Team Effort at Work to Safely Relocate Osprey Nesting Platform at Branford Construction Site
In Branford, a team effort is at work to implement the safe removal and relocation of a very visible osprey nesting site that sits atop a utility pole. The big nest rests high above the site of current construction that's underway to bring an Aldi grocery store and Chase Bank to 1151 West Main St./Route 1.
The big birds have left their nest for the winter. The hope is that, when they return in the spring, they will take to a new nesting site being planned for them at the back of the property, in a better protected location where new wetlands have been created. The created wetlands were required as part of Branford Inland Wetlands Commission's approval for development of the parcel. The wetland creation is now complete and will remain undeveloped.
For several weeks, representatives of project construction management firm Giordano Construction Company of Branford, Eversource Energy, and non-profit raptor recovery group A Place Called Hope (Killingworth) have been meeting with District 5 Branford Representative Town Meeting (RTM) members Carolyn Sires (R) and Tracy Everson (D) to develop the best path forward for relocating the nesting site.
The effort was initiated by Sires and Everson, who had already been working together in a bi-partisan way to gather stakeholders for another group effort which began in the summer to address traffic congestion and safety issues in the Indian Neck entertainment district.
As construction got underway at the West Main Street site, Everson recalled, "I said to Carolyn, you know, I'd really like to do something about that osprey; and she said she was thinking the same thing," said Everson.
Technically, the area, which is a parcel of land located at a busy point of roadway where Route 1 intersects with I-95 Exit 53, isn't part of the RTM District they represent, but this is something the two have taken on as humanitarian mission to help the osprey and to address concerns of their fellow Branford residents, as well as many other visitors to town who know of it.
"That nest is popular in more than Branford," Sires said. "Many people come into town at that point and see it."
Sires said that, within a day of contacting Giordano Construction, Eversource and Place Called Hope about seeking their help with safely relocating the nest, "...everyone said, 'Yes, let's do it.' They all responded immediately."
While osprey are notoriously determined to return to nest at the same site each spring, once a nesting site is no longer available, finding an alternative location at a point nearby is the next best option to provide for them. This nesting site must be relocated because, while the utility pole has been the pair's nesting location of choice; it's a dangerous choice. The pole is part of a circuit of energized electrical equipment; the nest creates a risk Eversource must address.
On Friday, October 1, Everson and Sires met with Giordano Construction principal Vinnie Giordano, Eversource Community Relations Specialist Cathy Lezon and Branford Inland Wetlands Agent Jaymie Frederick to review locations at the created wetlands, especially a couple of point where a representative from Wind Over Wings, who wasn't available to attend the Oct. 1 walk, had felt would be ideal for a new nesting site as it would offer the osprey wetlands and surrounding trees, including a significant, tall oak.
According to CT DEEP, Osprey, which return to Connecticut from southern wintering grounds in late March, prefer natural nest sites atop dead trees, but where there are few natural nest sites, they'll nest on the likes of channel markers, roots of upturned trees, chimneys and utility poles. Pairs usually return to the same nest site and add new nest materials to the old nest; in order to lay eggs, usually about three, in April. The eggs hatch within a month; then the chicks begin the fledging process (learning to fly), which can involve falls. In cases where storms have knocked down nesting trees or posts, osprey have rebuilt nearby.
Frederick pointed out a couple of good options in the vincinity of the points selected by Wind Over Wings at the newly created wetlands where installation of the pole/platform, and any equipment needed to install it, would not disturb the wetlands mitigation area.
The next step is securing a new pole for the platform, which is expected to be secured within the coming week, said Sires. Giordano said his company is looking forward to helping out by providing equipment to help install the new nesting platform. The new platform should be in the ground by mid-to-late October.
"Moving the osprey nest to the wetlands creation area will provide a long-term solution for their continued existence here," said Giordano.