Mea culpa! The year and the decade are drawing to a close and I have not brought my fellow groupies up-to-date on our beloved Ospreys, Opal and Oscar. I will try to rectify my laxity now.
For our intrepid couple, 2019 marked the 18th year of residence at the United States Naval Academy. The family left Annapolis for warmer climes in mid-September; Opal, Oscar, and two healthy youngsters. (I observed only two hatchlings this year.) You may recall that Opal and Oscar arrived, as usual, last spring in mid-March.
The summer unfolded uneventfully. Oscar repaired their nest, while Opal watched over the eggs. Together they fed, guarded, and trained their noisy brood of hatchlings. The fledglings learned to fly and feed themselves; Oscar and Opal have lots of parenting experience.
The only notable Osprey news was the addition of a new pair of osprey on the nearby soccer field. (You may recall several years ago that Ospreys, Pablo and Pearl nested on the soccer field but a storm ravaged their nest and sent them to some distant shore and, hopefully, a safer nest.)
But, about mid-March this year. a single osprey began hanging out several poles down-wind of Oscar and Opal’s nest. Now, I’ve seen osprey try this before, but they were always quickly driven off by Oscar. But, not this time. Oscar seemed to tolerate this youth, perhaps one of Oscar’s sons?, and the young intruder seemed to know the boundaries, never approaching too close to Oscar and Opal’s established nest.
Before long, this youth, whom I named Raul, moved down to the soccer field, to the light poles where Pablo and Pearl formerly resided. Raul seemed to be alone, for a while. Then, one morning, I was delighted to see Raul busy with nest building, and he was not working alone. A big, beautiful Osprey lass was working too. Ruby, as I dubbed her, and Raul soon had their new nest well feathered, and comfy. They produced three hatchlings, and over the summer, trained their first family of fledglings. They too departed in mid-September.
A very happy year for the Navy’s very own Osprey families.
One unfortunate note: A few days ago, right after Christmas, the Naval Academy brought in a super-large “cherry-picker” vehicle. They proceeded to tear down both nests. So, when Oscar and Opal return next March, which I hope they will, they will have to rebuild their home from scratch! And, the same goes for Ruby and Raul. Sigh. Where is the Navy’s family spirit? Oscar and Opal have spent more years at the Academy than most of the men and women who are there! (I hope this was not a political statement on migrant families.)