Monday, March 30, 2009

Salt Cay's new Osprey Nesting Platforms

The osprey families of Salt Cay lost their home in 2008 because of Hurricane Hannah (August 30-September 1st, a Category 1 with rains that flooded the island) - followed a few days later by Hurricane Ike (Category 4+ on September 7th with winds clocked at 135+ mph that destroyed many homes).

In the past, opsrey have built their nests in the tops of the windmill frames in the salinas (picture on left from February 2008), on the tops of telephone poles with just a few supports in the North Beach area, and most lately on the ruined Cable & Wireless communications tower on the West side of the island (picture March 2009).

Osprey will use a nest over and over again... continuing to build and make it strong over the years. They are single family dwellings and osprey are territorial birds. One problem is that without a permanent place to build their homes they tend to spend a lot of time rebuilding every year. The nests on the Salinas and pole on North Beach lasted years and years. Eventually the communications tower will be taken down and the area will be cleaned up, but meanwhile that is the only suitable place for them to build.
Anther problem - without enough places to build, the osprey will move on. Salt Cay could easly sustain 3-4 osprey families but without the tall outlooks for them to build on, they will fly off to other places in search of accommodations.

Earlier this year while our friend Candy Herwin (owner, Pirates Hideaway) was over having a cup of morning coffee, she and Mike discussed building a few osprey nesting platforms to help relocate and provide adequate places for the island osprey to nest. The idea??? Use telephone poles that fell during the hurricane. With that idea in mind, the construction of osprey nesting platforms began. Keyroy (grandson of Ma Lucy, South District Salt Cay) began the project by removing the wood from the tops of the poles to use in constructing the actual platform.
(The photo on the left shows Arnie Scheller and Mike at the beginning of the first nesting platform erection).
Using the wood that carried the power and telephone lines, Mike built two platforms that fit onto the tops of the telephone poles. Assembling a team of volunteers from the winter resident population, the osprey nesting poles were ready to put in place.
The photo on right shows Mike James holding the platform while Mike Hawkins makes a few last minute adjustments to it before the erection of the first osprey nesting pole and platform. In the background, Don Shope and his backhoe are ready to lift everything in place.
This close up is Mike fitting the platform on the second pole. The osprey nesting platforms are located by the Creek (on the East side of the island.)
One platform is down the south side of the creek by the old bird watching station - the other is north on the Creek by the mangroves. I've been to a few different places on island since they were erected and you can see at least one of them from almost everywhere on island.
I've got a lot of pictures of the erection of the osprey nesting platform and have tried to pick the ones that show everything. The photo on the right is the first platform finished with the crew of (from left to right) Mike Hawkins, Don Shope, Arnie Scheller and Mike James. And although we're not in the picture, Sonia Scheller and I helped on the final stage of filling the backhoe bucket with rocks that were piled around the base of the pole for support.
The second opsrey nesting platform (down by the mangroves) was finally erected by about 3:00pm. Pictures are (from left to right) Mike Hawkins, Mike James, Mike DeNegris, Tim Connolley, Arnie Scheller, Ann Hawkins, Don Shope and Bob Robertson. Not pictured but present and taking pictures are Cindy Robertson and Sonia Scheller.
We're looking forward to the osprey moving into their new homes.


Rose and the princess's said...

How cool!!!

WB said...

Well done - another fine job by the Salt Cay Family! Hope the Osprey appreciate it too.