September 08, 2005

End of the Season

10th Annual Open House: First, we wanted to announce that October 1 is our 10th Annual Open House at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. If you visit our Open House page, you'll find a detailed schedule of events. The Open House is always a great time to visit the Refuge because the weather is cooler and you can see our arriving waterfowl and eagles. And it's also a good time to bring children, as we have a schedule of events just for them.

thunder_last.jpgNest Update: As has been the case this entire osprey season, the family surprised us once again when we turned on the cam this week and saw a bald eagle on the platform.

In the past, seeing an eagle on the platform always meant that the last of the osprey family had vacated the area. This is due to the fact that while the eagles will try to steal fish from the ospreys, they won't normally try to steal the nest, because ospreys defending a nest can be quite fierce. So it appears the eagles saw that Thunder and the father had left, and they immediately began using the platform as a fishing perch.

As we've mentioned before, the eagles will not build a nest at the platform -- it's too shallow, too close to people (on the Wildlife Drive) and not in a tree; but the eagles will use it for perching and eating their meals, as will other birds. Some of the other birds we've seen on the platform in the past include a kestrel (the smallest falcon in North America), a great blue heron, red-winged blackbirds, immature bald eagles, and, of course, the turkey vultures.

This afternoon we also briefly saw a party of what looked like fish crows or American crows visiting, and they seemed to find something to their liking at the nest. Now if they'd only eat that bug on the camera lens, we'd be all set. :-)

eagleAnd so it appears that this is the end of our 2005 Osprey Cam season. It's been a very unusual year with quite a few surprises along the way, but we were very happy to see the two chicks become flyers and then leave for the southern wintering grounds. The chicks will be staying down south for a couple years and then return to Blackwater Refuge, but the parents will be back next March to raise a family again. We wish each member of the family the very best of luck on their individual journeys to Central or South America.

Since the ospreys have gone, this is also the final post for our 2005 Osprey Cam Web Log, but we plan to leave the Osprey Cam running so we can see the eagles and any other birds that visit. Feel free to continue sending photos to the Gallery as we'll post any interesting images that appear. We'll update the Osprey Cam Gallery in a few days.

As a heads-up: We're planning to have the cam down for a day or two in a couple weeks. We are about to reopen our newly renovated Visitor Center, and we will be moving the cam PCs to the new building. This move will actually improve the future performance of both the Eagle and Osprey Cams, as this new building will be more accessible to us than the building where the cam equipment is currently stored. In addition we'll be putting two TV monitors in the Visitor Center so folks coming to the Refuge can watch live video from both the Eagle Cam and the Osprey Cam when the cams are online. So the move is a good one, and we're very excited about it.

At this time we plan to be back online with the Eagle Cam around late November, so be sure to tune in for that. We're working with a US Fish and Wildlife Service employee to find a better position for the Eagle Cam so we can see more of the eagles coming and going from the nest, and so we can see all of the eaglets as they get bigger. Our first year with the Eagle Cam was an amazing success, and we can only hope to match it, as it was truly a special experience watching the three eaglets grow and fledge.

Also, during the time between the cams, I plan to add a PayPal shopping cart to our website, so those who shop in our online stores can pay online or donate with their credit card. We know this will appeal to many of our supporters.

diane mullalyWe want to thank each and every cam watcher who has tuned in this spring and summer to watch the osprey family. And we give a special thanks to those who sent in questions and photos. All of you have made this a wonderful educational experience, and we greatly appreciate your participation.

We have two images to share as a final treat. First, Diane Mullaly -- one of our cam watchers and a very talented oil painter -- wrote to tell us that the Osprey Cam and our Web Log helped inspire a beautiful oil painting she made of a river scene featuring an osprey platform. You can see a larger version of the painting on her website. Her creation truly captures the dreamy greens of a summer marsh, and we thank Diane for sharing her wonderful painting with us.

Also, we're posting a special 2005 Osprey Cam desktop wallpaper as a way to thank our cam watchers for this season. Click on the resolution below to save the image to your desktop.

The Friends of Blackwater have enjoyed bringing you our fifth year with the ospreys. We are an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff, and all our proceeds go back into Refuge projects such as the cams. If you want more information on supporting the Friends and our efforts, please visit our Support page.

Thank you again for giving us your time, and stay safe!

osprey wallpaper
800x600   1024x768

For PC: Click on the link for your resolution. When the image finishes loading, right-click on it and choose "Set As Wallpaper" or "Set As Background" from the pop-up menu.

For Mac: Click on the link for your resolution. When the image finishes loading, click and hold on the image. Choose "Save This Image As" or "Download Image to Disk" and save the image to your hard drive. Go to the "Control Panels" and choose "Appearance" or "Desktop Patterns," and select the image as your desktop image.

Until November,
Lisa - webmaster

Posted by Webmaster on September 08, 2005 (Permalink)