By Mary Reid Barrow
LRNow’s walk along the 64th Street trail to the Narrows in First Landing State Park this time of year is like an intimate visit to the residents of a busy established neighborhood.
Maybe we should give it an Historic Neighborhood sign and call it Osprey Heights because this community consists of treetop nests. These are osprey homes from the good old days and there are no modern man-made platforms or buoys, among these traditional residences.
Ospreys along this trail return year after year to their nests in dead tree snags and pine trees in the park where this treed habitat is still readily available. In other areas of the city, for the most part, ospreys choose modern homes on the water not easily viewed from land.
On LRNow’s 9 a.m. walk next Friday, June 17, you will see osprey on their daily soaring flights, calling, dare I say, neighborly greetings to one another.
You will see moms on or near their nests patiently waiting for the dads to bring home the bacon. You probably also will see a dad somewhere, hungrily devouring the head of a fish he just caught before he carries the rest of the fish back to the fam at home.
The osprey in this photo by Terri Gorman is angrily defending his fish from a couple of hungry grackles.
“Honey, you are really late with dinner,” Mom might say later.
“But I really had a bad day at the office,” Dad might respond.
On the walk, Robert Brown and Reese Lukei will fill in the blanks of what you don’t see. Robert is a wildlife photographer and has made a point of documenting ospreys and their nests in that area for years. And Reese, a raptor expert, is a volunteer researcher with the Center for Conservation Biology in Williamsburg and has banded osprey for years on the Lynnhaven River.
The walk will be especially interesting because it’s been somewhat of a rough year for the Osprey Heights neighborhood.
Winter and spring storms have played havoc with nests and Osprey Heights doesn’t qualify for wind insurance.
But the major issue was the pair of bald eagles that had the audacity to move into the area and nest there last winter. There’s no happy integrated housing among ospreys and eagles.
Robert Brown thinks the eagles may have delayed the osprey nesting season for a couple of weeks as the ospreys protested. I imagined they held angry meetings and tried to convene the Osprey Heights Civic League to discuss what to do about the neighborhood!
During the two weeks when the 64th Street entrance to the park was closed to pave the parking lot, the eagles seemed to disappear. Did the eaglets fledge and take off entirely or did something else happen?
At least peace seems to have returned to Osprey Heights. During the walk, both Robert and Reese will discuss the bad blood between ospreys and eagles and offer other insights into the dynamics of osprey neighborhoods.
Bring your camera, binoculars and bug spray and join them and LRNow next Friday for a two-mile walk through Osprey heights, starting in the parking lot at the end of 64th Street in the park.