Tag Archives: MINWR

Osprey Mom Teaching Fledgling to fish

Hi. We made it through the first of the holiday tribulations and are getting back to a normal routine. Funny how long it doesn’t take for me to get accustomed to the traffic and lines. Not one for the whole Black Friday thing, we opted to do our holiday a different way,by Johnny and his crew playing a gig for the members of the group they belong to. It was a nice, close knit way to spend the day giving thanks. Seeing as how we were at the gig all day, instead of the traditional turkey feast, starving, we opted for Waffle House. 🙂 Different, but we had fun with the folks working, which gave us a moment to appreciate everything we had, mostly and foremost each other. No matter if we were in a field all day playing guitar, or at a mansion, as long as we were together, that is what the day was for us. We are rich… 🙂 Hope your holiday was great.

Enough of that. Let’s get to the title of the post, shall we?

Went fishing yesterday, and while the current wasn’t doing what we wanted it to do to produce the “bite”, there was a bunch of activity going on. I kept hearing the screeching of Osprey, and lot of it. Incessant even. Being around the water, it is a familiar sound, but this was non-stop. The birds were acting differently; dive-bombing, yelling at each other, and all clustered up over the river, diving, diving, diving.  With not much luck.Not the norm at all.

Then I realized. This was school. “How to catch your own fish, because now you can fly” school. I wanted to share this; I will call this my first of hopefully many “documentary” stories with images. Photo Journalism is what they call it I think. 🙂

One of the many Osprey. So you can tell  the difference between a male and female Osprey. The male has a white chest, while the female has a spotty, “necklace” or freckles if you will….  As you can see, this is a male.

Click images to enlarge…….. 

Osprey on the huntBelow, you will see the art of hovering, dive bombing, retrieving, and returning with food.

This is how you hover.

Osprey and flidging.

Bend your wings and dive like this to gain speed. Keep your eye on the prize……………

Diving Osprey

Before you hit the water, stretch you legs and extend your talons, so you can grab your food. Keep your eye on the prize.

Osprey diving

Get ready to get wet, but that will work in your favor. Grab your prize.

Osprey hitting the water

Now that you have what you want, take it and go.  Like this.

Osprey success

While the fledgling was paying close attention, it took no time to try to beg the food and take it as it’s own.

osprey fledgling wanting food

Hey!  What about me??

Osprey and fledgling learning to hunt

A couple aerobatic maneuvers teach the baby how to keep its food in the event of a rogue trying to steal it……….

Osprey and fledgling.....

That’s that for today.  I hope you enjoy this as much I did when I saw it. 🙂 It did have a happy ending. the baby shared the fish in a nearby tree………… 🙂

Susan

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Central Florida’s Migatory First Comers are Showing Up

I found some this week.  Yay!!!!! This time of year, when the temperatures are starting to dip, they begin to appear. For the next month or so, they will be getting their winter homes in order. Hopefully, I will find a nesting family to share with you. But this will have to do for now. 🙂    Roseate Spoonbills are one of my favorites. We have a few residents that buck the “law” and live here year around, but the majority fly in for the holidays. Their diet consist’s of fish, bugs, crawdads, crabs, whatever they find in the grass that lines the flats they wade in. Unlike the noisy Herons and Egrets, they are content to stay to themselves and don’t cause too much trouble.

Roseate Spoonbills

One of the great things about living in Florida is of course the weather. The traveling Avian know it too, and return every year around this time; probaby where the term “Snow Birds” came from. Thank God they just fly in, and don’t clutter up the local roads, driving at a snail’s pace looking for orange trees. But that’s another rant. 🙂

Everyone thinks we spend every day at the beach or Disney World and every night, we party like animals and live a carefree lifestyle.  HA!  What they don’t seem to know is that we have a plethora of  the most beautiful and peaceful backwoods, bordered by wetlands, salt marshes, brackish and “nursery” estuaries. Each play a vital role in the survival of all the “Feather’s and Fins” that call on this little speck of land to spend the winter months and raise the next generation…….. I have to be honest and quietly admit I’m kinda glad in a way. Less people out on my precious refuge.   🙂

Sunset

I found some Coot  huddled up this week too. Another sign that the coming days will be short and the temps will mandate sweat shirts and jackets. Looks like it’s going to be crowded this year.  Hope I get some nice images.

Coot

The last of summer’s sunset’s. My version of bending light through glass.

With daylight saving’s time just hours away, I wanted to share some of the last of the seasons sunsets. Beautiful simplicity in nature, we can but only try to duplicate her wonderful works by bending light through glass………..

The skyscape captured in a wineglass.............
The skyscape captured in a wineglass…………
How can you sleep when you know this is how you get to start your day?
How can you sleep when you know this is how you get to start your day?
5 Palms
5 Palms are the backdrop for an October Sunset out on Peacocks Pocket
Summer is leaving, but the sky painting to mark the end of the day make me almost forget that the warm evenings are coming to an end......
Summer is leaving, but the sky painting to mark the end of the day make me almost forget that the warm evenings are coming to an end……

Surf Rods are going into hibernation…………

It saddened me as I put the surf rods in the storage closet. This summer, we did well in our endevour to spend every weekend surf fishing at the beach,greeting the sunrise with excitement, knowing in the next five or six hours, we would be cleaning fresh Whiting, Croaker, or whatever we were lucky enough to catch.

How can you sleep when you know this is how you get to start your day?
How can you sleep when you know this is how you get to start your day?

The sound of the water, the feeling of freedom, as you look past the horizon. The wonder of the expanse above, while wondering what is below.

That’s what my mind saw and felt today, as the memories of the last few months replayed themselves and I realized we wouldn’t be heading back until next spring. Living on the coast, we have the ocean, salt water rivers, and fresh water lakes and river. Everything here is seasonal, and although I know when we leave one body of water, we are heading to another one, the beach is my favorite.

Isn’t it funny that you only remember the good stuff? Beach fishing is tough. Imagine a beach cart, loaded with three 15 foot rods, a cooler full of ice, umbrella, food cooler, cast net, tackle, 12 foot “Baby Rod” (That’s what Johnny calls mine. That Ande is tough tho!), sand flea rake…. I know I’m forgetting stuff..  Oh yeah. My camera. My camera goes everywhere.

Takes you from the parking lot to utopia.
Takes you from the parking lot to utopia.

The first thing you see when you get to the beach is the cross walk. Unload the cart off the truck and pull it up the walk. It probably weighs 65-70 pounds. Adrenaline usually helps, because you know in 10 minutes, rods will be in the water. Over the walk, and into the unforgiving sand. That’s the hard part. The sand. But it’s worth it. Walk until he says stop, which is always too far from where we started. And then out of no where, he says “Here.” And now we are ready to officially start our morning. As the sky shows the promise of a sunrise, we are working.

Johnny gets busy putting the rod holders in the sand, somehow spaced perfectly. I always take the one on the left, because I’m left-handed, and I like the feeling of space. Plus, he says I’m not afraid to shank the 12′ Ande’ now and then, so I try to stay out of his way. While he’s still putting the holders in place, I go behind him and bait and cast my rod. On a good day, he won’t get done before I get the first fish. Whiting usually. Great eating. Croakers were pounding us for a solid three weeks, and I have to say, they are the sweetest…..

When the rods start going off, it’s not fun anymore. Its focus, speed, and agility. Penn Squidders are his reel of choice, and all three of his 15 foot Ugly Sticks are equipped the same. No line levelers make me work even harder, and I always curse while he is yelling, “Get the rod! It’s a Pompano! Reel! Reel! Reel!” When I bring in a whiting, catfish. or shark, he is just grinning. He doesn’t care what comes in, he just “Loves to see the rod bend.”   It can be bedlam for about an hour. Four rods, oftentimes two going off at the same time.

When I think I can’t run anymore, and my arms are tired, they quit biting. Stop. Nothing. Fifteen minutes go by. I check the bait. Re-cast. And then I realize we are done for a while.  Finally I get to sit and enjoy some coffee. Put the umbrella up over the cooler to keep the ice as long as possible. And just relax.

I realize why tourists come here. The sand feels good under my feet. The wind is coming off the water, and the sun is high enough to put my sun glasses on. The lull of the waves relaxes one to the point of making you think you could stay in this spot forever. The coffee tastes better here. I don’t know what it is, but it’s always the same.

This is when I see who’s around as far as my sentry’s. Those are the birds. When the Ibis show up, we know the sand fleas will be up in an hour. Amazing, but true…… Johnny is deadly with a sand flea rake, and the fish love ‘fleas, so we always have bait. He just has to beat the birds to the bounty sometimes.

They will show us where the bait is. We just have to watch......
They will show us where the bait is. We just have to watch……

Then there are the little birds. The Sanderlings. They find the fleas too. The Gulls and Terns show where the near shore bait is, and the Osprey will show where the schools of fish we want are, as they soar above.

Unbelievable how they can use their beak to deflect the water from their face. Proably one of the many things that make them such great foragers in constant waves
Unbelievable how they can use their beak to deflect the water from their face. probably one of the many things that make them such great foragers in constant waves

Even the little ghost crabs make me smile, as they try to figure out a way to something bigger than them into their hole.

This lil crab will work itself nonstop, trying to drag something to it's hole, while avoiding the overhead threat of birds...........
This lil crab will work itself nonstop, trying to drag something to it’s hole, while avoiding the overhead threat of birds………..

When Daylight Savings Time starts next weekend on the east coast, I will not be happy. Our days at the beach surf fishing are over for the season, and I know that right around the corner, cooler nights precede cold days. Coupled with the shorter days that put the sun to bed around 6 p.m., I already miss summer. The surf rods are sad……………………….

Seeing a funnel cloud, no TWO funnel clouds evolve

After work, we went down to Beach Road, a piece of sand covered riverbank that abuts to The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Central Florida. The Red Drum, a favorite fish that fights like a bull and is good eating, were beginning their annual run through this bit of water, and we wanted to be sure we were there to get the first ones of the run. The Mullet Run was underway, another sure sign the Red’s would be there for easy pickings. The Indian River Lagoon is famous for Reds, and we only have this opportunity for a limited amount of time each year. The shore packs up pretty fast, so time is of the essence to get a spot. The mullet were near shore, and a couple tosses of the cast net brought Johnny back in loaded with bait. We were ready to fish.

The weather had been rainy. For two weeks. It seemed like the sun had moved to another place on the planet. The mosquitoes were worse than normal because of all the rain, and the no-see-um’s were relentless. A break in the rain offered glass waters, and it seemed like things were finally going to turn around as far as the weather was concerned. Finally. We threw a couple of rods out with 3.0 circle hooks, and 1/2 oz. lead weights that our friends Larry and Damon make. The 20 lb braid we rig the rods with ensure we won’t have a problem bringing the fish in. After the rods were secured in the rod holders, we relaxed. And waited. There was a group of guys fishing about 100 yards to the east. Larry and Damon had opted not to come down, so it was just Johnny and me.

All of a sudden, the wind stopped. The clouds had been low all day, and Johnny noticed it first. A funnel cloud was forming. Right where we were. I starting listening for “The train” everyone talks about when a tornado rolls through, but the wind was at a standstill. And it kept forming. Not lightening fast, but quick and steady. Still no wind and no “train.” We were right next to the truck, and I figured if things got bad, we could get in. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It was quiet. Not a breath of wind. But it got cooler. Like ten degrees. All at once. The guys to the east were wading to cast their rods, and watched from the water. They were all yelling for the other ones to look, but they stayed out there.It was in front of them. Right there…………………   It kept getting longer and longer, and the end of it was like a point, trying to reach the water. Then, just as quick as it started, it dissolved. Like when wind blows the clouds around. And it was gone.

Funnel cloud off of Beach Road
Funnel cloud off of Beach Road

It was as though nothing happened. There was no indication that anything spectacular had just happened. The low dark clouds were the only clue that the weather was different .Bizare. I coudn’t believe that minutes ago, it was right there. Right THERE!!!

Just as my nerves settled down, it happened again. AGAIN. There, not far from where it formed earlier, it was trying again. It was different though. This time there were two. TWO. Right next to each other, and both trying to improve their position and focus.

Twin funnel clouds
Not one but two funnel clouds try to form where one had been 15 minutes before.

It only lasted a couple of minutes, and never was able to form. The wind blew them right back into the cloud, and that was the end of the funnels. I’m glad we got to witness it, but I’m good now. I don’t need to see it again.

Bad weather cloud
This is what the sky looked like after the funnel clouds left. The low horseshoe cloud was amazing to see.

Peacock’s Pocket on The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge……………………….

Sunset on the MINWR is where we are every time we get the chance,. Can you blame us?
This night, Johnny waded the shallow-water flat, looking for a Redfish or Spotted Sea-Trout to give his weedless spoon a second look.  As he fished, I walked the area, finding a brazen Limpkin that seemed happy to look for bugs at my feet
She seemed happy to wander around at my feet, and I realized in the tall grass, she could see snakes before me. We hung out for about an hour........
She seemed happy to wander around at my feet, and I realized in the tall grass, she could see snakes before me. We hung out for about an hour……..

                                                                                                                                                                                There was a Tri-Colored Heron standing perfectly still at the base of a mangrove tree, hidden by reeds in ankle deep water, trying to lure fish into his range.

Tri-Color Heron on the Merritt Island national Wildlife Refuge, down around Peacock's Pocket
Tri-Color Heron on the Merritt Island national Wildlife Refuge, down around Peacock’s Pocket

 I tried to shoot images of a Tit Mouse. That didn’t work out as well as I hoped. I always keep Johnny in view, because this time of year, the alligators are beefing up for the upcoming cooler weather we will be having in the next month or so. The bulls have no issue with shadowing the wading fishermen; my guess is that in the past when they get with 10 feet or so of someone, they throw the gator the fish out of fear. I like to let him know if one is behind him, because they have a nasty habit of going under water when they get close. There were three in the area this night, but they all kept a respectful distance.