State of the Osprey Breeding Season for 2019

Spring has sprung,
Still feels like winter,
Maybe that’s why,
My ospreys aren’t hither.

Click Image for Full-Size

On the distribution map above for the 2019 osprey season, the sites labeled with white borders and red letters are those at which one or a pair have returned so far. The notations with white lettering and red borders are vacant-nest locations, determined by past occupants. The two with red lettering and black borders are no longer utilized for nesting.

Used to be like clockwork when the ospreys in my neighborhood arrived back to their nest atop Andalusia’s old Mud Island range marker in the Delaware River. From the time I started observing them back in 2013, the raptors returned on every St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th)—give or take a couple of days.

That changed at the start of the past two breeding seasons for the fish hawks, who spend winters mostly south of the equator in South America, and come back in spring to reproduce. Snow storms hampered their migration north in 2017 and 2018, forcing their arrival in this region to be late by a week or so.

This year, a nor’easter passed through on Thursday and Friday, bringing rain and gusty winds this time rather than snow after the spring equinox. Perhaps that’s why a large portion of the resident nesting pairs in my study area are missing in action, which has me worried.

Two pairs of ospreys were present last Sunday on St. Paddy’s Day at their nesting sites, north of Burlington Island called “Radcliffe,” as seen on the distribution map above. Two birds are on a channel buoy, while the other two are atop a channel marker, both in very close proximity. In the left photo below, the female was waiting for the male to return with a stick or two, as both were building their nest.

The photo on the right shows the female on the solar panel, eating a fish, as the male is catching some well-deserved shut-eye:

On Monday, I visited Neshaminy State Park, across from which is Beverly, NJ, and another yellow tower that hosts a pair. One of them was present and roosting in the nest. Hard to tell its gender, but I’m guessing it’s the male. His mate wasn’t around yet.

During the rest of the week, I checked for the return of both sets of Riverton ospreys, the Pennypack Creek pair, the Andalusian birds, Pen Ryn’s raptors, the Herringbone fish hawks; and looked to see if, perchance, the Marina tower was occupied, none of which were.

Yesterday, I took a tour of the New Jersey side of the Delaware River to survey the towers that are viewable only from there: the Burlington Bristol Bridge ospreys and the Croydon Chemical pair, as well as all the remainder of the nests south, which are all visible from the aforementioned riverfront..

Strange that every one was vacant still, except for the Pennypack Creek channel marker, as seen from Riverton, New Jersey, in the grainy photo below. I’ll have to visit Pennypack Park on the Delaware to get a better shot in the future.

The following are the vacant markers of the missing ospreys as of this writing:

The Delaware River was very choppy, looking more like a bay, as the remnants of the nor’easter lingered yesterday:

Today, I was at Lake Luxembourg, photographing the bald eagles and other fine-feathered friends, when a female osprey graced me with her presence, as if she stopped by to say hello.

Was nice to see her back again. The weather is turning milder at the middle of next week, so hopefully the remainder of the fish hawks will be back by then. In case you’re interested and want to keep up with their status, a photo journal of this season’s ospreys is found by clicking here.

That wraps up this week’s entry. Thanks for stopping by and for your continued support.

About Mike Slickster

As an early retiree with an honorary doctorate degree from the proverbial "School of Hard Knocks," this upcoming author with a lot of free time on his hands utilizes his expansive repertoire for humorous yet tragic, wildly creative writing that contains years of imaginative fantasy, pure nonsense, classic slapstick, extreme happiness and searing heartbreak; gathered by a wealth of personal experiences throughout his thrilling—sometimes mundane or unusually horrid—free-spirited, rock-'n'-roller-coaster ride around our beloved Planet Earth. Mike Slickster's illustrious quest continues, living now in Act Three of his present incarnation, quite a bit on the cutting edge of profundity and philosophical merriment as seen through his colorful characters, most notably evident in the amusing Thirty Days Across the Big Pond series, all of which can be found at Lulu.com.
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