Enhancing nesting habitat for ospreys
by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager
Last week we successfully installed an osprey nesting platform on the Manasquan Reservoir. The reservoir supplies water to residents of Monmouth County and can supply up to 30 million gallons of water a day. It’s also home to a variety of wildlife, such as bald eagles, osprey, waterfowl, freshwater mussels, and many other species. Since it’s creation in the early 1990s the many snags offered potential nest sites for ospreys; however, today many of the snags are falling down. The last nest site for ospreys broke in the winter of 2010-11. It was near the environmental center at the reservoir and offered visitors a close view of their nest and reproductive cycle. Since the nest tree broke no pairs have nested on the reservoir.
This was our second attempt to install the platform. This past spring high water levels and the high buoyancy of the wood pole made installation difficult. We decided to try again when water levels were low and when we could design a base that would sink to the bottom. To help it sink we created a concrete base (30″) that was attached to the pole using rebar and it worked like a charm!
The new platform was installed along a short trail by the environmental center in 18-24″ of water. The low water allowed us to install the platform without a boat. We carried the platform along the trail and installed it using a water jet. The water jet is a way to “dig” while in water. It is commonly used to install pilings for bulkheads and docks. The pole had a lap joint so we could hinge up the top part of the platform. After jetting in the base we hinged up the top and bolted it in place. We hope ospreys find and use the platform for the 2013 nesting season. Thank you to all the volunteers, Monmouth County Parks staff, and Monmouth County Audubon Society for sponsoring the placement of this platform!!