I’m delighted to announce the return of our dear Osprey friends, Opal and Oscar. Yesterday morning’s weather was perfect for a walk at the US Naval Academy. There was a gentle breeze, sunshine, and temperatures in the low 50s F.
As I’ve done for a week now, I scanned the skies expectantly, looking for my Osprey friends, who usually return from their winter in the south around St. Patrick’s Day. And as I approached the football field, flying low over my head, there was Oscar! (Yes, I know you’re wondering, “How do you know it was he?” Well, it was the smaller of the two birds, and I wanted to believe that this Osprey was our Osprey.)
Delighted with what I choose to consider my “greeting,” I looked up and over to the 4th light post where Oscar & Opal had always nested, and there she was – Opal, flying toward the pole with a long stick in her talons. I watched her land, arrange the stick, and fly off again. Yeah! I saw both beautiful birds! They are alive and preparing to start another family!
Last fall, I had avoided writing about this amazing couple. 2018 was not a good year for Oscar and Opal. As you may recall, they arrived 2 weeks late, early April. Though I heard and saw at least two little fledglings hatch, I did not observe the usual training sessions of parents and fledglings learning to fly and fish over the Severn River and the Annapolis Harbor. We had a very wet and storm summer in Annapolis, and I wondered if I’d simply missed the training sessions. Suddenly, in late August, Opal and Oscar disappeared! They usually embark for the South in mid-September, with their young ones in tow. But not last year!
I watched the nest carefully, day-after-day, and I think I could hear the familiar peeping of a hungry fledgling. But, Oscar and Opal were gone! They had deserted their nest, leaving, it seemed to me, one fledgling behind. I continued to hear the chirping cries for about 4 days, and then no more. The nest was deserted and silent. I suspect there was something wrong with the baby Osprey, and the only solution for Opal and Oscar was to leave their nest and their offspring. Very sad. And, as a final anguish, around Thanksgiving time, the maintenance staff of the Naval Academy came with their cherry-picker truck and destroyed the nest – took away every last stick, cleared the pole of any remnants of our Osprey couple.
And so, I watched for the Osprey return this spring with a heavy heart, fearing that Oscar and Opal would not be back. But they are! And so begins another intriguing chapter in their life’s story.
I look forward to sharing with you, dear reader, their adventures. Stay tuned.