Eagle above

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That distant, tiny dot above the tree horizon is something special.

Friday afternoon I was walking here on River Road in Sewall’s Point, just a few blocks from home, when I heard an Osprey screaming. It flew over my head, chased by a slightly larger bird.

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They circled back around and passed over again, Osprey in the lead, distinctive black and white bird on its tail.

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Bald Eagle!

My guess is that the Osprey had a nest with chicks. I think they stayed safe.

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I was super-excited to see a Bald Eagle. I wished there were other people around too I could yell and point at the sky, “Bald Eagle!”

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But at least I had my camera so I could point and shoot and share it later.

What a bold, beautiful bird.

Bridge walk and diving duck

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Osprey on a light pole, Ernest Lyons Bridge.

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Daughter Laura and I walked across the bridge and back around noon today, about 2 and a half miles altogether.

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Nice views of the Indian River Lagoon from the bridge.

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And soaring ospreys.

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And a dolphin.

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Ring-billed gull loafing on a light pole.

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Laura spotted a diving duck and I zoomed in.

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Looks like a female Red-breasted Merganser.

A large diving duck with a long thin bill, the Red-breasted Merganser is found in large lakes, rivers and the ocean. It prefers salt water more than the other two species of merganser.

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The Red-breasted Merganser breeds farther north and winters farther south than the other American mergansers.

Good eyes, Laura!

First morning in Florida

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Brown Pelican above the Indian River Lagoon. As you can see, we’re not in New Hampshire anymore.

Yesterday was our first full day in our new home, a little green concrete-block-and-stucco house built in 1969. So much to do, boxes everywhere, but I made time for a morning bird walk.

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I tried for a couple of years to get a good shot of a Belted Kingfisher. We used to see one or two at our pond in warmer (no ice) months. They were flighty little alarmists there. Here one is posed nicely, almost mellowly!, in sunshine on a bridge railing.

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The Ernest Lyons Bridge connects our new hometown of Sewall’s Point to Hutchinson Island, a barrier island on the Atlantic Coast. The area near the west side of the bridge has lot of Ospreys. First you hear them, with their high, piercing, almost plaintive whistles.

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Then you seen them fishing, or looking for fish.

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Unique among North American raptors for its diet of live fish and ability to dive into water to catch them, Ospreys are common sights soaring over shorelines, patrolling waterways, and standing on their huge stick nests, white heads gleaming. These large, rangy hawks do well around humans and have rebounded in numbers following the ban on the pesticide DDT. Hunting Ospreys are a picture of concentration, diving with feet outstretched and yellow eyes sighting straight along their talons.

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Osprey on the bridge railing, doing well among humans.

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We visited this area in April, July and September and I always see ospreys here. In New Hampshire they were migratory. Looks like we can enjoy them year-round in Florida, woohoo!..

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Ospreys are unusual among hawks in possessing a reversible outer toe that allows them to grasp with two toes in front and two behind. Barbed pads on the soles of the birds’ feet help them grip slippery fish. When flying with prey, an Osprey lines up its catch head first for less wind resistance.

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Wonder what that fish is thinking.

The official raptor of Cedar Key

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In Cedar Key, along Florida’s gulfside “Nature Coast,” you are never more than 50 feet away from an osprey. At least it seems that way. Fishing, nesting, defending nests from black vultures, chirping their loud whistley call, glowering down from trees at passersby. I love this bird.

Unique among North American raptors for its diet of live fish and ability to dive into water to catch them, Ospreys are common sights soaring over shorelines, patrolling waterways, and standing on their huge stick nests, white heads gleaming. These large, rangy hawks do well around humans and have rebounded in numbers following the ban on the pesticide DDT.

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The Marsh House, Cedar Key. Our home away from home for a few days. Perfect spot.

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View.

I love a good marsh.

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White Ibis.

I wasn’t even unpacked (although I did have a glass of wine in my hand) before I hit the porch and spotted ibis, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, a Great Blue Heron, vultures and osprey. This is a birdy place.

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George Washington did not visit Cedar Key, but John Muir did.

Sign outside the Cedar Key Museum State Park.

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Confederate salt kettle outside the museum.

I picked Cedar Key for the birds, nature, seafood and warmth after a long winter. Turns out to have some cool Old Florida history too. TIMELINE.

After a tasty seafood dinner at Steamer’s Clam Bar and Grill in the vintage waterfront downtown, we drove a mile back north to our rental and walked a boardwalk over mangroves and marsh, around the edge of a big old cemetery founded in 1886. In the gathering darkness, bats fluttered above. We heard the little night noises of animals, water moving in small waves through seagrass, wind in the pines, palms and spanish-moss-draped live oaks. We spied the glow of a couple of small lights next to headstones in the cemetery. “Spirit lamps,” I whispered.

“I think there is something a little bit spooky about Cedar Key,” I said, and my husband agreed.

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And something a little bit wild too.