A Tightroping Green Heron

A gorgeous Green Heron was perched on a swinging dock line hanging just above the water between two piers at our marina.

As we approached to pass by him, he showed us his perfect acrobatic balancing act as he quickly tightroped up the dock line and onto the boat.

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Green Heron

 

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Green Heron

 

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Green Heron

 

After the quick ascent, the Green Heron hopped onto the other boat and waited for us to pass.

 

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Green Heron

 

With those acrobatic skills, he shouldn’t have any problem joining a circus!

 

 

Sika Deer and White-tailed Deer

While out riding around the Dorchester County Neck Districts, not only were we seeing a lot of Eastern Wild Turkeys I recently shared, but near them we’d also see deer.  Never any large herds, just a few here and there.

Closer to the marshes, we found the Sika Deer.

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Sika Deer (hind or cow – female)

 

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Sika Deer (stag – male)

 

Further inland around the forest, we found the White-tailed Deer.

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White-tailed Deer (fawn)

 

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White-tailed Deer (buck -male)

 

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White-tailed Deer (doe – female)

 

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White-tailed Deer (male & female) running for the woods.

 

Cool Fact:  Sika Deer are not actually deer.  They are a member of the Elk family, sometimes also called Sika Elk or Asian Elk.  They were first introduced in the Chesapeake Bay watershed on James Island in Dorchester County, Maryland, in 1916.

 

Eastern Kingbirds

While watching Osprey pair, Bella & Beau, yesterday for a few minutes, directly in front of my balcony, landing on top of a sailboat mast, I was offered an awesome, quick photo opportunity of an Eastern Kingbird.

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Eastern Kingbird

 

Not an often seen perch for an Eastern Kingbird, I’d think.

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Eastern Kingbird

 

And then, poof, he was back in flight!

To my neighbors:  George, do you recognize the top of your mast? 😊

 

Yesterday’s above photo op reminded me of the Eastern Kingbirds I had captured at Blackwater NWR several weeks ago in a more natural perch setting.

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Eastern Kingbird

 

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Sweet shot!

 

I didn’t alter the next photograph and loved how it turned out.

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Eastern Kingbird sitting pretty in a breeze.

 

Bella & Beau: It’s All About The Wings

(Osprey nest location:  Cambridge, Maryland, USA)

July 15, 2018

In a previous post here I shared Bella taking a much-needed bath and about the importance in keeping their feathers clean and maintained, especially those large, gorgeous wings.

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Bella’s gorgeous wings.
(she’s delivering a stick to the platform that has no nest.)

 

Those wings are the Osprey’s life.  They need to be exercised and maintained to be in great condition for excellent flying so they can hunt for fish, plunge and then lift themselves from the drag caused by water capillarity, as well as have speed and control to challenge any enemies in the air.

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Bella in flight – you can see her feathers have damage.  She has been molting throughout the season.  Osprey molt by losing only a couple feathers at a time so they do not lose the capability to fly.

 

The OspreyTeens are now:  oldest is eight weeks, followed by the second at 7 to 7 ½ weeks.  They have quickly learned that keeping their feathers conditioned is a daily chore.  They are in constant preening mode, cleaning their new feathers and ridding the last of their wooly down.

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OspreyTeens preening their brand new feathers.

 

The OspreyTeens also need to exercise their wings.  One way is by stretching.  Most times this looks quite funny.

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“Mom, I’m bored, I have nothing to do…”

 

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Bella and an OspreyTeen watch the other’s wing stretch out and then back in.

 

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This was cute, a sibling “wing hug”.

 

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Here’s another sibling “wing hug” in a six-photo slideshow.
The last photo is priceless!

 

The OspreyTeens also exercise their wings with strong flapping, sometimes with a couple hops as they feel the lift.

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(photo chicks flapping)

It is getting very close now for the OspreyTeens to take their first flights.  It usually happens while flapping, the fledgling will catch the wind and off it goes!

Usually the first flight is brief and awkward and ends soon with the fledgling landing on a nearby perch.  After probably a much needed rest, it will try to return back to the nest where it will continue to live for several more weeks as it learns to control flight and then learn to hunt for food.  It’s surely a nervous time, for both them and us!

And now here is a series of some beautiful flight images I’ve captured over the last couple months of the caring parents, Bella & Beau, showing off their gorgeous patterned wings.

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Bella

 

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Beau

 

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Beau

 

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Bella

 

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Beau

 

 

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Bella flew up close to me.

 

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Bella

 

Beau is usually no longer at the nest except to deliver food.  So catching a family portrait is not easy.  Here’s a couple from this past week.

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The Osprey Family

 

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Family Portrait
Beau is alarming an intruder while the rest pays attention to the danger.

 

And a few more of beautiful Bella.

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“Mombrella” Bella

 

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Bella on guard while the OspreyTeens rest.
(taken from ground level)

 

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Bella on guard while the OspreyTeens rest.
(taken from ground level)

 

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Portrait of Beautiful Bella

 

Wrapping up this week’s post, I’ll share another sunset that Bella, Beau, the OspreyTeens and we enjoyed.

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Sunset over Cambridge Creek and the Osprey Family (far right over docks)

 

 

Eastern Wild Turkeys

While recently exploring the remote “Neck District” areas of Dorchester County, one bird sighting that we seen often were Eastern Wild Turkeys.  A couple dozen would be foraging along tree lines.  Quite skittish, they would run into the woods at the sight and sound of a vehicle.  The males would ensure the females were safe before they too would follow.

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Eastern Wild Turkey, male

 

We luckily happened upon a dozen or so Wild Turkeys alongside the road.  I saw several poults as they and their Mommas were scattering into the tall grass.  I got lucky with one capture of a poult who was hiding and watching.  Momma was just behind in the grass.

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Wild Turkey, Poult

 

Again as before, the females quickly disappeared into the tall grasses and woods while the males hung back.  This was the last male to retreat.

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Eastern Wild Turkey, male

 

He just strolled along, in no hurry, which was great for me.

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Eastern Wild Turkey, male

 

 

I quicky zoomed in for this final close-up shot as he headed into the shade and woods.

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Eastern Wild Turkey, male

 

From southern Canada to southern Mexico, there are actually six species of Wild Turkey:

– Eastern Wild Turkey (the species our pilgrims first encountered)
– Rio Grande Wild Turkey
– Merriam’s Wild Turkey
– Osceola or Florida Wild Turkey
– Gould’s Wild Turkey
– South Mexican Wild Turkey

Cool Fact:  Not only do Wild Turkeys fly, but they can at high speeds.  There have been recorded flights of up to 55 miles per hour.  Can you see a Wild Turkey flying alongside your vehicle, keeping up with you at that speed??  Mercy!!

 

Bella & Beau: Osprey Nest Comparisons and Those Teenagers

(Osprey nest location:  Cambridge, Maryland, USA)

July 7, 2018

That nest….or lack thereof!  Bella & Beau have proven they are a young, inexperienced couple with their nest building capabilities.   Here’s a photo of the Bella & Beau’s nest platform today alongside their nest four weeks ago.  Today there is not much at all inside, except almost full-grown chicks with the antics of teenagers.

June 6, 2018                                     July 7, 2018
Look at how the chicks have grown in four weeks too!

 

Bella still occasionally brings grass or sticks, but it breaks up quickly with the family tramping on it, the chicks playing with it, as well as the weather’s elements.  It is comforting to witness the constant care Bella gives on keeping the chicks within the nest platform rails surrounding them, scooting them away from any edge.

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Bella brought this grass to the nest yesterday.  It is already ‘gone’!

 

Our Chesapeake Bay region hosts approximately one-quarter of all Ospreys in the United States.  The Osprey’s goal is to have their nest over water so that they can see 360 degrees for predators.  One of the most favorite places to have a nest is on one of the many large channel markers throughout the Bay.

These are photos of just a few of some of the other Osprey nests on our local Choptank River taken about two weeks ago.

Osprey nests on Choptank River channel markers.

 

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Osprey nest on Choptank River channel marker.

 

The Osprey population on the Chesapeake Bay is so large, there is competition for those prime spots.  You know how quickly real estate waterfront property goes!

Osprey are creative and will find a place to nest.

 

Osprey nests in dead trees at the river’s edge.

 

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Even the river’s overhead powerlines were attempted for a nest.  😦

 

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Osprey nest on a hunter’s winter blind.

 

Just as Bella & Beau’s, thankfully many human platforms have and are still being created and placed over water throughout the Bay area to help Osprey with additional safer locations to nest.

Osprey nests on manmade platforms.

 

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Osprey nest on manmade platform, with three chicks.

 

Although we see what Bella & Beau are dealing with for a nest, these next photos will show much more challenging nests to have a family within.  Building on these type of channel markers are quite dangerous on being successful.  Yet these have chicks on them too.

 

Same Osprey nest on challenging channel marker at different angles.

 

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Osprey nest on another challenging channel marker.

 

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Osprey nest on another challenging channel marker.

 

Osprey nest on challenging channel marker.  This Osprey pair knows what they are doing!

 

This next nest will make a lot of boaters cringe.

Osprey nest on a boat.  YIKES!

I’ve seen nests created in the most surreal places and still succeed with a family.  So our hope is Bella & Beau can keep their teenagers in check with rules and safety.

The teenage chicks continue to fill out with beautiful feathers and long wings.  The oldest is now seven weeks, while the youngest is 6 to 6½ weeks.

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Bella  watching over her teenagers.

 

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My, how they have grown!

There is a darkening on the chest occurring on both chicks, possibly indicating we have two females.

 

As with the rest of the United States, the heat and humidity here the past week was terrible, with heat indexes in the low 100’s.

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Bella is shading both chicks (one is hiding) while Beau is on lookout for predators.

 

Bella has been very good at providing shade to her chicks…..

“Mombrella” Bella

 

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“Mombrella” Bella

 

Including flapping and dripping on them after a quick dip.

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Bella hanging around the chicks while wet, while she’s eyeing something above.

 

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“Drip on me, Mom, it feels good!”

 

Even in all the heat, the teens have kept up with their flapping exercises.

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Feelin’ the breeze!

 

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Even in a windy rain shower, the teens kept practicing, the oldest one is here.

 

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Not to be outdone, the youngest practices shortly after the oldest finishes.

The rain shower had to feel good too!

 

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Teenagers sure know how to take up their space when lounging around.

 

All in all, things have progessed well with the challenges Bella & Beau and those growing teens have faced and succeeded with to date.

I’ll end another week’s post in the life of Bella & Beau and their family with last night’s sunset.

 

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Sunset over Bella & Beau on Cambridge Creek – July 6, 2018

 

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Sunset over Cambridge Creek – July 6, 2018

 

Happy 4th of July, America

It is not usually my style to post on the same bird simultaneously, but our road trip adventure yesterday presented a Bald Eagle photo opportunity I wanted to share, and how appropriate on our America’s 4th of July holiday.

In the distance, the Eagle flew across the road and up into a tree alongside.  We slowed down and there he was, perched in the shade.

Temps were in the mid-90’s with heat index over 100.  The Eagle was panting to help with cooling off.

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Bald Eagle panting in the high heat, see his tongue?

 

Then the sun popped out from behind a cloud.

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Bald Eagle panting.

 

He looked back at me with that Eagle eye vision.

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And then, finally, I got the eye glint.  Yes!

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Bald Eagle

 

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Bald Eagle

 

As always, thank you for visiting; I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful day.

 

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