Since returning to his nest around 5pm on March 20th, Coley has been very active with his mate, copulating and adding sticks to their 3 feet high and 4 to 5 feet across nest. He has also been heading out to Long Island to visit freshwater ponds to fish. On Friday March 22nd he visited Hempstead Lake where he was sighted by Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Ranger Colleen Sorbera, who often reports on Coley’s activities around his nest. She is taking an Ornithology class at Hofstra University and was at Hempstead Lake with her class and her Professor, Dr. Chris Eliot, studying birds on a field trip when they saw and reported the bird.
Interestingly, the class noticed that one of Coley’s transmitter straps was loose and visible on the left upper side of his breast. This likely means that the transmitter is now held on by only three of the four straps. This is a distressing situation that we will watch very carefully as it puts Coley at greater risk than normal. Additionally, this will necessitate that we catch him to remove the GPS transmitter. The recapture will occur soon after his clutch of eggs is complete and the pair has a normal routine of trading off incubation (sometime during the end of April or in early May). After going through the capture routine a couple times already, we almost certainly would not be able to catch him a third time to remove the transmitter as originally planned. Because of this, we will be removing the transmitter for good and are now considering other Osprey in the region we may be interested in tracking. We will keep you posted as next steps are determined.
Coley does not seem impaired by the loose strap. He is catching fish, flying well, and proceeding with mating and its associated rituals as normal, all things he would do at this time of the year. His movements beyond Jamaica Bay are something new however, as last year after we caught him, he did not go much beyond Jamaica Bay. Since his March 22nd and 23rd trip to Hempstead Lake, he has made at least two more trips out onto Long Island, particularly to Seaman Pond along the Wantagh State Parkway, about 19 miles from his nest.
Coley’s movements to the freshwater ponds suggest that fish are not yet available to him in Jamaica Bay. His prey may not have arrived into these waters yet or the turbidity of the water is high and makes the fish difficult to see below the surface. We still do not know the effects of Hurricane Sandy on the Jamaica Bay ecosystem and we wonder what we may observe. In any event, as spring advances we should see Coley more focused on the fishery resources in Jamaica Bay.
Thanks to Dave Taft and Colleen Sorbera, Rangers at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and to Don Riepe, Jamaica Bay Guardian of the American Littoral Society for their updates on Coley and his mate at their nest. We will keep you posted on Coley’s welfare and the progress he the pair make to raise a family. So stay tuned, more exciting news to come.
Coley and Dr. Bob signing off.