On Thursday, May 8, 2014, Menunkatuck learned that one of the osprey platforms in the East River salt marsh in Guilford collapsed after three days of high winds. Terry Shaw went to the Guilford boat launch to assess the situation and found the osprey pair standing on the fallen nest. Later reports were that the ospreys were mating.
After determining that the platform was on Guilford Land Conservation Trust property and getting the OK from them to repair it, Terry contacted Guilford dock master Rod McLennan and made plans to go out and attempt to make repairs.
Friday morning Terry, Rod, and Town marina employee Rick Anderson took the dock master boat to the site of the platform with all the materials needed to repair the platform. When they got to the platform and the damage was closely inspected, it was clear that although the hardware that had held one of the support braces to its ground post looked good at the ends, it had rusted through in the middle and broken. Without the support braces the platform leaned so far in the wind that the pole snapped at ground level. They also discovered that the ospreys’ three eggs had broken.
Using a new 12’ pole, four new brace posts in the ground, and all new bottom boards, everything was through bolted with 1/2” galvanized bolts. The new base was sistered to the original post with the nest still in good shape.
During the weekend the ospreys were seen carrying sticks to remake the nest and later were observed mating.
This is the third platform that has collapsed in the last three years. In June, 2011, one along the Branford Trolley Trail fell when the hardware holding its supports rusted through. The nest was swept away in the tide and the two chicks were lost. In January, 2012, another platform in the Neck River marsh in Madison had so much nest material on its platform that it became top heavy and was close to falling. We were able to remove most of it and get the pole upright once again. Later in 2012 another platform fell because of rusted hardware. There are two platforms near the mouth of the West River in Guilford that from a distance appear to be fragile.
These osprey platforms were installed in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the osprey population started to recover from the devastation that DDT had caused. Now after 20 years or more, the hardware is rusting through and the platforms are no longer stable.
To be proactive rather than reacting to collapsed platforms, Menunkatuck is undertaking an inspection and repair program for the platforms in our Chapter area, the towns from West Haven to Madison. We know where many osprey platforms are located, but not all. So as to have as complete an inventory as possible we have prepared an online survey that you can use to tell us about platforms that you are aware of.
We also need volunteers to work on the inspections and repairs. We will train you as to what to look for and how to retrofit the platforms with new braces and upgraded hardware.
Inspections and repairs will be done after the ospreys have left in August and September. Our goal is to have all of the then completed before the ospreys return from South America next March.
The online survey can be found at http://goo.gl/rRFYGE.