Bella & Beau 2019: Signs Show A Possible Egg

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

April 20, 2019

In the past 1½ weeks, Bella & Beau had to deal with some rain and a lot of windy days, many days exceeding 20+ mph, even a couple days of gale force winds.

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Beau showing off his beautiful wingspan

 

The wind played havoc with Beau’s continued hard work to build a strong nest.  But he has never given up, no matter the weather.

Beau delivering sticks to the nest

 

Even Bella has been helping, specifically materials for the nesting cup they have created.

Bella bringing more nesting cup materials

 

Bella found something different that she worked into the nesting cup

 

With all those sticks arriving, they have to be placed just right, according to Beau.

 

Sometimes Bella disagrees, and a tug-of-war occurs.

One rule about an Osprey nest, it is to be kept clean of poop.  The chicks are taught early to back up, lift their tail, and aim up & over the nest rim to the outside world.  Bella gives an example.

“Excusez-moi!”

 

Mating has been non-stop.  Beau’s instinct is strong to procreate!  When they finish, most times Beau takes off the nest, fetches a stick, and returns back to place it for Bella.

It is important that the male show his commitment to the female so she knows he can provide a nest as well as feed her and a new family.

So Beau has also been quite busy fishing and bringing back meals to Bella.  Beau will usually eat the head first before taking it to Bella so he can get some nourishment as well.  Bella can be very aggressive when Beau arrives, usually snatching it away from him, then taking off with the fish to a telephone pole across the creek from the nest.

 

 

 

There’s still the occasional harassment from other area Osprey.  No longer any real challenges, just the airspace territory they all think they own around them.  The Osprey seem to all have their own nests now and are busy with their lives.  Thank goodness, they all really challenged Bella & Beau to take their nest platform from them.   We said it before, waterfront real estate is prime!

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Bella giving a warning to an intruding Osprey overhead

 

There is also the occasional Bald Eagle that ‘passes through’ overhead, much to the frustation of Bella & Beau.  I was watching and taking some photos of them, when they both started screaming, took off the nest and flew towards me.  Why are they flying at me so angry?

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Bella & Beau taking off and flying towards me

 

I snapped some shots but was also looking away from my camera towards them, making sure I wasn’t possibly getting attacked.  I saw then they weren’t looking at me but something up over my head.

Bella in a frenzy flight

 

Beau also in a frenzy flight

 

What was the frenzy about?  Suddenly, a Bald Eagle passed out in front of me, with Beau in pursuit.

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Beau closing in on Eagle – Note the size comparison between these two raptors

 

The Eagle kept on going, trying to out-fly Beau.  Proud Beau finally gave up the chase as the Eagle headed off.

Last year, Bella laid her first of three eggs on April 17th.  I’ve been on watch, looking for signs for this year’s first.  During the last few days, more mating occurred, and the nest was constantly being attended to.  In addition, I noticed both Bella & Beau did a lot of napping.  A busy last few days!

It is exhausting being an Osprey!

 

Beau even began laying in the nest cup as if he was incubating, while Bella stayed perched alongside the nest rim or if she left with a fish.  This worried me at first, I wondered had Bella laid an egg but didn’t care to incubate it, yet Beau was trying?

When Beau left the nest, Bella would not change her perch.  I researched this odd behavior and found that the male will possibly start mimicking incubating as another sign to the female he can be the Dad he needs to be when she needs a break.  I had never seen this before!

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Bella (standing) while Beau is laying in the nesting cup, practicing incubating

 

Beau in the nesting cup, practicing incubating

 

Well, today, I believe was finally the day!  Early this afternoon, Bella changed her normal perch stance, and got into the nesting cup.  I checked on her often with my binoculars; and she remained there, shifting, panting, napping, moving soft nesting materials around her.  Beau would arrive and perch, look at Bella often, and then leave.

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Bella possibly in the process of laying an egg

 

I only saw Bella get up once, taking a quick flight due to a pedestrian walking below the nest platform with a dog.  She quickly returned and I watched her shimmy and shift, as if she was incubating.

Bella returning quickly after a pedestrian worried her, immediately getting back into an incubation positioning

 

My last shot this evening at a cloudy sunset.

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Bella possibly incubating her first egg while Beau spots something in the water, taken during this evening’s cloudy sunset

 

If Bella did in fact lay an egg, up to 2-3 more eggs can follow, each laying 1-3 days after the previous.  Time will tell this coming week!

With that exciting news, I’ll end with a bunch of beauty shots of the hopefully soon-to-be parents, Bella & Beau.

 

Bella in flight

 

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Bella giving Beau ‘a look’ when he doesn’t react to her cries

 

_DSC0601-1 41819Another wingspan shot of Beau

 

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The soon-to-be Parents!

 

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 equal to 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!

 

 

39 thoughts on “Bella & Beau 2019: Signs Show A Possible Egg

  1. Another amazing showcase of this devoted couple, how wonderful to be able to get nest high pics of the nest building and nesting process, this is a rare blessing Donna! Love you last shot of them settled and everyone in their right place. The facial expressions are interesting, is Beau looking at you photographing and showing concern?
    Enjoy your week my friend!

    • Thank you much, Ashley! I feel like I have an inside view of their life, it is so fascinating! I do get Bella & Beau looking at me on occasion, even a few times one might fly past me to check me out, say “Hi!” I don’t see them feeling any threat from me. But someone with a dog might want to watch out. 🙂

  2. Absolutely fantastic series, Donna. Really enjoyed your segmented approach, with a brief explanation of your observation, then the photos to follow of the described behavior. I always find it fascinating to watch birds in the multi-stage process of reproducing, and you have captured and explained it so well here. Interesting that the male practices incubating. Your photos are a marvel, loved all the nest building and interpersonal activities of the osprey, and especially the bald eagle drama. Many thanks.

    • Thank you, Jet, and you’re welcome! With Bella & Beau out in the open, my view point is great to be able to capture what I witness to share. And, of course, it is just a tidbit of the past week or so’s constant activity. My Osprey entertainment beats TV watching any time!

  3. I love your story line, and like last year, as I followed it, your osprey pair is a week or two ahead of ‘my’ pair. Yesterday both were off the nest in our cove, so I assume no eggs, but I continue to see new nesting materials being delivered to the nest, as recently as 10 minutes ago. I appreciate and understand your ‘disclaimer’ about photo quality. With lots of zooming in and lots of cropping, we can’t expect miracles of our cameras, but the pictures and story line far surpass the need for National Geographic quality images.

    • Thank you, Susan! The day in the life of the Osprey is quite entertaining, as you know. I hope Betty & Barney are successful for another season of antics in your cove for your enjoyment too! As for photos, I definitely go crazy on sunny days for sure! 🙂

  4. Such tough work being an Osprey! I’m worried about the minimal nest – is there enough there? I also was wondering about yesterday’s storm – so much wind and rain, but I guess they are made of tough stuff!

    • It is, and thank you for your question, Eliza! The nest is actually bigger now than it was this date last year, which makes me think the nesting cup is better too. I was glad the storm rolled through the day before Bella laid her egg (I’m positive now she’s incubating). During storms, the nest platform sways on the pole during winds, makes me nervous. Since the platform was newly installed last season, it should be pretty well secured and safe. 🙂

  5. Well…Here we go! I also think that she’s laid her first egg, as you also mentioned. in a few more days the laying eggs will be over and the incubation mode will involve both of them. You will have your hands full with the process. Your shots are very good, I think that you have a great advantage by being on the balcony. Thank you, Donna for the interesting post. 🙂

    • I got a good eye, HJ! 😉 I’m positive now Bella is incubating, and poor Beau is a bit bewildered, as any new dad becomes, trying to figure out what he should be doing. Our upcoming week looks to be mostly nice, which is great for Bella and her continued egg-laying! 🙂

    • Thank you, Tom, and you’re welcome! I have been following another wordpress blog, Kielder Ospreys, with their amazing photos and videos of a different kind of life/environment than our U.S. Chesapeake Bay Osprey live. I know you follow UK Osprey as well, wasn’t sure if you knew about that blog. I’m guessing you do, and was thinking you might live not too too far from them?

  6. As usual, it is a fascinating family story and you do not disappoint, nor do Bella and Beau.I may not remember correctly but they seem to be bringing more soft “nest cup” supplies and, of course, sticks. Pretty trendy-looking digs.I enjoy seeing the behaviour as they react to others who get too close. I see the eye contact apparently with you which is, a little unnerving! I agree with a previous comment on your layout, doing a series of photos with written narrative. It helps hold the story together.

    • Thank you, Jane! Yay, the nest is looking a lot better than it did this time last year! So I’m feeling good about that. 🙂 I do get some ‘eye’ contact with Bella & Beau, sometimes one of them will do a close fly-by while I’m on the balcony, I usually say “Hi Bella” or Beau, whoever it is. lol

  7. All the shots are stunning, but I really appreciated the size comparison with the Bald Eagle… also the wingspan shots are gorgeous. What a marvelous pair! And we’re so lucky to have you share them with us.

  8. As always, your photos and descriptions of Bella’s and Beau’s daily trials and triumphs are spellbinding, Donna. Thank you for sharing your very special insights (pun intended).

    • Thank you, Tanja, and you’re welcome! I know you agree, no matter the wildlife, generally people don’t think about or even realize the constant challenges wildlife faces daily just to survive. They are miracles many times over, we’re very fortunate to have wildlife!

      • I absolutely agree, Donna, and am worried about the implications of people not realizing the importance of wildlife as indicators of the health of our Earth, which affects all of us.

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