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Mark Daul: Osprey living among us; purple loosestrife follow-up

by jmaloni
Sat, Sep 14th 2013 07:00 am
A photo from the New Jersey Wetlands Institute, showing an osprey carrying a large fish home to dinner.
A photo from the New Jersey Wetlands Institute, showing an osprey carrying a large fish home to dinner.

by Mark Daul

Outdoors in Niagara

There is a magnificent bird of prey that lives among us, one that's rarely identified by anyone who truly knows what it is. Last June, I received an email from John Eddy, an outdoorsman friend of mine who sent me a link to a video showing an osprey "fishing" for its next meal.

It is truly a fascinating video if you have never seen it before. You'll see this bird in flight, locate its dinner underwater, put its feet forward with its talons spread aimed at the prey, and then drop its head like a diver does as it hits the water. It then grabs the fish under water and flies away. Another part shows it grabbing what looked like a 5-6 pound rainbow trout. I must have watched this video probably six times in a row in complete amazement.

Visit the www.Arkive.org website and find out more about this highly skilled bird of prey. There are many osprey videos to view, such as one showing a great American Eagle attacking an osprey's young chicks being fed by its mom, and so much more. Visit www.arkive.org/osprey/pandion-haliaetus/video-00.html.

I received an interesting email from Porter resident Skip Walton shortly after I wrote the deer and vulture story. He told of spotting an osprey at the north end of Dickersonville Road sitting on top of a telephone pole with a large fish in its talons. Walton commented, "I know the osprey well having lived in central Virginia for 15 years, and see them quite often on some water close to where we have a house. Just curious to know if anyone else has reported seeing an osprey in that area? I have seen them on the Niagara near Lewiston, but not that far out, and inland one half to 1 mile from the lake."

I assured Skip I would let him know if anyone else around here has spotted any.

Lo and behold, I received an email from a "mystery woman," a resident of Youngstown who was reluctant to have her name used. She said she is "an amateur naturalist and has been for some years." I believe her because her email was quite lengthy, describing the many different creatures of God that roam our backyards and woods day or night. I'll refer to them in future stories, but right now let's center on osprey.

In her email relating to this great bird, she starts by noting she is a "long standing member of the Georgian Bay Osprey Society, having originally been roped into it by a childhood buddy who was one of the founders. I've also watched osprey extensively in Florida, and once even seen a nest from which a large metal fisherman's net was hanging. She must have stolen the net and its fish!" the woman wrote.

I asked her about the osprey spotted on Dickersonville Road by Scott Walton. She responded, "I can tell you that osprey are excellent fliers and that seeing them inland, so long as there are ponds or canals (still water) containing fish, wouldn't be too strange. But they won't go very far from significant sources of fish. Dickersonville Road is still only a stone's throw from Lake Ontario and not too far from Bond's Lake."

This mystery woman told of having a nesting falcon (a merlin) on her Canadian property one season; the mother falcon screamed an annoying screech day in and day out at any bird coming within a country mile of her nest. She related, "I saw an osprey take one of her chicks. It flew right past my window and three of us saw it. The osprey carried it away, with the mother in screaming pursuit."

"She was fast, but the osprey made off with the baby anyhow."

Mother Nature at work here.

Osprey poles are erected for the purpose of helping osprey propagate in certain areas. These are tall poles, some as tall as 30 feet with a platform at the top with nesting twigs and sticks to encourage this great bird to nest. Ospreys are true "snowbirds" and migrate to Florida and warmer climes in the winter. But they always return.

In her email she offered a great idea that some civic organization could pursue. Perhaps a Boy Scout troop, maybe an outdoor club's project, it could even be an educational activity for a school project.

"There are two or three osprey 'poles' located near my Canadian property," the woman wrote, "and everybody there takes a huge interest in which nesting poles are occupied, which produce chicks, and additionally, in stewarding them to maintain their privacy and safety. It has become a community-wide bond. All to the good!"

"I would be happy to see poles along the Niagara River, since I've seen osprey both along the lower river on up to Fort Niagara," she wrote.

When I asked this woman if I could quote her on some things and use her name for a future article, she wasn't immediately in agreement. "My kids think I am already an eccentric embarrassment and that would put them around the bend, almost as much as having their friends find road kill in the freezer," she responded.

I laughed pretty hard at that statement. I thought it would be a good thing for her kids, and they would be proud of their mother for being a long-time amateur naturalist who has observed these things for many years. In asking her permission, I told her, "I'm sure your info will be very informing and interesting to the rest of my Sentinel readers."

She responded, "So, OK, you can use my name; how about just the first name (Andrea)? Or my nickname (Lynn)?"

So now everyone knows who this is mystery woman is. Her name is Andrea, and she's been a resident of Youngstown for more than 20 years.

And she has more to tell us about other interesting things, but I can't get it all in this story. Later.

Purple loosestrife - goldenrod

Last week, I talked about purple loosestrife. Unfortunately that article was written for the Aug. 31 issue of the Sentinel, and it didn't make it. If you noticed that issue, it was cram packed with all the exciting things happening in our area, like the Youngstown Field Days, Lewiston Peach Festival, Peach Queen contestants, ZZ Top closing the "Tuesday in the Park" activities, and, on top of all that, it's political season once again. I call the Sentinel, "The busiest and best little paper this side of the sun." Just look at the advertising; advertisers love it, and trust it, as you can see.

In that loosestrife article, I mentioned to take a ride along any road in the county and take a look for yourself. By the time the Sept. 7 issue arrived, the loosestrife all turned brown. It happened in just the first couple of days in September. However, there is another wildflower in bloom right now, and it's a sure sign of fall. The goldenrod is in its fine fall colors and blooming where the loosestrife was (and still is).

Many people blame their fall allergies on the four-foot tall goldenrod. Scientists argue that thought as false, that goldenrod pollen is too big to blow around in the wind. They claim, "Goldenrod pollen grains are so big that insects are needed to transfer them from flower to flower."

Ragweed is the "bad boy" for your allergies, so stop knocking the goldenrod for your sniffles. Some people grow this flower in their gardens, and I think I'll paint my computer room that color too. I need some freshening up.

Take a kid fishing or at least get them outdoors! Comments: [email protected].

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