Lord Delaware North End: Red-Wings vs. Seahawks?

The day was rather mild for this time of year.  There were quite a few blackberries still around.  Unfortunately, the trash was still there.  But, I didn’t see the crab pots that I mentioned in a previous post.  All was about as expected.  What was unexpected was the air combat that I witnessed.

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Normally, there is a competition between the bald eagles and osprey.  These fights occur over fish or if an eagle flies too close to a nest with young osprey.  Raptor vs raptor fights are great contest to watch as sometimes the smaller osprey will get the upper hand.

The Red-winged blackbird is the main songbird here in the marsh and makes quite a bit of noise.  It is not unusual to hear them out-singing the osprey.  I should have expected the birds to be just as defensive about protecting their young in their nest.  But, to see this little blackbird chase after an unsuspecting juvenile osprey was quite a treat.  No wonder the big bullies stayed up on the nesting platform.

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Lord Delaware North End: Not Yet Independence Day

A couple of years ago, photographer Andrew Jackson and I hoped to get the first photo of a juvenile osprey making its maiden flight from the nest behind the Visitor’s Center at York River State Park.  Despite the coaxing of the adult bird, junior would not budge.  Two days  later, I noticed the nest was empty. It must have made that first flight sometime after we left the park.

Today, I was hoping that one of the two offspring of Joachim and Anna would make that first daring attempt.  As was two years ago, neither bird would budge.  One of them did rise up and get a little elevation from the nest.  But, after two or three attempts, the bird sat back down.  The other young osprey didn’t even try.

Time to Soar (C) John Gresham

Time to Soar (C) John Gresham

The elder and the aspirant (C) John Gresham

The elder and the aspirant (C) John Gresham

I am expecting the juveniles to leave the nest soon to start fishing for themselves.  Atlantic croaker and other fish are sill plentiful.  But, in mid September, they will be gone.  If the osprey get their fishing skills down pat now, it will be that much easier for them as they head down south later.

First Flight Series:  all photos (C) John Gresham

First Flight Series: all photos (C) John Gresham

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I was really expecting them to make use of the winds from hurricane Arthur to help them in flying.  While watching the juveniles, there were about 3 or 4 mature osprey taking advantage of the breeze and soaring effortlessly along the river.  Water clarity was not good with the winds shifting from north to west.  So, I didn’t see any birds with fish in their talons.

Heron on the shoreline (C) John Gresham

Heron on the shoreline (C) John Gresham

Other than the osprey, I did observe a great blue heron feeding on the other side of the bridge along a small stretch of sand.  Red-winged blackbirds were dominant throughout the marsh.  The trash level is still as bad as ever.  But, the blackberries are ripening well with a flavor that reminds me of my childhood.

Lord Delaware North End: Pleasant Surprise & Fearful Uncertianties

I didn’t have to be at work until 11 this morning.  So, I took advantage of  the time on my hands and crept to see how my favorite three birds were doing.  Lo and behold, Joachim and Anna have two chicks!  I must have overlooked the second one on my previous observation.  It must have been well hunkered down.  But, I saw both adult birds bring fish to the nest.  I was confused at first to note four Osprey at the same nest.  On cue, Joachim went to a familiar post on the nearby private dock as Anna stayed on the nest with the chicks.  I watched her feed and feed with them.  Aside from having to choose a name for the other bird, this was a nice surprise.

Feeding the Family (C) John Gresham

Feeding the Family (C) John Gresham

Back to the post (C) John Gresham

Back to the post (C) John Gresham

The pleasantries of this morning’s discovery were a bit tempered with the crab pot floats I saw upriver from the private dock.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have nothing against an honest man making an honest living.  And I love crab meat as much as the next local.  But, I can’t help but to hope that the waterman (watermen) have by-catch reduction devices (BRDs) on their pots.  I was excited to see Diamondback Terrapins swimming on either side of the river.  It would be a shame to see them drown to death in crab pots.

Crab pot floats on the Mattaponi (C) John Gresham

Crab pot floats on the Mattaponi (C) John Gresham

Unfortunately, a recreational fisherman had proven himself to be foul.  This site is not that far away from fast food restaurants with public restrooms.  It is bad enough that too many of them leave ungodly amounts of litter, including pieces of squid to ferment in the hot sun.  But, today’s sight was absolutely wrong.

Anna with the babies (C) John Gresham

Anna with the babies (C) John Gresham

 

To end on a more pleasant note, the Osprey chicks are very mature looking.  Chances are they will be ready to take their first flight soon.  Also, the fact that there are two chicks at this site is a better result than we have had at work with only one in the nest at the Visitor’s Center and none seen on the nest on Taskinas Creek.  Perhaps I can get a photo of one of them making their first flight.

Lord Delaware North End: Between Storms and Trash

I had every intention to kayak today.  But, my Pungo 140 has a broken seat strap.  Plus scattered showers were forecast for the whole day.  So, I figured I’d get a good viewing in on my favorite Osprey family; Joachim, Anna, and baby Mary.  I got to the North End about 8 am with the top of the incoming tide.  It seemed that Mary was feeding as all three on the nest.  Joachim, I supposed, left the nest not long after I got out of the car.  He later took his usual post at the old fish house dock.  As I was crossing the bridge heading back to West Point, (I think) he was sitting there near a light fixture on the bridge.  Mary is indeed big enough to sit in the nest alone as Anna flew away a couple of times for a short while.

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Watchful mother (C) John Gresham

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River lilies (C) John Gresham

Watchful Mother

Crabber heads out (C) John Gresham

There were five tractor trailer trucks on the old road with two trailers parked as well.  While there were no fishermen on my side of the river, there were about a half dozen on the other end.  The pollution is frustrating.  This side of the river offers nice views of the town, especially if there are a few clouds for a colorful sunset.  I like to fish as much as the next guy.  But, I think people who come here ought to take their trash with them.  I have nothing against a person making an honest paycheck.  But, it would be good if truckers were more careful about any leakages of their truck’s fluids.

Do they have to pollute?  (C) John Gresham

Do they have to pollute? (C) John Gresham

Typical litter (C) John Gresham

Typical litter (C) John Gresham

Someone had contacted me about setting a date for a volunteer clean-up of the area.  I have slightly grander intentions for the North End.  I want to see it become a park.  Yeah, let the tractor trailer drivers still have a place to park and anglers try their luck.  But, I would like to see a group of people who care maintain the area, especially between the plastic barrier and the river.  I wouldn’t mind joining forces with those who are beautifying and maintaining the West Point side of the old bridge, Glass Island, and the nature trail (might I add that Glass Island looks like a dump.  It is sad that someone tries to make it look half-way descent during Clean the Bay Days while others jack it back up again).  Perhaps there is a town park friends of group or something.  If we get some volunteers who want to make the place nice, we could really have a natural area that we could all enjoy.

Unknown bird (C) John Gresham

Unknown bird (C) John Gresham

Big claw on a little crab (C) John Gresham

Big claw on a little crab (C) John Gresham

Aside from all that, I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t see the Diamondback Terrapins today.  A large Eastern Snapping Turtle did show its self.  Also, a loud little songbird (shame on me for not looking it up) was around as well.  A few Red-winged Blackbirds sang in the marshes and Fiddler Crabs scurried about the rip-rap.  If the weather is fine later this evening, I may go back for a sunset shot or two.

Lord Delaware North End: Reasons To Be Hopeful

The litter problem on the King & Queen side of the old Lord Delaware Bridge is quite sad.  Oil and other fluids wasted from the commercial trailer trucks is bad in it’s own right.  The old litter doesn’t get any attention.  And with fish biting along the upper York and lower Mattaponi and Pamunkey, the trash will get even worse.  I had hoped that some organization (and Lord knows the Mattaponi & Pamunkey Rivers Association does a heck of a job every year) would have stepped up to the task on  Clean The Bay Day.  Alas, the area was not touched by any group nor individual.  I will try to recruit a few people who just might care about the place.  If need be, I will devote some clean up time by myself.

From the bridge (c) John Gresham

From the bridge (c) John Gresham

Angry Baby Bird (c) John Gresham

Angry Baby Bird (c) John Gresham

And yet, there is reason to be hopeful about this neglected piece of shoreline.  peeking into the nest from below, I saw another head besides Joachim and Anna.  Yes, they have a chick (of course I am calling her Mary).  Joachim did fly off for a while and returned to the nest with a fish.  I got a couple of shots into the nest from the bridge.  I got some good images from the old road as well.  Aside from the osprey, great blue heron could be seen at a distance feeding along the shoreline at low tide.  Red-winged blackbirds were active as usual.

Lily on a trash pile (c) John Gresham

Lily on a trash pile (c) John Gresham

Diamondback Terrapin (c) John Gresham

Diamondback Terrapin (c) John Gresham

Aside from the somewhat dull perennial wildflowers, a bed of day-lilies were in bloom on the old road bed at the river’s edge.  Empty beer and Gatorade bottles are no match for the splendor of nature’s beauty.  Yet, we humans could do more to enhance the flowers simply by cleaning up after ourselves.  The blackberries are ripening.  I had a flashback to my childhood as I carefully picked the sweet-tart treats from their thorny canes.  I intend to return soon to see if I can get a pint of them.  Few deserts are better than a blackberry cobbler.

To top off my day of treasure among the trash was the sighting of diamondback terrapins.  I counted 3 males or juvenile females.  This is truly a good sign as this species has issues with polluted water, crab pots, and poachers.  The health of the York seems to be on an upswing as there was oyster harvesting this past winter around Croaker for the first time in years.  Perhaps recreational crabbers are being more cautious to use by-catch reduction devices on theri pots.  Very few people my age and younger care to try eating turtle meat.  So, it was good to see these guys (or girls) swimming in the Mattaponi.

 

Lord Delaware North End: Fishing, Heat, & Another Possible Rival

May 9th

10 Am

Low tide

Soaring

Soaring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

T’is the time of year for anglers.  I met two at the end of the old bridge.  I can only hope and pray they don’t contribute to the already dismal amount of litter there.  I saw a couple of boats out, including one on the West Point side of the old bridge parked so close to the shoreline, he may as well drove up to the end of the old bridge and fished from shore.  A couple of kayak anglers were out as well.

'Yak Fishing

‘Yak Fishing

Well Nested

Well Nested

Joachim and Anna didn’t seem to be making any new additions to the nest.  I believe they have at least one egg by now.  I saw one other osprey.  It was flying too far above the nest to disturb my pair.  I think they have discovered another feeding place.  An old post out further in the marsh from the old road.

Peregrine Falcon under the Bridge

Peregrine Falcon under the Bridge

 

While I am used to seeing bald eagles as the osprey’s rival, I think I have seen another. I think it was a peregrine falcon.  This bird is supposed to be gone from the region by summertime.  This bird was larger than the American kestrel, which in in Virginia year-round.  So, I consider myself lucky to see this bird with the weather warming up.

The usual cormorants were in the area as were the red-winged blackbirds.  Fiddler crabs were out at the bridge end.

 

Lord Delaware North End: Air Show Before The Cold Front

April 19th

7:30 am

Low tide

Bald Eagle fight over West Point

Bald Eagle fight over West Point

After a few days of nice weather, a nasty cold front was heading our direction and promised to bring some bad weather.  I made a little time to see about my favorite pair of birds, Joachim and Anna.  As soon as I parked the car, I could hear a bald eagle.  Sure enough, the bird was in a tussle with something else.  With my little 70-300mm lens, I couldn’t tell what the other bird was.

Continued Construction

Continued Construction

It looked as if my pair of birds were still in nest construction.  I will have to walk on the bridge and shoot into the nest to see if they have any eggs.

 

 

 

 

Gull among Cormorants

Gull among Cormorants

There were several male red-winged blackbirds making a fuss.  I counted four laughing gulls as well.  There were two large flocks of cormorants that landed in the river midway to the West Point shoreline.