Sunday, March 29, 2015

Jamaica Bay Osprey Hunt - 3/29/2015

Saturday was a bit of a dreary day, perfect for cooking and cleaning. Today started out a bit chilly, but the sky was blue, the sun was shining, windspeeds were forecast to be well below ludicrous (for a change - last couple of weekends the winds were up at speeds technically known as "honkin'") and temperatures were supposed to be up in the 40's. I was rude and antisocial and didn't invite anybody else to come - actually I just didn't want to commit myself to anything because I felt a terrible attack of the lazies lurking about after all the housework on Saturday, but in the end they didn't strike too hard and I was able to fight them off when I remembered that friends at the club had mentioned seeing a lot of ospreys recently and decided that today was a nice day for an osprey hunt!

All shooting to be done with a camera, of course - pictures from the day down at the bottom of the post. My plan was just to paddle out to the osprey platforms I know about and see if there were birds there yet. I ended up doing about 12 miles, I think; I started with the Canarsie Pol platform, the closest to the club (heigh, ho, nobody home), then headed on out to the one at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, with visits to a couple in the marshes out by Broad Channel on the way out and back. One osprey was home - didn't get close enough to get a very good picture 'cause I didn't want to scare him or her, but it was nice just seeing this bird, which is a way better harbinger of spring than the robin around here (here's a robin in the snow in Central Park on President's Day weekend, just by way of example, and I've seen them in Prospect Park in January). 

Also spotted on today's paddle - lots of oystercatchers (another bird who truly does leave the area in the wintertime - I think I heard some down in the Caribbean, and I was absolutely delighted when I was looking through photos posted by a friend who visited the Galapago Islands in the wintertime a couple of years ago and found, there among the iguanas and exotics, a beautiful shot of one of these birds whose calls are so typical of summer on Jamaica Bay). Still lots of buffleheads and brants around but when the ospreys and oystercatchers are back, warmer weather can't be far behind!

Also spotted - smoke from a fire I can't find any information about (there was a lot of smoke but it went away pretty fast, and I'm hoping the lack of news means it wasn't a bad one), and an aid to navigation which isn't quite living up to its name right now (Coast Guard, if you're looking for Jamaica Bay green can #1, it's beached on the west side of Ruffle Bar). Nice day out there. I'm definitely still feeling the effects of my very inactive February, I was running out of steam when I was still a couple miles out. I skipped one last easy possible nest site - ospreys have tried the Carnarsie Pol day mark, although I don't think they've ever actually stayed there for a full season. I paddled by it and there was a bird that may have been an osprey there, but it may also have been a cormorant and I just didn't feel like making a side trip to see! I made it home fine in the end; I expect to be sore tomorrow, but pleasantly so. 

Sebago grounds still looking a bit brown and sere

But there's hope.

Canarsie Pol platform - nobody home

Oystercatchers - wheet, wheet, wheetwheetwheetwheetwheet!

Buffleheads and bridge

Gull and gibbous
Hard to see but that IS an osprey!

Platform at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge - didn't see anybody but there's a big solid nest there at least. Ospreys will build on their old nest if it doesn't blow away through the winter (as happened to the Carnarsie Pol platform - not a twig left).
Another empty platfom in the marshes

I got a little closer to this one, a motorboat had just pulled up very close to look and nobody flew up, so I figured the occupants were away.  Lovely clear day, nice to get the platform with the city skyline. Empire State Building just to the right of the platform.
Jamaica Bay Green Can #1 is not currently aiding any navigation! West end of Ruffle Bar. Note on 3/30 - So if you ever run across anything like this, here's how you tell the Coast Guard. They probably already knew but I figured it couldn't hurt to check their website, and their "contact us" link does a really nice job of walking you right to the proper form. 

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