by Mary Reid Barrow
Here are some notes from LRNow’s osprey walk along 64th Street in the park with Robert Brown, who has followed the nests there for years and raptor expert Reese Lukei:
Ospreys along the 64th Street trail at First Landing State Park obviously have had a bad year there have been no sign of chicks yet. But the park closed the road for two weeks in May to re-pave which made it difficult to observe the nests at a crucial time.
Were the ospreys bothered by the new eagle nest or did the strong spring storms defeat some osprey homeowners or is it just cyclical?
“It was very difficult to understand what was what,” Robert said. “I’m really sorry we missed those two weeks in May.”
The osprey population has declined across the Bay this year, Reese said. And the exact cause is not fully understood.
“It’s going to take much more observation in person as well as cameras to solve the exact cause,” he added.
Though it was a beautiful morning and ospreys were soaring overhead and calling out in traditional fashion, we didn’t see any osprey chicks poking their heads above their nests and some nests appeared unused. Several ospreys were perched alone in random places.
“There were 7 single ospreys associated with nests but they were very quiet and no sign of chicks,” Robert said.
Midway down the road on the south side, a lone osprey sat on a Y-shaped tree snag that once held the longest producing nest that Robert has followed on the trail. He called the nest Birdland.
The parents were exemplary, and they regularly produced two, or so, chicks for 11 years. This year, Birdland is totally gone, perhaps taken down by a fierce spring storm. and the male is nowhere to be seen.
And you can’t help but think the female in Robert’s photo is waiting for something, just like the other lone ospreys around. You wish they could tell us what happened.
There is good news at the park this spring too. You could hear the noisy clackety-clack clatter of great blue herons back in the marsh on the north side of the road. There, high in the pines, you can see at least three great blue heron nests.
Off the road and back on the trail to the Narrows, several in the group saw a hummingbird on a tree branch. It was probably gleaning insects from the branch to feed its youngsters. You don’t expect to see something so small as a hummingbird in a place as vast as the park, but they make the world go round too.
Two white flowers lit up the park today. Horse nettle’s pretty white flowers are like little stars on the forest floor but don’t touch. Its thorny stems are no fun.
And the lizard’s tails are blooming in the ponds. Robert took this photo of white aromatic curving spikes of flowers dancing across the marsh.