Summer is passing, if at a pace a bit slower than in years past. I, along with ordinary citizens, have been barred from my usual morning walk around the Naval Academy Yard due to the dangers of spreading COVID-19. And so, I have not been able to observe my old friends, Opal and Oscar Osprey, as they fritter away the summer months rearing their fledglings and preparing their new brood to join the September migration back to regions south – Florida, Central or South America.
Fortunately, for me, I have found another interesting and predictable walk through Annapolis, along the harbor, across the bridge over Spa Creek to Back Creek or the mouth of the Severn River – whether I choose to go straight or make a turn along the water.
Now that I’ve traversed these same sidewalks, around the same time of day, for 6 months, I have found new friends – both human and feathered. There are familiar faces who, like I, walked the Academy regularly and now wander Annapolis, like lost lambs. Also, there are new faces, people who find themselves with time for a walk in the morning – time that was once spent sitting in traffic on the way to work.
Since I walk the same route each morning, I’ve begun noticing the flora and fauna as the summer slips away. In March I observed and was observed by a flashy, young osprey. He perched each morning on one of the masts of the sailboats docked at the yacht club. He often called my attention to himself with his distinctive osprey chirps, not unlike a high-pitched sonar detector. I named him Alfonse.
Apparently, Alfonse’s mating song was persuasive, because before too long he was joined by a plump, young lovely – about half-again his size. I named her Abigail.
Rather than remain on the precarious masts, they took up residence on the other side of the bridge, in a lush copse of maples, poplars and sycamore. In that grove, there is a dead tree that rises above the rest, a perfect perch from which to watch the creek below.
The trees on the far right of this image are the copse and home to the osprey and herons. The church is St. Mary’s Catholic Church. The water is Spa Creek. This photo was probably taken from the bridge I cross each morning.
As the summer wore on, I regularly saw one or the other, sometimes both Alfonse and Abigail perched handsomely above the greenery in the dead tree. Until one morning in July. As I started across the bridge I looked up for my friends. And, there, perched grandly on the very tree “owned” by Al and Abby, were two beautiful, big, blue herons. I named them Bluebell and Berry.
Yes, the grove and the creek below are claimed by two pairs of beautiful hunters. Since then, I have seen usually one or the other pair as I cross and recross the bridge. Recently, Abbie and Al Osprey seem to be introducing at least one young fledgling to the creek. Al and Ab fly across the creek in lazy circles, while a small, tentative osprey sits cautiously in the top of a tree – not, I might add, the favored perch of parent osprey and neighbor herons.
I can’t be sure if there is only one fledgling, or if I’m only seeing one-at-a-time. I’ll let you know. In the meantime, I’m watching to see if I can spot any youthful herons making their way along the shoreline. I often see Bluebell and Berry winging their way over the bridge and into the trees after what I hope was a successful fishing foray. They spend less time perching and more time stalking the creeks’ shorelines for breakfast.
And so it goes… I still get occasional sightings of Oscar and Opal across the harbor, perching on or near their nest. But, I can’t discern whether they’re rearing a new brood. I certainly hope so! I’ll let you know if further details become available.