They’re Ba-a-ack! 17 years and counting.

I’m delighted to report that our feathered friends, Opal and Oscar Osprey are back from their winter sojourn in the southern hemisphere.  They arrived right on schedule, March 16th, the day before St. Patrick’s Day.  (Last spring they were two weeks late, you may recall.)

Oscar was my first sighting.  He glided right over my head as I enjoyed my morning walk along the sea wall at the Naval Academy.  I like to think he was checking to see if it was, indeed, I – just as I was checking to see if it was, indeed, he.  We were both delighted!

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I didn’t see Opal that first day.  Oscar was busy gathering twigs and repairing the nest, somewhat battered, I suspect, after the long winter. But on St. Paddy’s Day, there was Opal, standing watch over her nest, checking that Oscar was making all necessary adjustments.

That was last week.  Since then, Opal seems to be staying close to home.  It may be she’s enjoying the warmth of her nest in this cold March weather, or she may be sitting on eggs, keeping them warm. Oscar seems to be out fishing most mornings, though today he was doing some vocalizing – that distinctive, sharp, repeated high-pitched call.

We’ll have to see how this season’s adventure unfolds.

I want to add an apology and addendum here. Last fall I failed to close out our friends’ season with a final report. You may recall that last year’s nursery was overflowing with four chicks rather than the usual two or three.

However, by mid-September when Oscar and Opal usually leave for the south, only three young osprey were there to accompany them.  While on my morning walk in early September, I came upon a small, sad pile of feathers that had once been a fledgling osprey. I don’t know if the fourth bird fell from the nest or was attacked by a predator, but the result was the same.

I’m eager to see how many hatchlings Oscar and Opal produce this year.  They’ll have a busy summer preparing their young for life in the wild. And, I look forward to a busy summer sharing the excitement with them, and with you, patient reader.

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Thoughts for our gardens in winter


The National Arboretum is the focus for my February column, “Thawing February’s Chill.”   My gardens columns appear monthly in What’s Up? Magazine.

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Bringing New creatures to Your Garden | What’s Up Magazine

Here’s my most recent column on gardens.  Topiary might be a interesting way to bring new interest to your garden.

Source: Bringing New creatures to Your Garden | What’s Up Magazine

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Learning From History in the Garden

Following is my November Gardening column from What’s Up? Magazine. Just click on the link to see the article on the magazine’s website.

Back to the Future in the Wm. Paca Gardens

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Home Garden Look: Transform Your Garden’s Relationship with Water | What’s Up Magazine

A water feature can be your garden’s superstar. Installing a fountain, waterfall, or pond as a focal point transforms a garden area into a bit of Eden.

Source: Home Garden Look: Transform Your Garden’s Relationship with Water | What’s Up Magazine

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