Thursday, April 29, 2010

Free Food

Now that the weather is warmer, my routine is to sit on the dock and see what the sunset will bring almost each day.  It took only minutes after my husband clicked his teeth against his tongue for these semi-wild ducks, belonging to a neighbor across the river, to come and see why we were making noise.  We had nothing so he had to run back up to the house and find the last few slices of the expensive "Organic 7-grain bread" for their dinner.

Three wild mallard drakes flew in and hung off in the distance surveying the free-eats situation.

This fellow came in and was able to grab just a few of the bread crumbs...

before the large white drake dispatched him to the outer regions of the river leaving all the food for his family...

...and leaving us to watch the sunset as they finished their dinner in the golden glow of the reflection.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Real Estate War

Remember that osprey nest activity  that was taking place on the idle crane arm sitting on the barge across the river and on the top of our boat?  Well, it should come as no surprise to nature lovers that real estate is in short supply for many animals...and it appears in really short supply for those that need waterfront property!

I woke this morning to lots of chirping from the osprey in the back yard out by the river.  I looked out my window and saw this one on the roof of the boat cabin once again!  I had just spent a good part of yesterday afternoon washing and waxing this roof and was unable to remove some of the acidic calling cards left by our feathered friend, so was not as pleased as I could have been to see him standing watch on the boat once again.  At least this time there was only one stick left.

Still wearing my striking red flannel PJs ( I am one hot Momma), I slipped quietly into shoes leaving my snoring husband and walked carefully to the back side of the wild verbena shrubs hiding me from the dock to get the picture of the fish hawk on the boat.  Hawk-eye saw me in a very short time and flew over with this scornful glance.  I am glad that he didn't poop on my head!  

I continued to hear energetic chirping from other areas of the river and saw this female perched on a high branch to my right cheer-leading her mate.  

Then I saw across the river this little altercation which clarified all the activity.  It appears that two osprey couples want this location!  I watched and took photos for a while, most were not clear and so I cannot post them.  After about five minutes, all the osprey left for the wider parts of the river and the bay for a breakfast break.  It will be interesting to see how and if the drama unfolds as the day progresses.

For a closer look at the Hatfield/McCoy altercation click on photos, of course.

P.S.  The altercation did not continue in the days that followed, but we did see one osprey missing two valuable wing feathers as he soared over the yard later in the day.  I am assuming he was the loser.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ole' Blue Eyes

I don't know if cormorants actually have blue eyes. I was too lazy on this perfect spring morning to research eye color in water birds, but I was very intrigued to find the photo below while I was processing my Florida bird photos.  Perhaps his eyes are reflecting the water below?

Click on the photo for the Frank Sinatra view.  (In American culture the phrase 'Old Blue Eyes,' referred to a very popular singer of the 1950's, Frank Sinatra.)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fish Dinner

I had gone down to the dock to watch the start of the end of the day when the fish hawk flew in, fish in claw, and landed just a few yards away from me.  I have never had them land when I was there.

The osprey couple appear to be more comfortable using our dock as an interim stopping point.  Here he/she had just caught a very nice shad and was resting before sharing with the mate.  It looks like he/she will be a good provider for the coming fledglings.

I do not know what I did in a former life, but I must have been very, very, very good to be given such lovely sunsets as the cap to this spring day. (Click on photos for a better view.)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Uninvited Shipmates

We had been gone only eight days on our most recent trip to Florida.  On our return, due to the heavy rains that fell when we were gone, we first went to check out the boat and the canoe at the dock.  Hubby saw something strange on top of his boat cabin.  The weather had been stormy but he was surprised that several large branches had been flung to the top of the cabin along with some marsh grasses.  He balanced on the port side and reaching to the center cleared them off.

The canoe at the end of the dock had been completely turned over and was sitting (still tied to the tree) in the marsh and filled with rain water.  We emptied it and secured it to the dock.

Later that evening we unpacked and fell asleep early after our long drive.  The next morning as I sat up in bed, I saw this scene in the photo below from the bedroom window.

We have never seen osprey on our boat or even our dock for that matter.  We were concerned that these osprey had arranged for a spring lease on the roof of the cabin for raising their young ones as one of the osprey swooped in and dropped a large branch on the cabin roof as I mentioned the scene to my husband.  There are laws about messing with Osprey nests.  I watch them both for a short time as hubby put on his clothes to head down and chase them away.  We were lucky.  It appears this was just a staging platform for them before flying to the crane on the other side of the river.

They had nested there two years ago, but were not seen last spring.  I watched amazed that he could balance and weave sticks with such carefulness and then he dropped one into the water and had to begin again.  I was impressed by their skill and patience.  As I watched, I noticed that sometimes he just flew up and down the river with a long stick in his claws, perhaps to show off his acrobatic skills for his mate.  

If you are having a really bad day, try to imagine building your house with just claws and a sharp beak in a precarious area exposed to all the elements of the coming spring and summer.  Try to imagine that your family's life will depend on this construction perched high over a river.  I am in awe.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Party Hardy

It appears even the Florida locals can party too much the night before they head out to the beach! " that sun bright and does my head hurt!"

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Down the Chimney

While in Florida, back in February, I was able to get a few photos of the wood stork, Mycteria americana.  They have a face 'only a mother could love.'   They look gangling and awkward with their wrinkled neck, bald forehead and long bill, yet, they can balance rather well on the thin branches of the mangroves for long periods of time.

The old tale of storks bringing babies appears to have come out of Europe, perhaps initiated during the Victorian period of modesty in discussing the facts of life.

According to the,  "They (storks) arrive just about nine months after Midsummer's Day, June 21, the summer solstice and the longest day of the year. This was a major festival in pagan Europe, a time for weddings as well as merrymaking well lubricated by fermented beverages. (After the arrival of Christianity the feast continued to be celebrated as Saint John's Day; the modern association of June with weddings may also be related to this festival.) The return of storks just as the progeny resulting from summer revels put in their appearance would not have gone unnoted."

These birds are also seem tolerant of human activity and nest on the roofs of houses in Europe.  Children were led to believe that the baby, like Santa, came down the chimney.  

Click on the photos, of course, for a closer look at this unusual bird.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Heading to the Summer House

Bye, don't forget to write!  Will miss you!!