The Orleans Conservation Trust (OCT) worked in conjunction with MA Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary on Saturday, March 30th to
re-install an osprey pole on Hopkins Island that fell during the storms this past February. The island, which is 4.4- acres in size, was donated to the Trust by the Smith family in 1974. It has been home to numerous osprey families over the past 15+ years. In fact, it is one of the only nest sites in Orleans that consistently has had fledglings for the past 5 years.
This project is part of greater effort Cape-wide to increase the osprey population. During a presentation OCT hosted in January of this year, Mark Faherty, Science Coordinator of MA Audubon Wellfleet Bay, reported that in the 1970’s, there was only 1 or 2 pairs of Osprey on the entire Cape, but now there are hundreds of pairs. Mark explained that in order to obtain a stable Osprey population, each nest needs to fledge one chick, but his current research shows numbers that far exceed that baseline.
MA Audubon was a great help getting the water-logged pole back to the island from its post-storm habitat on the shoreline near the Wind Mill. Once on the island, volunteers helped hoist the pole up the steep hillside, dig a large 3-foot hole, and then lift the pole into the hole. To our amazement, before the pole was fully erect, an osprey was spotted circling the island, impatiently waiting for his summer home to be finished. Once the pole was up, the volunteer crew quickly worked to stablize the pole, ensuring it would not come toppling back down. Bob Prescott, OCT Trustee and Exuective Director of MA Audubon noted , “I think the only reason the pole is anywhere near plumb was because of the osprey’s guidance!”
Less then 24 hours after the installation Bob reported that a pair of ospreys was on the pole and the male was seen going through his courtship flights.
OCT and MA Audubon rely on volunteers to monitor the known Osprey nests throughout Cape Cod, observe nest activity, and note different behaviors. One of the most important things for the volunteers to track is how many young Ospreys, or fledglings, are living in each nest. If you would like to get involved and help monitor the Osprey poles in Orleans, call Kris Ramsay, OCT Administrator at 508-255-0183 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special thanks to MA Audubon and all the volunteers involved!