T’is the time of year for anglers. I met two at the end of the old bridge. I can only hope and pray they don’t contribute to the already dismal amount of litter there. I saw a couple of boats out, including one on the West Point side of the old bridge parked so close to the shoreline, he may as well drove up to the end of the old bridge and fished from shore. A couple of kayak anglers were out as well.
Joachim and Anna didn’t seem to be making any new additions to the nest. I believe they have at least one egg by now. I saw one other osprey. It was flying too far above the nest to disturb my pair. I think they have discovered another feeding place. An old post out further in the marsh from the old road.
Peregrine Falcon under the Bridge
While I am used to seeing bald eagles as the osprey’s rival, I think I have seen another. I think it was a peregrine falcon. This bird is supposed to be gone from the region by summertime. This bird was larger than the American kestrel, which in in Virginia year-round. So, I consider myself lucky to see this bird with the weather warming up.
The usual cormorants were in the area as were the red-winged blackbirds. Fiddler crabs were out at the bridge end.
Bald Eagle fight over West Point
After a few days of nice weather, a nasty cold front was heading our direction and promised to bring some bad weather. I made a little time to see about my favorite pair of birds, Joachim and Anna. As soon as I parked the car, I could hear a bald eagle. Sure enough, the bird was in a tussle with something else. With my little 70-300mm lens, I couldn’t tell what the other bird was.
It looked as if my pair of birds were still in nest construction. I will have to walk on the bridge and shoot into the nest to see if they have any eggs.
Gull among Cormorants
There were several male red-winged blackbirds making a fuss. I counted four laughing gulls as well. There were two large flocks of cormorants that landed in the river midway to the West Point shoreline.
9:00 am, high tide
The Red-winged blackbirds pretty much own the marsh when it comes to bird calls. I am not certain if they are trying to attract mates or establish territory. But, there sound is heard most frequently. The Osprey tend to ignore them as they continue adding to the nest and mock mating. A bird not a part of the nesting pair (Joachim & Anna) found himself chased out of the area after it got too close to the nest.
With no waterfowl to compete with, the Cormorants are dominate on the water. It is rare to see fewer than 10 on the old pilings and can be seen in flocks of up to 15 or so in flight. With Shad and (maybe) Herring running in the rivers, there is plenty of food to go around. Common Terns were flying overhead. I doubt if they reside around here though as there aren’t many sandy shorelines as they tend to prefer. I also noted a couple of male Cardinals as well.
Friday, April 4th, 4:30 pm
It was a high tide with winds coming from the west. Just as I suspected, the osprey are using the old power line post to feed on. There is also a dead pine tree near the entrance to Rt. 33 where I spooked one. Nothing is changing color as far as the marsh grasses are concerned. The trees and blackberry bushes do have leaves coming in. I counted about 15 cormorants on the pilings. From where I stand at the bottom of the nesting platform, the nest doesn’t seem too large. Driving on the bridge, I an only catch a glimpse of it and see that it is of descent size. No eggs yet, I belive.
Marsh Dining Room
After Dinner Flight
March 27th 4:00 PM Osprey Watch Nest #4715
Winds were from the south with some gust about 20 mph. I am a little frustrated as I have yet to find Joachim and Anna feeding around the area. Perhaps I am a bit spoiled that I can see the pair at the VC at work feeding in the pines near the amphitheater just by sitting on my butt and looking out of the window. I did see Joe come into the nest with some mud. No mock mating nor other osprey flying nearby.
Cormorants were rather plentiful today, about 8 of them were on the pilings before I scared them away. I did run across an oddball though. Two horned grebes in winter plumage. Checking the All About Birds site, they are here in the winter (non-breeding). When I have a full day off, I will begin cleaning up the site a bit.
3/20 9:55 AM Hard SW wind Low tide
Three cars are parked behind the “Road Closed” sign, No tractor-trailer trucks.
Today, I wanted to get more of an idea of the overall surroundings of the nest. Surveying the plant life, on the embankments, wax myrtle and groundsel were the most dominant marsh plants. Blackberry and honeysuckle were also abundant, especially from the first sign to the river’s edge. So, it will be interesting to see what song birds will be present to feed on them. There are also loblolly pines present with a thicket of them and red cedars near the entrance to Rt. 33. I spooked one osprey out of a tree, which makes me wonder if that is where they feed away from the nest. There are some red-bud and wild cherry trees present as well. As for marsh grasses, there is a type of phragmites that is dominant which shows the amount of fresh water in this part of the York River Estuary area. There are stands of tall marsh cord grass and short cord grass as well.
Stream flowing into the River
There are two streams of water to note. One on the left side entering the abandoned road is under the bridge its self. This stream is featured on Google Maps and is not the result of road run-off, although I am sure some storm water does contribute to it. The other on the right appears, at first, to be just a ditch. I suspect there is a source spring of some sort. This stream does have some life in it as I have seen minnows swim there. Of concern are some orange patches in the mud. I am curious if this is some sort of pollution. This stream flows into the Mattaponi a few yards from the old seafood house.
One piece of good news about the litter is that it all appears to be old. Thus, when I clean it up the first time, maintaining it may not be that difficult.
Joachim and Anna were still collecting branches for the nest with an incident of mock mating. One other osprey was seen flying overhead as well as the one I scared off from the pine/cedar thicket. Nine lesser scaup were swimming and three double crested cormorants were on the old pilings. This is really not the prettiest place in the world for viewing wildlife. With the trash and near-by traffic noise, it is a wonder that anything wants to fly or swim around here. But, perhaps because so few people come to this side of the river that the birds find a somewhat peaceful place to reside and spend time. Thus, I will spend time with them.
They are still flirting right now.
For anyone who has been frustrated by the fact that I haven’t posted anything on this blog for half a year, I apologize. If you have been following my bogs on religion (Trinity Baptist Church West Point, St. Simon’s Order, Desert Fathers Dispatch), you know that I have made a rather radical change. I have also been working toward Certification as a Virginia Master Naturalist with the Historic Rivers Chapter in Williamsburg. In an effort to complete my required 40 volunteer hours and record my efforts of wildlife mapping, I am reviving this blog.
King and Queen of King & Queen
The location where I will record from on a weekly basis is on a small, dead end road in King & Queen County. The road used to be Route 33 and lead into the old Lord Delaware Bridge across the Mattaponi River into King William County’s town of West Point. It is not the prettiest of places in comparison to my workplace (York River State Park) or my favorite Chesapeake Bay haunts (Bethel Beach, Dameron Marsh, and Hughlett’s Point Natural Area Preserves). Commercial tractor trailer trucks park here. There is an old abandoned seafood house with only one pier that hasn’t deteriorated beyond use. At the place where the old bridge began, there is a ton of trash left by careless anglers.
Some of the litter from careless fishermen
I chose this place because it is overlooked by most people of the area. West Point has a popular and well tended nature trail. The boat ramp and pier at Glass Island is a magnet for anglers from central Virginia (to the point where I don’t dare launch my kayak there on weekends when the croaker are running). So the Lord Delaware North End (unless someone else has a more legal and authentic name for it, that is what I will call it) is a bit wilder than on the West Point side (and the old bridge approach there is another open trash can). Except for the privately owned seafood house property, I have free range to clean up, collect and test plants and aquatic creatures (as there is a small stream that flows into the marsh). I can also view wildlife, mostly birds. There is a healthy population of Red-winged Blackbirds, various songbirds, and waterfowl.
The seasonal rulers of Lord Delaware North End is the Osprey. There is a nesting platform beside the seafood house driveway. This morning, I had a chance to view the pair that have recently returned to re-establish their home. Thus far, they are gathering the large twigs for their nest and engaging in mock mating. I observed the area from 8:00 am to 9:15 am. The tide was rising and the sky was mostly clear with a temperature in the mid-60 degree range. As well as the Osprey (there was one other than the nesting pair), I noticed three solo male Red-winged Blackbirds and a flock of 15-20 in flight. There were also a small raft of Goldeneye ducks (6 to 10) and one Cormorant. Also, there were about three or so unidentified gulls (I am thinking Ring-billed) and two American Robin.
Next week, probably Friday the 21st, I will post again. I will photograph the area to give you a better idea of the place.