Ospreys of Rookery Bay

Osprey Glare_9203-wps

Who can ignore the round, brilliant yellow, all seeing eyes of the Osprey?

Sunday has historically been the day for afternoon drives out into the country to relax and regroup for the work week…and to commune with the natural world! One recent Sunday my husband an I made our afternoon drive three hours up the road to the Naples area to finally explore Rookery Bay by water. Rookery Bay is located at the northern end of the Ten Thousand Islands on Florida’s Gulf Coast and is the western extension of the Everglades.  In the Naples area and  near Marco Island it is a popular natural destination.   The Reserve is managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Coastal Office in cooperation with the NOAA. The mission of the reserve is to provide educational opportunity and exposure to this complex bio diverse community in order to cultivate stewardship of the natural and valuable eco system. Please visit the Rookery Bay official website–here–to learn more about this wild and beautiful place.

As one of the few undisturbed mangrove estuaries left in North America, The Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is home to a great diversity of wildlife including 150 species of birds. I did see pelicans, cormorants, black vultures and other species nesting in the distance, but for me this particular Sunday outing was all about the Ospreys!! I found them on nearly every nautical marker along our route and while they seemed most inquisitive about our boat nearing various markers for an avian portrait, they remained unperturbed and went about the business of family life. It was my very first opportunity to take pictures of nesting ospreys and my first sight of osprey chicks…well at least close enough to see clearly. I have posted a variety of images, being my first probably offering a bit of redundancy of images, but hope you enjoy the ride. The images show the large, intricate nest structures on various nautical markers as well as the birds and some views of the mangrove laden waterway.

Entering Rookery Bay_9253-wps

Osprey Marker 6_9059-wps

I’ve always maintained that nautical markers are great oceanic bird perches. The Ospreys of Rookery Bay did nothing to prove me wrong! Marker # 6 is home to this family of birds.

Rookery Bay - Natural Waterway

Osprey-Manatee Zone-Marker17_9085-wps

Osprey Nest Marker 28A_9219-wps

Osprey Pair-Slow Speed_9186-wps

I don’t know if this happy couple is going slow, but they do have a couple of chicks already!!

Osprey Looking_9246-wps

Osprey Parent Landing at Nest_9229-wps

Osprey with Chicks_9232-wps

I was unaware that while the adults have yellow eyes, the nestlings eyes are reddish with ospreys.  I am so used to seeing other species such as Lousiana Herons with yellow eyes in the immature and red in the breeding adults.

Osprey with 2 chicks on nest_9231wps-2

Osprey Shell Nest_9112-wps

I included this picture as the nest was loaded with seashells stuck to the twigs the nest builder selected for the massive structure. Wherever a rookery is, the species who build there utilize nearby resources, so here things like shells are attached.

Rookery Bay Waterway

What a great Sunday at Rookery Bay!!

Judy

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~ by Judy on April 12, 2015.

18 Responses to “Ospreys of Rookery Bay”

  1. And your colors are very bright, not washed out by what looks like a sunny day! 🙂

    • I try my best to position myself with the sun behind me since that will give you the best color. Getting close to the markers was kind of funny as I’d see which angle gave me the best light, then I’d get my husband to approach marker and cut the engine so we could drift toward the marker quietly. You don’t always get to choose though. But you can tell if the light is good. Even if you have to shoot with bright light washing out some contrast and color, the beauty of digital capture and software is that you can recover that as long as you don’t have absolute blowouts. Thanks for commenting on the color as I try hard to keep it as my eye saw.

  2. Superb photos of Ospreys and their youngs at Rookery Bay, Judy! You have set high standards for me to emulate.

    • Well, thanks!! I like thinking someone might want emulate ME!! I feel I am always stretching to reach beyond. Thank you!! If I can answer any questions…just say the word.

  3. I’m really surprised by their color. From what my Sibley indicates, an osprey is an osprey is an osprey, but ours always have seemed more gray to me. Perhaps breeding colors are brighter.

    They’re not here all year around. They show up in the fall, spend the winter, and then go on — perhaps to their breeding grounds. It just occurred to me that I haven’t heard or seen one for at least two or three weeks. Maybe they’re setting up housekeeping elsewhere.

    Your photos are wonderful. I watched an osprey webcam a few years ago, and just happened to be watching the nest when one of the youngsters fledged. What a treat, to see that first flight — after a LOT of hesitating and wing-flapping at the edge of the nest!

    • Looking through my view finder, they do have lovely warm brown feathers on a creamy base. But, like anything, probably they might look darkish gray depending on the lighting they are in. I tend to go for the lighting conditions where the warm brown is easy to see I think. Although, this was my first opportunity to get somewhat close to an osprey and in favorable lighting.

      I really loved seeing those yellow orbs focused in my direction through the viewfinder too!! Amazing eyes!! If you view the top photo with an iPad where you can stretch the image..you can see the image of our inflatable boat in the pupil area. He was looking right at me.

      Yeah watching the young birds at the edge of the nest flapping away, getting ready..sort of like watching your teenager drive for the first time. It is special.

  4. Oh yay, some of my favorites! That close-up portrait is just divine. I absolutely adore these guys, so graceful and fierce.

    Much love to them and their growing brood!

    • It was great to finally be able to get some nice pictures of ospreys. Generally I am too far from the ones I see. And, it was fun to cut the engine and drift up towards the markers for a keen shot. They really do have a piercing gaze don’t they!!

      • They’re just amazing… So gracefully fierce! I don’t think I’ve ever been so close to one — with a camera, at least, hahah!

  5. As always, amazing pictures on a technical level, but I really like the subjects in this case. Very interesting looking birds.

    Sent from Windows Mail

  6. Looks like a wonderful place to visit Judy. My kind of place my husband would say. Beautiful birds, you must have enjoyed your day, you can tell by your captures.

  7. These birds ought to enter the real estate business. They seem to know how to make the most of an unlikely post.

    • Hard to discourage oceanic bird perching too. Whenever I see markers with those spiky things meant to keep birds off….there are birds!!

      • Likewise. they like any perch they can find round my house. A nightmare though when protective of young and I want to water my plants!

  8. lovely; absolutely lovely!

    are you participating in national geographic ‘s great nature project? http://greatnatureproject.org

    • I guess I wasn’t aware of it until I saw a mention on your blog. I’ll check it out and see about it; I am sure it must be wonderful!!
      Glad you came over and viewed the Ospreys. I was so thrilled to be able to get close enough to take pictures of what they look like and their amazing round eyes.

      • i see the ospreys when they appear out of nowhere and swoop down and get a fish or a seagull.. my photos are always blurred and inferior. the experience, however, lives forever!

      • If you can find a place like we did with nests, maybe even on nautical markers in the waterways, it is a bit easier. While the ospreys definitely look at you with an alert, observant attitude, they do not seem overly alarmed if you edge your boat close…especially if you cut the engine and drift toward the nest…then you can get close enough to capture a good look without disrupting their family life.

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