On my morning PiPl check, I met up with a super nice gentleman, Bill, who walks the beach every morning. He loves wildlife (including PiPls), is a Coast Guard veteran, was a fisherman, and grew up on a marsh. Bill pointed out the whale (or he thought possibly a large dolphin), breaching and blowing blow holes off in the distance. Bill mentioned there had been a crowd along the back shore earlier and that there is tons of good bait fish off the coast right now.
Can a marine specialist please help us identify what we are looking at. Please comment in the comment section if you have a moment. Thank you so much!
Editor’s Note – Piping Plover volunteer monitor Val Cabral shares that this is a Humpback Whale. Thank you Val for writing!
How exciting at see an Osprey swoop in and snatch up a large fish precisely where the whales were fishing. All were too far away to get some really fine shots, but you can at least get an idea from the photos.
PiPl Update- all three fledglings are doing beautifully on this, their 39th day 🙂 The three spent the hours of five to seven mostly foraging in the area front of the enclosure, and also preening within the enclosure. Papa was on the scene, too.
July 10, 2019 Good Harbor Beach Sunrise
I wonder what kind of fish is bringing out the whales and the Osprey?
Spread The GMG Love By Sharing With These Buttons:
While filming PiPls, from high overhead came the shrilly distinct call of an Osprey. As majestic in flight as a Bald Eagle, he perused the beach and then circled back several times more. I wondered, is he coming for Piping Plover chicks or possibly the creche of Common Eider ducklings that was sweeping the shoreline for sea lettuce.
Creche of Common Eiders foraging for sea lettuce.
When I returned home I read Osprey pose very little threat to baby birds. Ninety-nine percent of their diet is fish and only rarely do they hunt other creatures, mostly when fish are not available. Commonly called Fish Hawk, Sea Hawk, and River Hawk, Osprey have evolved with such highly specialized physical characteristics to aid in hunting fish that they have been given their own taxonomic genus and family (Pandion haliaetus)
To learn more about Osprey, you may find John J. Audubon’s life history super interesting: Fish Hawk, or Osprey
This morning I had the joy to meet Don and Eleanor. Don built the fantastic Osprey platform that you see in the photos. Several years ago, Don noticed that an Osprey pair were trying to construct a nest on a post by the train tracks; the post that houses the all important train signals. Understandably, railroad workers had to destroy the nest as it was interfering with train operations. After watching the Osprey pair attempt to build a nest two years in a row, Don decided to build and install an Osprey platform in the marsh adjacent to his home. With some advice from Greenbelt, Don installed the platform early this spring. Wonder of wonders, his plan worked! The young pair built a perfect nest and one egg hatched.
If the mated pair survives the winter migration, upon their return, they will repair and add to their existing nest. And if the young fledgling also survives it too will most likely return to the region. Thanks to citizen scientists like Don and Eleanor and the Essex County Greenbelt’s amazing Osprey program, the north of Boston region is rapidly being repopulated with Opsrey. Don is already building a second platform with hopes of installing it in the spring of 2017.
Don reports that since the Osprey have been on the scene, they are no longer bothered by pesky crows. He witnessed a pair of crows trying to rob the Osprey nest of its egg. The Osprey swooped in, snatched both crows, and beat them down into the marsh. The crows have yet to return!
Many thanks to Don and Eleanor for their warm hospitality and efforts to help the Osprey.
Osprey nesting platform built by Don
To take some truly terrific closeups, a longer zoom lens than my own 400mm is required, but we can at least get a glimpse of the Osprey family with these photos.
Spread The GMG Love By Sharing With These Buttons:
So many thanks to GMG’s Paul Morrison for the excursion out to photograph the Osprey nest on the Annisquam. And thank you to Paul’s sister Kathy for the suggestion. We were there for only a short time when we began to see movement beneath the adult perched on the nest’s edge. After a few moments, the nestling’s shape became visible, but only for seconds, before it settled back deeper into the nest.
Some interesting facts about Ospreys:
Their population has rebounded following the ban on the pesticide DDT.
This hawk is easy to identify when flying over head as it has a whiter belly than other raptors.
The male gathers the nesting material while the female builds the nest. Osprey return to the same nesting sight and nest, building and rebuilding the nest up over a period of many generations. The man made nesting platforms that we see in Essex County are relatively new nests. Osprey nests that are built up over decades can reach 10 to 13 feet deep and 3-6 feet in diameter, large enough for an adult to sit in.
The osprey’s diet consists almost exclusively of fish, nearly 80 different species of fish are eaten by osprey. Sounds like a Gloucester sort of raptor!