Friday, April 17, 2015

Wood ticks and eggs!

It's been quite a crazy few days. I could write volumes but will have to condense it here. After several days of field work, a car breakdown (check engine light on) and an expensive repair, many nests have been visited...and some I still haven't gotten to for the first time. Lots of bands have been read, still many more to read. I like to get as many read before incubation as possible since once they start sitting, you can wait a looooooooong time to see legs. But with so many nests, it's just not possible to read them all during this short window before eggs are laid. I keep plugging away at it. I always say, read bands early and read them often. SO much is revealed by the changes in banded birds on a nest and by who is copulating with whom and who is visiting who! The wood ticks are out...oh my. And we do have our first eggs laid!  I have seen some of my old friends and sadly, some seem to have not survived migration. Our oldest male this year is our 22 year old and he has been waiting for his old partner for weeks. He connected with a few other females during that time, even ones that belonged on other nests. We were about to give up, and then his long time mate finally showed up! This marks their 14th year together!!! Fantastic. Break out the champagne! I have seen a great deal of chaos at a variety of nests, with too many Ospreys flying around. I observed a nest yesterday with two males doing elaborate and very vocal sky dances to impress the lady on the nest. I have watched many nests where a third osprey tried to land on the nest only to be chest butted off, or snapped at. At some other nests I have identified the same two Ospreys meditating in perfect peace as they restore their energies and prepare for what's to come. We have one nest that was taken over by....geese. There are some nests where I still have only seen a single bird, and too many nests that were removed, probably without permits. I have barely begun to put a dent in the work ahead. Much of it is a pleasure, some of it is frustrating. Waiting for two hours for a female to show me her leg bands...and getting no info! AHHHHH. I have to say once again, all my years of work and talking to people have created an amazing network of informants. So many wonderful people drop me a note with some valuable many regular committed volunteer monitors have been exchanging emails, full of conversations about behaviors, observations, questions. So many new volunteers this year are diving in whole hog, buying scopes, visiting their nests several times a week. Wow! And my experienced volunteers are so deeply valued, with all their knowledge about behaviors, band reading and what we call "fanatical patience"...a term stolen from my meditation teacher. It's required to do this work of collecting data and reading bands. Since it is National Volunteer Appreciation week, I extend a deep and heartfelt thanks to all of you who help me watch over these nests. Your efforts are so valued. 
 I am sure more birds will lay eggs soon, and new nests will begin to pop up. Please report any observations of Ospreys carrying sticks, building nests or just hanging out in a new spot. And a special thanks to Clarence and Gladys Osprey, who sent me a gas gift card today. I will be using it to come visit you very soon! So glad you made it back!

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