Platform Set to Welcome Osprey to Safer Nesting Area at Branford Aldi Site
Seen here at the newly-placed osprey pole and platform on Nov. 19 are (l-r): A Place Called Hope volunteers Terry Shaw, Ed Haesche, Tom Kelly, Eversource Community Relations Specialist Cathy Lezon, RTM members Carolyn Sires, Tracy Everson, James Stepanek, Giordano Construction principal Vinnie Giordano. In the foreground are service dogs trained by Sires to assist veterans, Victory and Tuna (retired). (Photo by Pam Johnson/The Sound)
Giordano construction loaned an excavator and members of the crew working at the site for the installation of the 40-foot pole, shown here. (Photo courtesy Vinnie Giordano)
Terry Shaw of Guilford, a volunteer with non-profit raptor recovery group A Place Called Hope (Killingworth), works on setting the nesting box to the pole. (Photo courtesy Carolyn Sires)
The new nesting box has been fitted with a starter nest of sticks woven together at the base, including those which Sires collected and saved from the former nest once it had been removed. (Photo courtesy Terry Shaw)
With help from an excavator and crew on loan from Giordano Construction, the pole is set into the ground. (Photo courtesy Terry Shaw)
Teamwork has set the table – or in this case, new pole and platform -- to welcome a pair of returning osprey to a new nesting location at the busy construction site that will bring an Aldi grocery store and Chase Bank to 1151 West Main St./Route 1 in Branford. Osprey, which often mate for life, have left for their southern wintering grounds and will return to this area in late March. They usually return to the same nest each year.
Situated about 400 to 500 yards away from the pair's original nest (which had been built from a woven mass of sticks atop a utility pole beside Route 1), the new platform offers a solid, secure base which is hoped to draw the couple to build a nest there as its new home. Embedded on a hill beyond the edge of the development area, the platform sits atop a 40-foot pole that's sunk about six feet into the ground. With its extensive height, sturdy wooden nesting box and a wrap and critter guard stretching several feet above ground level, it's a big improvement from the utility pole the nesting pair had called home for many years. The old nesting site had to be relocated because, as the pole is part of a circuit of energized electrical equipment, its presence creates a risk energy provider Eversource must address.
The installation of the new pole and nesting box took place during the week of Nov. 15. It is the culmination of months of effort initiated by District 5 Branford Representative Town Meeting (RTM) members Carolyn Sires (R) and Tracy Everson (D), joined by District 4 RTM member James Stepanek (R), Eversource Community Relations Specialist Cathy Lezon, Giordano Construction principal Vinnie Giordano, and non-profit raptor recovery group A Place Called Hope (APCH, Killingworth) represented by volunteer Terry Shaw of Guilford.
"Eversource is really proud we could be a part of this wonderful project to help the osprey and make a good home for them,"
said Lezon, who joined the group at the site on Nov. 19 to see the completed work. "We really appreciate all Carolyn and Tracy and Vinny Giordano and Terry with A Place Called Hope did. What a great team and partnership. It's a very exciting day."
The group met several times and corresponded over the weeks to develop the best path forward for relocating the nesting site. The effort also received input from the Town of Branford's Inland Wetlands Agent Jaymie Frederick to ensure it would not disturb newly created wetlands on the property. The created wetlands, which will remain undeveloped, were required as part of Branford Inland Wetlands Commission's approval for development of the parcel.
The pole was provided at a reduced rate by Eversource to Giordano Construction, which contributed the funds to purchase the pole. The Branford-based construction company provided the construction equipment, crew and expertise to dig, lift and set the pole.
Giordano said his company loaned an excavator and members of the crew working at the site for the installation, which involved placing an 18-inch diameter PVC sleeve into the earth and rock at a depth of about six feet, lifting the pole, placing it in the sleeve, and packing the installation area with sand to firmly lock it in place.
"Without Giordano Construction, this would have never, ever been possible," said Sires, who, together with Everson and Stepanek, had the same sentiment for Eversource, APCH and all of those who volunteered their time and effort.
"This was a herculean task with a lot of man hours, a lot of sweat equity," said Sires. "Everyone got together and decided 'We need to do this.'"
Shaw, who worked on the project together with APCH volunteers and Guilford residents Ed Haesche, Tom Kelly and Deeanna Broderick, agreed.
"Our crew has put up a lot of osprey platforms over the years and we have been asked several times over the last three or four years to put an osprey platform here, but it's a very tough location," said Shaw. "The only thing that was really going to work is something that Carolyn came up with – a utility pole, very tall, but away from Route 1. When all those things came together, we said, 'Yes, this could work.'"
While osprey are notoriously determined to return to same nest each year, once a nesting site is no longer available, finding an alternative location at a point nearby is the next best option. Given a choice, the osprey will likely choose a suitable place at a higher point in the area of their old nest, which is exactly the case here, said Shaw. The new nesting box has been fitted with a starter nest of sticks woven together at the base, including those which Sires collected and saved from the former nest once it had been removed.
The pole will be monitored by Osprey Nation, earmarked as Branford Osprey No. 3, said Shaw. Launched in 2014, Osprey Nation is Connecticut Audubon Society's citizen science partnership, to monitor the health of the state's ospreys and collect data. More information is available at https://www.ctaudubon.org/osprey-nation-home/
Shaw noted members of his volunteer team also assist APCH in its response to calls for raptor rescues. He said APCH makes an average of 15 raptor rescues and rehabs per year and as many as 30 in some years. Many of the large birds get caught in discarded fishing line and balloon string, he said. The non-profit gratefully accepts donations to assist with its mission, as a birds of prey rehabilitation center working to educate the public. Visit www.aplacecalledhoperaptors.com to learn more.