On Friday, I got the opportunity to fly along with Kathy Clark, Supervising Zoologist with the Endangered and Nongame Species Program to conduct the final aerial osprey survey for 2009. This was an awesome experience!! In my career, I've only seen osprey platforms and their habitat from either Google Earth or from the ground. This really gives you better understanding of why ospreys nest where they do. Ospreys nests near water and near food. Both of which are plentiful along the bayshore. This survey will help us determine the total number of nesting ospry pairs, statewide and it will also help us determine the productivity rate or rate of reproduction (basically how healthly the population is as compared to previous years). For the survey we flew from Woodbine to Dennis Creek, where our survey began. From Dennis Creek we flew along the Delaware Bayshore to Salem.
This nest is located along Dennis Creek
We covered a huge amount of land. We were constantly on the lookout for new nests in trees, shacks, duck blinds, or on new platforms. Many of the known nest sites were occupied. We also found several new nests, mostly in snags, or dead trees. Like this nest in a huge dead cedar (below). In all we found 38 active nests along the bayshore.
A nest in a dead cedar tree.
A nest behind houses along Reeds Beach Road.
With the conclusion of this survey we've found that in New Jersey we have 430 nesting pairs of ospreys. Up from 400 nesting pairs in 2006. That puts the population growth rate at about 8% from 2006. In the next few weeks we will be conducting ground surveys to determine the productivity rate (or the overall health of the population). Come back soon for more results and photos!