Wednesday, February 24, 2010

An osprey?

The other afternoon I was coming home in the dinghy when I saw a bird perched on top of a sailboat mast. It was one of those 'what IS that?' moments; it wasn't a wasn't a gull, what...was it an osprey?? I've heard they are here but I've never seen one and being camera-less, I had to rely on my own faulty memory, but it sure looked like one to me. Except for the fact that its beak was more like an albatros'...maybe one of you bird people can set me straight on this.

I used to live on Merritt Island in Florida at one time. The little house, on about an acre, was across from the Banana River. Behind the house was an old wonderful structure I was told used to be a fish house. It was built of what looked like telephone poles, wooden walls, huge sliding doors and a concrete floor. The wood was still redolent of wood smoke, a very fine aroma. I thought at one time I'd buy the property and make that the house...shoulda woulda coulda. But behind even that was a little creek and marshy area full of old trees that was a rookery for ospreys. Every afternoon, at 5 on the dot, one of the birds would fly out of the rookery and over my house. My landlord, who became a good friend, was across the street on the river side. I had 'river rights' meaning I was welcome to come over and watch the river or go fishing. We devised a not so complicated system of raised and lowered blinds in case dolphin were coming by in the afternoon, which they did most days, just in time for cocktails.

Off to the side of his property was an old dead oak tree. The 5 o'clock osprey (also in time for cocktails) would land on this tree, observe his kingdom and catch fish much easier that ourselves (and it was pretty easy for us, the river teemed with fish back then). Snagging his evening meal he would perch back in the tree to get a better grip and then soar off back the way he came, to share his meal with the family. We would salute him and watch the sunset on the water, dolphins plying their way north or south, with the occasional jumping fish and even more rare occasion of seeing otters playing by the shore.

Where I grew up on the Florida barrier islands

All of that to say, oh oh oh I hope it really was an osprey. I hope it lives nearby and that I'll see it again. Or maybe that was the moment I get, which is fine even if it's not enough. Greedy me.


  1. Osprey is likely. I've seen one, while sitting on Debbie and Lewis' porch. It is a cool connection, because we have a decent number of them here in Missouri.

    I also remember the time when a yachting friend picked me up at the pier in Ft. Myers and we cruised the barrier islands. The channel markers were telephone pole-like and atop nearly every one was an osprey, most in mid-meal with a fish.

  2. I'm wondering if it was a really beat up frigate...but I don't think so.

    Yes, osprey in flight...another one of those silent gifts (and yes, those poles...some are put up specifically for the osprey nests...nice!)

  3. very likely an osprey -- probably on it's way north'll know for sure in 104 days when you see them every day. :))))) (yes, i just did the math)

  4. 104 days...sounds like way too long to count yet!