I’ve postponed writing this update on our old friends, the Naval Academy Osprey, Oscar & Opal. As you may recall, I’ve been observing this handsome couple since 2001. They have come and gone from nests on the 3rd and later 4th light post on the Academy’s football field for 20 years, arriving around St. Patrick’s Day and leaving for the south in mid-September.
Last July 2021, when I returned to my Academy morning walks after a 2yr hiatus due to the Pandemic, our amazing couple was already comfy in their 2-story nest with its traditional pendent of fabric blowing in the breeze. They had already hatched two fledglings – one of which seemed distressed, preferring the nest over learning to fly and fish for itself. Opal took the healthier chick out for training flights while Oscar stayed near the nest, watching over the weaker chick. In mid-September, Opal and the strong fledgling left, as was customary. But Oscar stayed behind with the weaker fledgling, and they left about two weeks later.
When March arrived this year, I waited nervously for Opal and Oscar to return. St. Patrick’s Day came and went, and the 4th light pole remained unoccupied. Then, on March 19, early in the morning, I heard the strong call of an Osprey as I approached the football field. There, on Pole #4 was one Osprey. I determined it was Opal by her size – large and rather more full-bodied than Oscar – she had always been the chatty one. She seemed to me to be calling her mate home, but this morning she was alone. I didn’t worry; Oscar was probably out gathering twigs for their nest or fishing for breakfast.
Opal waited for her mate for two mornings, that I could see, then she too was gone.
It has been 10 days, and neither Oscar nor Opal has returned to claim their nesting site. However, as is true of springtime everywhere – there is hope of renewal. Yesterday and today, a pair of Osprey, younger and smaller than our old friends, have claimed the 3rd light post for their own. I suspect one of them, the male probably, is an offspring of Oscar and Opal. I believe the young pair may be Pablo and Pearl, the couple that for the past 6 years has nested on the less-advantageous soccer field light post. (See my blog posts of the summer of 2015.) This pair is trying to build their nest; large twigs are strewn everywhere beneath the 3rd light post. We will have to see if they can successfully claim their progenitor’s kingdom.