Saturday, May 29, 2010

Olivia makes an appearance!

Thursday and Friday were exciting days around the two osprey nests in North Vancouver. For any new readers, I call the pair in the more easily viewed nest Lawrence and Olivia, and the pair in the nest over the shipyard are Jonny and Jewel.

At lunchtime on Thursday, my friend, Dianne, came rushing into the music room at school, to tell me that the tide was very low and that she had seen both Lawrence and the otter. (S/he is unnamed as yet, but Bill has suggested Frankie - "Frankie and Jonny" has a nice ring to it, don't you think?) I hurried out of school with Dianne, still in my teaching shoes. They are not the best for climbing down rocks, but I was so excited, it didn't seem to matter. When we arrived, the otter was no longer there, but we could see Lawrence coming in with a branch for the nest.

It is a thrill every time to watch him land.

He worked hard arranging the stick just so,

and then left to fetch another.

This sequence was repeated over and over, and when I had to leave to go back to school, he was still at it.

Look, Ma. One talon!

Is this my good side?

Gotta fill up that hole!

It was hard to tear myself away, but there was no choice. During a short break later in the afternoon, I stepped outside the school, thinking to take a quick look around. There was no time for the ten-minute-or-so walk to Lawrence's nest, but right above me, I saw an osprey. I thought it must be Jonny, as Jewel was watching from afar, and I could see some missing primary feathers in his right wing. Unless Lawrence had lost feathers in the last couple of hours, this had to be Jonny. What a show he put on, Jewel calling to him all the while.

He hovered, dove, rose high, and dove again.

See this, Jewel?

Much of the time, he was so high in the sky, I could barely make him out. I appreciate my long lens so much at times like this!

I wondered at his ability to fly so beautifully, with such a gap in his feathers. I wondered as well whether they had been pulled out in an altercation, or whether this is what is called moulting. Either way, I hope they grow back. I looked up a couple of sites to get a bit more information about feathers, and found this heart-warming rescue story about a case where people actually used epoxy cement to replace some feathers to help an injured osprey fly again. I was curious about how to name the various feathers in the wing, and found this site with some information about body parts and feather tracts.

On Friday around lunchtime, the weather was quite dismal. I had my camera in my bag, but decided I would just do a quick check on Lawrence's nest, without taking photos. However, the tide was out, and Lawrence flew in just as I was leaving.

How can you resist me?

He took a look at me, but seemed more preoccupied with something in the distance. I looked in the direction of his gaze, but saw nothing.

Suddenly, Lawrence took off, putting on a show such as I have never seen before.

He called and called, and flew higher and higher, hovering, diving, and rising again.

Like Jonny, he seemed to be checking for confirmation that his show was being appreciated.

The display went on for a very long time. He flew higher, and hovered longer, than Jonny had. I will never forget his cries. Even when he was so high I could barely find him, the intensity and urgency came through so expressively and insistently, there was no mistaking his message to Olivia.

I felt a presence behind me, and there she was! Oh, Olivia, I am so happy to see you!

There was no question she was aware of, and I hope, appreciating, Lawrence's show.

Here, I thought she was about to join him, but she settled down again,

as he flew almost completely,

out of the camera's range.
Suddenly, she was gone. I had missed her take-off, but saw her heading over the marina, and then saw Lawrence follow her.

A moment later, I saw another aerial display, and wondered if Lawrence was doing an encore. But no, there were the missing right wing feathers. What was Jonny doing over Lawrence's nest? I often wonder if Lawrence and/or Olivia are offspring of Jewel and Jonny. Since the JJ nest is much more established, it seems possible that some of their offspring could return to the area. Although I'll never know for sure how the two osprey pairs relate, it certainly did seem as if Jonny was trying to show Lawrence a thing or two.

Suddenly, there was Lawrence, returning to the nest.

I checked out his right wing to make sure I was identifying him correctly. All the primary feathers were in place.

He looked up at Jonny and I feel certain he was making a statement.

She's mine, and this is our home. Go back to your own lady. She's waiting for you.

That was how things stood on Friday. I hope to get over to check on the nests again tomorrow. I can hardly wait!


  1. Yah! The prodigal Olivia has come home!
    Beautiful shots, as usual. It's nice for us, for identification purposes, that Jonny is missing those feathers--and it doesn't seem to hurt his aerobatic skills.

  2. Glad to know Olivia is in the vicinity to perhaps view Lawrence’s one-talon constructing technique. Also, enjoyed Jonny’s beautiful aerial show that is indeed impressive considering he is missing a few feathers. I, too, wonder if the osprey might be related and even competing the way family members sometimes do.

  3. Thanks, EvenSong. Neither Olivia nor Lawrence showed up on Saturday, but it was nice to know they are still engaged:)

    Thanks, Penelope, and yes, surely that one-talon technique will win her heart:)

    Amen, MarianneBill!