Yeah, I know it’s shocking to have another post after just 3 days…that’s been a bit unusual for our stop this winter but with Connie’s troubles with juggling 3 classes at work, trips to AL and GA for a wedding and funeral respectively, cold rainy weather a couple of weeks that’s just the way it’s been for us.
We had originally scheduled a trip down to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary about 50 miles south for later in the week…but with forecasts of rain and fog for Wed through Friday we figured we probably wouldn’t make it. Neil had excellent intentions to get up early yesterday morning and go down to check on the eagles but got caught up in making reservations for our travels through June in the morning and it was almost 1200 by the time he was done with that. Connie had more work scheduled for the afternoon so he decided to hop in the car and head down Ozzie and Harriet’s nest to check on e4 and see how things were going.
Let me show you a map of the local area to see where all the places I’ve been talking about this winter are though.
You can see Seminole Campground just to the right of the middle of the map on the east side of the lake next to I-75. From there down to Ozzie and Harriet’s nest which is the first pin down Bayshore Road heading west is about 4 miles. The Elks Lodge we joined and frequent is the second pin a little farther west on Bayshore. St Therese parish where we have been going to Mass and where Connie goes to choir is about 3 miles north and west from the upper left corner of the map. The pin heading east on Bayshore from Seminole is Hog Body’s Bar and Grill we are frequent wing and BBQ eaters. We usually hit the Walmart a little farther down Bayshore to the west from the Elks for our groceries and other needs. Neil’s favorite bike ride leaves Seminole and heads towards I-75, He takes the road right before 75 headed north and it becomes Pritchett Parkway which he then follows up to the north side and off of this map a couple miles before turning east and then south to get back to Bayshore about halfway between Seminole and Hog Body’s. From there he heads east on Bayshore then turns north into another farming/ranching area by the Echo Inc park and the water treatment plant before ending up back to Bayshore a couple miles east off of this map then he heads for home. That’s about a 20 or so mile ride…he’s been trying to up the distance on his rides and it’s about the farthest he can find without either repeating a section of the ride or having to go on more trafficked roads that he tends to want to stay away from. Anyhoo…figured I would orient ya’ll a little bit to our surroundings here in the immediate North Fort Myers area.
So after lunch yesterday he headed down to the eagle nest. He started on the east side of the nest where the main parking area is…but by that time the sun had gone past the nest and everything was backlit and hence just a silhouette. He got this single nice shot of the horses who live in the pasture underneath the nest before heading around to the west side of the nest for better picture taking. He took along his camp chair to be more comfortable…good thing as he was down there for 2.5 hours or so and almost all of the activity happened in 2 10 minute intervals.
On arrival at the west side…Mom and Dad were nowhere to be found but e4 was up in the nest all by himself looking around and testing his wings. It will likely fledge and have his first flight in the next 3 weeks or so and then the adults will teach it how to hunt and fish before leaving the next in late May or thereabouts…with the adults returning to the neat about October to start remodeling for next season’s eaglets.
You can’t really tell it from those two shots…but e4 is almost as big as Ozzie is. After an hour or so of alternating between flapping his wings and sitting down in the nest Ozzie made a very brief stop by the nest to drop off a fish then headed down to the pond for a drink. He was probably on the nest for 30 seconds before he headed off; and although Neil didn’t get a shot of both Ozzie and e4 in the same frame you can see from the relative size of them compared to the camera on the left (same camera is visible in both the shot above and immediately below) that e4 is g eating pretty large.
All of the above shots are taking from the west side of the nest looking pretty much due east as seen on the map at the top. Ozzie went on down to the pond which is about 150 yards due north of the nest away from Bayshore, it’s actually right outside of the Dick Pritchett Real Estate office (they’re the folks that provide the Fort Myers Eagle Cam web site). This necessitated a quick run for Neil (and Greg and Lynn and a whole bunch of other folks who had congregated on the west side by this time) up to the pond for some action photos (the ones of the birds sitting on the nest are nice…but once you have 300 of those you want them flying or doing something a little more interesting).
On arrival we got some nice shots of Ozzie having a drink, heading bak to the branch immediately to the right and above the nest, spiraling around again and returning to his perch over the nest.
He flew almost directly overhead of us about 100 feet up. Shortly after he returned to his post over the nest as in the second shot above…and remained there until we left, just sitting and watching…Harriet arrived from wherever she was off to. She and e4 shared the fish that Ozzie had brought awhile back…sorry, no good pictures of that as they were mostly head down in the nest eating…she in turn headed down to the pond for a drink…which entailed another run for the group back up to the pond area.
Other than size…the only way to really tell Ozzie and Harriet apart is that she has the inverted V shaped area of brown feathers on her chest that sticks up into the white neck feather area. This isn’t something you typically see with a female but just an individual characteristic she has. Neil got another couple of decent shots of her at the pond…in the third one below you can see that she’s blinking her interior eyelid to clear out something that got into her eye.
She then headed back up to the nest after a brief stop on a branch up towards where Ozzie was sitting…e4 was calling her as she landed, probably hoping she had more food and she’s pretty clearly staring him down and telling him there isn’t any more so just shut up.
In these last few you can see the relative size of Harriet and e4…since the eaglet is almost as large as Ozzie already I’m guessing that it’s actually a female eaglet…which is good because assuming it survives it will likely be part of another breeding pair here in the Fort Myers area in a few years.
Neil thinks that she’s really got the “you’re getting on my nerves, kid” look on her face in this last shot.
After the above shots; all of the shots from Ozzie’s return with the fish through both visits to the pond happened in about 10 or 15 minutes…the whole family just sat there until we left about a half hour later.
Getting home…we sat outside under the awning and cooled off for awhile with a beer then headed in for some leftover lamb chops from Sunday along with some mashed taters and some nice gravy made out of blueberry jelly, hot sauce, and leftover lamb juices from the platter on Sunday thickened up with some flour and chicken stock. Pretty yummy. After that we headed off to the weekly campfire down at the rec hall in the campground…it was Paul the owner’s birthday so we had a cake that somebody made and drank some Choc au Vin (chocolate wine) that one of the Canadians brought out. It tasted a lot like Bailey’s Irish Creme and was many calories per sip I’m sure. After the campfire burned down we came home and watched TV until bedtime.
If we don’t get to Corkscrew this week we’ll likely go one day early next week as soon as there’s a sunny day. We have tickets to Alton Brown’s Edible Inevitable Tour on Sunday. He’s the guy that did Good Eats and Feasting on Asphalt on Food Network then moved into doing Iron Chef America and his latest Cutthroat Kitchen which is a cooking competition with evilness involved. The show is a mix of food, music, and jokes…but it’s getting good reviews and Connie suggested we go…and it turned out that it was coming to town so we got tickets. The following weekend we’re off to Chicago for a Saint Saëns concert…it’s supposed to have temps like 8 and 12 and 19 the 2 days we are there so hopefully they’ll get a heat wave and get above freezing before our arrival.