Sunday, September 20, 2009

Osprey everywhere.

Osprey couple at Honeymoon Island.

Oprey catching a fish at Sawgrass Lake Park.

Oprey eating a fish on our dock.

I see osprey everywhere. They are very abundant in the Tampa Bay area. When I was growing up and coming down to visit my grandparents here in the 70’s I never saw them on the bridges (or anywhere else). It wasn't until living here in the last 7 years I have noticed they are everywhere. I have a habit of counting how many are on the Courtney Campbell causeway when I am driving home after work. The most I have counted is 22 one day last summer. This summer I have gotten up to 17. In the winter months there are only 3 or 4 on the causeway. Most are eating fish while sitting on the light posts.

We have an osprey that sleeps outside our bedroom window. Our neighbors have a small sailboat that is docked partially in front of our sea wall and the osprey sits on top of the mast to eat and sleep. Most nights right before dark I can here him calling as he flies up to the mast. Occasionally when I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep I’ll peek out the window and can see him there in the moonlight. He’s usually gone in the morning. Recently a bad storm came through when I got home from work. He had just landed with a big fish that was still flopping around. There was lightning all around. The wind was blowing hard and the osprey flew off and circled around the channel. On his way back to the sailboat he dropped the fish back in the water. He hovered over the spot a few minutes and then flew off. I felt so bad. It was right before dark. I hope he was able to get another fish so he would not have to go to bed hungry.

A great place to see osprey nests in the spring is at Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin, Florida. The nature trail has nests all along it and some of the nests sit right on the trail. You can see them flying around with fish and sticks to build nests. Fort Desoto in St. Petersburg is another place to see them. There are nests all over the park and we usually see them flying around while we are at the beach.

Please don’t confuse the osprey with the eagle. I hear many people say “look at that eagle” when it’s actually an osprey. Just look for the all white chest.
Osprey on our neighbor's sailboat at sunset (view from our window).

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