No, I Never Name the Birds

I sat down under the picnic shelter at Battery Worth Sunday, to check on the two Osprey chicks I’ve been reporting on lately. A fellow came along on a bike and we talked about the birds for a while. Then he asked “do you ever give them names?”

The answer’s no. But sometimes I’m tempted. And if I ever do, I’ll name this beautiful young female (currenly my favorite bird to watch)  “Prima Donna.”

She and her younger, smaller sibling are my favorites these days, so close to the end of the season. And they’re certainly capable of fishing and fending for themselves. But – hey! – they’re still kids, right?where's-lunch

She flew into the nest just as I was arriving, and was squawking up a storm. All alone up there, I wondered why so noisy. Then I spotted her father over in the pine grove, with a fresh-caught fish.

dad's-got-lunch

And she WANTED some! So … being a nice and caring father, he brought his baby girl a snack.dad's-gonna-share

Then he headed off to the local Pine Tree motel to grab a snooze.you're-welcome

In that same Pine Tree motel, her little brother (I THINK he’s a he!) was hanging out on his favorite branch and contemplating his favorite stick. (He’s a weird little guy. He ALWAYS sits right there, in that exact spot.)littl-bro

But that delivery caught his eye, so he decided to pay his dear, sweet big sister a visit. And, maybe, horn in on her good fortune.look-who's-hungry

But she was having none of that! And she yelled at him, making him feel sad. Then she dragged her fish to the other side of the nest and shielded it with her huge wings, so that he couldn’t even SEE it.no-mood-to-share

She ate away happily for close to half an hour, only occasionally glancing his way, until she had finally had her fill and was willing to share.finally-sharing

There wasn”t much left. But beggers can’t be choosers. And we KNOW who the Boss Baby is in this nest.enjoy.-I'm-outta-here

Finally, she left, and he got to enjoy his snack in peace and solitude.

Dang! Big sisters are a pain in the ass.

Chicks Still Begging

three-to-a-tree.1

That’s Dad in the middle branches. He has a fresh-caught fish. The kids are above and below him, both squawking for a bite, although I don’t think he was in any mood to share. He knows they’re big enough to feed themselves and is determined to teach them self-reliance, whether they like it or not.

little brother stays put

Little Brother stayed put up high in the tree and seemed to be content just sticking his tongue out at his big sister … and me.

But she lost patience after Dad left with the fish and took off to find a fish of her own, perhaps.

And---she's-off

Update on the Least Terns: They’ve all disappeared from the roadside. So I have to guess that they’ve moved off somewhere in the dunes, or, in some cases, perhaps started their migration South.

It has been a rough year for them. The birds at Fort Pickens and Opal Beach lost practically an entire generation of newborn chicks due to the terrible flooding that started on June 20. Then a few tried again and hatched a new batch of eggs. I’m not sure what happened to them, but they too disappeared. Then there was that last hope. That one tiny female, apparently alone against the world, out there is that huge bare spot of sand. And there were eggs! Two of them.  But those too are gone now, and so is she.

As a memorial to the Least Terns of 2017, here’s my favorite Least Tern image.

me-&-my-little-bro

I watched this little one struggle out of her egg around mid-day on June 18. Hoping that the other egg would hatch later that day,  I returned to FP as the sun was dropping low in the Western sky. But it was too early (that chick was hatched by the next morning).

The warm rays of the late-afternoon sun seemed to envelope the newborn and her soon-to-be sibling, as the chick gently crawled into the shallow scrape that was her family home and nestled beside the egg.

Sadly, they were not long for this world. But the beauty and tragedy of life are sweet.

 

It’s Been That Kinda’ Day

As I had feared, following the recent heavy rain, the nest of that one lone Least Tern has disappeared. Maybe her eggs hatched and they were all able to escape to higher ground. But I doubt it. There were, however quite a few Terns, grownups and large chicks, running around in the area.

Plus! There were these funny Sandwich Terns, all just hanging out at the beach, as well. I had to look them up because they’re not like the Royal Terns we see around here most of the time. (Hint: they have black bills with a yellow tip.)

sandwich-terns-beachin'

Then, of course, off to check on those two hesitant Osprey chicks I’ve been following since way before they were even born. And the news is good.

Look who’s flying!

leaving-the-nest

This is the male chick. He made a beautiful landing on the nest,

new-kids-flying-2where he hung out for a while before going off to the family’s favorite Pine tree to pester his big sister.

tongue-out

 

She, of course, ignored him. And she is a beauty!  Looks so much like her mother, with that magnificent string of brown jewels on her chest.

she's-a-beauty

They both kept a close watch on me as I walked very slowly toward their tree. But they were not skittish, and allowed me to get right up under them.

Apparently, the parents had already left and these two are really on their own. It’s sad to see the season end, but it’s good to know that Ospreys and Least Terns will be back again next year.fuzzy-head

Yes, even the ones like this young male with wild and crazy hair who have spent the entire season in this exact spot – without a mate – but always with a fresh-caught fish. Maybe he’ll get lucky next year.

A Study in Courage and Fear

I’m concentrating on only two nests these days – the single Least Tern I’ve discovered who seems determined to raise chicks, and is apparently all alone in the world; and that high nest I’ve followed for years, which now has two huge Osprey chicks who both seem afraid to fly.

coming-home-to-the-babes

I watched her for quite a while yesterday, as she sat stoically on her lone nest. She would fly away for a minute or so now and then, but mostly she just sat there and checked the brood or looked around as if she was hoping for company. Maybe a mate who would bring her a fish! But no one ever showed.

Then, down the road, there are these two.  They seem to be thinking about flying, but about all they do is flap their wings half-heartedly and jump up and down. And it DOES look like a long way down, if their untested wings should happen to fail.

looks-awfully-far-down

So for now, they’re staying put. And expecting mom and dad to keep them fed. Typical adolescents – they just want to hang around the house and wait for the food to arrive.

So … home again. Back across the bridge and into town. It was after dark. And as I stepped out of the car and looked up, I saw this.

the-moon-hand-held

Not a bad shot, considering that I just pointed the camera and pulled the trigger. Didn’t even adjust the settings.