Well, I thought that after a very cold December that we were doomed for our winter platform installations. It seems that's not the case anymore. After some seasonably average high temperatures the ice has subsided. This opens up the chance to possibly install some platforms in the next month.
Map of the proposed platform location inside Fort Monmouth.
Last week, I met with Joe Fallon, Chief of Environment Division with the Army Corp. of Engineers at Fort Monmouth. I toured the site with Joe to survey for suitable locations for additional nest structures. Currently, there are three nest sites on the base. Two nests on platforms and one on a baseball field light (orange points on the map). Last year before the second platform was built that third pair of ospreys nested on a power pole and laid two eggs. In short, this nesting attempt cost the government facility a $50,000 transformer! Luckily, the nest survived and was moved, thanks to the hard work of Joe and other Fort Monmouth staff. The nest was slid onto a sheet of plywood and then transferred to a new nest structure that was placed 30 ft. away on a 40ft. telephone pole. The eggs survived and the adult ospreys were determined. They successfully raised two young.
An osprey nest on a boat lift near Blackberry Bay. Photo by Peggy Davis.
The Shrewsbury River area and almost all of Monmouth County has been a recent area of interest for me. Why are there so few ospreys that nest up there? The fact is, there is not enough suitable nest sites for ospreys. Habitat loss from the boom in construction in the early 1950's led to massive projects that filled wetlands and what surrounded them, osprey nesting habitat. Today, only a handful of suitable nest structures exist in Monmouth County. Most are located inside Gateway National Recreation Area on Sandy Hook. Now ospreys utilize everything that they can. Many nest on cell towers, duck blinds, channel markers and in 2009 two pairs nested on boat lifts on people's docks! Since 2009, I pledged that I would work to raise funding to place more platforms in N. Monmouth County and with the funding from Fort Monmouth we will be able to place more platforms to help the osprey colony in this area. To read more about the project, click here.
In the next few weeks I'll be constructing 6 platform tops that will be placed on 40 ft. poles throughout the base. We will be installing six additional nest platforms with a grant from the U.S. Government. Installation is expected before the end of February. Stay tuned for photos and updates on this project!