That, osprey fans, is the million dollar question facing us right now - or at least more than a few dollars question!
The bottom line is that as of right now, no osprey have taken up residence in the nest. Even though I can hear one call out as I write this from my desk, they haven't begun the rebuilding process.
And believe me, no one is more concerned about our lack of residents so far than the staff here at WHOI, who spent a lot of time, energy and yes, money, to get a new camera, website and blog up and running (sometime down the road we'll do an entry on the effort it took over the winter to make this all come together.)
Here's our best guess so far as to why there are no residents, beyond the pure fact that nature is fickle!
About two months ago, a pair of good sized red-tailed hawks started hanging out in the area, hunting small rodents in the area field grass and marshes, and they seem to have decided that this is not such a bad place to spend time! They liked to sit on a nearby radio tower used by researchers or a flag pole overlooking the softball field at the Quissett Campus of WHOI.
Eventually, they got up the courage to sit on the perch attached to the nest, and I think that's when they really decided that real estate on the Cape is prime!
Fast forward to the arrival of two osprey the last weekend of March and that's when all bets were off and what appeared to be a reenactment of the Battle of Britain began! Lots of swooping and diving, games of in-flight, well, chicken, for lack of a better description and a lot of chatter between the pairs. The osprey would seem to prevail, then come in to the nest and hopes would rise, but they would take off just as quickly as they landed:
Now, there's barely any activity at the nest at all. Yes, there are osprey in the area but none have decided to take a chance on the nest. And those red-tailed hawks are still hanging around the area - looking, to us, like the bad guys on the block!
So that's our best guess. We're hoping that an osprey will take a chance - if not for this year, in preparation for next (which we don't even want to think about!)
What do you think is the reason the osprey nest is looking lonely these days? And do you think we'll have something to look at this season or do we now have the best looking empty nest on the East Coast!