When I was a kid my parents bought a tiny bungalow on the farthest-East End of Long Island. Three rooms, no insulation, no heat, no running water in the winter, but my brother and I thought we were in paradise. The beach was at one end of the road, and in the back yard was a lake, and woods all around, “the kind of country you dream of running away to when you are very young and innocently hungry, before you learn that all the land is owned by somebody.”*
There was an osprey nest on the far side of the pond, one of the few active nests on LI in the ’60s. Dad and I would sit on the flat shed roof and watch the pairs’ thrilling dives for fish, taking them back to the huge ragged nest. Were there any nestlings? I don’t remember. This was only a few years after Silent Spring, and DDT wouldn’t be banned for another decade. The damage had been done. In 1966, only four chicks were hatched from 60 nests on Gardiner’s Island just across the bay, which 30 years before had boasted over 200 active nests.
Like other birds of prey, the Ospreys have recovered, with almost 300 pairs now on Long Island. Nature did a documentary years ago on the effort to reintroduce them, and I always remember the grizzled old-timer saying, “When the asprees come back to Ori-ant, that’s the sign of spring.” (OK, I can’t imitate it, but think more a BAAston accent than the stereotypical Lon Guyland.)
So where do ospreys go for the winter? This researcher is tracking an osprey named Bob.
*from I See By My Outfit by Peter Beagle, which you should read right away.