Established in 1999 by Linda Loring, the Linda Loring Nature Foundation is a nonprofit organization focused on providing young people with the opportunity to enjoy and learn about various facets of the natural world. Starting in 1957, this dedicated wildlife advocate and conservationist started buying up parcels of land between Madaket Road and Eel Point Road until she had a 270 acre tract of land serving as a wildlife sanctuary for the plants and animals in this area of Nantucket. Years of work have gone into creating this spectacular open-air classroom, which boasts a number of trails and hides for visitors to view the birdlife and other animals living in this nature sanctuary.
The island of Nantucket was separated from the mainland thousands of years ago when the glacier covering the New England area retreated. The geological features of the island include a diverse range of habitats that are home to a host of animal and plant species. Within the Linda Loring Nature Foundation there are coastal heathlands, pitch pine forests, vegetated wetlands, sandplain grasslands and coastal scrub forest, all providing sanctuary for a wealth of diverse wildlife. Birds that breed within the sanctuary include the Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) and Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), and it provides a welcome stopover point for an abundance of migratory bird species.
The mile long loop trail is designed for visitors to access areas of the sanctuary where they can observe the wildlife while at the same time not intruding. The trail makes its way along the edge of a vegetated wetland before climbing a small hill which affords visitors a superb view over the brackish, tidal Long Pond. Continuing to the west the trail makes its way through a small group of black cherry trees before opening up a charming view of toward Nantucket Sound over sandplain grasslands, an ecosystem which is found primarily on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard and is globally threatened. Plants that will be seen along the way include little bluestem, blue-eyed grass, Pennsylvania sedge and bushy rockrose.
Located on the north head of Long Pond, the osprey nest pole is occupied by a nesting pair of Ospreys from late-March, with fledgings leaving the nest around mid-August. Nesting boxes on poles throughout the sanctuary are used by tree swallows that also arrive in late-March, with their young leaving the nest in early July. Nantucket has the highest known density of Northern harriers anywhere in the world and the sanctuary generally has up to seven nests during breeding season. Other birds found at the Linda Loring Nature Foundation include mute swans, and red-tailed hawks. The coastal shrublands and sandplain grasslands are also home to more than twenty species of butterflies, and turtles and (harmless) snakes are likely to be seen while exploring this tranquil reserve in Nantucket.
The Kielder Water and Forest Park is located in England. It is not only home to the country’s biggest forest areas, but the largest man-made lake to be found in northern Europe. Its remote location and breathtaking natural landscapes make the park a favorite amongst artists, hiking enthusiasts and cyclists. The park is also the perfect family escape. Animals and bird life play a vital role in the park, and recently the Kielder Water and Forest Park has taken on a conservation challenge that might just make history.
The arrival of a breeding pair of ospreys last year was an exciting event for the staff and rangers at the Kielder Water and Forest Park. It might not sound like a major event, but their sighting in the park marked the return of these magnificent birds to the Northumberland area in more than two hundred years. Ospreys are large raptors that feed on fish and are able to adapt to a variety of habitats, as long as there is water and enough food supply. Even though last year’s visitors did not nest in the park, it is hoped that they will return to the park this year, where a nesting platform will be waiting for them.
Ospreys are known to be very loyal to their partners, and more than often return to a nesting site. Rangers believe that by enticing a breeding pair to nest within the park, they will ensure the return of the birds and their young, and in future lure more breeding pairs to the park. The Kielder Water and Forest Reserve is the ideal location for ospreys, as the lake is able to provide them with both water and ample food supply. The park has now set up a nesting platform in a secret location that is situated deep within the isolation of the forest, and stands at a height of 18.2 meters. To capture the event, and allow visitors to be a part of the excitement, the park has installed CCTV cameras on the platform. This will allow the public to be a part of the excitement without any direct human interference. With all the preparations made, the Forestry Department and the Kielder Water and Forest Park will be waiting patiently to see the first signs of hope; namely the return of the male to scout for nesting sites.
The Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) is a well-known bird of prey throughout the world and amongst the largest in North America. Osprey populations decreased due to pesticide poisoning during the 1950s to the 1970s. Although their numbers improved after the ban of DDT, they remain on threatened species and endangered species lists in some localities.
Ospreys are short-distant migrants who reside along waterways. As a large raptor, the Osprey is identified from beneath by their white breast and belly as well as their angled wings and the dark patch on the wrist bend. The back and upperwings are black. The wings are long and taper into a rounded tip. It has a short hooked beak ideal for capturing prey. A dark eyestripe marks the face. The tail is brown with white banding. They measure in at approximately 54 to 58 cm with a wingspan of 150 to 180 cm. The distinctive chirping whistle calls of the Osprey will also assist in identification.
Ospreys feed purely on fish, hovering over a body of water before plunging down to grab a tasty morsel. They have special barbed pads on their foot soles for gripping the fish, which they carry to the nest. Nests are frequently built on artificial structures such as nesting platforms, telephone poles, duck blinds and so forth. The nests are constructed with sticks and debris. Preferred breeding habitat for Ospreys is open water and wetlands. The pair will mate for life. A single clutch of 3 to 4 eggs is laid each year. Incubation is for 32 to 43 days. The chicks hatch individually over a period of 5 days. The oldest will gobble the majority of the food supplied by parents. This is not a major problem in times of abundance, but when little food is available the younger chicks will likely starve to death. In 48 to 59 days the young Osprey with fledge.
A very popular bird of prey, the Osprey features as Nova Scotia’s (Canada) official bird as well as the official bird of Sudermannia of Sweden. The name Osprey has been used for several sporting teams and the bird has been the official mascot of various universities and colleges. Ospreys are truly beautiful birds, exceptional fish hunters and fine parents, certainly worthy of conservation action and protection.
Not many people will try to argue that the sight of a beautiful white and black osprey soaring through the air isn’t beautiful. These stunning birds of prey are widespread in many parts of the United States and thousands of people can easily spot them in their neighborhood. Despite their widespread coverage of other parts of the continent, they have been absent from Northern New Mexico for some time now – until recently that is.
As part of efforts to boost the success rates of nesting birds in the region, some 2 140 acres of state parkland have been set aside on Long Island’s East End as a conservation area. The protected area will be the 50th such designated zone for birds in New York State and will greatly benefit species such as piping plovers and ospreys.