Tag Archives: Osprey

Osprey wings

Osprey soars over the beach on Hutchinson Island a couple of days ago.

These large fish-eating raptors have a wingspan of four-and-a-half to six feet. They weigh between two and four-and-half pounds. That seems like a lot of wing for the weight!

Good water

An Osprey soars overhead, looking for fish.

This is a restored wetland in the east section of Haney Creek Preserve. (I’m usually in the north section, where there’s a dog park and a nice 1-mile trail through sand scrub and pine flatwoods.)

How did this lovely place come to be? According to this 2017 article “Stuart Completes Wetlands Restoration Project”…

Work on the entire property began in 1999, when the city received grants from Florida Communities Trust to purchase the land. Additional grant money from the St. Lucie River Issues Team and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection augmented the work, which included removal of exotic plants and an engineered wetlands area for natural water filtration.

Yesterday and the day before I visited the newer East Trail, in the section outlined in yellow on the kiosk map at the entrance, off Dixie Highway. (There is no real parking here, but I have been told that the nearby TC3 Church allows use of their large parking lot.)

Here is a LINK to the MAP location.

Haney Creek itself flows south into the St. Lucie River. The restoration of the wetlands, with improved stormwater management, will help protect and improve the health of the estuary. Good job, City of Stuart and Martin County!

It looks like Pond Apple trees were planted at the water’s edge as part of the restoration. It’s a Florida native commonly found in the Everglades. It likes its feet wet, as they say.

As they get bigger, pond apples provide good nesting and roosting places for birds.

Fresh water flows under the bridge and joins brackish water on the west side of the preserve, which eventually flows into the St. Lucie River.

There are mangrove trees growing along the banks of the brackish tidal creek.

Pickerel weed, a native aquatic plant, helps stabilize the banks of the freshwater pond.

This is a Caribbean Scoliid Wasp, identified via iNaturalist. Is it pretty, or creepy? That’s my feeling about many insects.

I think the flower is Marsh Fleabane.

Turkey Vultures flew over while I was there.

I’ve been mostly ignoring vultures because they are so common here in winter, but I decided to immortalize this one.

The large shrubs are Carolina willows growing along the berm that was built up for the pond’s edge. The trail is just grass here, before it gets to boardwalk over a marshy area.

In the shade of the willows, I spotted pretty red flowers on a plant that looks like a member of the hibiscus family.

The boardwalk.

On the north side of the pond, there is a broad creek that flows into it. It is so peaceful here, even though the preserve is along Dixie Highway and busy Route 1 is not far away.

I found laurel oak growing in cool wet woods. We have laurel oaks in our (dryish) front yard and I think they would be happier here.

You can make the trail a loop if you come back along the sidewalk, just outside the fence. I think this “east area” of Haney Creek will connect to more sections and trails in the future.

I thought I would see more birds… ducks, gallinules, wading birds? But this was a degraded wet area that has only recently been restored so maybe… if you build it they will come?

In the photo above you can barely see two birds that were getting on with typical bird behavior – a couple of male Boat-tailed Grackles were having a singing and perching contest.

“I’m the man!”

“Nope, sorry. I’m on the highest spot and therefore I’M THE MAN.”

Hey birds, maybe it’s this guy who’s the man. Jeffrey Krauskopf served as a city and county commissioner for a total of 30 years. His efforts led to the purchase of the land for this preserve. Save the land, save the river.

Martin County: Water Conditions and the St. Lucie River

St. Lucie River Water Sampling Report

Frigatebird and osprey

Magnificent Frigatebird at Bird Island.

This is an immature frigatebird, with its white head and breast.

Frigatebirds have a favorite corner (northwest) of the mangrove island in the Indian River Lagoon. This was was coming in for a landing.

Osprey above.

Fish hawk keeping an eye out for a fish, before a spectacular dive.

Causeway birds – January

Ospreys always overhead. Every day.

This one was soaring above one of our favorite spots, “the causeway.” It’s a park under the west side of the Ernest Lyons Bridge that crosses the Indian River Lagoon, connecting Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island. We can walk there from home. It’s a favorite spot to throw the ball for the dog and watch birds, fish, boats, fishermen and windsurfers.

We are the watchers. The walkers and watchers.

Here’s a bird we watched.

A Great Blue Heron was standing in shallows on the north side.

This bird can strike a pose. Vogue Heron.

It is showing some blue coloring near its eye and some long dark plumes on its head. Its legs are turning a darker color too. Mating season ahoy.

Spotted from afar, a Spotted Sandpiper. I moved slowly closer.

These are the most widespread sandpipers in North America, but not super common around here as far as I can tell. They migrate north for their summer mating season.

The tail bobbing movement of this bird is distinctive, and caught my eye while I was watching this one and trying to ID it.

From Cornell Lab of Ornithology…

  • Its characteristic teetering motion has earned the Spotted Sandpiper many nicknames. Among them are teeter-peep, teeter-bob, jerk or perk bird, teeter-snipe, and tip-tail.
  • The function of the teetering motion typical of this species has not been determined. Chicks teeter nearly as soon as they hatch from the egg. The teetering gets faster when the bird is nervous, but stops when the bird is alarmed, aggressive, or courting.

I tallied the birds I watched on this day and submitted an e-Bird checklist here: Amy Kane January 3 Ernest Lyons Bridge 7 species

I think I’ll check in at this spot once a month this year, and keep an eye on the birds close to home.

That includes our winter friends the vultures, like this Black Vulture on a causeway lamppost.

“I think the most important quality in a birdwatcher is a willingness to stand quietly and see what comes. Our everyday lives obscure a truth about existence – that at the heart of everything there lies a stillness and a light.” – Lynn Thomson

Haney Creek East

DSC_2692 (1)

I often wander the Haney Creek North section but a few days ago I finally explored “East” shown on the map above highlighted in yellow. It’s located in Stuart, Florida north of the St. Lucie River.

DSC_2695

A trail leads away from the pull-off area along Dixie Highway.

DSC_2696

We can thank Stuart City Commissioner Jeffrey Krauskopf for helping save this land from development. There is a freshwater marsh on the right hand side here, and brackish swamp with mangroves on the other.

DSC_2697

An Osprey rested on top of a pine tree.

DSC_2698

Enjoy this good bird news: Ospreys Have Made a Remarkable Recovery

DSC_2710

Blue flag? It used to bloom by our New Hampshire pond in spring. I didn’t know it grew in this part of Florida.

DSC_2711

Boardwalk with plenty of cautionary signs.

DSC_2723

Got a good look at a young Little Blue Heron. Yes, they start off as Little White Herons.

DSC_2727

Little white.

DSC_2729

Maple? Also haven’t noticed that around here. Maybe swamp maple… which also grew by our old pond 1400 miles north of here.

DSC_2732

Palm Warbler in the trees.

DSC_2733 (1)

Unless you live in Canada, spring, fall, and winter are your best times to see Palm Warblers. They spend the winters in the Caribbean and in a narrow strip along the southeastern United States and occasionally along the West Coast. They’re a fairly common early migrant across much of the East, reaching New England by mid-to-late April. They start slowly heading south in late August.

DSC_2733

Weedy fields, forest edges, and scrubby areas are great places to look for them during migration and winter. Look through groups of birds foraging on the ground—they’re often with sparrows, juncos, and Yellow-rumped Warblers—so watch for their characteristic tail wagging to pull them out of the crowd. They also forage in low shrubs and isolated trees in open areas, where they sometimes sally out for insects like a flycatcher. Palm Warblers typically aren’t skittish, so if you find one, you should have enough time to get a good look.

DSC_2739

I like the way the light hit the bird’s eye in this shot.

DSC_2749

Also spotted a Downy Woodpecker, near the southern end of its range too.

DSC_2754

View walking back on the boardwalk over freshwater.

DSC_2764

Great Egret.

DSC_2767

Great Blue Heron, with “civilization” beyond.

First visit to Sailfish Flats

IMG_8817-2

A boardwalk through the mangroves leads to a view over the Indian River Lagoon and the shallow sandbars known as Sailfish Flats. The boardwalk is across the street from Bathtub Reef Beach. (And within my 5-mile radius.)

Location…

IMG_8820-2

This was my first visit here. I stopped by this eBird Hotspot this morning at 8 a.m. and watched birds for 15 minutes.

Here is my eBird checklist. I forgot my binoculars so I couldn’t ID the terns on the farthest sandbar. Next time!

IMG_8823-2

First bird was a White Ibis.

IMG_8825-2IMG_8826-2IMG_8831-2

A young Reddish Egret flew in from the north and landed on the railing near me.

IMG_8832-2

I suspect this is the same bird I saw on the ocean side on September 20: LINK.

IMG_8837-2IMG_8842-2

One guy was coming back from fishing. It was 86 degrees and a bit windy, but the wind was from the east so we were a bit protected on this side of Hutchinson Island.

IMG_8846-2

The egret flew out to the flats and started its fishing dance.

IMG_8847-2

I didn’t see it catch anything, but it was pretty to watch.

IMG_8862-2

Master fishing-bird the Osprey did catch something.

IMG_8865-2

It was immediately harassed by another Osprey, something I haven’t seen before.

IMG_8866-2

Maybe it was a young Osprey begging for food from a parent?

IMG_8880-2

Still hopping around out there.

IMG_8883-2

American Bird Conservancy…

The Reddish Egret stalks its prey—mostly small fish—more actively than other herons and egrets. The birds first locate their quarry by sight, then the dance begins. They dash, lurch, and zig-zag after their prey, often holding their wings over the water as they hunt. This shadow-casting strategy is thought to reduce glare and help the egret more accurately sight and spear its prey.

I also saw, but did not get great photos of: Green Heron, Snowy Egret, Brown Pelican, a couple of terns species flying over, and Laughing Gulls.

Birds at Sanibel pier

IMG_6149-2

A sign near the Sanibel City Pier.

IMG_6155-2

Wonder if the Osprey is eating one of the Frequently Caught.

IMG_6150-2

Birds were standing around on the beach, waiting for people to catch fish.

IMG_6153-2

Not this bird, though.

IMG_6159-2

In a tree near the pier, a couple of egrets arranged themselves for comparison, Great and Snowy.

IMG_6161-2

In another branch, a juvenile Reddish Egret!

IMG_6167-2

Perched on a railing right next to me, a young Snowy Egret.

IMG_6172-2

Egret and husband on the city pier, yesterday.

IMG_6175-2

Great Egret in a tree.

IMG_6181-2

The Reddish Egret at surf’s edge with a Snowy.

IMG_6185-2

The Snowy on the railing had funny legs, black in front, yellow in back. I guess it is changing from young to adult.

IMG_6188-2

Birds looking for bait.

IMG_6190-2

Snowy Egret is letting me stand next to it.

IMG_6191-2

Close up.

IMG_6194-2

See what I mean about the legs.

IMG_6195-2

Here’s the Snowy Egret legs I’m used to.

IMG_6196-2

Side by side comparison.

IMG_6202-2

Great Egret still in the tree, looking sort of slinky yet majestic.

IMG_6221-2

Osprey still working on that fish.

IMG_6222-2

Love this shot, and that sea eagle’s eye!

IMG_6223-2

A few more birds from the causeway park

IMG_5897-2

One of the fishing piers at the west causeway under Jensen Beach bridge, looking north at the Indian River Lagoon. Guys were netting fish. A couple of members of the heron family were lurking nearby.

IMG_5901-2

Little Blue Heron on a light post.

IMG_5902-2

LBH.

IMG_5904-2

Great Egret near the boat ramp.

IMG_5908-2

Both heron and egret appear to have breeding plumage still.

IMG_5926-2

Looking toward the mainland, I spotted an Anhinga drying its feathers, its back to the sun, in classic Anhinga pose.

IMG_5928-2

Feathers and palm fronds.

IMG_5932-2

An Osprey was fishing the Indian River Lagoon. That’s the Florida Power & Light nuke plant in the distance.

IMG_5938-2

Osprey, boat traffic on the Intracoastal, and Nettles Island.

IMG_5942-2

Anhinga was not happy with the dog and me being so close. We gave it some room to keep sunning.

IMG_5945-2

You can almost count its feathers from this angle!

Sea eagle, bone breaker

IMG_5434-2

Osprey, Pandion haliaetus, atop a Norfolk Island pine across the street from the Snook Nook, Jensen Beach.

I love words as much as birds, so let’s do some etymology.

Wikipedia: Osprey

The genus name Pandion derives from the mythical Greek king of Athens and grandfather of Theseus, Pandion II. The species name haliaetus comes from Ancient Greek haliaietos ἁλιάετος from hali- ἁλι-, “sea-” and aetos άετος, “eagle”.

The origins of osprey are obscure; the word itself was first recorded around 1460, derived via the Anglo-French ospriet and the Medieval Latin avis prede “bird of prey,” from the Latin avis praedæ though the Oxford English Dictionary notes a connection with the Latin ossifraga or “bone breaker” of Pliny the Elder.

IMG_5435-2

With a 50- to 71-inch wingspan, Ospreys are similar in size to the largest hawks and falcons.

And did you know?…

The osprey is the second most widely distributed raptor species, after the peregrine falcon. It has a worldwide distribution and is found in temperate and tropical regions of all continents except Antarctica. In North America it breeds from Alaska and Newfoundland south to the Gulf Coast and Florida, wintering further south from the southern United States through to Argentina. It is found in summer throughout Europe north into Ireland, Scandinavia, Finland and Scotland, England, and Wales though not Iceland, and winters in North Africa. In Australia it is mainly sedentary and found patchily around the coastline, though it is a non-breeding visitor to eastern Victoria and Tasmania.

Plate 81, Fish Hawk, or Osprey, by John James Audubon. (Source)