Posted on April 1, 2016 by Jim MacDougall
Nature in April - Osprey and Herring
The Osprey arrive in Essex County during the first week in April and is our true harbinger of spring. It times its arrival well after ice-out of our rivers and it sets up its territory for nesting just in time for the river herring migration. Its a recently established breeder in Essex County, helped by organizations like Greenbelt that have placed nesting platforms out on the salt marsh. The Osprey (listen) was a victim of DDT and subsequent egg-shell thinning like the Bald Eagle and Peregrine Falcon. Historically, it took 30 years to discover that an insecticide campaign to eliminate mosquitoes was better at eliminating our top predators and beneficial insects. And it took another 25 years for the environment to cleanse itself of this poison. With that behind us, we have Osprey and Bald Eagles back in our lives.
We've fixed the Osprey's problems in the bedroom, now its time to improve the larder. Osprey and Bald Eagles depend on the return of the river herring for the energy to breed, defend a territory and to raise a family. The River Herring group have their fins in two worlds. They live most of their lives in the ocean to feed and fatten but when it comes time to spawn, they head up their natal rivers and breed. So head to the Parker River in April and May and see the relic of herring runs of the past. Mill dams have decimated the millions of herring that once swam up our local coastal rivers. With a commitment to removing these obsolete barriers, we may see herring numbers return as demonstrated by restoration successes in Maine.
View Osprey seasonally at :
- Cox Reservation / Essex,
- Sally Weatherall Saltmarsh Viewing Platform / Ipswich
- Rough Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary / Rowley
or tune in to Greenbelt's OspreyCam to observe breeding and nesting activity on the Cox Reservation osprey platform.