Bella & Beau 2019: Nest Guard-Duty and Attacking Intruders
Osprey nest location: Cambridge, Maryland, Chesapeake Bay Region, USA
April 9, 2019
As remarkably adaptable birds of prey, Ospreys can be found on every continent except Antarctica; but they have a special attraction for the Chesapeake Bay, where it is estimated to host over 10,000 pairs. Nowhere else on the planet is there a larger breeding population.
Bella & Beau
At my last posting, I was coming down with what became the flu. I feel for anyone that had it this season, I’m still trying to recover my strength.
And while I tried to improve, I could hear the constant commotion of Osprey outside my windows. Bella & Beau were at battle with several other pairs of Osprey early in the week, trying to keep control of their home.
Bella & Beau in defense stance, warning overhead Osprey
The attacks were fierce and intense. I watched in horror two different times an intruding female Osprey knock Bella off the nest platform and into the water. One of the times, she recouped immediately and chased the intruder down, knocking it to the water as retaliation. Bella got a smile out of me then.
I really wasn’t feeling well for photo ops, but did try a couple times. Photos bad but give the gist of the action!
Bella trying to defend her nest
Bella knocked off her nest
Beau chasing an intruding Osprey
The growing nest itself suffered in the attacks. Sticks got knocked off from quick take-offs and hard landings.
Bella (right) & Beau (left) with much of the nest lost
Thankfully, the area Osprey intruders have settled down with the harassment. I’ve done a quick survey of the area and know of five other Osprey nests that are being built within a mile’s vicinity. It seems Bella & Beau’s platform was prime, but the others have settled for what they have (cell tower, two building tops, a crane, and another platform).
Bella & Beau with a new growing nest
Bella has become more of the homebody again, protecting her home.
Beau, in the meantime, worked hard in bringing more sticks and nesting materials, trying to keep the nest built.
Beau busy delivering nesting materials
Beau off to get more nesting materials
Bella watching Beau making the deliveries
Beau delivering a rather large stick.
“Where do you want it, Bella?” Beau asks as he whacks her with it.
My goodness, with all that action of attacks and nest rebuilding, Bella & Beau were still able to squeeze in mating time. Yes, their instinct is very strong, and time is of the essence for the season. Last year, Bella laid her first egg around April 17th.
Bella & Beau mating
The deed is quick with Beau usually taking flight to retrieve another stick or a bit later with a headless snack for Bella to devour.
Beau delivers a fish to Bella
What a week! I was able to finish it out with several beautiful flight shots of both Bella and Beau.
Bella in flight
Bella in flight
Beau in flight
Beau in flight
Beau “close-up” with his third semi-transparent eyelid (called a nictitating membrane) acting as a goggle
“Beau cruisin’ on by”
And some of my last shots to end this update…..
“The Happy Couple”
Beau taking flight
Bella on nest guard-duty – the last photo of the nest to date
I am glad the week ended on a good note that all seems back to normal with the usual antics of an Osprey’s daily life.
Note: The majority of my photos for the Bella & Beau series are shot from my balcony about 200+ feet where I’ve got just enough advantage height to reach into the top of the platform. My equipment: a Nikon D200 and D750, with a Nikon AF-S VR-Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 lens combined with a Nikon Teleconverter (1.7x magnification), zooming all the way in. At photo processing, it is then necessary to crop at least 50% to share close-ups with you. The Bella & Beau series is not so much about high-quality photos (although I seriously strive to get the best, detailed shots for the storyline), as it is about the antics and adventures of an Osprey pair’s daily life. It is also my hope you will learn a little bit about the amazing Osprey and enjoy following along!