By Robert Brown
Sometime in the spring or early summer of 2020 a badminton racquet was spotted in an osprey nest on 64th Street. This nest, called Tanglewood, was then about three years old and very large. It probably weighed over a thousand pounds. It sat around 40 feet up in the top of a dying pine tree and was the summer home of a pair of ospreys who raised their chicks in it. These ospreys had spent their winter somewhere in the area bordering the Gulf of Mexico or in the Caribbean islands or even further south. They return to the same nest each March, and the male repairs the nest with new sticks, Spanish Moss and other items such as tee shirts, plush animals, plastic bags and just about anything else he finds interesting and is able to carry.
But the story of the badminton racquet really begins in Taiwan where it was manufactured by the ILI MD Sport Company. This racquet was assembled with three other racquets, some netting, posts, shuttlecocks and rule book, packed into a box and shipped in a container across the Pacific Ocean to the United States. It was then bought by someone in Virginia Beach, possibly on Amazon. It must have been used for a while in a yard or on a beach near 64th Street before it was spotted by the osprey, picked up, and delivered to the nest where it was fitted nicely into the weave of sticks, From then on it could be seen from the street, and remained a part of the nest for another three years through all the seasons of heat and cold and wind and rain and the raising of osprey chicks who flew away each July.
It may have been during the powerful storm Ian, when the winds reached 70 mph and three and a half inches of rain fell on the state park area, but it could also have been during other storms afterwards that the big, old pine finally came crashing down under the weight of the huge nest.
On a walk along 64th Street on a beautiful autumn afternoon, some visitors saw the fallen pine and remembered seeing the badminton racquet in the nest and wondered if they could find it. They followed the trunk of the tree to the place where the nest came down and there it was, lodged in a tangle of sticks.
So the racquet, which was manufactured by people on the other side of the world and which crossed an ocean and a continent, was probably used by a family in their yard, and wound up being carried off by a large bird which migrates from far away to a nest in a tree in First Landing State Park and is now here for you to think about.
Isn’t it interesting that something so seemingly ordinary could have such an unusual story?
Robert Brown, our far-flung correspondent, has long been a LRNow volunteer, and we have been the lucky beneficiary of many of his excellent photos. He also has closely followed and kept tabs on the osprey habitat along the 64th Street trail to the Narrows in First Landing State Park for many years.