|Osprey - Photo courtesy of NASA (public domain)|
It began when I moved to Maryland a decade ago. There are things that I dislike about Maryland - the congested traffic being the top item. And I can't wait to retire to a remote country setting far from here. But while planning my retirement, I am already mourning the loss of some of the flora and fauna I've become accustomed to here. I have had a 10 year love affair with Osprey and I have a feeling that I'll have to break it off when I retire to my West Virginia place. And I will miss seeing these spectacular birds.
Birds Near Baltimore
Osprey are plentiful here. The Chesapeake Bay, tidal marshes, and rivers are the sort of environment they thrive in. I have spent many days at local beaches laying on my back, watching the Osprey fly overhead. Always hoping they will dive for a fish near me. I've become familiar enough with them that I can hear their little chirp as they fly overhead - almost as though they are reminding me to look up.
I have become familiar with spotting their nests on platforms. And sometimes on power line poles. I have been lucky enough to watch an Osprey carry a large fish to a tree and perch there with it's lunch.
I love to watch them dive for fish and always hope they've caught one. I know they have been unsuccessful when they fly back into the air and vigorously shake the water off.
Osprey in West Virginia?
I have not yet spotted an Osprey from my little piece of land in West Virginia. I was hopeful as there are bald eagles in the area. And a river nearby. But so far, I have not yet seen or heard an Osprey.
This morning, after making an intentional visit to an area near an Osprey nest, I returned home to look on the eBird Range map. No. It does not appear that there are many Osprey near my planned retirement home. Bummer.
I will continue to visit areas where I can watch Osprey fly, nest, and fish as often as possible, while I am still their neighbor.
Today's Osprey Adventure
This morning I wandered down to a familiar platform. I was told by a friend that Osprey are nesting there this year. I planned on going down just after sunrise and watching them from a very small beach area. Turns out I was a bit later than I wanted to be. The sun was higher in the morning sky than I had planned on. Also, as it turns out, it was high tide. So the river was high and I could not get to the spot I had planned on - unless I waded in knee-deep brackish water. And I just wasn't prepared for that this morning. I have to also mention that this particular beach is the spot where I watched a huge copperhead snake eating a fish. Since that time, I have trouble bringing myself to wade at this spot.
So I sat on the trail and watched. She flew overhead, scolding me and watching me. I moved as little as possible, trying to snap a few photos. I did not stay long since my location seemed to irritate her.
You can be sure that I'll sneak off and visit her as often as possible.
I do not have the camera equipment that I need for detailed photos or videos. Fortunately, many other people do. And we have amazing videos like this at our fingertips:
I know very little factual information about Osprey, or birds in general. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology provides All About Birds online bird guide. This is a very helpful resource. It includes identification, history, sounds, and videos of birds. This site has been very helpful with identifying birds - something I'm not very good at. Thank you to my daughter-in-law for the tip.
The Chesapeake Conservancy osprey cam. A view of a nest above water.