Thursday, March 30, 2017
The Ospreys are Back for the Season
There was a time when it was quite challenging to see an osprey. The populations had been almost completely wiped out. In the late 1970s, the most predictable path to see these birds was to be somewhere north and remote, wake up before dawn, hike out to some point using a combination of trails, dead reckoning, and crossed fingers, perhaps looking at someone else's topographical map with an X scrawled on it, and set up a scope. Then, if one was patient and lucky, among the pines and tides, one could see a pair of these magnificent birds building a nest, or, later on, sitting on eggs and then feeding young. Watching one or the other go out and catch fish was unforgettable.
Some early morning birding walks were included in summer camp experiences. If interested, campers or counselors could tie towels to the doors of the cabins, and then the ends of their bed. This was the signal to be woken up around 5:30 to join pre-breakfast osprey excursions. (This system could, however, be abused, as campers discovered that they could tie towels to the beds of their enemies who had no interest in birding.)
It is easier now, to be sure. Thanks to collective efforts by so many, Ospreys are common again in many places. But it is still a thrill to see them return each year, especially the first sightings of the year - such as happened today.
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