There are three Osprey nests within three miles of our place … one is a pile of branches, marine rope and police tape, layered on a new platform over Commodore Park. The platform was built after Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) removed an ages-old nest on an even older communications tower on a railroad bridge.
My photographer friend Linda followed the Ballard Locks Ospreys before I relocated to this urban island, so I asked her first when I saw the platform. It seemed so public — quite a bit lower than their chosen spot on the defunct tower. The new platform rises above a park where people picnic, walk their dogs, launch their kayaks, and otherwise exploit one of the few niches of public shoreline on Seattle’s Puget Sound. Her counsel was wise, measured and hopeful, as in — they’ve done well so far, let’s see how they fare now.
The platform overlooks the passage of yachts, skiffs, gravel barges, salmon migrations and smolt flumes at the confluence of salt and fresh — that brackish transition known as the Ballard Locks. The installation was a joint effort by BNSF, Seattle City Light, Seattle Parks and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
They arrived during the week of April 12 — within a few days of all other Seattle Osprey couplings. The Burien Ospreys, the Normandy Park Ospreys, the West Seattle Ospreys, the Terminal 91 Ospreys, the Duwamish Ospreys, the Ballard Ospreys … all following the impulses that only Ospreys ascertain, riding north on currents and thermals and cosmic messages that end in a communal understanding.
I first photographed the Ballard couple on April 13 … intent on making their new house a home.
That was two days before I photographed the Burien Osprey shuttling twigs to their seasonal digs in a cell phone tower.
I’ve monitored the various nests weekly, reporting my observations to Osprey Watch, looking for signs of eggs, nestlings and finally, fledglings in the cradle of twigs that constitute an Osprey nest.
Osprey Fledgling & Female Parent
Last week, all of our local fledglings tested their wings … starting with the earliest incubated eggs to the last-born babies who were just days behind their siblings in making the leap. They’re now hopping from nest to lamp post to railroad bridge to willow overhang, circling their nests, drawn to the places of their birth — the security of twigs and marine rope and police tape — all the while yearning for the universe beyond.
I photographed the Ballard Locks Osprey family recently, a week or less after the two youngsters first flew from the nest. Mum and Dad are still close by, but the two fledglings are spinning turns around their platform, exploring the world across the channel, practicing their landings, and then finding solace in the evening sun and the platform they’ve called home since they hatched from those precious shells.
Osprey Family Dining at Sunset – Female Parent and Two Fledglings
Early Osprey Fledgling Flights
Osprey parents keeping watch
Mum Osprey, on the nearby railroad bridge, responding to calls from the kids
Fledgling Landing Practice
Sibling perched across the way
Back to the nest
End-of-day rest and preening (both fledglings on platform perch)