Monday, May 17, 2010

Osprey excitement at the CAS Coastal Center at Milford Point!

Many people watch the Osprey pair nesting at the CAS Coastal Center on Milford Point through our website here. However, few are as fascinated and dedicated as Coastal Center regular Kevin Doyle, who routinely braves hordes of biting flies, sun and wind while he patiently stands along the edge of the Wheeler salt marsh or on our observation tower, watching Osprey life unfold in front of him. Kevin regularly gets an intimate look at the bird's daily routines but also experiences their exciting interactions with other residents of the marsh -- and since his camera is always at the ready, the latter sometimes results in some pretty spectacular imagery.

Regular viewers of our Osprey camera know that the female has been quite homely lately, rarely leaving the nest. In the past few days, "rogue" Osprey have harrassed the female on occasions when the male of the pair had left her side. Yesterday, Kevin documented another type of interaction when a Great Egret tried to land in the saltmarsh grass patch below the Osprey platform: apparently the female Osprey decided that she did not want this bird near her nest and before the egret could even land, she was on top of him with talons out. This bird means business!

The egret smartly decided to take the high road and booked it out of there! Herons and egrets are voracious predators, and especially night-herons are notorious nest predators. Even though this Great Egret probably did not pose much risk to the Osprey and their nest, it became clear this morning why the female was so tightly nest-bound and on edge: the first eggs have hatched and two hatchlings are visible in the nest! The screen shot of our webcam below shows the parents on the nest; one adult is in the process of tearing small pieces of a fish that the male caught and feeding its young.
Note that Osprey have a habit of bringing back all kinds of items from their forays and incorporate them in their nest. You can see what appears to be a newspaper between the two chicks and the parents, as well as plastic bags and other debris. Hopefully we will have better screen shots of the baby osprey available soon to share with you. If you want to see the action for yourself, just click through to our live camera here, or join Kevin some time at the CAS Coastal Center -- he'll be happy to fill you in on the latest developments in the marsh!
Osprey and Great Egret photos by Kevin Doyle, Osprey Cam screen shot courtesy of Pat Mishico

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