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Migration 2010

Link to the 2011 Map page

Buck has made some interesting moves. Jump to his new maps.

Belle seems to have found her winter location. Jump to her new maps.

Thatch has settled down, but still exploring. Jump to his new maps.

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Join the new Osprey Migration Google Group forum.

Visit the Westport River Osprey website.

2010 Osprey cams:
     Woods Hole
     Cape Henlopen
(See our tagged bird here)
     Blackwater
     Hilton Head

Scroll down for links to maps, updates on old birds, and bios for this year's class.

31 Dec 2010, It was a tumultuous fall in the Caribbean. Purple dots are birds we lost crossing the Caribbean this year. We were already in the "T"s, with hurricane Tomas passing over Haiti when Thatch made the crossing. As I feared, Neale was swept up in the wake of Hurricane Richard. His last signals were out in the middle of nowhere over the Caribbean. On the bright side, Belle made it from Martha's Vineyard to South America in a remarkable 7 days. She has started and stopped a few times and is now in the Brazilian state of Rondonia, at the southern fringe of the Amazon Basin--the farthest south any of our tagged birds have ventured. And she may not be done yet! Despite my definitive statement that Thatch was definitely done with his "migration lite" (in North Palm Beach), he made it to South America in the most nerve-wracking Caribbean crossing we've witnessed to date. After a couple of weeks' layover, he kicked back into migration mode and was, until Belle's last move, our southernmost bird! Sanford has settled down on Andros Island in the Bahamas, where the bonefishing is legendary. N.F. Bob is in Venezuela apparently settled down, and Sr. Bones also has also arrived on his wintering grounds, in a rather unusual habitat (mountainous and high elevation) in Colombia. 
     Buck, on the shores of Lake Maracaibo, has entered the countdown phase of his 18-month "winter" in South America. He should head north in 5-6 months. He  has kept a usually  boring period interesting with a few random junkets around northern Venezuela.

Use these links to go straight to a bird's maps or bios. (More details on the project below).

Belle '10 Juvenile - Martha's Vineyard/MA Bio - Map - Safely in Venezuela on the shores of Lake Maracaibo. Updated 4 Jan 2011.
Thatch '10 Juvenile - Cape Henlopen/DE Bio - Map - Deep in the Brazilian Amazon. Updated 7 Jan 2011.
Buck '09 Juvenile - Great Falls/SC Bio - '09 Map - '10 Map - Made a few unusual forays away from his wintering area, but settled down again. Due back in '11. Updated 6 Jan 2011. 
Penelope '08 Juvenile - Martha's Vineyard/MA Bio - '08 Map - '09 Map - '10 Map - On her second migration south. Lost in the Caribbean, just 25 miles from Venezuela. Last map 10 Oct
Hudson '09 Adult male - West branch Westport River/MA Bio - '09 Map - Map '10 - Transmitter removed Apr. '10 - No fall maps.
Mr. Hannah '09 Adult male - Nantucket Island/MA Bio - '09 Map - Map '10 -  Died (or lost his transmitter) in Curasao. Last map 15 Oct
Ozzie '09 Adult male - East branch Westport River/MA Bio - '09 Map - Shot at a fish farm in Cuba a month or so before migrating north.
Gunny '10 Adult male - East branch Westport River/MA Bio - Map - Now using Hix's transmitter. Died on migration, just 20 miles short of Venezuela. Last map 15 Oct
Neale '10 Adult male - Jamestown/RI Bio - Map - Fledged 1 young. Died crossing the Caribbean in the wake of Hurricane Richard. Last map 25 Oct
Sanford '10 Adult male - West branch Westport River/MA Bio - Map - Now using Hudson's transmitter. Nest failed. Made it to Cuba and then went north to the Bahamas! Updated 7 Jan 2011
Sr. Bones '10 Adult male - Nantucket/MA Bio - Map - Nest failed. Began migration on 10 Sept. Now in Colombia. He has settled down in a weird place (high elevation and mountainous). Updated 7 Jan 2011.
North Fork Bob '10 Adult male - Mattituck, Long Island/NY Bio - Map - Nest removed from cell tower early in the nesting season. Now in Amazonian Venezuela, settled down for the winter. Updated 3 Jan 2011.

Overview of our Osprey research
    
This is the 11th year of our satellite tracking and the 13th year that we have been following the Osprey population on Martha's Vineyard. The "we" here includes lots of friends and colleagues, but most importantly Dick Jennings. Dick "retired" to Martha's Vineyard where he is probably busier now than he was when he was earning a paycheck. He is a naturalist for the Trustees of Reservations and my right-hand man in all Vineyard Osprey trapping and censusing.
     At the end of this trapping season we've now trapped 72 Ospreys and satellite tagged 42  of that total (31 young and 11 adults). Over the 13 years of our censuses, we've counted 860 nesting attempts and watched 992 young fledge! Link to details of our census work (a couple of years still need to be updated, but the big picture is there.)

Tagging new birds in 2010

Westport River, Nantucket, and Rhode Island adults-In late April, we trapped Hudson and removed his transmitter. I went up to New England in early May and tagged 4 new adult males. We tagged an adult male (Neale) in Rhode Island on Conanicut Island (Jamestown). Over on the Westport River, the transmitter that Hudson took to Venezuela and back is now on "Sanford," one of Hudson's neighbors up the west branch of the Westport. The transmitter we recovered from Hix was deployed on "Gunny," an east branch male.
     On Nantucket, we were not able to retrap Mr. Hannah, so he gets to keep that transmitter for another year, but we did put a new transmitter on his neighbor, Sr. Bones.

Juveniles- I keep trying to wrap up the studies of juvenile migration, but somehow can't quite kick the habit. We had a back-logged transmitter from last year to deploy on a Delaware bird at Cape Henlopen State Park, a recovered  transmitter (Meadow's) to put that on another Vineyard youngster, and we have a sponsor for a young bird on Long Island.
     We recovered Meadow's PTT (transmitter) from the Dominican Republic (she was an '08 bird that was shot down there in 2009), and are working on getting Bea's PTT back from Venezuela. Someone has it in hand, but we can't seem to motivate him to send it to us. Isabel's PTT, which was out in a pasture 50 miles south of where we last got signals from her, eluded our attempts to find it, despite extraordinary efforts of our colleague Adrian Naveda-Rodriguez.
     We were going to tag 3 young this year, but I changed my mind on the last one. In Delaware we tagged a young male at the nest where we tagged Claws back in '07. The nest we'll tag there has an internet cam. We put Meadow's transmitter on a Martha's Vineyard young at the nest where we tagged Meadow in '08 and Isabel in '09.
     On Long Island, in the town of Mattituck overlooking Peconic Bay, I decided to deploy our new PTT on an adult male. We were set up to trap a juvenile, but when we got Dad before Junior, I decided that increasing our sample size of adult males for our studies of home range size from 8 to 9 was more productive than increasing our sample size of juveniles from 31 to 32. (Skip down to the log for the summer trip.)

Old Birds

     As 2010 began, we were down to only five surviving birds--Mr. Hannah, Ozzie, Hudson, Buck, and Penelope. Of the six birds in the "class of '08," only Homer's sister Penelope (MVY) made it through the year. Penelope saw in the new year in a very remote corner of French Guiana and should be safe at least from humans. Buck, our only survivor from the seven young tagged in '09 seems safe and sound in northern Venezuela.
     Two of our three adult males (Hudson and Mr. Hannah) made it home. Sadly, Ozzie started visiting a fish farm in Cuba a month or so before he was due to come home and he disappeared, probably shot.
     In 2009, Conomo made it home to Martha's Vineyard and started commuting between the Vineyard and northeastern Connecticut. He either died or lost his transmitter up in CT early in the summer of '09.
      As of 3 August 2010, only Penelope and Buck now remain from all the previously tagged juvenile birds. Penelope began migrating north on 3 April 2010 and got to Cape Cod on 1 June. She could see the Vineyard, but decided to try out central Massachusetts before getting back to the Vineyard. She has now been in every state in New England except Vermont and Maine, and has been back for a cameo appearance on Martha's Vineyard, spending a day or so at one of the ponds where she learned to fish 2 years previously. She seems to be finding the Merrimack River in New Hampshire much to her liking. Buck is down on the shores of Lake Maracaibo in northern Venezuela. He seems to be in a good spot--not many people and no fish farms in the area!

Who's Who - Bios of the Class of '10 (newly tagged birds)

Neale - Rhode Island adult male nesting on Conanicut Island (Jamestown). He was banded as a nestling in 2006 on Block Island about 25 miles (40 km) from his current nest. This nest, is 500 yds (460 m) from the Marsh Meadows nest, where we tagged a couple of young in years past (Conanicus and Comet). This is the second year the nest has been used and the first time the pair has laid eggs.


     We trapped Neale on 5 May, the first day of my trapping odyssey. Our target nest was the Marsh Meadows nest, where the Conanicut Island Raptor Project maintains a NestCam. Unfortunately, when we got to that nest, we discovered that the birds had not yet laid eggs, so we had to move on to find birds that were incubating. The next nest we checked, at the back end of the marsh, looked good. The female was incubating and the male was around, so we got to work.
     We set our ladder and put the noose carpet over the 3 eggs. Within minutes a bird landed on the noose carpet and was caught. When we picked him up, I thought he looked awfully small (meaning it would be the male), but because we almost always catch the female first, we weren't sure. So we set the other noose carpet and went back to take some measurements on the bird in hand. While we were moving away, we caught the other adult. We did indeed catch the male the first. We quickly banded and measured the female and let her go so she could get back to incubating the eggs. We then processed "Neale" and outfitted  him with his new transmitter. Neale's nest is on the Neale family farm on a pole the Neale's set up, so the name choice was an easy one. 

Gunny - East branch Westport River adult male of unknown age. Now wearing Hix's transmitter.

     We caught this male at the third nest we tried on a rather windy, cloudy morning on the east branch.
     At our first nest, we caught the female quickly and reset the noose carpet on the nest. The male was caught quickly, but he slipped out of the nooses. We tried again, but he wanted no more of that weird contraption. After a short wait, when it became obvious that we weren't going to catch him, we released the female and moved on to another nest.
     The female at this nest was already banded. Once we got to the records, we discovered that she was banded on the Westport River 17 years ago! This is not a longevity record (that's 27 years), but it's getting old.
     At our next nest we caught the female quickly and then reset for the male. He is apparently not "liberated." He seemed to think that his job is fishing and the female's job is incubating eggs, so he wasn't particularly interested in landing on our trap.   
     So on to Plan C, a bit further downriver. Here, just south of Gunning Island, we found a cooperative pair with a male that has no inhibitions about taking over "woman's work." Once we had the female in hand, we quickly caught the male. After banding and measuring the female, we let her get back to the nest and outfitted "Gunny" with the transmitter we recovered from Hix. Hix, a young fledgling tagged last summer 2.4 miles (3.9 km) upriver from Gunny's nest, went up to Maine, where he was killed almost certainly by a Great-horned Owl.
 

Sanford - West branch adult male now carrying Hudson's transmitter.

     After a cool, windy, rainy afternoon trapping on the east branch, the tagging crew enjoyed a bowl of hot soup at HQ and then headed up the west branch of the Westport River. We got to the target area around 16:00, where three pairs nest on some small islands just north of the Sanford flats. The flats are just under 2 miles north of Hudson's nest.
     We arrived  to find all the females dutifully incubating and all the males missing in action--presumably out for an afternoon fishing session.
     We pulled up and waited for someone to come home. While we waited someone changed the weather channel. The wind died and the sun came out. It was hard to believe that afternoon was attached to the first half of the day.
     After a half hour or so, the male at the easternmost nest arrived with a fish. He perched and ate a bit. The males usually eat the heads of the fish they catch before delivering them to the females--call it overhead (ouch!) or postage and  handling fees.
     Once he had his snack, the pair transferred the fish and incubation duties.
We waited for the female to have a good meal before moving in to set the noose carpet. As we approached, both birds flew up to let us know what they thought about our trespassing. Fortunately, the female wasn't quite done with her fish and didn't want to give it up, so once we set the noose carpet, she went back to feeding and the male tried to return to his incubation duties.
     Proving that no good deed goes unpunished, for his gallantry Sanford was rewarded with a new GPS backpack. While we were fitting Sanford for his new transmitter, the female finished her fish and returned to the nest to get back to incubating.
 

Sr. Bones - An adult male on Nantucket, banded in 2005 four miles from his current nest, which is 600 yds from Mr. Hannah's nest. "Sr. Bones" was named by Nantucket's 1st graders. This could be my favorite Osprey name EVER.

The July-August Trapping Expedition

Summer Osprey trapping-
    
Five airports, one rental car, one brother, and two ferries later, we had tagged three more Ospreys--two juveniles and an adult male.
      Time to catch the first bird in Delaware - 11 hours (Yawn!). Time to catch the first bird on Long Island - 7 minutes.

Thatch - A young Osprey tagged atop a 75' tower at the SPI Pharma plant near Cape Henlopen State Park on 26 July 2010.

      Up at 05:00 and off to SPI Pharma plant in Lewes, DE. Got there at 0600 and had the noose carpet set over 5(!) bunker (menhaden--a favorite fish), which were frozen at the time, by 0640. The young and female were in the nest when we got there. The young flew off as I was halfway up the 75’ ladder. Once the dust settled a bit, the young perched on the antenna a bit above the nest. We went inside and watched the security camera for an hour or so. The female was on the railing most of this time, while the young was looking down at the fish under the noose carpet. He kept leaning, getting ready to jump down, but never made the leap. We came down for breakfast around 8 something.     
     Over the next 11 hours the birds were sort of around, but never really close to the nest. The young would come and hover over the nest off and on, but never really looked like he was going to alight on it. At 0910 the young flew down to the pines south of the nest, where the female was perched. I went down there off and on during the day to stir things up, but never got them back to the nest. The male appeared at 09:20 with a fish. We saw him off and on for most of the next hour, each time we saw him the fish was smaller. He came in with another fish about midday, and at 13:30 we saw one of the adults with a pretty big stick, which never appeared at the nest.
     Then we went into the doldrums. There was pretty much nothing going on for most of the rest of the afternoon. Late in the afternoon I walked down into the pines where they’d been perched (the female and young at least) and just hung out there being a pest—she was scolding me and diving in my direction at tree top level, but never went back to the nest.        
     Finally, at 1710, the young came in and just landed on the corner of the nest. He looked at the fish and then turned away. The female came in and landed on the antenna. She didn’t look comfortable there, so I suspect she doesn’t perch there often. Around 1720 the young turned and walked over to the fish and was caught quickly and surely. I lowered him down the 75’ to the ground and climbed down the ladder at 17:40.            
     He was a feisty one—a real biter.

     Thatch is named after Richard Thatcher, the former president of the Friends of Cape Henlopen State Park, who was instrumental in getting the Osprey Cam installed atop the SPI Pharma tower and getting funding for the transmitter that Thatch is now wearing.  See more pictures of tagging Thatch at my Picasa Website. Go to Thatch's Maps

Belle - This young female was the third we've tagged at this very productive nest on the shores of Lake Tashmoo on Martha's Vineyard.

28 July 10 Headed out to Tashmoo around 06:15. Had the noose carpet set with 2 bunker (menhaden) by 06:40. Both young were in the nest when we arrived. One was eating. It left with the fish as we neared the nest. We had a couple of passes, with the young without the fish hovering over the nest, but a little spooked by the noose carpet. Finally around 20 min later the young with the fish landed on the edge of the nest.
The second young came hovering in--a bit of sibling rivalry in action, I suspect. The one with the fish got a little edgy about sharing the nest, but the second young ignored the glare from its sibling and landed right on the noose carpet. At this point the first young moved a foot like it was snared in a single noose. Then the other walked a bit and was caught. In the ensuing commotion, the first bird got caught in a few more nooses, so when I got to the top of the ladder, both birds were flapping around.
      I quickly hooded them to calm them down. Hoodwinked, they both just stood there, wondering who turned out the lights.

     We banded the one that didn’t have the fish and put Meadow’s transmitter on the bird that was eating when we arrived, figuring it was the alpha young and therefore might have been a bit more fit. Both birds were in the intermediate range size-wise, making it hard to sex them. We named this bird "Belle" after one of her human neighbors a couple of houses down the lake shore. See more pictures of tagging Belle at my Picasa Website. Go to Belle's Maps.

North Fork Bob - Mattituck, Long Island

     I was up the ladder just before 6 AM at a nest only a few meters from the 5th hole at the North Fork Golf Club. We had the noose carpet set by 06:10 and the adult female in hand a record-breaking 7 minutes later! I didn't want to tag her, so I went up and extracted her from the carpet, leaving the carpet in place. We banded her, took some measurements (she weighed 1.64 kg = 3.6 lbs), and let her go.
     For the next hour and a half, the lone young at this nest was mostly perched near the nest, but didn't show a real interest in landing on the nest, where I had laid out a fancy Mediterranean bronzini (European seabass) beneath the noose carpet. (The evening before we went to a high-end fish market rather than a bait shop to get our trapping fish.)

      At 08:10 a male landed on the nest and was caught immediately. He wasn't struggling, so we let him stand there for a while, hoping the youngster would fly to the nest to be fed by Dad. Junior just begged loudly from a near-by perch and didn't seem to want to go to the nest, so I went up and got the male out of the noose carpet.
     I then made a spur-of-the-moment decision to tag this bird. With memories of the 11-hour marathon wait to catch the youngster down in Delaware fresh in my mind, I decided to tag the bird-in-hand, adding another male to our study of home range size and foraging ecology rather than waiting to catch the young. Tagging the male increased our sample size for adult males from 8 to 9, which was a more significant return on the investment than increasing our sample for youngsters from 31 to 32.
     We came back to check on them around 11:00. Mom and the young were on the nest enjoying the bronzini, which was a big one and would keep them happy for the rest of the afternoon.
     When I downloaded the first data for this bird, a nagging suspicion was confirmed. It seems North Fork Bob should have been named "Light-taloned Louie." Just before we caught the male at the nest, others in our group noticed a male flying over the nest with fish in its talons. The bird we saw land in the nest and then caught didn't have anything in its feet. It's unusual for a male to land in its nest without food. I didn't think of this at the time, but later, as I reran the whole process in my mind, I wondered if we hadn't caught one of the neighbors who couldn't pass up the chance for a freebie. He must have thought that if no one else wanted that fish, he'd be happy to take it.
     Since we trapped him, he hasn't been even near our target nest, but is hanging out about a mile west. Lots of points at one spot. A little detective work revealed that he had a nest on a cell-phone tower and that the nest was knocked down as part of tower maintenance during the spring. The New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation now knows about the nest, so he should be able to nest undisturbed next spring.
     Wildlife biology in never short of surprises.
      See more pictures of trapping Bob at PicasaWeb. Go to Bob's maps.

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