The Siesta Key Chronicles – A Sunrise in April

Mornings like this are all-too-brief.  I rolled out of bed early, quickly got dressed, and proceeded up the North Dock towards the osprey nest.  My primary objective was to photograph the sunrise, which was going to occur at 6:59 that morning.  I had my lowly IPhone with me, which was a strategic error.  I should’ve taken the time to grab my trusty Nikon D40 with its great telephoto lens.

The Osprey Fledglings

I had some time to kill before sunrise, so I began checking out the mother osprey (Olivia) and her two chicks.  (I have christened the chicks “Screech” and “Chong”, because they are very noisy with their incessant chatter.)  These fledglings are nearly able to fly, and I wanted to make sure I captured their progress.  Without warning, however, the ospreys burst into their telltale group screeching.  In the past, whenever I heard this, my first thought was that I did something to spook them.  I have since learned that, more often than not, this means a meal is coming.  I looked up behind me, and, sure enough, the father (Oscar) was doing a flyby with a fish in his talons.  The rest of the family had evidently seen him coming, and knew breakfast was at hand!  Oscar flew into his favorite tree near the shore end of the dock, presumably to eat the head of the fish.  (I’ve been told that’s what male ospreys do before feeding the rest of the family.)

While awaiting breakfast, the fledglings decided to hone their flying skills: first one, then the other.  (Olivia is sitting rather disinterestedly on the right-hand perch in the photos below.)

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Here is a short video from that morning showing the faltering movements of one of the fledglings as he attempts to go airborne:

After a few minutes, Oscar returned with the rest of the fish to feed his hungry brood.  The group screeching recommenced, as the mother and fledglings eagerly anticipated their meal.


Finally, it was time for what I had originally come out for: sunrise!  Currently, the sun rises a little to the right (i.e., to the south) of the pink Bay Village building across Little Sarasota Bay:

IMG_0421   IMG_0426

After getting a few pictures of the sunrise, I then noticed two sets of wing tips barely protruding from the surface of the water off the North Dock.  Each set of wing tips bobbed up and down together.  I have seen this before, and these are stingrays gliding along just beneath the surface, at times cavorting with each other.  Unfortunately, it was still too dark to get any decent pictures of this.

All this activity took place in a time frame no longer than about an hour.  A nice start to the day!


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