either to fly around or perch nearby, to give the chicks room to move and exercise those growing wings.

Bella in flight

 

Chick “wingersizing” is tough with Bella on the nest

 

“School Time”
Chicks watching Momma Bella fly around the nest

 

Sometimes Beau still comes to the nest to ‘chick-sit’ until Bella returns.

Beau “chick-sitting” while Bella was away gathering nesting materials

 

But Beau usually prefers to hang around nearby, keeping watch over Bella and the nest.  If he’s not fending off harassing Osprey intruders, poor Beau has to also deal with the nuisance of Northern Mockingbirds and Barn Swallows.

Beau vs. Northern Mockingbird

 

The hot and muggy summer days continue.  Bella has a strategy of providing her chicks some shade by creating her “Mombrella”.

Bella’s “Mombrella” for those hot days

 

Many of those humid days transformed into more late day thunderstorms.

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Chicks alone during a down pour

 

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When the rain is over, Bella returns to two very wet chicks

 

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Wet chicks drying out 40 minutes later

 

Enduring the weather’s elements gets pretty tough at times.  Now that they are older and less vulnerable, Bella will feed the chicks in the rain as well.

Bella feeding during a heavy downpour

 

It was the gorgeous days that I captured some beautiful shots of Bella and the chicks while riding past in our boat.

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A moment of bonding for Bella and Beau while the chicks nap

 

Bella and chicks

 

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Chicks rapidly turning into full grown raptors

 

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Beautiful Bella

 

All is good in Bella & Beau’s Osprey World when the bellies are full and the sun goes down.

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We have another successful couple weeks of an Osprey family’s survival and growth, who can ask for more!

 

 

Series: Take a Moment and Enjoy a Sunset & Moon

The sun set tonight giving way to colorful clouds and a bright crescent moon as it followed the sun’s path to the horizon.

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Moon Aglow At Sunset

 

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Moon and Drifting Pink Clouds

The night walked down the sky with the moon in her hand.
— Frederick L. Knowles

 

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Moon at Sunset – July 8, 2019

 

 

Juvenile Bald Eagle Goes Fishing

Enjoying a slow boat cruise up Tuckahoe Creek afforded me one of those priceless photo opportunity moments, and it involved a three year old juvenile Bald Eagle.

He didn’t care about us or any priceless moments.  He was fishing.

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“Eagle Eye on the Prize”

 

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“Talons Doing The Work”

 

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“Fishing Success”

 

He flew directly up into a tree with his meal as we drifted on by.

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“A Meal For One”

 

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“Dinner Time”

 

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“Almost An Adult”

 

I keep saying that going slow on our boat is just as much fun as going fast.  I think this series proves my case!  😉

 

 

Bella & Beau 2019: Splish Splash, Bella Takes a Bath

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

July 3, 2019

All seems to continue to run more smoothly this past week in Bella & Beau’s Osprey World Park.  No witnessed roller coaster rides, thank goodness!

In Bella & Beau’s last update, I shared one photo from a series of Bella taking a bath right down in front of me.  I love it so much, I want to share the full 26-shot series.

If you enjoy watching wildlife of any species delight in taking a bath, whether in the wild or at the zoo, I am sure you will adore seeing beautiful Bella during hers.

(Click on the first photo to run through the series in time order, photos will also enlarge.)

Bella takes a refreshing bath in the creek

 

I’m photographing the nest when I see the chicks up and about to try to capture their growth and changes that continue to occur to share in the next post.

Here’s a pretty sneak-peak shot before ending.

While heading out on our boat yesterday early afternoon, I snapped this as we passed Bella and her chicks.

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Bella and her two chicks (approx. 4 to 4 1/2 weeks old)

 

The above photo gives a good look at an Osprey chick’s eye color.  They are presently reddish-orange in color as a juvenile.  When the juveniles return from their South America winter migration at age two, their eyes will be bright yellow in color like their parents.

More to come showing those teenagers’ growth!  Would you believe they will be flying before July ends?!!

 

 

Wildlife Comedy: American Robin “Gangster”

My American Robin buddy playing “gangster” on me.

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“You got something to say to me?”

 

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“Oh, you wanna take this outside?”

 

I think he’s got the “tuff-stuff” down pat!

 

 

Bella & Beau 2019: The Good, The Bad, and The Sad

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

June 27, 2019

Bella & Beau’s last update was such an upbeat post with the three chicks looking healthy and their nest receiving a surprise toy stuffed animal to complete their ‘nursery’.

Unfortunately, things have taken a few turns.

I know Bella’s different loud calls.  I can crack my slider balcony door just a bit when I’m intent on listening, and bop out on cue.

After the last post, I was home all the next day and able to watch Bella, Beau, and the nest, thinking how neat to post on what a full day with the Osprey family would be like.

And as usual, Bella woke us up calling for fish at sunrise that morning.  Shortly thereafter, Beau must have delivered a fish, as Bella quit calling; and she and the chicks were quiet and content until about 9:00 a.m.  That’s when Bella started calling for Fish #2.

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Bella crying for fish

 

After a while of Bella’s calling, I stepped out and tried to locate where Beau was perched but couldn’t find him, and Bella wasn’t giving me any signs of her seeing/looking at him while she called.

Bella called and called.

After five LONG hours of begging, I finally heard Bella’s cry that said Beau was incoming with a fish.  I stepped outside, and sure enough, he was flying towards the nest with a fish in his talons.

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Beau enroute to the nest with a fish

 

From where I didn’t see, but a pair of intruding Osprey quickly appeared and Beau flew to the nearby water tower where he stayed perched with his fish.

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Intruding Osprey harassing Beau with his fish for the nest

 

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Bella watching the action while the chicks chirp for the food that Momma said was coming

 

Beau made it known loudly he wasn’t giving up his fish or perch.  Eventually the intruding Osprey departed the area; yet Beau refused for the next hour to bring the fish to the nest, no matter how loud Bella cried and stared at him.

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The three chicks are hungry

 

Beau did not deliver that fish.  He stayed on the water tower, and the fish soon disappeared.  I guess he ate it.

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Bella is not happy

 

It’s now 3:26 pm, with almost another hour having passed.  Bella suddenly took flight from the nest and plunged herself into the creek and proceeded to take a bath.  She pulled up from the water and plunged three more times, once right in front of me.  I could see another chick’s poop mishap had doused her pretty good.  I’d want it off too!

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Bella taking a refreshing, cleansing bath

 

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A wet Bella returned to the nest and immediately resumed crying for fish.

 

I don’t know what Bella said with that last crying.  Suddenly, Beau left the tower, flew towards the nest, and actually started fishing the creek.  He dived quickly and caught one, circled around to head back to the nest, and, you’re not going to believe this, accidentally dropped the fish back into the creek.

Beau then flew to a sailboat mast and perched.  Looking at Bella, I gathered she couldn’t believe it.  She just sat and stared in Beau’s direction.

 

Beau perched after dropping fish                    Bella looks at Beau in disbelief of what just happened

 

Another three hours pass.  Beau had disappeared from my sight.  The chicks hadn’t eaten since shortly after sunrise.

Bella had had enough.  At 6:17 p.m., I caught a glimpse of Bella taking flight from the nest and watched her fly to the direction of the Choptank River.

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Bella leaves the nest to go fishing while the chicks lay low

 

I still couldn’t find Beau perched anywhere, so I was a bit nervous.  Was he on nest-watch duty and I just couldn’t see him?  It was early evening.  Other raptors and owls are on the prowl for their next meal.

Bella was gone for six LONG minutes.  When I saw her coming, I was so relieved.  And happy!  I could see Bella had a large fish.

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Bella lands with the day’s long overdue Fish #2 meal

 

The three chicks were unquestionably hungry.  They were pushing, trying to get in close position to Bella, chirping loudly “fish fish fish”.

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The three chicks are pushing and shoving, trying to be the closest to Momma Bella and that long-awaited fish.

 

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Bella begins feeding the chicks.
Notice the size difference of the three chicks.

 

The youngest chick usually hangs back and allows the two older chicks to be fed first.  It’s safer.  But this time he was just as hungry and didn’t wait.

Sibling rivalry can be detrimental when they are hungry.

The oldest chick roughly attacked the youngest several times into submission.  The middle chick wasn’t spared either; but it was the youngest that really took a beating that time.

 

Sibling rivalry over food

 

Eventually, the oldest chick was filled and fell back to rest.  Bella fed the other two chicks with what was left.

Beau, in the meantime, had flown from out of nowhere over to a sailboat mast and had watched over the feeding event.  He was probably close by all along, watching over the nest when Bella flew to the river for the fish.  For some unknown reason, Beau obviously had an ‘off’ day on his fish duty.  He needed to keep up the pace on fish.

So Bella got that last fish herself at 6:17 pm.  At 7:19 pm, Beau dove from the sailboat mast into the creek.  I didn’t see him try to go in flight as I rushed to grab my camera.  I found him swimming to the marina’s bank across the creek.

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Beau swam to the marina creek’s edge with a huge fish and climbed up on the rocks.

 

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Close-up of Beau resting with the huge fish.

 

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Beau then began eating the head of the fish.

 

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Beau kept sliding back into the water from the slippery rocks, so he climbed higher.
Suddenly, Beau stops, looks, and listens.  He and I both hear Bella calling him.

 

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Beau slid back into the water  and tried to start taking flight.

 

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Beau kept trying to lift off alongside the length of the dock.

 

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Beau still trying to get up in the air with that huge fish.

 

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A wet Beau makes it airborne……without the fish.

 

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Beau flew past Bella and the nest and off into the distance.

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Bella watched Beau the whole time, including him losing that fish and flying off into the distance.

 

The sun set.  There were no more fish deliveries that day.  It had turned into a bad day for Bella, Beau, and family.  It certainly wasn’t what I anticipated in sharing a day in the life of the Osprey.

Beau’s fish deliveries are better now, but something wasn’t right for a couple days.  I saw Bella fish a couple times herself in the creek for a quick, small fish for the nest.  I always saw her share it too with the chicks, even though I knew it wasn’t even enough nourishment for just her.

That long day was followed by a couple days of severe storms, high winds, and heavy downpours, causing some damage to the nest.

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First storm approaching Bella and chicks – June 17, 2019

 

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First storm was full of lightning and strong winds.

 

When the first violent thunderstorm’s downpour and strong winds hit us on the evening of June 17th, I was worried for Bella and the chicks.  I opened my door and took a couple quick shots of Bella and the nest.  That’s when I saw the toy stuffed animal was missing.  It was there before the storm slammed us.

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Bella covering her three babies best she can as the torrential rains and winds hit.

 

The next morning I was very happy to see three chicks.  I searched the waters but didn’t find the toy.  It was cute in the nest while it lasted, wasn’t it?

(Side note:  I shared a few photos of Bella and her toy stuffed animal on Facebook at MD Birding and Friends of Blackwater NWR.  In addition to my blog ‘likes’ from all of you and over 200 views to date, the two Facebook posts also received 487 ‘likes’ and 163 shares to date.  WOW, Bella & Beau really had their moment of fame!  I had contacted our local WBOC news station to do a feel-good wildlife story and was disappointed I never even heard from them.)

So that first storm took our beloved toy away.  A couple more days of the same type of storms passed through.

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Another evening, another storm with heavy rains and winds.

 

And the next morning after each, I would check and be happy to find Bella and the three chicks ready for another meal.

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June 20, 2019 – Bella’s head buried in preening and her three chicks

 

The morning of June 21st, we left for a last minute, three-day getaway.  The storms had finally passed and it was to be a nice, although a high-wind weekend, with 20+ mph winds expected most of Saturday.  I took a photo of the three chicks, not the greatest, but for my records, while we hustled out the door.  (They don’t cooperate when you want them too!)

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June 21, 2019 – Bella and her three chicks

 

We returned the afternoon of June 23rd.  I checked on Bella and the nest.  I checked it again….and again….and again, up until sunset.  I was only seeing just two chicks each time.

The next day confirmed what I feared.  One chick was missing.  Whether it was blown off, or knocked off by sibling rivalry, or severely injured in a sibling attack, or not being able to get enough to eat, would be some of my guesses.  It is sad to accept, but accept we must.

The good news is it seems Beau is back on track delivering fish.  And Bella still doesn’t give Beau any slack in her demanding.

The two remaining chicks look healthy and are growing like weeds.

There is a noticeable difference in size and pin feather growth between the two.  Enough that makes me think Chick #2 was lost.

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Youngest chick chirping for food but still hanging back while the oldest chick is fed.

 

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Here’s a great profile of the two chicks showing their crops full after being fed.

 

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Another profile shot with those full crops.

 

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The youngest chick finally getting his feeding after the oldest collapses full.

 

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Another sweet shot!

 

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The oldest is being fed again while the youngest hangs back to watch and wait his turn.

 

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The youngest getting braver on not waiting.

 

Hopefully, things will stay the course now for Bella, Beau, and their two remaining chicks.

That’ll end this update of mixed news.  I’ll leave you with some pretty sunset shots of Bella and Beau from the last couple days.

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Bella at sunset

 

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Beau and ‘his’ tower aglow with the same sunset.

 

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Last night’s sunset had a unique bonus cloud.
Bella and her nest are on the left over the creek’s glow.

 

 

Wildlife Comedy: Canada Goose

Capturing the beauty of wildlife is what we strive.

Sometimes a capture result can end up giving us a giggle.

Canada Geese are a good subject for that, whenever they get in their loud “honking” stance warning off others, they can look a bit comical, stretching that neck and waggling that tongue.

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“She Is Mine!”

 

Silly goose!