Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Thrill of Discovery

Saturday was an exciting time at the Falls of the Ohio State Park. I have been watching ospreys there for quite a while. Last summer we saw four of them in the air together in September. This spring people saw them carrying sticks. There must be a nest somewhere, but no one could find it. Of course, the park has several uninhabited islands in the middle of the Ohio River (inaccessible without permission from the Army Corps of Engineers) which would be perfect nesting areas for an osprey family. Yesterday when I arrived around 8:45, I saw one of the ospreys hunting over the river. Swoop down. Pull up, no fish there. When he flew in front of the rust colored 1870 railroad trestle, his brown feathers blended perfectly, and he became invisible for a while. As he turned for another loop, a flash of white under his wings seemed to say "Here I am. Try to keep up, OK?" Finally, he dove and came up with a beautiful silver fish, and immediately flew off with it. I followed him carefully with binoculars, and saw him head for a dead branch that looked like a great place to land and eat breakfast. However, instead of landing on the branch, he went right past it. Through the scope I saw wings stretching and a white head or breast flashing through the leaves. Hot dog! I think this must be the nest. There was lots of activity for a few minutes and then things settled down again. A little later, one of the ospreys flew down to bathe in a shallow spot in the river. The staff naturalist at the park now knows where this tree is, as well as several members of the local bird club, so lots of people will be watching for more activity there. Hopefully, someone can get permission to go over in a boat and check this tree for a nest.
First Rule of Birding: You have to be in the right location at the right time. Some of it is luck and lots of it is perseverance.

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